The decision of packing this monstrously powerful sport ride in the back of the ATV Trail Rider pick-up truck was taken on the fly, as I was still doped by this now well- known and respected shenanigan’s expertise to please the most demanding off road sport rider. The 450 version had pleased me quite a bit in satisfying my weekly need for a bit of ATVing anarchy, in private places, and with all the recommended safety gear on. As would a true outlaw, this Polaris shows no mercy, doesn’t have the same meaning of fear than most other law abiding quads.
Polaris claims that the bigger bore straight axle Outlaw is the perfect ATV for the sand dunes, thanks in part to this 510cc KTM® racing engine, the Fox Podium X® Racing Shox and Maxxis® RAZR® radial tires. I just had to be my own judge of that and find out how much truth there was to this claim. I needed sand, which is actually a rare thing for us to find in and around our usual riding and testing areas. A bit of chatting around with other passionate ATV users, earned me an invitation to ride out far up north to find some. “I’ve got the perfect spot for you”, Claude said with a childish enthusiasm, but he warned that getting there might be the bigger challenge.
I could have chosen from a few other comfortable rides for such an extra long trip out in the middle of nowhere. A Sportsman Touring, an X2, a Can-Am Renegade or even the RZR4 Robby Gordon Edition, would surely have rendered the challenging trip into an easier, much more relaxed race through the mountains. Our destination was to be a good and fun to conquer 175 kms away. We had brought more than enough fuel for that distance and even extra for playtime in paradisiacal sand dunes, hidden in the vastness of the Quebec province’s deep endless woods. The starting point was in St-Michel-des-Saints, just about one hour’s drive north of Montreal, and my guides had been doing that same trail ride for the past 20 years, so I had total confidence that we would get there by dinner time as planned, and get a chance to really go out and play hard in the sand, to digest our tasty barbecued meal. And so the 2010 Polaris Outlaw 525 S it was. I kind of felt weird being the only one in full racing colours and matching gear, among guys on their devoted Hondas dressed in camouflage and working boots.
These guys are fishermen and hunters, with no understanding whatsoever of why anybody in their right mind, would want to put so much effort into crossing so many obstacles challenging even for four wheel drive machines, just for a bit of play in warm soft sand. Following in their steps, to reach it on that thing was in their opinion, crazy! So what if I would maybe need a few tows with their winches, or muscle out of a mud hole or two? The thought of a ride being somewhat challenging had never scared me before. I knew that following the same challenging path as very able riders on their 4×4 quads would be very interesting, to say the least! We had the Ranger RZR4 Robby Gordon Edition tailing along and carrying everything you can think of, except for rain coats, umbrellas or any other thing able to shield a human from rain, go figure. We simply forgot and the weather man (or woman) had called for all but pure sunshine the whole weekend.
So we were off. The first part of our ride would be riding on the endless web of wide and open gravel roads that span the entire province. This type of super trail is purposely built for loggers with their huge rigs, most of the time rolling well over the speed limit. This would be the surface we would be riding on for about 90% of the whole weekend. The most challenging part was the last 10% to get to our cottage, in some of the most treacherous trails I had ever had to conquer on a straight axle sport quad. The speed limit on those wide serpentine roads is 70 km/h and so our cruising speed was obviously just a little over that. Hey I’m not the outlaw, it’s my ride’s fault. I soon realized that one of the first challenges of using this particular type of quad for such a long trip would be to stay within the boundaries of the law.
The break in of the potent KTM engine was done and so I could at the very least, let my craving for acceleration take the better of me. The first few such outbursts were telling of things to come, as I struggled to keep the front down and scared away all animals with a few backfires. After our second stop, a few hours later, my whole body was starting to ache, but I was the only one to blame, not having even just warmed up before we left. Might as well just go one click up to second gear right away; a thick dust cloud forms right behind me and I gun the third gear as well. By now I’m already well over the limit and I slow down for yet another over crest turn, which could hide a huge truck blazing in from the opposite direction. Back down into second, squeeze of the throttle; get up on the pegs, while leaning to the left for the long slide pushing out the back end along the exterior edge just to make sure, I peek at the other side. My front wheels climb up again as I still stand and keep the drift going for as long as possible. The same pattern repeats itself, but the hill isn’t as steep this time and the turn is not as aggressive.
I repeat the same sweet dance, but this time in fourth and third gears, with the same blissful motion, but this time sitting down on my huge and very comfortable seat. I’m already impressed, yet the ride seems to want even more. Not a soul in sight, not even a squirrel or bird! So, I switch into full racer mode, just for a turn or two I told myself, as fast as I possibly can. Ok, beat me up with a stick! Here I am far from any civilization and I’m surely many clicks ahead of my guides. Up front, of course, another hilltop, followed by a diving curve that swoops down right to the edge of a small lake this time, which I only discovered the beauty once up on top of the hill. I’m coming in so fast that I can’t even downshift, I’m in fifth gear now, way up there in RPMs, still with the torque needed to perform what I consider to be the sweetest power slide I had ever done! Just a bit of weight transfer to the back by planting my boots back into the heel guards, and here I was doing a power wheelie in fifth gear! I was in love!
