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2011 Can-Am Outlander 800R X-XC Review : Long Term

2011 Can-Am Outlander 800R X-XC Review : Long Term

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The success of BRP’s X-Package concept with other models has prompted the addition of such advantages to its popular Outlander line of recreational-utility ATVs. The result is an Outlander, with a knack for racetracks only. This is just the coolest-looking Utility ATV you’ve ever seen! Who would have thought you could turn so many heads with a Utility quad in the box? Lucky for guys with a need for awesomeness in true hard-core trail riding abilities or for all-out racing potential to win trophies; the Outlander 800R X-xc is a reality.

My favourite Can-Am used to be the DS-650. Big power, but with a suspension that permits you to harness all of it. Then the Renegade kind of took its place on top, with a level of power I had for long dreamed about, but never thought I would get, and of course looks to nearly die for. Not long after, the X-xc version of the Renegade totally rocked my world! Now, with all the right add-ons, this beautiful beast could truly perform to its full potential as well, thanks to its most important aspect a:  high-performance suspension system. This X packaged Outlander 800R now gets the same treatment, which could very well transform it into a new favourite ride; one with the power to accomplish just about any off-road task.

Developed closely with Can-Am racers and race-team partner companies in the Can-Am Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) series, the racing series have been the main sponsor for the past three seasons. The new 2011 Can-Am Outlander 800R X-xc is tagged as a high performance Cross Country ATV. Both the utility class racer and the aggressive trail rider will be pleased with this ride’s race-inspired upgrades, which enable a more confident approach to taking on rough terrain. Hand guards, pre-runner style bumper, skid plate and beadlock wheels give this ride a noticeable amount of extra toughness.

“The expansion of our popular X-Package concept to the Can-Am Outlander 800R is a natural progression, as we bring more to the ATV enthusiast,” said Yves Leduc, Vice President and General Manager of BRP’s North American division.

SOMETHING OR EVERYTHING
If you want all the high-performance features found on the Renegade 800R X-xc, but are still in need of some work-oriented capacities in your ATV, this new Outlander 800 X-xc will satisfy the most demanding user imaginable. Splash protection might seem like a dull detail to point out, but it can also be a big factor for some, who would never have gone for a Renegade, for that reason alone. Truth is, quite a few of us want the best of both worlds: a sporty and fun machine to play with; a weekend trail warrior, as well as a hard-working mule for daily chores. The cool fact is that many of these add-ons also make it a tougher ride. We all know we can’t ever have too much of that with ATVs, whatever the type of usage!

It is perfectly fine to use this Utility as any other would be: pushing, pulling, carrying just about anything around your property, but with the dual-mode Dynamic Power Steering and advanced, fully adjustable KYB HPG suspension system, and other X package additions, the Outlander loses a lot of its big work ATV look and feel; making room for more intense action possibilities. Those two new elements are pretty major ones as they can affect the control aspects quite considerably, in a positive way. The harder I drive this quad, the more I discovered how better it performed. With this said, it is imperative that its users understand that it is still much larger and heavier than any Sport quad; precautions must be taken when having fun, out there in the middle of nowhere. First and foremost, being well-protected with all the right gear and the all imperatively important helmet; is an absolute must!

Furthermore, I personally, wouldn’t leave the racks on it, if they are rarely used and the machine is exposed to extreme rides on a regular basis. As the rear rack is set now, it will surely remind you of its presence when you hike your pace, with an unfriendly tap on the side of your bum. Never ride hard alone and respect rules and laws everywhere. Playing with the abundant acceleration is fine, yet keeping the gas on for longer than just a few seconds with such a powerful machine is never a good idea, as it will be enough time to climb way higher than the usual trail speed limit. In addition, one has to gradually get acquainted with this mighty Outlander’s new abilities, new feel, and more importantly, not to be fooled by its much improved ease of use. At the “Max” setting, the power steering has a tendency to make the rider forget that he is using a very large machine. It will need much more distance to come to a stop, and react less to a rider’s weight shifting, than on any of the 450 sport quads. This is why I strongly suggest you keep it at the “Min” setting, to keep as much trail feedback as possible, at least in the beginning. This is a very personal thing though, and endurance racers will surely want to use this speed and shock sensitive assistance in steering, as much as possible. Still, I was glad to learn that the 2012 version has an added third mode now, with even less assistance.

