For the 2010 ATV model year, Polaris Industries has stepped into the two-up or "passenger" market, with their all-new Sportsman Touring models. There will be an awesome 850 and a milder 550, with a 500 H.O. model for the more budget-minded.
Polaris Sportsman Touring ATVs
Getting right into the mix, we recently had the opportunity to ride the touring models with Polaris’s own "models". That’s kind of a play on words, but it means Polaris wanted us to ride shotgun while their own well-trained and experienced driver took us on a tour. I'll have to admit that it was tough not driving but it was a very comfortable ride on the back seat.
An adjustable shock on the passenger's seat made tuning for rider preference a dream. The plusher or softer setting was good, but to me it felt rather like an old recliner and may have let me rock back a bit too far. I figure if that’s the softest then I need the middle setting for a comfortable ride in the trails. The stiffest setting had a bit of edge to it but this wasn’t bad either. Adjustable tuning is always good. The seat back was like a very expensive office chair with a high back and it was suitable for rough trails, not to mention really spacious - it kind of sucked you into it. I just held onto the large vibration-absorbing hand holds and enjoyed the ride.
The foot rest area is raised and also vibration absorbing. And if you’re taking any canned or bottled refreshments with you, there are two cup holders with their own custom straps to keep the can or bottle in place during the ride.
Now imagine the results of a long day of riding with a passenger and no suspension modifications. Well that’s been addressed as well. Polaris installed rolled independent rear suspension upgrades to help compensate for the weight of the extra rider and the terrain. This combination of Rolled IRS and a progressive dual-rate spring reduces squat on the rear of the machine while providing better bump absorption. Having considered the weight of a second rider Polaris, made some changes to the brakes as well. They claim to have the largest braking discs on any two-up quads, for awesome stopping power.
Perhaps the biggest feature on the touring besides the extra seating is the Electronic Power Steering. Man, talk about a great addition to any ATV. This is good news to the driver as they, are the ones turning the beast while the passenger sits back and relaxes. Use of EPS is growing in the ATV world today and as journalists, we see it everywhere. Similar principles apply from manufacturer to manufacturer, but in slightly different formats. The Polaris EPS applies an anti-kickback steering assist that takes the bigger bumps out of the trail. Polaris claims to have the most powerful EPS on the market. I can say it feels great at low speeds and thinking of larger tires or more aggressive tread it sure would be great knowing the power steering would help turn the beast.
Polaris Sportsman Touring models will have many other great features. The 850 has a claimed 70 horsepower and the 550 also denotes a whapping 42 horses. They both are fed by an Electronic Fuel-injected System that breathes through a larger air box. More air and more fuel equals more power - or so I’ve been told!
The 850’s power is noticeable but with a passenger it’s mild at best. I hope to get a chance to test the HP ratings myself without a passenger real soon. These single-cylinder liquid-cooled engines seem to be a great power plant for Polaris and are known to be reliable as well. Add to that Active Descent Control and an Engine Braking System.
With the 14-inch cast aluminum wheels wrapped inside 26-inch Maxxis tires, the XP is showing through the delicate exterior of these touring ATV’s. Large floor boards, thick soft handgrips and effective mud/splash protect are just a few more valuable inclusions you get with these machines. Riding the Touring models is great fun and with the comfy rear seat I think I may need a chauffeur sometime, just to ride and relax.
Other models in the touring range include a Sportsman 500 H.O. that is dressed down just a bit from its more elite family of XP custom touring rides. With features like on-demand all wheel drive and the luxurious touring chair-style seating it’s sure to be an option for the lighter wallet. This model sports steel rims, 489 spec tires and comes pre-wired for a winch in the front bumper. It has the same engine braking system and long-travel suspension like its bigger siblings but lacks the adjustable shock on the seating for the passenger.
Each of the Sportsman-class rides also have multiple options for the Lock and Ride accessory department. The larger storage boxes and rack accessories are endless. Did we miss anything? Oh yes, the industry’s all-time best-selling transmission is packed into the Sportsman class ATV’s as well. Polaris’s PVT or Polaris Variable Transmission has long been a staple in the book of marketability for Polaris. This Sportsman 500 H.O. is considered the Value model in the touring stable.
And you though I was finished right? Well, it's not over just yet. There is one last two-up model to speak of. It’s not really classified in the Touring department but it rides two people so I thought you should hear about it as well.
