Can-Am builds some of the fastest
quads you can ride on dirt. They build
one of the best quads you can install
snow tracks on. They have a third
power-steering mode programmed just
for using track kits. It works well.
; Over 15 years ago, the inventor of
the first ATV track system, Bernard
Jean, may never had imagined the
recreation advantages his product
would bring. The same goes for the
folks at Honda as they were developing the first 4x4 ATVs. With the ever-increasing engine sizes, plush double A-arm suspension systems and
the advent of power steering, recreational snow-track riding is gaining
popularity in many colder climates.
One of the largest dealers of snow-track kits in the United States is a
company called ATVTracks.net. This
winter we joined the company, along
with a few reps from track builders
Camoplast and Kimpex, on a two-day ride to see how advanced the
new track systems are.
This winter ride took place in north-
ern Idaho, within view of
Washington, Montana and the
Canadian border. Thirteen riders
staged in the town of Coolin, Idaho,
for epic high-mountain riding without
an ounce of dirt in sight. We had a
stable of single and two-seat Can-
Am Outlanders and pairs of
Renegades, Kawasaki Brute Forces
and Yamaha Grizzlies.
According to ATVTracks.net just
about any sized 4WD ATV and some
sport quads too can be equipped
with tracks. Tracks can be used in just
about any terrain, like sand, mud,
muskeg, ice and snow. Kit prices
range from around $3500–$5000 and
are available for most ATVs and
Any 4x4 ATV with or without power
steering can operate on tracks.
Several of the machines in our group
did not have power steering, and
they went the same places the EPS-equipped quads did. However, at the
end of the day, you’ll be much happier riding tracks with an EPS-equipped quad as you would riding
Many of the pluses and minuses
we have seen in 4x4s when testing
them on dirt translate directly to track
riding. In fact, some features stand
out even more. Plus, durability of
many components are put through
major stress testing when tracks are
installed. ATVTracks.net tells us dur-
ing the season, they closely inspect
components such as A-arm bush-
ings, wheel bearings and ball joints.
The tracks themselves take some
adjusting as well after a few rides.
HOW THE MACHINES COMPARE
The most noticeable handling traits
we encountered on Kawasaki’s Brute
Force is its narrow handlebars. With
or without power steering, wider bars
would be a plus on this machine.
Also, the variable front diff-lock lever
was sometimes a hindrance on the
ride. A completely locking system is
preferred during the challenges of
Yamaha’s Grizzly was surprisingly
the most capable machine of the
bunch. Its low weight, smooth power
and high ground clearance helped it
claw up the steepest hills with ease.
The guys at ATVTracks.net always let
the beginners ride the Grizzly and
are amazed at how well they do on it.
On the down side, the Grizzly is the
slowest of the bunch. It’s not very
exciting to ride, but it will get you to
where you are going. Plus, the power
steering is the weakest of the bunch,
and when you are turning 80- to 90-
pound tracks on each corner up front,
a strong EPS unit is your best friend.
Can-Am’s Outlander is by far the
most popular choice for track riders.
The sheer power of the 650, 800 and
1000cc Rotax engines in these
machines brings excitement to snow-
track riding. In some cases, you need
to carry more speed before an obsta-
cle, like a snow drift or tree well, so
the Can-Am really shines here. And
new for Can-Am is the “Track Mode”
EPS setting on some models. This
gives massive assistance to the rider
when they are trying to turn the big
snow tracks. Finally, the handguards
on the XT models are mandatory
when riding in cold temperatures.
Can-Am Renegades perform very
well when equipped with snow
tracks, aside from the lack of fender
protection like the Outlanders have.
Their lighter weight is a benefit too.
THINGS TO KNOW
A quality snow shovel is the best
tool in a track rider’s arsenal.