ATV Television's Blog

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Including Doug's "Here's what I think!" and "What were they thinking!"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

ATV Update – Touring LE First Ride:

Polaris Touring LE First Ride:

As I mentioned earlier, I fell in love with the new 2011 Touring models when I first saw them at the New Model Introduction we attended up in Cascade Montana. I especially like how the new LE comes complete with a winch, Carlisle (MudLites?) on aluminum wheels, twin mirrors, handguards, and even grip warmers.

One of the coolest things is how the new Touring can be quickly converted into a single-seat ATV by removing the rear seat and handgrips and replace them with a box that blends with the rack! Not only does that make it more practical, but makes it what I think could be the best looking ATV out there. There’s nothing that looks better (to me) than a long wheelbase and short overhangs – nice. Real nice.

But this is about the first ride.

I must say, this thing may be the smoothest ATV I’ve ridden! Yeah, that’s right, smooth and quiet. And I’m not talking just about comfort from that soft cushy seat either. I’m talking about a silky smooth engine. A silky smooth drivetrain! It’s shocking and wonderful!

Also much to my surprise, the engine braking is phenomenal as well. Let off on the gas and the big machine slows down just as it should – not too much and not too little. Once again I’m wonderfully amazed.

Of course I also already mentioned that I’m really disappointed in Polaris’ cost-cutting measures that include the removal of one of the rear disc brakes! Yes, the Polaris still stops okay, even coming down the steep mountain roads at speed, but this is their Top-of-the-Line machine! It shouldn’t have a hub sitting there with the rotor and caliper removed! For Pete’s sake, just as an added slap in the face, the mounts are still there for it!

Speaking of the brakes and getting off of the 3-brake complaining - if I could tune the Sportsman, I’d add in just a bit more braking leverage. When you only have one brake lever it should apply more pressure, more easily to the braking system than it does. It’s especially noticeable to me due to how I use just a couple fingers to pull in the lever. Maybe few of you do that, but it’s a habit I got into years ago racing – the more of your hand you can keep wrapped around the grip, the less likely you are to get it yanked from your grip. Maybe that’s another reason I always prefer two-lever systems – better control.

The machine obviously has plenty of power, but more than that, it has good balance. You can just add power while twisting up through the trails to bring the rear end around as needed to aid in the steering or just plain have fun!

Speaking of steering. Why is it that Polaris cuts so many corners? Is it really worth irritating customers over a few dollars here and there? This time I’m referring to the plastic steering bushing at the top of the steering stem that is just too sloppy. It transmits all the bumps and giggles that the power steering should be isolating from the handlebars. It is actually loose enough that you can see it move back and forth as you wiggle the bars forward and back! I parked next to my friend’s 13,000 mile Honda and there wasn’t even a micro-mili-movement in its steering stem.

The Touring is so smooth and wonderful that this single fault is hugely irritating. So I suppose I can try to see if the local Polaris dealer can install one that is a tighter fit, or I can go out to the shop and cut up a beer can to wrap around the stem to fill up the space. Either way I imagine no buyer of a $12,000.00 machine will think they should have to do this.

But I love this machine and will continue to put a bunch of miles on it one way or the other. Hopefully I can get the steering stem fixed so that I’ll be singing praises rather than grumbling about the bean counters. This Polaris demands all the praises.


  1. If Polaris doubled the pad to rotor braking surface area then one caliper/rotor should work as well as two but I doubt that they did that.

    I rode a 2011 850 EPS 2-up and thought is was nice.

    It's one HUGE ATV. Looking over the front storage boxes on the tourings from the drivers seat reminds me of looking over the hood on my full size pickup.

  2. Doug
    You have to admit even in the economic downturn, Polaris is trying new things, seems like each model year there is some change in the lineup, some good, and some not so good (cup half full). I haven’t see any other ATV manufacture try to spice up their lineup. However, quality is very important to any consumer and Polaris should strive to build a future (including keeping jobs here) to all their products. Polaris has a loyal crowd that think nothing comes close to Polaris, but if quality continues to deteriorate or stay the same, evidentially Polaris will lose its market share, just ask GM, Ford and Chrysler how ignoring the imports led to bankruptcy for all the big three, but Ford was able to see their error and pulled out just in time, while the other two needed a bail out.
    Just look at Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha and Kawasaki very few changes over the years, however they are for the most part engineered well and don’t require changes year after year of things that don’t work. My Point is Polaris should clean out upper management as current management is managing Polaris out of business, and design, build quality ATV’s without issues.
    But hey, what do I know about big business, I ride a Suzuki and enjoy it.

  3. Wow! Jeff you have a pretty good handle on things. I agree with everything you say. I love Polaris only to be stabbed in the heart ;-) Perhaps they should consider having you and I take over. I honestly believe that with the right management that Polaris could not only build a better King Quad, but a better King Quad RZR!

  4. Glad to hear the good words about the "T". My wife and I ride an '08 500 "T" LE (pearl white, the only year for that color) and love it. I know things have changed, i.e. suspension, engine,etc., but it's still a fantastic machine and gets a lot of compliments out on the trail. The ride, handling and stability can't be beat and the ADC (active descent control) makes riding in the Colorado Mountains a lot easier and safer. Also love the AWD where it normally runs in 2 wheel until wheel slippage occurs and then it locks into true 4 wheel drive until it's not needed any more. The rear passenger seat can't be beat for comfort, my wife loves it! We have decided that when we add a second machine it will be another "T". It's the way to go, even if you ride one-up most of the time.

  5. Instead of being honest and saying that they are being cheap, Polaris ditched the brake caliper and rotor on the one side in the rear and called it "reducing weight by 12 lbs for 2011 models." Doesn't that kind of thing just inspire confidence in you as a customer of their product!!!! I believe this is the same reason they don't put ADC in the RZR!!! It's not that they can't do it, it's that it would cost them money. You would think the engineers would have a little more pride in their product than to let the penny pushers muscle them around like that!

  6. However, I do have to say that I would much rather ride a Polaris than get beat to death putting 13,000 grueling miles on a Honda Foreman like your friend(No Offense). He must be one tough Hombre! To each their own...

  7. Polaris has really gone to the 'cheap side' it seems and it's a real shame. Just when they get good designs they cut just about every corner they can find... It's a shame!

    I'm sure my friend would say.......his Honda made it 13,000 miles with no repairs!