Like all other DPS (Dynamic Power Steering) equipped Can-Am quads, its Visco-Lok front drive system has a quicker engagement point. Meaning the crisp throttle response can be put to good use, when skipping over a medium-sized fallen tree blocking your path, without really ruining the fun yet logical pace you had locked in for that fun bit of tight trails. This is a task this ride truly mastered. The ITP Holeshot ATR radial tires also played a key part in achieving this log skip, with ease. There, somewhat ballooned-shape worked in perfect harmony with the front suspension’s high-speed compression, set a little higher than factory, in accordance with my hefty body and tendency to slam the front frequently when rolling down the back of a bump, too much on the rear wheels. What can I say? I get a case of happy thumb and the extra slap on the throttle comes naturally. It feels so great, when perfectly landed flat on all fours, that I’ve made it a habit of rolling over one particularly fun, sharply rounded bump, on a trail we often use. These ITP tires were really good to us all-around; from the fun times we had creating our own trails on our good friend Ben’s property, in thick snow last March, to the hot sand I try and throw up every chance I get, now in July. Mounted on these superb-looking beadlock wheels, they become part of a package that creates much more peace of mind in attacking some really rough stuff on your path.

NICELY SUSPENDED
BRP’s team of bold and knowledgeable engineers went exactly in the right direction, when including this very noticeably upgraded suspension on this new form of Cross-Country race monster Outlander. Many experts or racers could tell you that upgrading this element can make a much bigger performance gain, than just adding more power to the engine. In its more basic forms, the Outlander quad actually pushes the limits of how much power a machine can keep under control. The most powerful quad on the market gains much more ability with the addition of this hot-looking, but more importantly, very race- oriented X package. You could just leave your fully adjustable shocks, as they are set at the factory, but that would be a great shame. One must understand that many serious trail riders spend high dollars, just to get this ability of fine tuning the suspension in accordance to rider style, weight and the specific conditions in which the ATV is used.

The Low and High speed compression settings might sound like complicated science to some, but it doesn’t have to be. If the user takes his or her time and only simply performs small changes with only one adjustment at a time, they can get a true feel of how they each affect their ride. There is an order to respect, though. Ride height will be a crucial element to start with, which is adjusted with the threaded pre-load adjustments on the springs. Next, is the Low speed compression, which can be judged in tight turns and under braking. You want the ride to stay as comfortable as possible with the less tilting effect as possible in turns. This should be practiced on a flat surface at a speed, which is very comfortable for you at first, and then you can repeat the exact same turn many times, only accelerating a little bit more each time, getting a bit closer to the top edge of your comfort zone. It is important to retry the same curve, with only a little bit more speed each time. Try five clicks on the adjustment one way or the other at first, to feel a good difference and decide if you need more or less of it. It is also important, to apply the same changes at all four corners at the same time. You can later tweak the front and back separately, if needed. The High speed compression and rebound adjustments should follow, and be tested through sequences of bumps, and upon landing of small jumps. It is important to keep tabs on every click you turn on the dials. Taking notes is very good practice.

Expert riders know how much a good suspension system can change a ride for the better. All of that 71-HP of power from the large V-twin Rotax engine, can be a handful at times, but once you’ve dialled in your front KYB HPG aluminum piggyback shocks, and rear KYB HPG remote reservoir shocks with dual-speed compression, rebound and threaded preload adjustments, to your very own sweet spot, this quad will help you better your skill level, all the while making intense manoeuvres safer to execute. It might also be helpful to know that there isn’t such a well-suspended version of the new 2012 Outlander 800R. There is no X-xc version of the newly revised Outlander 800R, or the all-new 1000. You will need to revert back to the Renegade for an X-xc package.

FOR THE LOVE OF QUADS
It might seem like I am totally in love with this ride? That’s because I am! For me, on a very personal level, this ride is the ultimate one! With it, come certain advantages that I, as an experienced and more importantly, large rider, can truly appreciate. This does not mean that I would recommend this quad to just any rider. Certain aspects, such as the generous power output, judged to be positive ones for my riding needs, can be considered negative ones for others; like for example new riders just starting out. Would you let your son drive the most powerful car out there, to learn the basics?

At an age when you know they are going to experience certain mishaps, as part of their normal learning curve? There is room for improvement on certain things, which will always be the case, I guess. The shifter can feel sticky at times, heat shielding isn’t all that great, but I wasn’t riding this quad slow enough for that to be a problem for me. The rear brake sticks a bit too much upon release, because of the somewhat too aggressive engine braking. All those are issues that have been solved on the new 2012 800 and 1000 Outlander rides, by the way. Still, the great handling, awesome power and high level of comfort, truly outweigh those small peeves. Not to mention that the only problem encountered, after riding 560 km with this unit, was a burnt fuse that had me lose 4WD capability, and lights for just a few hours of riding.

Looking out the window right now, I see it shining under heavy rain. I can’t believe I am truly feeling sadness in seeing it off. I don’t care if it isn’t mine. It represents all that I have wished for in a quad, during all those long years of riding and I’ve had time to grow much attached. Wow! What a fun test this has been!

For more information on the above mentioned models, please visit the Can-Am Off-Road Website

More from Can-Am on ATV Trail Rider :

Can-Am ATV Models – Can-Am UTV Models – Can-Am ATV Reviews – Can-Am UTV Reviews

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Alain Assad

Alain Assad

Off-Road Powersports Journalist
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