The months of May and June are usually pretty hectic for the staff here at ATV Rider. This is the time of year when many manufacturers debut their upcoming machines to the media hoping to drum up attention and interest by the time their vehicles are released to the public a month or two after we get our hands on them. As I returned from one trip, I had just a weekend to prepare for the trek to Great Falls, Montana, where Polaris had arranged for us to ride its latest and greatest ATVs and side-by-sides at the Bull Run Guest Ranch. Since I have never been to Montana before I was excited as my anticipation built to see someplace new, let alone aboard some new machines.
With the early release of the über-popular RZR 4 only six months before the 2011 product launch, ATVR Editor Thad and I could only imagine what might be in store for us. With other manufacturers releasing some amazing products only a few weeks prior, would Polaris come out swinging to keep its dominance in both the utility ATV and SxS markets? Our heads were filled with the thought of big-bore twin-cylinder engines for an even more powerful RZR or RZR 4-not that 800cc of screaming engine isn't big enough, but it never hurts to have a little more power... What we discovered wasn't what we had expected, but we were pleasantly surprised nonetheless. While there were plenty of models that featured improvements for 2011, three machines really grabbed the attention of Thad and I.
New For 2011
The first machines we were shown were the ATVs, and for this intro, it was the Sportsman 400 H.O. that truly caught our attention over all others. For 2011, the mighty 400 has been installed into a full-size chassis that features a unique styling that gives it a small and non-bulky appearance. Up front are a Lock & Ride front rack ready for a PURE Polaris front storage box, a raised and angled radiator location for less debris obstruction, a lower winch mount and a Sportsman XP-styled bumper headlight design. For suspension the new 400 is outfitted with a MacPherson strut front end that allows for 8.2 inches of travel while the rear is an IRS setup providing 9.5 inches of travel. What this all adds up to is that Polaris wanted to keep the popular 400cc machine in its lineup without riders feeling cramped on a small platform. This combination is designed to make an affordable quad that offers great performance, handling and basic utility duties.
The next two machines that tickled our fancy came from the RZR family of Polaris SxS machines. The entire RZR line receives a face-lift in the way of an aggressive front-end styling that is designed to increase radiator airflow by a whopping 29 percent. In addition to the front end redesign these units also feature new side-net protection for easy rider securing, an in-cab accessible glove box, high/low beam headlights and a fuel management system and fuel tank that offers a 30 percent improvement in range and better low-speed drivability. Other improvements include better clutch/belt cooling, improved front and rear drive durability, and sealed dash switches that should make every owner very happy compared to past units.