As the sun crept up from behind the mountains south east of the small city that never sleeps Las Vegas Nevada, a tiny dust cloud far out into the distance reminded me of what we were here for. Odd that so much is invested to entertain here, yet I just couldn’t wait to be away from the crowds and all this flashy stuff, comfortably strapped into BRP’s latest creation for fun-iinducing purposes, the 2013 Can-Am Maverick 1000r.
This is one very powerful machine, not just because it has a potent 101 hp producing new Rotax 1000 engine, but rather because it has the potential to totally change how you enjoy terrain conquering in general. Although obvious that this vehicle is mainly a Commander on steroids, the end product is quite different and a lot more satisfying in all performance aspects. Enough to make me double check my seatbelt and tighten my helmet just a little more. Not that it wouldn’t be a good idea to do that in any off-road vehicle, but trust me, when you first press the big start button in the middle of the dash, like you would in a race car, and hear that distinctive Can-Am growl, it will automatically heighten consciousness of all security aspects.
So why not name it the same and just add a few letters at the end to underline its speciality, like Can-Am usually does? Well for starters, there is nothing utility about this vehicle, but it is built on the same chassis, with modifications most noticeable at the rear, to accommodate the Maverick’s entirely different rear suspension system, which does, along with its extra power, place this vehicle in the full-sport category. Why would they call it “Maverick”? It’s fun to look up the origins and definition of that name, noun or adjective. As a noun, it describes someone who exhibits great independence in thought and action; “rebel” would be a synonym. As an adjective, it means someone independent in behavior or thought. Hum, fitting, meaning someone or something irregular, unorthodox. BRP’s very easy to be around marketing guys told us that despite the resemblance to the Commander, a lot about this new vehicle made it worthy of its own name. They wanted to make sure it was viewed as the totally different in performance Side x Side that it is.
For now, only the 1000 Rotax powers the Maverick full-sport Side by Side vehicles, available in basic or X-rs form that boasts larger Fox shocks with more adjustability, tougher and trouble-free beadlock wheels, X package style graphics and seats that are totally the bomb with a bit of added yellow and white. Like the Commander, a large quantity of accessories was created to personalize any Maverick. Our short ride with a fully accessorised unit with body armor, roof, doors, rear tire rack, audio system, GPS, and more, reminded us how longer off-road experiences could easily be made safer and more comfortable with such additions.
It has quite the physical resemblance to the Commander, but every angle in the plastics is increased, which up front is only noticeable if you pay close attention, and at the rear much more obvious as the dual-level tilting cargo box is replaced by the same type of flat Q-link accessory-ready rack found on the new Outlander quads. This leaves lots of room for the Maverick’s sweet-looking and awesome-sounding center mounted dual exhaust, a crucial component in the modifications made to render the 1000 Rotax, even more generous in power output. Admit it; you love to read such a phrase. The entire air-induction system is different. You’ve surely read about this many times: The same engine, made better and more powerful by optimizing air flow and optimizing fuel induction with new cylinder heads and independent intake runners that allow the tuning of each cylinder for optimal performance. BRP engineers had their fun with the Commander’s chassis, which is easily recognized. The ROPS approved roll cage is exactly the same. The thick and sturdy 2 inch tubing visually gives you a sense of security, as you fly in your Maverick 1000.
Jumping a Side x Side remains something the makers will tell you not to try, despite the fact that they very-well know that their vehicle is capable of performing such stunts safely. Just as is the case with a sport quad, the high capacity and performance of the suspension is meant for racing applications, where jumping is a normal and common thing to do. My point is that it is important to take into consideration that jumping is only safe when it’s done on a racetrack, where ramps are perfectly groomed and levelled, with smooth landings that are perfectly pitched and designed in harmony with the ramp. In all honesty, right here in the sand, with a clear view of what happens all-around and by taking time to roll over every chosen dune top, before attacking with commitment for a launch. Oh yes! Of course, Josh jumped it for our camera! Oddly enough, this task was a must for us both, undoubtedly an important aspect to practice for a racer like Josh, and also for me, the curious media / racer guy I have become, to truly feel what the suspension could take. Even with such extreme manoeuvres, I simply could not find the limits of it. Every landing was nice and smooth, with both the basic and the X rs Maverick. If I may suggest: come in real slow and then floor it only once into the ramp and don’t ever let off the gas pedal before all four wheels are off the ground. The vehicle will want to roll forward, while in flight. At some point, you just need to commit to it, without fear. I think it is also important to mention that just a big bump, only a few feet high, will almost never be safe to jump. The ramp absolutely needs to be longer than the entire vehicle.
WHAT MAKES THE MAVERICK TICK
The most significant modification to the Commander vehicle to create this Maverick is with the rear new TTA (Torsional Training Arm). Engineered to be lightweight, compact and efficient, the five-link suspension, which offers 14 in. (356mm) of travel, is designed for the lowest scrub possible to optimize tire-to-ground contact efficiency and bump absorption. The system features a double A-arm set-up, where each A-arm acts as two links and uses a toe-control link as the fifth link. Spherical ball joints make it more durable, since it reduces free play and thus wear. The TTA was designed for optimal geometric weight transfer and it truly feels like it was keeping the vehicle in that sweet spot between gripping too much and causing body roll and breaking free from traction into a back-end slide. This means that it wouldn’t easily break into a power-slide, nor look to lift the interior wheel off the ground too much. It rather stays in an efficient power transfer to the wheels throughout any type of turn. Pretty impressive stuff; I suspect those things will be giving RZR’s a run for their money, while negotiating tight turns on racetracks. The double A-arm front suspension also features 14 in. of travel and the vehicle uses front and rear FOX Podium X Performance 2.0 HPG piggyback shocks with compression and preload adjustments, to soak up bumps with confidence. They are easily re-buildable to allow for easy service and valving changes. This shock features dual-rate spring, high-volume 6-in. piggyback reservoir, and velocity-sensitive damping control; hard-anodized aluminum body, forged piggyback body cap, hard-chrome plated and heat-treated shaft; upper and lower bearing mounts, racing-developed high-flow piston, and specially-formulated oil for optimal performance at varying temperatures. The X rs version of the Maverick has the larger, 2.5-inch diameter bore shock, which allows an even greater damping force and less vulnerability to heat and a bit more precise control on adjusting them to specific riding conditions or driving styles. Instead of just one knob to turn to adjust the compression, those have both the low and high speed compression adjustments turned with a flat screwdriver.
