There’s nothing more exciting than a big, entire line-up, press launch! With the advent of new automotive derived technologies, such as power steering and intricate suspension systems hitting the ATV realm of late, we of course expected BRP to have a new power steering system, but we also had a feeling they were up to something bigger. Of course our innovative friends at Can-Am, once again, did not disappoint us and came up with yet another industry first: an air-controlled rear suspension system. That’s not all the passionate people at BRP had to brag about, and they made sure they had their most spectacular looking and graphically redesigned Outlander XT models and Renegade 800 X xc parked first in view as we arrived on site. Man, you will love those spiffy looking wheels! Check them out, the mix of yellow and black has never looked so good on a quad!
A bagful of new stuff for the true enthusiasts
Let’s not keep you waiting and tell you what new goodies can be expected. For 2010 BRP’s Can-Am products will provide innovation, not only through its technologies, but also through its value-added packages. Even more stunning looks are on the menu, as are debuts of several model changes and new technologies. The MAX LTD family will now include two choices: the Outlander 800R MAX EFI LTD and the new Outlander 500 MAX EFI LTD. Only these are graced with Can-Am’s all new Air-Controlled Suspension (ACS) which, lets the rider adjust the rear suspension to six different levels according to many different conditions, such as riding solo or with a passenger or carrying heavy loads. Logically enough, they thought of adding a small air hose snuggly tucked under the seat so that one can use the same compressor that operates the system to inflate his tires. The biggest news Can-Am had in store for us is by far their new Dynamic Power Steering system with two different levels of assist to choose from.
Dynamic Power Steering
Gladly for all users, BRP engineers considered that contrary to automotive applications, power steering on an ATV should not be a “one-level-fits-all” thing and as much as many users can profit from a lot of assist in steering, other riders might want to keep a tighter bond with the ground with less. In comes their Dynamic Power Steering (DPS) system with two different modes. Switching from Minimum to Maximum assist was as easy as pushing a button on the digital instrument panel. The system is called dynamic not just to sound fancy, but because it is truly speed sensitive. As the speed of the vehicle changes, so does the amount of assist. When blasting down a fire road, the assist level is at a lower amount so the ride stays safe and stable while always offering a good amount of dampening when hitting rocks or bumps at high vehicle speed. At slower speeds; the amount of assist is, of course, increased.
This stays true in both available DPS modes. One can choose Min or Max no matter the terrain conditions and it is not at all a requirement that the DPS be in Min mode at high speeds, or that the Max mode is chosen at lower speeds. Can-Am is simply giving the riders a choice in how much assist they want, no matter the conditions. Everyone has different riding styles and preferences, and they feel that in a wide-ranging condition off-road riding, this is a very important choice that they wanted their clients to keep control over, a philosophy I totally agree with. Of course, I was more of a Min mode kind of guy as I was throwing around a particularly large feeling 2010 Outlander 650, with its noticeable 7% increase in power over this year’s model, as violently as I would the new DS 450’s, but trust me I would still be of those gratefully slipping it into Max mode on other long, slow and smooth rides my girlfriend and I frequently enjoy.
A buffet of quads
Even if I’m on a diet, or just trying to stay fit for quading, don’t put me in front of an all you can eat buffet, and expect me to hold back. The only reason why I would only take a little bit of something would be to leave room for something else that will fancy my pallet. Well, we lucky media guys, had a buffet of machines to appease our hunger for all kinds of ATVing; anything from big two-ups to tiny minis, with an impressive line-up of sport quads. For some odd reason, maybe because it is the most powerful quad ever, the Renegade 800X xc was tough to get a taste of. Like too few crème caramels in an all you can eat dessert counter, the few units available were quick to disappear and I would have to stand there doing nothing for a good while, wiping the drool from off of my face from time to time, until a sampling of this delicacy of the modern ATV world re-appeared in front of me. No sweat, I would follow the logical order of things and make my main course all those wonderful utility quads and keep the sportier rides for dessert at the end of the day.
The bulkiness I was used to feel on Can-Am utility quads wasn’t nearly as bad with the new Dynamic Power Steering (DPS) system, standard equipment only on the XT and XT-P models, as it worked its magic on my first ride of the day: a 2010 Outlander 800 XT-P. The “P” meaning I had the prettiest possible with the added shiny premium painted black and yellow finish, mud guards and model specific black cast-aluminum wheels with cool- looking yellow plastic inserts that really make a positive difference to the usually plain look of stock wheels on most utility quads. I was quickly changing the system from Minimum to Maximum to get a feel of both modes and was immediately pleased with the way it seamlessly gave more or less assist, depending on my riding conditions regardless of which mode I chose. If there’s a downside to power steering on an ATV, it is having too much assist which can render the ride less predictable and stable at high speeds. This was definitely not the case here and this somewhat intelligent system only brought positives to the whole riding experience on such a large machine. At very high speeds, the system seems like it doesn’t work at all but it actually does keep contributing to the ride’s high comfort level by efficiently dampening jerks in the bars from hitting obstacles.
