First time we saw the Raptor we honestly wondered if it was the kind of Pure Sport ATV the masses would respond to. Turns out, it was exactly the kind of ATV the masses wanted.
Well clarify. When the Raptor first came out there was a rabid demand for closed circuit, motocross-style sport ATVs.
Demand was pent up because the market simply hadnt supplied many ATVs of this ilk for a long time. Our impression was that the Raptor, heavy in comparison to the most serious offerings of the time and with a big-inch 4-stroke, simply wouldnt satisfy the wants of hardcore consumers focused on lightness and extreme agility in this category.
What the Raptor did for us was prove there are a lot of riders out there who really want a big torque, good handling, decent riding sport ATV to ride trails on.
The Raptor, when compared to motorcycles, was more akin to an enduro bike than a motocrosser. What this targeting did was open up the serious off-road market to a whole slew of new customers.
The engine and 5-speed manual transmission has proven to be bulletproof and the thousands who own them can choose from a vast array of aftermarket goodies to update them.
Sure, the absolutely highest skilled, closed course riders will prefer 450cc bullets they can take right to the races. The rest of us, however, will have a blast on the Raptor.