The manufacturers have been scratching their corporate heads lately asking the same question.
The current financial recession has put a damper on the “Pure Sport” segment of the industry and there have been almost no changes, updates or new models introduced into that part of the business for almost three years.
The problem is, the demographic sector that is most likely to buy a gear-on gear, solid rear axle 400, 450 or 700cc Sport ATV is dead-center within the most economically fragile buying group in our society.
Those enthusiasts tend to be younger, perhaps in their twenties or early thirties, and usually finance their purchase. Since credit is more difficult and this age group is usually already encumbered with mortgages and car payments, the Sport ATV purchase gets put on the back burner.
What has happened though, bears some close study by the OEM’s marketing people. Although motocross or sand dune style lightweights have diminished in sales, there’s a solid resurgence in other types of “sport” oriented ATVs.
For instance, Arctic Cat and Can-Am have been having success with their snorkel-equipped mudslingers and there’s no less interest in 4WD Sport ATVs like the Renegade, Arctic Cat XC450i and the Polaris Scrambler.
Even some of the GNCC-ready sport-utes that come with racks but have big-time power are stimulating Sport ATV sales and, more importantly, interest from the performance addicted enthusiasts who don’t want an ATV for ranch work or hauling fence posts.
It may be time to re-define what a Sport ATV really is. Rather than riding motocross style on closed courses, the new Sport ATV enthusiast may like to challenge his 4-wheel drive system and play in the mud.