2006 Sport ATV Buyer's GuideLooking for a trail-cutting, rooster-tailing good time?
Check out these feisty four-wheelers.
Although our hankering of most things ATV centers on the more brutish 4WD models, there is something to be said for the high-speed, high-maneuverability, high-spiritedness which comes from hopping on a 2WD sport model and letting it rip. These machines, when appropriately matched to the rider's size and skill level, deliver a heaping dose of adrenaline-pumping fun. They're also a bit easier to manage on the trail thanks to their lighter weight and trimmer dimensions. Should you be casting an eye towards this class of machine this year, we've rounded up a handful of units you should check out.
Folks looking for a good-performing trail runner without investing a lot of cash should consider the TRX300EX from Honda. There is nothing fancy here, just solid engineering in a no-nonsense platform. The TRX300EX is built on a box-section steel frame supported by a long-travel double-wishbone independent front suspension and swingarm rear. Front and rear shocks offer five-way preload adjustment, and stopping power comes from triple (two front, one rear) hydraulic disc brakes. Powering the TRX300EX is a 282cc four-stroke engine featuring a gear-driven counterbalancer for reduced vibration, an automatic cam-chain tensioner and a 32mm carburetor. Backing the engine is a close-ratio five-speed manual transmission with reverse and an O-ring sealed chain comprises the drive system. The machine rides on 22x7-10 front and 22x10-9 rear knobby tires. Additional features include an electric starter, high-mounted intake snorkel and a steel front skid plate.
It's all about hard-core racing when you're talking about Honda's TRX450R. The 450cc four-valve Unicam engine builds on the heritage of the CRF motocross and off-road engines. Not only is high-output performance part of the mandate, so too is durability, reduced engine weight and overall engine balance. Weight reduction is also evident in the suspension. The steel round-tube frame incorporates a removable aluminum subframe, the rear swingarm is one-piece cast aluminum, and aluminum is found in the brake calipers and brackets, rear grab rail, front bumper and wheels. The grab rail and front bumpers can also be removed for further weight savings. Up front, the TRX450R comes with an independent double A-arm suspension capable of 8.4 inches of travel and features adjustable Showa shocks with rear-facing reservoirs. The rear Showa piggyback shock is also adjustable and allows rear suspension travel to measure 9.3 inches. Drive comes courtesy of a lightweight O-ring sealed drive chain.
Arctic Cat DVX 250
Although not a “sport” model in the conventional sense of the word, Arctic Cat's new DVX 250 has plenty of the fun factor built in — and for a price that doesn't break the bank. Power comes from a 249cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine that's liquid-cooled and assisted by an electric fan. Power is sent to the rear wheels through an automatic, continuously variable transmission that features forward, neutral and reverse gearing. There's nothing fancy about the suspension which is comprised of double A-arms up front and a swingarm rear. Preload adjustable shocks can be tuned for the trail, and braking is delivered by a front and rear hydraulic disc set-up actuated with a single hand and foot lever. The body work has been restyled for 2006, and like the DVX 400, the fenders can be removed. Lightweight aluminum wheels and electronic start are part of the package. Suspension travel is modest at 6.1 inches up front and 6.5 inches in back.
Arctic Cat DVX 400
As you can see, the Arctic Cat DVX 400 is all machine. There's no more body work than the bare minimum needed to keep some of the mud at bay and provide a small amount of acreage for the rider's back side. While this isn't the biggest or most powerful four-wheeler in our line-up, the DVX 400 covers all the requisite bases. It's powered by a strong 398cc four-stroker tuned for optimal torque across its powerband. Although high on grunt, this powerplant is compact and lightweight — allowing for a narrow, maneuverable chassis. The transmission is a five-speed manual with reverse gearing. To stop it all, the DVX 400 calls on dual front discs and a large single rear disc. As you might expect, the suspension is comprised of double A-arms up front and a swingarm/linkage-type rear. Front and rear wheel travel is 8.5 and 9.1 inches respectively. Top it off with lightweight aluminum alloy wheels and you've got a no-nonsense trail runner capable of servicing the most spirited of riders.
