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MOTOCROSS / ATV

Which is the Best ATV for Racing? We Review the Top 3 Quads

By Cliff Montgomery, ExtremeProSports.com



Polaris Predator 500

The 2003 Predator was Polaris' first shot at producing a true sport machine (apologies to Scrambler owners) with a manual transmission. The result was a machine that steered very true in corners, but also had a very loose rear end and a very heavy-feeling nose. This year, the swingarm was shortened to let the front end loft a little easier, and the transmission was modified for more-precise shifting. It's powered by a very-potent 499cc Fuji powerplant with a five-speed transmission (no reverse).

Matt Smiley showed the world that the Polaris Predator 500 can compete, and defeat, any machine in ATV racing by landing on the overall podium at the roughest GNCC of the year: The Orange Crush round of the Suzuki Grand National Cross Country Series in Florida. With a strong late-race charge, Smiley came on strong to land on the GNCC podium with third.

"I think we got a lot of people excited by getting this Polaris up on the podium. This may be the first time, but it won't be the last," stated Smiley. "This course was really rough. My machine handled awesome though, and that really made it easy."

Smiley's win was an amazing accomplishment, considering it was only his second race on the Polaris Predator. "I love this new quad," said Smiley. "It definitely runs!"

+ Good stability
+ Quick-revving engine
+ Good running gear
- Weird ergonomics
- Unconventional handling
- Loose rear end
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= Massive improvements and a huge grin factor have it come out on top for many.

Polaris also runs a ground-breaking contingency program including the youth circuit, making it currently the only manufacturer cool enough to offer such a plan.

The largest GNCC ATV contingency program ever, the potential pay out for GNCC is $250,000 and across all GNCC ATV classes, including the class champion. The maximum per race pay out is $2000 for the pro class.

The potential pay out for youth is $10,000 and is available to all three classes, with a maximum per race pay out of $150.

Details are posted on the Polaris Industries' spankin'-new ATV racing web site -- www.polarisperformance.com.


Yamaha Banshee, 660R Raptor

The Yamaha Banshee is a top of the line ATV with fast speed and great performance off-roading. The Banshee's alloy wheels and super quick steering make this ATV's handling one of the easiest and smoothest of racers. The perfect ATV for people 16 yrs. and up.

Introduced as a 2001 model, the Raptor rocked the sport-ATV world. Its 660cc motor in a sub-400-pound chassis gave it nearly the power of the DS650 while weighing only 23 pounds more than the Honda 400EX. From 2004 it's continued essentially unchanged, save some needed transmission tweaks and graphics revisions. Even more so than Bombardier's Baja X, the Raptor's comfortable in every situation.

+ Light weight
+ Torquey motor
+ Reverse
- Low-buck suspension
- High center of gravity
- Economically priced components
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= Open-class power in a middleweight package.


Bombardier DS650 Baja - Baja X

The DS650 is available with two packages of upgrades: the Baja and the Baja X. The Baja takes Bombardier's super-sized DS650 and adds hand guards, a tachometer, shock covers, reinforced aluminum rims, an extra pair of halogen lights and some aluminum trim and other goodies. The X goes a step further with gas-charged front shocks, skid plates and nerf bars.

The result is undeniable, and the ride is like nothing else. But while most of the other quads are within a few hundred dollars of each other, the X-factor vaults this one into the stratosphere. However, the base model DS is priced with all the rest at near $6K.

Last year South African Cornel De Villiers not only captured the winner's spot in the quad competition on a Bombardier DS650 Baja X ATV but was the only ATV out of the 11 initially starting the race to cross the finish line. He had ranked 54th overall. The Dakar rally is by far the most legendary and toughest motor rally in the world, and the 2004 edition was one of the most demanding ever for both pilot and machine.

"My Bombardier DS650 Baja X ATV, virtually a stock machine with its powerful Rotax engine and great chassis was unbelievable, especially in the dunes. I only made some minor modifications to the shocks and tires and added fuel tanks to meet the extreme conditions of the desert," said De Villiers.

The DS650 BAJA X is ready to race right off the line and is the perfect vehicle for sandy, dry and rocky terrain.

+ Great components
+ Conquers wide-open spaces
+ Big-guy ergonomics
- Too wide for some trails
- Transmission Glitches
- Pricey
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= Great racer, provided the race is in a wide, open space.


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