The two-seater Riot resembles...
The two-seater Riot resembles that of a custom-built race buggy ready to boogie.
When we first stumbled across the Redline booth at the Indianapolis Dealer Expo a few years ago, we never knew it would change our lives. After years of yearning for a ride in one of its unique machines, we finally got the opportunity to put the Riot and Revolt XL through their paces at Georgia's Broad River Adventure Park. To say we came away impressed would be a huge understatement; Redline's products have set the bar so high for us that nothing else really seems adequate anymore.
For me, the Redline phenomenon started a few years ago when the company made its first Indianapolis Dealer Expo appearance. "Have you seen the Redlines yet?" was a pretty common question among the ATV crowd. After hearing the question no less than 300 times, I skeptically made my way toward their booth. I'll be honest, the first thing that came to mind when I heard that a new company named Redline was making off-road buggies and side-by-sides was "You mean another bicycle company is venturing into the off-road market?" You see, prior to Indy, the only Redline I had ever heard of was the BMX bike manufacturer, and being an old-school BMXer myself, I immediately associated the two companies. As it turns out, the companies are completely unrelated, which is good seeing that things turned out quite badly for the last bicycle company that decided to make ATVs. My first glimpse at the Redline machines pretty much replaced doubt and skepticism with curiosity and sheer desire to drive one. As luck would have it, it would literally take years before I would have that opportunity.
Redline is actually a relatively new (established 2006), Minnesota-based OEM with a lineup consisting of three models: the Riot side-by-side and the Revolt and Revolt XL single-seaters. The company's goal is pretty simple and to the point: "We want to provide high-performance products that allow our customers the highest fun factor while maintaining a safe and reliable ride." To that end, within minutes of testing it was apparent that Redline's goals have been met with ease.
Here Are The Keys, Have Fun
There are few voicemail messages that have the ability to give you goose bumps; off the top of my head I can think of three. In order of importance there's the classic "Hey, I don't know if you remember me, you were pretty drunk...I'm pregnant" message (which usually leads to a quick packing of boxes and a phone number change), the "Don't bother coming in to work, you're fired" message (which means I'll be digging through my "Friends & Farm Animals" picture folder for some extortion leads), and the "Hey Jorge, this is Michael from Redline, I was wondering if it would be cool to drop off my trailer with three units for you to play on for a couple of weeks. Just let me know where to drop them off." While the first two messages are certainly goose bump-inducing, they're just "pesky" inconveniences at the end of the day; this last one, however, was pretty much life changing.
It wasn't until the actual day of delivery that reality hit; we were going to have the entire 2000-plus acres of the Broad River Adventure Park and three Redline units all to ourselves (I know what you must be thinking, and I have to say I agree, life as an ATV magazine contributor is pretty rough). Being that I can't physically drive three units plus shoot photos at the same time, I grudgingly invited our esteemed Editor/UTV nut Thad Josey and Test Monkey Extraordinaire Johnny Jovanovic to join me. Redline's VP of Sales and Marketing, Michael Killian, arrived at Broad River, gave us a quick rundown of each machine's key features and hit the road. "Here are the keys, call me if you need anything" and just like Kaizer Soze, Michael was gone.
"Just at the point where any...
"Just at the point where any other machine would've sent the 'hey, let off the gas idiot, you're gonna kill us both' signal to my brain, the Riot sent 'pin it sissy, we can make it!' "
Being that we were going to have the rare opportunity to spend multiple days on the Redlines, we decided to forego any photo sessions-or anything else that resembles actual work-on day one and just ride (or drive) for riding's sake. Johnny, Thad and I agreed it would be best to take some time to get acquainted with the machines before really pushing any boundaries. Luckily, the getting acquainted process only took about 39 seconds (a full minute if you count adjusting the five-point harnesses which come stock). I can truthfully say that within minutes of driving the Riot I was in love. Mind you, I've raced and built some pretty nice side-by-sides in the last few years, but to be 100 percent honest, nothing else I've driven comes close to the Riot. In wide (jeep-type) trails, it's amazing. The entire day was spent flying through the trails and over the MX track obstacles.