Kawasaki KFX 700
When it comes to max performance trail rigs, Kawasaki's KFX 700 is a tough machine to beat. The star of the show, of course, is the mighty 697cc V-twin engine featuring dual Keihin carburetors for fast, muscular response up and down the powerband. Breaking from convention, this sport model comes with a continuously variable automatic transmission, so you spend your time focused on riding and not shifting. Forward, neutral and reverse selection comes via a grip-type shifter located on the left handlebar. Cross Country performance inspired the racing style chassis which incorporates a single-spar front frame tube to maximize front A-arm length for improved handling and reduced tire scrub during suspension travel. In back is a unitized alloy swingarm setup with the sealed multi-disc brake system we've come to appreciate in Kawasaki's larger utility models. A low-mounted 3.2-gallon fuel tank helps drop the center of gravity, while traction and stability are enhanced with aluminum alloy wheels wrapped in ITP Holeshot tires.
Suzuki QuadRacer 450R
Driveline engineering, with an eye focused almost exclusively on competition, is the driving force behind Suzuki's QuadRacer 450R. It starts with an engine inspired by Ricky Carmichael's winning motocross machine. Its short, compact, has high durability, and a broad powerband. All of these benchmarks have been achieved by narrowing the valve angle for a more compact combustion chamber, utilizing sophisticated material coatings and precision machining on engine internals, developing a new dry sump oiling system that uses three inline pumps, and controlling it all via electronic fuel injection. The chassis is all-new, making use of a low-profile steel frame for a reduced center of gravity and high durability. Even the swingarm rear and double A-arm front suspension feature steel construction. Both ends of the 450R use Kayaba piggyback reservoir socks with preload and hi-lo speed compression adjustments. The ground-hugging theme is underscored by the unit's new 10x5.5-inch front wheels and 8x8-inch pressed aluminum alloy rear wheels wrapped in special Dunlop tires.
Suzuki QuadSport Z250
Suzuki's QuadSport Z250 hugs the middle-ground in the recreational ATV segment. Designed as a “user-friendly” model, the Z250 is lightweight, moderately powered, highly maneuverable and, in a nutshell, created for a wide range of rider skill levels. It's powered by a 246cc four-stroke engine backed by a five-speed manual with reverse gearing. The shaft drive system translates to low maintenance. There's nothing fancy about the steel-tube frame but it provides a solid foundation for both beginner and experienced riders. Protection for the frame comes in the form of a steel skid plate and front bumper. The suspension is also made of basic stuff, such as an independent double-wishbone front and a lightweight steel swingarm rear. Both front and rear shocks are oil-charged coil-over types with preload adjustment. Hydraulic front disc brakes and a single drum rear deliver the stopping power. Additional features include protective, stylish front fenders, comfortable T-shaped seat, 5-liter utility box and a 40-watt headlight.
When Yamaha introduced the YZ quad with a four-stroke engine, it provided the start of a fresh way of thinking — “sport” ATVs need not be shackled to two-stroke engines. Yamaha's introductory four-stroker has been refined for the 2006 model year with a host of upgrades in both performance and styling. The 449cc DOHC engine receives significant tweaking with its new rotating assembly, reconfigured oil jetting, plus carburetor and exhaust changes for improved power output. The cylinder head sports a new angle, and the dry sump oil tank position is changed — all of which improves overall balance. The engine is mated to a new close-ratio five-speed transmission designed for wider performance capabilities over a broader range of terrain. Cradling the drivetrain is an all-new aluminum frame supported by a new, speed-sensitive 48mm Kayaba fork up front and a single adjustable Kayaba rear shock with a titanium spring and a separate hi-lo speed compression adjuster. Also new is the styling.
Yamaha Raptor 700R
Yamaha rocked the ATV enthusiast world several years ago when it introduced the radical-looking, awesome-performing Raptor 660. This year the Raptor is new from the ground up, has a new name, and is ready to take on all challengers. To start, the chassis is reengineered for improved stability and handling (by lowering the center of gravity) and lighter weight (a steel front section combines with an aluminum rear section and detachable subframe). Aluminum content continues to the independent front upper A-arms, all-new aluminum rear swingarm, front and rear disc brake calipers and aluminum wheels. The Raptor 700R gets power from a 686cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine capable of spinning up to 9,000 rpm. It's also fuel injected for easy starting and consistent performance output. Backing this is a race-bred five-speed manual tranny with reverse which sends power aft by way of a sealed O-ring chain assembly with an eccentric adjustment. As for the styling...well, it's certainly all Raptor. Read more about ATV Tires & Wheels
Which ATV do you want? Now read about ATV winches and other ways to customize your new ATV.