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More Sport-Utes Coming from Honda and Yamaha?


With more Big Bore Sport-Utility models arriving almost weekly we’re wondering what market leader Honda and close-second place market share giant Yamaha might be up to.

Certainly Polaris has proved you can’t have too many models in this burgeoning segment.

With both Honda and Yamaha offering only one model each in the over 500cc category, we have to wonder if they will follow the current trend and up the ante with bigger models in the next year.

We think it’s reasonable to expect a bigger Grizzly and another Honda Rincon variant with more cubes.

Track Conversions a Big Hit


Seems the sale of ATV track conversion kits is on the rise. After using a 650 V-Twin Arctic Cat last winter with an AD Boivin conversion kit, we can certainly see why these kits are selling.

Our report on the kit was in the spring issue of All-Terrain Vehicle Magazine.

Another high quality, well engineered kit is available from Mattracks in Northern Minnesota.

They build track kits for all popular 4×4’s and even have kits for full size 4×4 pick-ups – really!

Give them a call at 218-436-6000 or check out the pics on the web at mattracks.com.

New Ranger Offers 700 EFI


In what is clearly a move to dominate the ATT (All Terrain Truck) market Polaris unveiled the most outrageous Ranger yet for 2005.

The Polaris Ranger 4×4 lineup has been re-engineered for 2005 to include a new IRS rear suspension, longer travel front suspension, a lowered engine mount for a lower CG, new bodywork and improved attachment possibilities with a variation of the lock and load system used on ‘05 Sportsman ATVs.

So what’s so outrageous about all this? Their flagship 4×4 Ranger will be powered by a full-on Sportsman 700 EFI twin! Like, wow!

The new IRS chassis transforms the Ranger into what feels like an off-road racing buggy. Huge bumps – even jumps can be covered with the Ranger ATT at insane speeds.

Just in case you would like to limit those insane speeds, Polaris has developed a special electronic ignition key which will limit the top speed of the Ranger.

This is for job site vehicles and vehicles being driven by inexperienced pilots.

It’s a great idea and one we’re sure will be copied by other OEMs.

Industry Numbers Are Staggering


According to industry sources, the ATV business will top the 900,000 unit mark this year. This number comes from totaling production of the eight OEMs we are all familiar with: Honda, Yamaha, Polaris, Suzuki, Arctic Cat, Kawasaki, Bombardier BRP and John Deere.

What isn’t clear is the actual numbers of specialty ATVs – many of which are not included in this total.

It’s widely suspected the number of kid’s sized ATVs sold will eclipse the 150,000 unit mark this year. Some of these mini units are accounted for in the total sales of the aforementioned OEMs.

However, much of this number is not included because the largest number of kid’s ATVs are sold by off-shore makers like E-Ton, Kasea, Dinli, Kymco – the list goes on. At this time, these makers are not all reporting their sales.

Here’s more interesting numbers. The sales of ATTs like the Polaris Ranger, John Deere Gator, Kubota RTV900, Club Car and the Yamaha Rhino are estimated to be near the 100,000 unit mark.

If you take a wild, stabbing guess it’s not hard to tally over one million ATVs being sold this year.

Arctic Cat Prototypes Vandalized


Arctic Cat called off their 2005 Press Launch slated this past June as a result of their prototypes being vandalized after a cross border excursion for a show in Mexico.

As of this writing we haven’t been able to sample the 2005 AC lineup including the all-new, domestically built 650 Hemi engine.

The Hemi is being assembled in Thief River Falls, Minnesota in an all-new facility dedicated to 4- stroke ATV engines.

We’re slated to visit the plant later this year and hope to bring you a full report.

YF-Z Cleaning Up on Tracks


Yamaha’s new YF-Z 450 has taken the ATV racing world by storm. Seems start and finish lines at sanctioned ATV motocross races across North America are predominantly blue.

The YF-Z 450 has uncovered an interesting nuance of the ATV business. The reputation of the YF-Z’s YZ motocross motorcycle engine has given the new 4-wheeler an incredible boost in popularity with the racing/Pure Sport fraternity.

Seems ATV racers are very much affected by the success of motorcycle motocross racing and identify strongly with the YF-Z’s motorcycle heritage.

At the rate the YF-Z 4-wheeler is cleaning up race tracks across North America we wonder how long it will be before the rest of the motorcycle manufacturers begin identifying with the YF-Z’s success.

New Phoenix is Priced Right!


Polaris has stepped out of the box with the intro of the all-new Phoenix 200.

This all-new model has been conceived and designed here in North America but is built entirely off-shore at Polaris’ mini-ATV manufacturing facility.

This is the first time we’ve seen one of the big eight manufacturers bring an off-shore (excluding Japan) full sized ATV to the market.

We haven’t been able to ride the Phoenix as the prototypes on display at the 2005 Polaris press intro where not operational.

Obviously, the cost to manufacture price sensitive models here on these shores is driving OEMs to look for ways to make low dollar 4-wheelers more profitable.

The pricing just released for the Phoenix looks extremely aggressive at $2999 US.

Helmets Use is Critical


Still riding your ATV without a helmet? Be warned. You can become a member of an elite club in the blink of an eye if you ride helmetless.

Overwhelming evidence from every corner of the North American marketplace clearly indicates helmetless ATV use is the number one contributor to serious ATV injuries and fatalities.

Think about this. It takes less than a 6 MPH impact with your bare headed melon to put the lights out for good. Don’t become a statistic.

Polaris Celebrates 50 Years


If you’re turning 50 you have a party, right? In the case of Polaris Industries, you throw the birthday party of the year. In July, Polaris took over the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul for their gigantic 50th celebration.

The company pulled together all their resources to deliver a day over 25,000 gearheads will never forget. The ATV demo area provided 10,000 test rides for those in attendance, including kids rides on mini ATVs and adult demos of the new Sportsman 800 and the full Ranger line up.

The entertainment was equally impressive featuring Clint Black, .38 Special, Minnesota heart throb, Johnny Lang, and Credence Clearwater Revival’s John Fogerty.

The day was packed with special events, the most impressive being the return of the vintage Polaris snowmobile Thrill Team and their loop-de-loop in front of thousands of screaming fans.

The Thrill Team spun a Polaris Predator ATV and two Polaris snowmobiles to the delight of the crowd. An historical line up of Polaris products was quite frankly, staggering, and the attendance of many of the company’s original employees, including Edgar Hetteen, the patron saint and founder of Polaris, brought 50 exciting years of recreational vehicle manufacturing into perspective. 2005 Polaris ATVs, snowmobiles, PWC, Jet Boats and Victory Motorcycles were all on display.

2-Strokes Becoming Dinosaurs?


Will there be any 2-stroke ATVs next year? It would seem the last remaining 2-stroke, full size ATVs will not meet EPA 2006 emission standards.

We think 2005 is probably the last go-round for the Yamaha Banshee and the Trail Blazer 250 Polaris. Mini ATVs are exempt under the current standards.