Throwing in one of the most powerful off road engines that exist right now automatically rendered the 2010 Polaris Outlaw 525 S (and IRS) one of the fastest sport quads available. The KTM engine is, no doubt, a serious masterpiece of lightweight high performance engineering, that had already proven its worth in KTM’s own ATV racing machines, which by the way are pretty much the only other kind faster than this bad boy from Polaris. Its distant cousin, the KTM 525 XC, is a bit faster and offers a few other better things, but you would need to cough up two extra thousand dollars for it. The liquid-cooled race bred engine puts out a massive amount of torque, which stays palpable at the tip of your thumb, even on up at higher revs. It actually becomes even more obvious, as you climb up the gears and it stays there with you through all five of them, on the manually shifted transmission, with reverse.
The Magura hydraulic clutch works absolutely perfect! It is super smooth, with just the right amount of pull, and even offers a very quick and easy adjustment knob, so that any size fingers can get the same comfortable and easy feel. Getting it into neutral was hellishly tough and frustrating. I got to find that sweet spot of a motion it needed, but I still struggled with it often, despite now being used to riding this bike. At 167.4 kg (369 pounds), this super fast 2010 Polaris Outlaw 525 S is almost as light as a 450cc sport quad. This means it should take flight on the motocross tracks, just as well as we had found the Outlaw 450 to be a year ago, when both of these, as well as the IRS version of the 525, had been shaved down a bit in weight and graced with this more modern look.
The high stance, extended up handlebar and extra long and a tad wide seat were ergonomically perfect for my tall and fairly hefty body. After many more hours of riding, we got to a crossroads and I more than needed a break. The vibration caused by the millions of small holes in the gravel I had flown over, was still felt in my now constantly buzzing hands. First fault detected, the bottom rear fender mounting points were both cracked, but oddly enough it didn’t seem to matter all that much, since those pointy ends stayed in place despite the break.
I knew there was something wrong with this picture; it was now dark, surprisingly cold and wet for that time of year and we were still riding on. One junction had been totally transformed, and the T we were supposed to turn left at, we totally overshot. My quad became my brother in arms, battling incredibly tough sections with aggressive care and optimistic approach. The Outlaw’s raw power became my savior, as I kept a fast and regular pace and then gunning it through, or sometimes even fly over puddles and mud baths. We finally reached our destination in the middle of the night. I turned around to gaze at my devoted partner in crime, now completely colorless and awfully quiet, I couldn’t help but let out a crazed man’s scream of joy and kick a tire like I would have slapped a buddy on a shoulder in celebration of a great accomplishment!
Not too many bad things to say about this bad boy of the ATV market; you might want to keep an eye on your temperature sensor, placed almost at the base of the left side radiator holding tank. Those seem to have a tendency to snap off when giving the ride a good dose of what it was made for; dust and rock throwing fun in the sun, that is. Unglued from the base, one half of the sensor remained plugged into the connector, which was quite easily spotted as the loose wire dangled in plain view. The fan not turning and engine getting too hot, was the resulting problem. This had also occurred with the 450 we tested last year. A generous dab of Contact glue did the trick and it never fell off again. Not too happy about the use of the same old huge thumb throttle body either, which can chew up gloves and hands in record time. We hope that ugly and wounding part will soon disappear completely, to be replaced by the new much smaller rounded one they are now using for all the big Sportsman quads. You have to love the fact that it has the ETC (Electronic Throttle Control), which prevents throttle sticking incidents.
The seat’s fabric was also a bit quick to get torn out from under the seat. It sticks to your pants a little too much and that’s why it was torn. I admit being a bit rough on it, since I have a tendency to slide my body down in turns, as much as I used to on my old Tri-Z 250. I ended up lifting my bum and placing it where I thought it needed to be for the next turn, instead of sliding down gradually as needed, to try and prevent it from tearing too much. On the other hand, I wouldn’t change its nice shape and the foam was perfect for extra long rides such as this one. As you can see (eh, I mean read), these are all just little pet peeves that pertain mostly to fit and finish. All the main aspects, which should be good, are actually great Power to please the most experienced trail riders; handling to carve to the front of the pack in a race;and a very plush and comfortable suspension and seat for all day fun in the trails or dunes.
I finally did have my fun in the sun on the small dunes Claude had talked about, but oddly enough I kind of got bored fast, of just turning around, without an objective, and missed the long dipping curves and higher speeds. We rode all that day to get back home and again my new partner in crime, the 2010 Polaris Outlaw 525 S, performed flawlessly!
For more information on the above mentioned models, please visit the Polaris Website