Winner: Yamaha Grizzly 550
Yamaha has been gaining ground in the critical areas of both ride and handling with the new Grizzly chassis. We saw it first in the 700 FI and now the 550 FI has done the same thing to our perception of Yamaha ATV’s ride and handling.
In our annual 550 Shootout the Grizz 550 took top honors for ride quality against formidable competition. Handling is still just a touch of sway control away from class leading, however, the inherent goodness of this package is hard to resist.
Power emanating from the grunt-laden 550 EFI mill is simply stunning. Picking your way over gnarly trails or opening it up on fire roads, this is a superb engine and tranny combo.
The availability of Electronic Power Steering on the 550 is a great idea and transforms the light and nimble Grizz into an easy-to-ply rough trail wonder for women and less experienced riders.
Yamaha is onto something here and the market knows it. Yamahas sales in this segment are strong and the Grizz 550 is the reason.
Polaris Sportsman 550 XP
Yeah we know, the 550 XP won our 550 shootout earlier this year. So why isn’t it the top runner in the BIC awards? In a word, it’s the motor.
For sure we love the XP chassis and all its many features and innovations. To deny the XP is the most sophisticated platform in the ATV biz would be stupid.
However, two issues kept coming up on the 550 XP – idle and low RPM throbbing. Every other area of performance from the Sportsman 550 verifies it is in a league of its own.
Suzuki 500 KingQuad
Suzuki set us back on our heels this year with this potent ride. The amazing power output of this 500cc 4-valve EFI single left us reeling.
This is clearly an overachieving motor from a company famous for building exceptional off-road 4-stroke engines. The King Quad didn’t quite make BIC status for a couple of simple-to-fix issues.
First, the KQ’s rear suspension needs recalibration to allow for more bump absorption. Secondly, Suzuki needs to re-think its incredibly silly diff-lock RPM limiter.
Other than these issues, this is one strong contender in this segment and it gives away 50cc’s doing it!