The day had just started, and here I was one whole half of me drenched in water. I should be the one to know when it’s ok to venture into a given water hole, trust me I’ve had my share of muddy episodes, and this fairly short puddle, no wider a normal ATV stance, didn’t even have me second guessing with this monstrous and so far impressively effective all terrain vehicle as my trail buddy. As soon as my wheels hit the water half of me and my ride were submerged in almost four feet of water. I could only burst in laughter as it all happened so simply and efficiently. Despite its completely sideways position, getting it out took very little effort as the bottom wasn’t all that soft and the obviously efficient threads present on the sidewalls of my Carlisle ACT tires, meant I merely needed to pull all of my weight to the side, hold that cut-off release button and have my buddy John Arens jerk the throttle a few times and help me steer it from the other side. The fact that I was so quickly out of this predicament made the entire incident all that funnier. It clearly demonstrated how today’s ATVs are so much more able than they used to be, and how even experienced riders can quickly slip into trouble. Good thing is that in this sport, getting in trouble is part of the fun!
The next machine to test was the 650. In spite of the fact that I was freezing, I had to push the test as much as I did on the previous 800, to get some idea of the different power output..Surprisingly enough, there wasn’t all that much difference with the 800, and this 650 rather felt like a 700 or 750, not to mention that we went on a little further into tighter trails this time around. So, I didn’t miss the extra power of the 800. Can-Am engineers have succeeded in coaxing an additional 7% more power than the already impressively efficient Rotax engine which is said to offer an amazing 60 horsepower. More than enough for most types of users.
We went on the hunt for even tougher terrain, without a worry about traction as the Visco-lok front differential, with no rev or speed limiter, decided on when it was best to have traction up front on its own. Combined with the new DPS, this automatic type of differential is now more fluent in its operation and whatever lag the system had before has gone, since this new QE calibration is in accordance with the now new different feel in steering. This lag was actually never a defect and if the system would have been as quick to act at delivering power to the front wheels as it is now set to react on traction changes almost instantly, the jerking effect in steering would have been too bothersome. The presence of assist in steering not only made the whole ride feel much lighter, but also made operation of the Visco-lok system more efficient and much smoother in rocky sections. I’m not one to complain about getting dirty while riding, but I do think they could have made improvements on the base models in that sense. Only XT versions seemed to offer good protection with their added mud-guards.
I skipped on riding the 500 and 400, knowing pretty much what to expect. Apart from the new front facia on every Outlander model which is said to offer better air-flow to the radiator, they were pretty much the same as the 2009’s. This doesn’t mean I think they are any less fun to ride, but it was just too many quads to try in just a day. Anyway, it seemed there were a few DS and Renegade models available for us to try.
It was a bit of an odd feeling to hop on a 2010 DS 450X mx right there and then, when I was still actively working on a shootout between a 2009 copy of the same ride up against the 2009 KTM 450 SX. Actually, it’s the exact same ride, accept for new graphics, a redesigned and improved radiator grill and new nerf bars with netted heel guards and side extensions adjustable to a variety of customizable widths. So I just confidently blasted my way around a true all-out MX racetrack, already knowledgeable of its forgiving reactions to rider errors, great handling and high level of comfort. I was, of course, having a ball. The fun factor was undoubtedly high on any of the DS models; the basic, the X mx and the X xc alike, and I was enjoying all the great things these had to offer, but was a bit disappointed to notice that the 450 was still lacking a bit of humph in the lower revs. Still, for such a young model, the DS, in any of its three different forms, remains very impressive in all-around performance and value. These really good-looking 2010 versions are bound to keep on pleasing a great number of serious sport riders and racers.
Last, but certainly not the least, were the new Renegades for us to try out. Again here, as soon as climbing aboard, it felt like ¨déjà vu¨¸ as I’ve had the privilege to ride a 2008 unit for a full year and was generally more than pleased with this impressive piece of technology. Incredibly enough, they had given the 09 a 7% increase in power which I had not yet gotten a taste of. Not to mention that the all new X xc version was offering clear improvements on the very few things I had judged to be improvable. The steering I thought was a bit hard and this was taken good care of with Can-Am’s all new DPS standard equipment on this highly attractive and all powerful beast of the ATV world. The system worked just as well on this ride as it did on the Outlander and the thought of being able to ride this cool monster for longer periods with less fatigue had me smiling like a kid at Disneyland. The wheels on the new X xc Renegade 800, are a huge improvement over those on the base model. Huge yellow ringed beadlocks not only contribute a great deal to the much nicer look, but offer much more piece of mind for those hardcore sport riders. I wasn’t scared to attack the really rough stuff and it was nice not to worry about being stuck with a flat way out there in the middle of nowhere.
There you have it! There is a lot for Can-Am fans to be excited about for the coming year, and a lot for other manufacturers to worry about, as they will once again have to analyze a lot of new technologies, brought forward by a company that is known to thrive in satisfying the most passionate and demanding racers, trail riders, workers, farmers and hunters with innovative ideas that encourage them to better themselves, and in the process, the whole ATV experience.
For more information on the above mentioned models, please visit the Can-Am Off-Road Website