low-maintenance bushings have
been installed in the suspension.
Kawasaki made huge improvements in the bodywork. The Brute is
now wider with better splash protection. Plus, there are new storage
pockets on the front fenders and in
the center of the front rack. The racks
have been upgraded with a rough
textured finish and there are new tie-down hoops for securing cargo.
Polaris increased the throttle body
size to 42 mm feeding both cylinders
for improved power and better
mileage. It still features Lock & Ride
cargo racks, 14-inch wheels and
aggressive, full-coverage bodywork.
Yamaha kept the list of changes for
2012 at a minimum. New Maxxis tires
on all four corners allow the machine
to slide a little better and reduce body
roll. On the back end, nitrogen-gas-filled shocks will improve longevity in
rough terrain. It is also easier to service with the new oil dipstick access
If you are looking into buying a big-bore utility ATV, chances are you plan on having fun on it. The Polaris and Can-Am are by far the fastest, thanks to a huge cc
advantage. These machines are approaching 80 mph and are for skilled riders
only. Even our experienced riders say there is no need to go that fast on a quad
weighing over 800 pounds.
The aggressive floorboards on the
Sportsman provide good traction for
the rider in any condition. However, the
supports underneath are welded on to
the frame. The other manufacturers
bolt their supports on so they can be
replaced if damaged.
Double A-arms offer 9 inches of travel
on the front of the Sportsman. Steel-braided brake lines help give a positive
feel to the single-lever system. We still
don’t like the single-lever system.
Dual A-arms on the rear of the
Sportsman provide over 10 inches of
plush travel. The dual port-exhaust system sounds great going down a fast
trail. It also warms up the contents of
the storage box above it.
The large, 850cc Sportsman engine has
a sweet-sounding exhaust note under
acceleration. Behind the engine, the
CVT drain plug is easy to access even
The 14-inch wheels on the Sportsman
occasionally give us trouble. The sharp
edge of the wheel and lack of tire flex
end up cutting the tire. We suffered one
flat during this test.
No tools are required to access the
paper air-filter element that protects the
Polaris H.O. engine. The filter also has
an extra cover to deflect sand and water.