Friday, April 20, 2012

Wild Rides: The eight ATVs that you should ride

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The KTM 505 SX really is ready to race

KTM 505 SX

We start our Top 8 list of ATVs with the KTM 505 SX. Priced at $15,000 this ‘motocross-quad’ is, according to KTM, ‘a thoroughbred racing machine and just as uncompromisingly designed for victory as the MX motorcycles from KTM.’ The 505 SX is powered by a carbureted 477cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke 4-valve DOHC engine, mated to a five-speed gearbox. It has a double-cradle chromium-molybdenum steel tube chassis, fully adjustable WP suspension front and rear, Magura disc brakes with 4-piston calipers and weighs 165kg dry. KTM take their ‘ready to race’ tagline quite seriously and if you’re looking for a high-performance ATV, this Austrian machine is certainly a contender.

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Think of the Yamaha Raptor 700R as an off-road R1

Yamaha Raptor 700R

The Yamaha Raptor gets a single-cylinder 686cc four-stroke 4-valve SOHC fuel-injected engine with electric start, five-speed transmission with heavy-duty clutch, comprehensive digital instrumentation, fully adjustable high-spec suspension, steel/aluminium hybrid chassis that’s light yet very strong and ergonomics that have been optimized for long-haul comfort. With its lightweight aluminium wheels shod with high-performance Dunlop radial tyres, the Raptor can handle all kinds of terrain and its chassis/suspension combo has been designed for stable yet nimble high-speed handling and dynamics. For your $8,399 this is one of the best high-performance ATVs you can buy.

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The Ranger RZR XP900 is a bit expensive, but offers very high levels of performance

Polaris Ranger RZR XP900

With its $15,999 price tag, the RZR XP900 certainly isn’t cheap, but for those who’re looking for a high-performance ATV, this Polaris quite fits the bill. With its rugged and powerful 875cc, fuel-injected, 8-valve, DOHC, 88bhp twin-cylinder engine, 14-inches of suspension travel and 13-inches of ground clearance, the RZR keeps going long after other ATVs have come to a grinding halt. The RZR XP900’s 3-link trailing arm (rear) and dual-A-arm (front) long-travel suspension, with high-grade Fox Podium X 2.0 fully adjustable shocks, provides unmatched control over rough terrain. And selectable AWD gives you the power to pull out of sticky situations. Other bits like LED headlights, tilt steering with a wide range of motion, adjustable bucket seats, ample cargo storage spaces and thick skid plate for extra durability make sure the RZR stays sharp and on top.

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The KFX 450R is an intense, aggressive, four-wheeled motocrosser

Kawasaki KFX 450R

The KFX 450R isn’t as powerful as some of the bigger-engined ATVs here, but is still ideal for those who may be looking for a light, strong and high-performance machine. The KFX 450R is powered by Kawasaki’s acclaimed KX 450F motocrosser engine, which has a highly responsive 32-bit DFI digital fuel-injection system that automatically compensates for temperature and altitude. ‘DFI translates the KFX’s four-stroke power into incredible thrust, with great torque in the low- and medium-rpm ranges,’ claim Kawasaki. The engine, mated to a five-speed gearbox, is mounted in a light, stiff aluminium chassis that provides a low center of gravity and excellent roll resistance for higher corner speeds and race-level handling. Fully adjustable suspension, a cast aluminium swingarm, hydraulic disc brakes and electric starting all come together to make the KFX 450R fully capable of handling all kinds of terrain and riding conditions.

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The QuadSport Z400 is light, fun to ride and non-intimidating

Suzuki QuadSport Z400

The QuadSport Z400 is one of the sportiest ATVs built by Suzuki and has been engineered for high-performance off-road riding. The Z is powered by a 398cc 4-stroke single-cylinder liquid-cooled DOHC engine, with electric start and a maintenance-free battery. The transmission is a five-speed unit and the long-travel (8.5-inches front, 9.1-inches rear), fully adjustable suspension, along with 10.4-inches of ground clearance, provides optimum off-road performance. The QuadSport rolls on lightweight aluminium wheels and its high-tensile steel-alloy frame and aluminum swingarm have been designed for nimble handling and stability at higher speeds. At $7,100 the QuadSport Z400 is not a bad deal at all.

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The Sand-X is ATV royalty, exotic, fast and vastly expensive...

Sand-X 1200 T-ATV

The Sand-X is for those who have to the wildest, fastest ATV on the planet – one that can go from zero to 100km/h in less than 3 seconds and hit a top speed of 185km/h! Originally designed for the military, the Sand-X T-ATV is now also available for the public and, according to its manufacturer, it is the world's fastest off-road vehicle. Powered by a 1200cc liquid-cooled twin-cylinder Rotax engine and with its continuously variable transmission (CVT) and ‘continuous track’ (instead of wheels) at the rear, the Sand-X 1200 is reasonably easy to ride yet astonishingly fast. Made of high-strength Kevlar composite, the continuous track used at the rear is said to provide unmatched grip and traction on any surface and doesn’t require any ground clearance, so unlike other ATVs, there is little risk of flipping the thing over. The Sand-X 1200 T-ATV is, of course, only for the truly committed…

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The Arctic Cat XC450i prowls fearlessly - it's not scared of anything, anyone or anyplace

Arctic Cat XC450i

The XC450i offers uncompromising performance and aggressive, sporty styling in a package that’s at least as good as, and in some ways better than, similar ATVs from bigger, more mainstream manufacturers. The Cat is fitted with a 443cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder 4-valve SOHC fuel-injected engine, with automatic CVT and selectable 4WD for both ease of use and all-terrain capability. The double A-arm suspension (front and rear) offers 7 inches of travel at both ends and the XC450i rides on 12-inch wheels for optimum stability. With a ground clearance of 10 inches and 272kg dry weight, the Cat can tow up to 476 kilos, which is impressive.

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The Can-Am Renegade 1000X xc works like a big shot of distilled adrenaline...

Can-Am Renegade 1000X xc

And finally, the Can-Am Renegade 1000X xc, which is perhaps one of the most extreme machines on this list. Developed by BRP engineers in close consultation with some of the top ATV racers of the world, the 1000X xc IS powered by an 82bhp 1000cc fuel-injected Rotax V-twin and gets things like tri-mode dynamic power steering (that provides variable, rider-selectable steering assistance), auto-locking front differential, hydraulic disc brakes all around, fully adjustable Fox racing shocks, comprehensive digital instrumentation, a digitally encoded security system and… er, a price tag of $13,299. If you want the best, fastest, most powerful ATV out there, this is the one you probably want.

Powerful ATVs require proper rider training and education. ATV license Oregon is one of your best resources for ATV licensing and ATV safety education. Do visit their website at www.atvcourse.com 

Oregon ATV license

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