I’m just a normal guy who likes to ride, and I don’t necessarily need a highly technologically advanced machine with a huge list of price pumping features, to enjoy a good old-fashioned sporty trail ride. Luckily for many ATV enjoyers like me, Polaris knows how to put a line-up together so that people from all walks of life can enjoy the enriching experience of nature exploration at a fun pace.
The Scrambler has for long been the solution for many hardcore trail riders in need of venting urges to conquer more challenging terrain and pump more thrill out of a given trail. How? By simply continuing on, where buddies on their 2-stroke straight axle and good old chain driving just the back wheels type of quads, would be off of their rides, knee deep in something. Back then, this ride was taking sport quad riding into another dimension. Today, it might seem too simple in concept for some, but none can deny that it stays a very efficient platform to grow on for any hardcore trail rider. The Scrambler’s long lasting popularity is proof of that. Back when 4×4 capability was only reserved to square looking utility rides, the appeal of an all wheel drive sport quad was strong enough to build up quite a following for the Scrambler. When a formula works, it just does. In those days, we used to solely judge a ride’s coolness level on the amount of flying debris spewed by its rear wheels, no wonder the Scrambler idea caught on. More wheels spinning, more dirt flying, more riding and less pushing. That sounds good to me, as it did to many others through the years.
A better Scrambler
It lost its distinctive high beaming headlights, but certainly not its very trail able character. Now re-dressed in a whole set of plastics, with an integrated floorboard’s design; this quad looks like it’s a whole new ATV. In reality, this is basically the same good old Scrambler you’ve learned to love, but with a surprising number of improvements hidden under this more dressed-up looking shell. Some inspiration was obviously taken from their Outlaw line when drawing out the front with this single headlight design. This light is said to be 28 percent stronger, but if you ask me, it would have looked way better if they had brought back the old Outlaw twin headlights bug eyes set up onto this ride.
These esthetic changes also fall over into the ergonomics side of things; as the whole seat, side panels and shape of these new plastics seem to accommodate a lot more people of different sizes and riding styles, with better form and more room to move. I really liked the floor boards with their very grippy sides that protrude out a little more than they used to. As for this all new seat, I don’t quite remember if I ever said that a good seat can be a decisive factor when it comes to choosing the right ride for yourself, but it is, very much so. This plushier, thicker and also longer seat is incredibly comfortable and effective all the time; even when you’re not really sitting on it, but rather using its side. This seat is so great that Polaris themselves , as well as other manufacturers, should pay close attention to it and maybe profit from its seemingly excellent shape, form and healthy amount of foam, when designing other models’ seats. This is truly one of the most comfortable quads to ride today because of it.
Yes, this machine keeps its basic flair and that is mainly why it can remain so affordable. Still, there are some very practical improvements to be appreciated about this updated Scrambler, revamped for the next generation of avid ATV’ers, like a larger capacity fuel tank, and the addition of a remote fuel gauge. The chassis was also modified a bit, the skid plates thickness was pumped up for better durability and they improved the engine mounting points locations for added strength in the whole package. The Scrambler’s ground clearance fell from 5.5 inches to 4.75, but that is mainly because of a fatter new eccentric chain skid protection, which is said to be much stronger and effective than before. I don’t consider this small loss in clearance to be of any concern on such a straight axle equipped ride. It’s bound to rub very often anyway, so might as well have it better equipped to handle the constant beating. The front bumper is also new and much improved and doubles as great handles to pull it out of the mud when needed.
Another less noticeable change at first glance, is that this new Scrambler uses of the Sportsman’s front struts, but with new springs, specifically rated to accommodate this ride. A new swing arm suspension spring was also installed to improve ride quality. Jumping this 4×4 sport 500, didn’t feel one bit as awkward as on other much heavier quads, such as the Renegade 500. At least the plastics here on this ride, all stayed in place, even after numerous landings.
Fun times in the trails for all
I shouldn’t get much enjoyment out of testing such a basically equipped ride, since I’m usually riding all kinds of state of the art technology equipped quads. Much to my surprise, as soon as I was off on this zippy-looking 500, I stood up instinctively, and stayed as such through most of my short, but intense trail ride. Steering is really easy and precise and its high stance and high handlebar position make riding it very different from most quads. I found that this difference actually brings up the fun factor and it was really cool to experiment with this totally different ergonomic approach.
This higher and more laid back posture imposed by the high handlebars, with a few other things, make this ride much more fun to ride in tight trails where one can really put its 4WD capability to good use. It is a much better woods conqueror than a sand thrower for the dunes. I was mostly riding in 2WD mode and yet, it still kept biting pretty hard at the rear tires in turns. Despite the fact that it uses a good old straight axle design at the rear, it sort of felt like this was an IRS (Independent Rear Suspension) equipped ATV, as the rear spring gets compressed a little when you squeeze the throttle, creating more grip rather than only making the wheels spin more and lose grip. Power from this carbureted mill is ample and I would not blame the bit of lag I felt on take off, on a lack in low-end power, but rather on how the transmission smooth’s it in a little too much, when pressing hard on the gas.
Popping wheelies also takes a bit of convincing and that was clearly a good thing when climbing rough steep hills. I like this kind of set up and I would suggest it to beginners because it keeps the rider from going too fast in a turn, and lets him feel this tipping effect in a very gradual and predictable fashion. It gives the rider more time to react and it is strangely very forgiving of a rider’s imperfect maneuvers. You have to be quite aggressive and confident to get it to drift. I’m not saying this kind of behavior isn’t a good thing, it just suits some riders and doesn’t others.
Further exploring this particular trait, we discovered that, oddly enough, this tendency to tip, uncovered another very good riding aspect of the Scrambler. When the wheels did lift off the ground, it wasn’t ever a surprising experience and recovery was very easy. In fact, we often do this sort of thing on purpose, balancing on just two wheels to one side when more in a stunt rider kind of mode, and the Scrambler was one of the easiest to control in this abnormal position.
In conclusion, I have to admit being pleasantly surprised by the 2009 Polaris Scrambler in general. I wouldn’t suggest any fancy upgrades from fear that those would jack up the price quite a bit while only improving just a little. Only simpler things, which could make quite a difference; like a foot brake pedal more adequately placed under the rested sole of your boot, and ready to be activated much more quickly and efficiently, without your foot having to leave its grip on the peg. Adding just a little bit of plastic around the 4×4 switch would also be a cheap fix, which would make it impossible to be activated inadvertently when riding hard.
Long live the Scrambler! I hope I get to ride it again soon. This time I’ll try not to lose my head as much and forget that I’m carrying important things like my cell phone and other ogjects that could get completely destroyed in my back pack. Remember not to pack any fragile trinkets along when you hop on this baby. It might scramble it all up as it
For more information on the above mentioned models, please visit the Polaris Website