One very rugged and practical offering imported by Midwest Motorsports out of Three Hills, Alberta is the JS400.
This full sized 4-wheel drive ATV is targeted at the utility market and fills the bill very nicely for buyers looking for a low priced 4-wheeler that can handle work duties around the farm or ranch or haul a trailer loaded down with cargo out of the hunt camp.
If you’ve been around the sport a while, you can’t help but notice the JS400 looks a lot like a knock-off of the original Yamaha Big Bear. In fact, when the plastic is peeled away the layout of the engine, transmission and differentials, even the brakes and suspension, is very similar. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – the Big Bear has proven to be as rugged as an anvil and thousands are still in use across North America performing workhorse duties on pipelines and work sites.
An air and oil cooled single cylinder, upright 386cc overhead cam 4-stroke drives into a 5-speed semi-automatic transmission and then transfers power via shafts to the front and rear wheels. The front diff is a limited slip unit.
A mechanical lever on the left side of the tank allows the rider to select either 2WD or 4×4. Although there’s no low range sub-tranny, the JS400’s high range gear ratios use an ultra-low first gear and then space the upper four more closely together to deliver decent acceleration.
Actually, the combination of low end grunt and more aggressive gearing allows for quick throttle response and a feeling of good vibes as you shift up through the gears.
To put the JS400 in perspective, it isn’t fair to compare it to premium equipped 4-wheel drive rides like the Outlander, Sportsman or Kodiak 400 and 450s. In fact, Midwest isn’t targeting the JS at any of these.
Its market niche is aimed squarely at the rider who uses an ATV for mostly work and occasionally for pleasure. When price enters the picture, it’s very hard to find anything else offering this much for this little.