Which one wins in a clutch?
By the staff of Dirt Wheels Photos by Karel Kramer
HONDA TRX250X VS.
POLARIS TRAIL BLAZER 330
VS. YAMAHA RAPTOR 250
; So, your young rider is finally able
to pilot a real quad with performance
suitable for advanced riding. Or, in
another scenario, your teen or young
adult is interested in riding for the
first time. There are a lot of entry-level, full-size quads out there.
Naturally, safety is paramount, so
parents don’t want to go with too
much power. On the other hand, you
don’t want a rotating garage door as
your new rider grows bored with a
quad that doesn’t have enough
power to hang with the pack. Dirt
Wheels gathered up three wildly different quads that are aimed at this
very group of riders. The key difference, as far as a new rider is concerned, is the mode of clutching and
shifting that each has.
The proven and wildly popular
Honda FourTrax TRX250X has been
pleasing riders for a long time in var-
ious guises and model designations.
It is perfect here, since it is sporty with
full suspension. For a rider who is
committed but inexperienced, the
clutch and transmission are perfect
for a learning rider. The five-speed
manual-shift gearbox uses an auto
clutch as small Hondas have for
decades. The difference is that there
is a clutch lever, and it operates
exactly as the clutch lever does on a
manual-clutch machine. So a new
rider can ignore the lever, but as they
get more skilled and adventuresome,
the clutch lever can be used to control the power more aggressively.
Next up is the Polaris Trail Blazer
330. It has a full, 100cc-more displacement than the Honda, is physically
much bigger than the other quads
here and at least 130 pounds heavier.
It also has the most suspension travel
by a fair margin. As large as the
Polaris is, 5-foot- 2 Kylee Wolf could
still pilot it easily, and the suspension
worked for flyweight Casey Kramer,
just as it did for 6-foot Ajay Hateley.
Ajay looked most at home on it, but
Casey, the least experienced rider,
spent the most time on it thanks to the
transmission. You use a lever on the
tank to select reverse, neutral or
drive. It is fully automatic after that. A
brake lever on the left side of the bar
controls all three brakes, and the foot
brake controls only the rear brake. It
was the only machine with full floor-
boards, and all of the riders appreci-
ated that comfort factor.
Finally, we selected the ultra-sporty Yamaha Raptor 250. It has a
race-inspired chassis, aggressive
ergonomics, the lightest weight, the
zippiest performance, and the only
fully manual clutch and manual-shift