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Polaris Sportsman 550 X2
The Sportsman 550 X2 is perhaps the most interesting version of a 2-up vehicle I have seen. There was a great deal of ingenuity in the way the rear seat/dump box combines to make a comfortable spot to sit for your rider. The dump box has a fold-away seat hidden in it and it takes literally seconds to convert the dumper into a place to rest. (I know what you're thinking and that’s not nice!)
Moving on, here I realized the Versatrac on-demand all-wheel-drive system on this model seemed to have a long name but it worked really well.
As with the rest of the field, the 550 X2 had very spacious floorboards and a nice narrower feel to the seat at the knee area, for better control. These machines all handle well and have plenty of power for the trail-ragers in recreational riding applicationss. This model boasts the same 42-horse power like its blown-out custom brother. All the Touring models have the XP chassis so the handling would be somewhat consistent.
|Sportsman 550 Touring - Indy Red||Sportsman 850 Touring - Blue||Sportsman 850 Touring - Indy Red|
|Sportsman 550 X2 - Red||Sportsman Touring 500 HO - Red||Sportsman Touring 500 HO - Green|
I Wanna Ride Longer
With all this, I could honestly say I will be glad to get some longer ride times on these machines. Only a single day examining and getting to know these machines wasn’t quite enough. The key points to go over would be that the machines ride surprisingly well for having an extra rider on the back. The suspension did not bottom-out like I had expected, and when cornering at speed, it seemed to hold its own as well. I noticed little body-roll in the chassis, but I couldn’t really give it what I wanted without thinking of how the passenger was feeling about it. Braking works very well on these Cadillac’s and if pressed, it can get change without hesitation. No worries there.
The engines in the Sportsmans are getting more and more power fed through the rear wheels but a dyno run will show where we stand for sure. It feels strong but I need visual Dyno proof to be sold on the 70 hp in the guts. As far as the Active Descent Control, I can attest to its ability to control the ATV on steep descents but I wonder if it’s not a bit over the top sometimes. Are they putting two names on one feature?
Overall the Touring models in Polaris’s line up for 2010 have many great advantages and can be considered for any level of adult riders or passengers. I think these tricked-out 2-ups have come a long way and if I was in the serious shopping mode, I wouldn’t pass by without strong consideration for sure. Call it what you will but I say its time to go ride, and with Polaris’s help I can take someone with me. Comfortably no doubt!
MODEL NAME MSRP
2010 MODEL YEAR RETAIL PRICE LIST
Sportsman 850 Touring EPS, Blue $10,999
Sportsman 850 Touring EPS, Red $10,999
Sportsman 550 Touring EPS, Blue $9,299
Sportsman 550 Touring EPS, Red $9,299
Sportsman 550 X2, Red $8,999
Sportsman 550 X2, Green $8,999
Sportsman 500 H.O. Touring, Red $7,399
Sportsman 500 H.O. Touring, Green $7,399
Sportsman 400, Green $5,699
Sportsman 400, Red $5,699
Sportsman 300, Green $4,999
Sportsman 300, Red $4,999
Sportsman 850 XP EPS, Sunset Red $9,999
Sportsman 850 XP EPS, Stealth Black $9,999
Sportsman 850 XP EPS, Green $9,999
Sportsman 850 XP EPS, Hunter Pack LE $10,799
Sportsman 850 XP, Red $8,799
Sportsman 850 XP, Green $8,799
Sportsman 850 XP, Camo $9,099
Sportsman 800 Big Boss 6X6 $9,999
Sportsman 800 EFI, Green $7,499
Sportsman 800 EFI, Red $7,499
Sportsman 550 XP EPS, Sunset Red $8,499
Sportsman 550 XP EPS, Green $8,499
Sportsman 550 XP EPS, Hunter Pack LE $9,199
Sportsman 550 XP, Red $7,299
Sportsman 550 XP, Green $7,299
Sportsman 550 XP, Camo $7,699
Sportsman 500 H.O. - Red $5,999
Sportsman 500 H.O. - Green $5,999
RZR 170, Red $3,999
RZR 170, Pink $3,999
Sportsman 90, Green $2,499
Sportsman 90, Indy Red $2,499
Outlaw 90, Red $2,499
Outlaw 90, Pink $2,499
Outlaw 50, Red $1,999
Outlaw 50, Pink $1,999
Outlaw 450 MXR, Red $7,399
Outlaw 525 S, Red $7,399
Outlaw 525 IRS, Red $7,699
Scrambler 500 4X4 $6,399
Trail Blazer 330, Red $4,299
Trail Boss 330, Red $4,299
Phoenix 200, Red $3,299
Phoenix 200, Pink $3,299