If the Riot has one major flaw, it was revealed at the motocross track. The Redlines suffer from a condition that we occasionally encounter while testing; unfortunately, there's no real remedy for it. I first diagnosed the flaw while approaching a double jump in the Riot, just at the point where any other machine would've sent the "hey, let off the gas idiot, you're gonna kill us both" signal to my brain, the Riot sent "pin it sissy, we can make it!" To its credit, we made it, and then it happened again on the approaches to a tabletop, then a step-up, followed by a step-down, whoop section and camel hump. Before long it was happening on increasingly bigger doubles and tabletops. While this condition may not seem like a problem, it's terrifying. The Redlines both suffer from what I refer to as a chronic case of "JB" (Judgment Blocker), and the more I drove, the worse it got. Judging from Johnny's and Thad's displays of judgment loss, it's safe to say the whole product line is cursed with this affliction. Day one ended with three spent idiots wondering what we had done, and what else we would try to clear the next day.
Day Two (Work)
Day two started early, and being that you probably want to hear a little bit about the actual machines, I'll spare you the details of our actual work day, which included more testing and a photo shoot. I can pretty much recap the day in just five words: Endless Fun, Jump, Turn, Repeat.
The Revolt seats one and outputs...
The Revolt seats one and outputs a whopping 72 horses via its Weber four-stroke motor.
Ergonomics, Fit And Finish
The biggest difference ergonomically between the Redline models and those of their competitors is the focus on high performance. Redline's machines have a feel that resembles a one-off race vehicle, as opposed to a mass-produced unit. While everything fits well, it's fairly no frills, consisting of high-quality basics, if you will. The instrument cluster is comprised of just three trick AutoMeter brand gauges (a tachometer, odometer and speedometer). The seats are top-notch Corbeau racing seats that come factory-equipped with Crow five-point harnesses. The tubular space frame, wrist restraints and quick-release steering wheel are all racecar features that Redline has chosen to include as part of standard equipment. The main differences (outside of the obvious passenger count) between the Riot and Revolt XL are as follows. The Riot has a cargo bed, with 2.8 feet worth of space, that is roomy enough to fit four stocked backpacks and tripods, but lacks any really good places to attach bungee cords. The Revolt's split-leg cab is a lot tighter and harder to get in and out of (your legs don't share the same space in the cab, there's one pedal in each leg compartment, which means you use both feet for driving as opposed to just your right foot). The Riot is comfortable in either seat, and there are plenty of places to hold onto, which is a huge complaint against its competitors.
While there's no fluff in the way of cup holders or nifty storage compartments in either machine, the Redlines don't exactly present you with an opportunity to require them. Chances are if you're in one of these vehicles, you're flat hauling butt and holding on for dear life. The bodywork on the machines is basic at best and has nothing in the way of nice body lines, but it's true to the "race-ready, no frills" theme of the machines. Our only complaint would be that the bodywork does little in the way of keeping mud and water out of the cab; if you hit any moisture at all, you're going to end up wearing it. Warning: It's best to roll with goggles that are prepped with tear-offs or Roll Off's.
The width of the Riot was our only real issue ergonomically. It's pretty wide measuring in at 68 inches. When you consider that the next widest machines in its class measure in at 60.5 and 58.7 inches, those 68 inches seem huge. Tight woods were for the most part off limits.
"The Redlines both suffer...
"The Redlines both suffer from what I refer to as a chronic case of 'JB' (Judgment Blocker), and the more I drove, the worst it got."
The Riot, Revolt and Revolt XL all share identical motors: Electronically fuel-injected 749cc twin-cylinder Weber SOHC four-strokes that put out an impressive 72 horsepower in stock trim. While the motors are identical, the 253-pound weight difference between the Riot and Revolt XL makes all of the difference in the world (the standard Revolt enjoys a 324-pound advantage). The Riot feels stout and powerful, while the Revolt XL feels like a full-on rocket ship. Power delivery on both is explosive, but the lighter Revolt XL is borderline scary. The sound each machine makes certainly adds to the "rocket-like" experience, as each could be compared to that of a built drag Yamaha Banshee. At just about any speed, the powerful Weber felt like it had more to offer. I can honestly say I don't think we ever got close to top speed in either machine, despite keeping them pinned for two days.
Suspension And Handling
The Redline suspension is what really sets these machines apart from anything else on the market; it's really just awe-inspiring. There's absolutely nothing that we found in over 2000 acres and four motocross tracks that would make you hesitate hitting it at speed. Both units came equipped with Fox Air Shocks front and rear, the Revolt XL boasts 17 inches of true front wheel travel and 16.5 inches in the rear, while the Riot measures in at an astounding 18 inches of true front wheel travel and 16.5 inches in the rear. Let me make this clear, no other machine comes close (trust me, I currently own their competition) to handling the rough stuff like the Riot.