To efficiently and reliably transfer all that power to the ground, a new belt, reinforced with Zylon, is used in the Maverick’s CVT that features engine-braking to help slow you down when rolling down inclines. Zylon is a synthetic polymer material that was invented and developed by SRI International in the 1980s; it has 5.8 GPa of tensile strength, which is 1.6 times higher than that of Kevlar. It also increases belt rigidity in compression, compared to a regular belt and a dual CVT exhaust design ensures cooler belt temperatures. Also, the drive pulley’s diameter was increased to provide more durability.
The Maverick has 13 inches (33cm) of total ground clearance, which keeps the vehicle up and away from most obstacles while we rock-climbed. My only complaint with the vehicle is, in that type of conquering, you can’t really see what goes on with your tires, what lies up close in front or on the sides. Seating position is exactly like in the Commander, which still feels a bit like you would be sitting in a jeep, a little too upright, high and on the edge of the vehicle. I prefer the Wildcat’s and RZR’s seating position with more of a rearward’s tilt and set lower, as well as more centered in the vehicle. Losing the storage beneath the seat wouldn’t bother me at all. Having to remove the seat to get to something is simply not very practical. I think strapping a convenient tool bag to the best ATV rack (of course Qlink compatible) you’ve ever had the pleasure of locking gear onto. Grip generous surface, a multitude of hook points, I’ve never seen better racks than those! Everything else is better in this cockpit; the easy-to-clip in side nets, the LCD instrumentation, which offers a speedometer, odometer, clock, trip meter and more, mounted to the steering column, so it adjusts with the steering wheel and stays within the driver’s sight lines, looks, and works much better than any other seen, so far, in a Side x Side. The tilt-able steering wheel feels more high-quality and the seats also do a better job at keeping occupants well-planted in the vehicle, when it is pushed in performance. The seat belts are also perfect and never bothered us, even when attacking rocky sections with confidence.
Right from the start, I can tell you that this vehicle does fall, right in that new full-sport class seemingly bound for continued expansion throughout this industry. Pure-sport Side x Side vehicles, as they can also be called, are a fascinating new class of vehicle, which offers a never before experienced level of fun and high performance, during all-terrain exploration. When came time to drive this sweet ride in the Nevada desert, to discover how well, or not, it performed in various challenges, none other than Josh Frederick took the commands for us, a truly down-to-earth and easy to chat with champ. What an honour to be enjoying this new high-performance Can-Am Side x Side, with such a great ATV racer at the wheel! I would have my fun at the wheel later; this was much more fun for now. Some of you know how much more of a thrill ride it can be to be a passenger in such a vehicle!
I was in total confidence as he punched the pedal to the floor and kept it there, as a true racer does. Although our pace stayed in this very high-revving, coolest feeling ever, desert racing zone, I didn’t feel the need to squeeze the solidly bolted to the frame passenger’s handhold in front of me, nor the clever vertical hold on my left, but my hands did instinctively fall right on those well-designed spots. My relaxed state, during such intense moments, said a lot about how the machine felt solidly planted to the ground and stable in turns. Josh drove that Maverick to its full potential and everything felt impressively easy for the vehicle. I couldn’t help myself; I let out a few screams of joy, despite the seriousness of this work-related test.
MAVERICK AT THE RACES
More recently, Josh has taken a liking to Side x Side racing as well. He earned a career-best, second-place finish in the highly competitive SxS Production 1000 class, inside his Can-Am Commander 1000 X, at the WORCS finale at Honolulu Hills Raceway in California, to earn 4th overall for the season. He finished 2nd in points in the Pro-class on his Motoworks / Can-Am DS 450, yet another great accomplishment. Josh lives only minutes away from our amazing ride site for this vehicle’s press launch: the Logandale Trail System only one hour north of Las Vegas, Nevada. He is very excited about the creation of this new Can-Am vehicle, which might very well outperform his current race-ready Commander in Stock X rs form. Success in this vehicle might just open-up other doors for him in the future in other high-end off-road racing classes, something Josh mentioned he would like. We can all agree that he has more than proved his worth and talent in ATV racing, winning the WORCS Championship in 2007, 2008 and 2010. In 2011, Josh was tied with his teammate Jeremie Warnia for the Pro-class points lead heading into the final race, he finished 3rd and only 2 points behind Warnia in the chase for the series title. Before that, he won the 2005 Best in the Desert Championship, was crowned 2005 SCORE Champion and he also won the 2006 WORCS Utility Cup. You can bet that we, at ATV Trail Rider, and we hope many of you will join us, will be paying close attention to Josh’s future successes in his new Pure-Sport Can-Am Maverick 1000. We wish him many more years of enjoyment in off-road racing. We thank him again for his pleasant company and impressive skills with the Maverick.
For more information on the above mentioned models, please visit the Can-Am Off-Road Website