We’re going to let you in on a secret we discovered when pitting the Outlander 500 against the 500 KingQuad AXi: Torque trumps horsepower every time!
You might be wondering if we’re nuts. Could we possibly prefer a lowly single cylinder thumper to a sophisticated, high tech V-twin?
It’s true but we don’t think the Suzuki is as sophisticated, smooth or as powerful at full whack as the Can-Am’s 500cc 4-valve V-twin.
But yes, we absolutely prefer the KingQuad’s power delivery, torque, acceleration, hill climbing power and throttle response at trail speeds.
Rider after rider in side-by-side drags, uphill pulls and nose-to-tail trail rides confirmed this reality: The KQ has an enormously torquey mill that out-accelerates the Can-Am under virtually all conditions.
There’s something else at play here. Both these ATVs use continuously variable transmissions but the Suzuki differs in its engagement system.
The torque of the KQ mill is in love with its CVT sprag clutch while the much less torquey Rotax twin required us to “brake torque” the engine against the drive belt to keep the Suzuki in sight. The difference in acceleration and hill climbing torque is not small, otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about it.
This torque advantage pays off in countering what has to be the wimpiest set of chevron Dunlops ever fitted to an ATV. The tires on the Can-Am hook up like a cat on a screen door in mud while the KQ’s foo-foo meats spin like they’re on greased ice.
Even though these are pathetic tires for a premium ATV, the Suzuki can still traverse swale holes on the strength of its imposing grunt. In our most heavily weighted category, performance, the KQ won without a dissenting vote.