As far as steering goes, our first impression (from 0-5 mph) was that it was way too stiff; at anything faster than that it's amazing on either machine. These machines are in desperate need of power steering if you plan on lollygagging around, but the truth is, lollygagging isn't exactly in their DNA. Just to be clear: Low speeds = excruciatingly stiff steering; high speeds = spot-on.
The overall handling on either machine is great, but being that outside of my 20-year-old Honda Odyssey memories I have no single-seater experience, I'll focus on the Riot. In a word, it's fantastic. The Riot really will make you do dumb things. I've never been a huge jumper in my side-by-sides because of three things: the consistent nosedive feel, the feeling of my organs bouncing up into my throat upon landing and, lastly but not leastly, because they never really feel like they're intended to fly (except maybe for the Polaris RZR-S). The Riot, on the other hand, not only feels like it can fly, it yearns to. To make matters worse, it not only flies straight, the landings are downright smooth feeling. Like I said earlier, it'll make you do dumb things, thankfully there are no negative repercussions. High-speed handling was top-notch in the Riot; the rear end loved to break loose when entering sweepers, which gave you an almost quad-like feel. The single-seater wasn't nearly as comfortable in those situations, and due to its narrower footprint felt as if it might want to roll.
So by now I'm sure you're wondering whether the years of yearning and pining over the Redlines were worth it. Unequivocally, yes. Redline's Riot is probably the funnest machine I've ever ridden in or driven. The Revolt XL is fun, too, but just not really my style. At $17,499 for the Riot and $14,999 for the Revolt XL, the prices may seem pretty high, but when you factor in how much you'd really need to invest in one of their competitor's machines to make them comparable, the Redlines are pretty damn reasonably priced. Would I purchase one? If I lived out in the wide-open West, I'd buy two of them, but the truth is, the stiff steering and excessive width aren't really conducive to the tight woods here in the East. If I could convince the locals to start a SxS MX series, I'd buy one in a heartbeat.
All in all, the American-made Redlines are an absolute blast, and we can't thank Redline enough for the opportunity and the unforgettable experience. For more information, check them out at www.redlineperforms.com.
(Editor's Note: Since writing the article, we've been informed by Redline that it has made a running change to the steering post angle and position on the Riot model. Redline reports a significant reduction in low-speed turning effort without any negative repercussions at high speed. While we haven't tested the new and improved steering characteristics for ourselves, we're sure they're steps in the right direction.)
|2009 Redline Riot (Two-Seater) / 2009 Redline Revolt XL |
|Retail price: ||$17,499 / $14,999 |
|Type: ||Weber Motors 72-hp, parallel twin-cylinder, |
|Displacement: ||749cc |
|Bore x stroke: ||85x66mm |
|Cooling: ||Liquid-cooled |
|Lubrication: ||Dry sump |
|Carburetion: ||Port-injected EFI, Walbro EMS |
|Starting: ||Electric |
|Drive system: ||Shaft, 2x4 |
|Transmission: ||CVT with Redline proprietary gearbox including reverse |
|SUSPENSION (TYPE/TRAVEL) |
|Front: ||Dual A-arms with 10 in. Fox Air Shocks |
(optional 10 in. Elka or Elka Elite coil-over shocks)
/18.0 in. true travel / Dual A-arms with chrome-moly 10 in.
Fox Air Shocks/17.0 in. true travel
|Rear: ||Swingarm with 10 in. Fox Air Shocks |
(optional 10 in. Elka or Elka Elite coil-over shocks)
/16.5 in. true travel / Trailing arm with 12 in.
chrome-moly Fox Air Shocks/16.5 in. true travel
|Front tires: ||26x8-12; optional DWT beadlocks / 23x8-12; |
optional DWT beadlocks
|Rear tires: ||26x10-12; optional DWT beadlocks |
|Front brakes: ||Willwood dual hydraulic discs |
|Rear brakes: ||HB Performance dual hydraulic discs |
|Wheelbase: ||84.0 in. / 81.0 in. |
|Claimed dry weight: ||1078 lb / 825 lb |
|Ground clearance: ||17.0 in. |
|Length/width/height: ||115.0/68.0/66.0 in. / 109.5/65.0/62.0 in. |
|Fuel capacity: ||5.5 gal. |
|LOAD CAPACITY |
|Cargo capacity: ||2.8 cu. ft. / NA |
|Lighting: ||Dual PIAA 55-watt Dichroic halogen |
|Instrumentation: ||Tachometer, speedometer, odometer |
|Colors: ||Black, red |
|+ ||Awesome power and superb handling |
|Stiff steering at low speeds, 68-inch width ||- |
|= ||An absolute rocket ship that could use some power steering |