TVS Jupiter Review

109.7CC 7.9BHP 8NM

The TVS Jupiter Review. We ride the TVS Jupiter in varying traffic conditions to find out how good is this scooter in the conditions for which it was built!

The TVS Jupiter was recently launched with much fanfare by the company as a new scooter with a difference. The company promised ‘More’, as they promoted the Jupiter with the tagline ‘Enjoy Doing More’. We at xBhp got a chance to find out how much MORE is this scooter capable of!

The scooter we got was a Pristine White Jupiter; it already had a few km on the clock. Since the engine run-in was complete, we could exploit the scoot to its full potential. Riding an automatic scooter in a crowded city like Delhi is a lot of fun and I was happy to be handed the keys to the Jupiter. Having clocked many miles on the industry standard – Honda Activa as my daily commute I knew the positive practical experiences of having one.

The TVS Jupiter is not the snazziest looking scooter in the market; it is more of a ‘go to the market unnoticed’ kind of two-wheeler. That may not get your blood pumping, but it is a big advantage for your average daily commuter, as it won’t attract attention in a public parking. But a scooter in a city is good for all practical purposes; if you want looks then a motorcycle would probably be a better choice! The Jupiter has a simple but elegant design, a no nonsense bike which every member of the family can ride without feeling out of place. That is the reason why the Jupiter will be directly taking on the Honda Activa, Mahindra Duro, Hero Maestro and Suzuki Access. A family scooter which promises to do everything that is required and more!

But the Jupiter is not to be enjoyed off the saddle; one must get on and thumb the starter to experience ‘tension-free commuting’. The engine is smooth, with a lovely sound, leaving not much to be desired. A touch of the throttle and the responsiveness of the engine is surprising as it pulls away cleanly, even when rider and pillion weighing a cumulative 180 kg are being pulled uphill. Never did the engine feel stressed or complain of being overstressed. The 110cc engine is very satisfactory and 8Nm of torque allows one to accelerate off a red-light, with the same alacrity as most commuter motorcycles. At 5’11”, flatfooting is never a problem for me, but footboard space is always a concern. The Jupiter does not disappoint in this regard as well, as there is sufficient space for my Size 11 riding boots! TVS claims that it has the largest leg space at 375mm, as compared to the competition. But even a small bag of luggage robs you of this luxury and the feet stick out like ‘sore thumbs’!

Talking about luggage space the 17 litre underseat storage will take most of your bags and more without any trouble, as I found out much to the chagrin of my fellow biker as he tried to lug his hefty bag on his shoulders, while I simply rode away without having to worry about future spinal problems. One of the biggest advantages of scooters vis-à-vis motorcycles is the luggage space and thus supreme comfort while commuting, as a bag with laptop, camera and other paraphernalia required for office can weigh a ton! To help in this regard, the bag hooks are retractable to let you enjoy all the space when you do not have any luggage. But scooters generally lose out in the handling department. Not so with the Jupiter, it can easily run circles around any commuter bike, with its Rigid Underbone Frame, Telescopic Suspension up front and Gas Filled Hydraulic Suspension at the rear. It is a piece of cake to cut in and out of traffic without a second’s thought. The turning radius of the Jupiter is industry best at just 1910mm (claimed), which aids the rider in flicking his/her way through traffic. The seat is the largest I have ever sat on, with two tall people easily fitting with room to spare (Rider: 5’11”, Pillion: 6’1”!). All these things work in perfect unison to ensure that one is riding in comfort at all times.

While commuting one might want to get the best mileage, but at other times have fun on the run. And the Jupiter has an Econometer for this very purpose, to make the rider aware of economy or power runs. To get the best Fuel Economy just ensure that the Green Indicator Light stays on, though we did not get a chance to confirm fuel consumption. One very useful feature is the Pass Switch. It makes overtaking a breeze in traffic, as the horn does not need to be used, a big help to be a civilised rider! The headlight is bright enough for the speeds that this little machine is capable of and it also has Twin Pilot Lamps, for riding in low visibility situations. The tail lamp is an LED unit, but the turn signal indicators are not. Asking for too much? Maybe, but TVS does promise more!

The CVTi engine which the Jupiter sports is butter smooth and a pleasure to throttle

On the safety front also the Jupiter provides some nifty features like large tubeless tyres fitted on 12” wheels, while the rest of the competition offers 10” wheels, this helps in tackling bad roads and improves comfort and practicality as well. The TL tyres on the other hand give one peace of mind, especially for lady commuters. To ensure that the rider never runs out of fuel, the console not just has a fuel indicator, but also a Low Fuel Indicator which lights up reminding you to top up. Necessary as it has the smallest tank in the competition. The Jupiter is a one thumb start bike and did not give any starting trouble even in the coldest part of the Delhi winter. But in case you do need to kick start the bike, it has the lever perfectly positioned, so that the centre stand does not come in the way. The Centre Stand uses a TVS patented method called the ‘E-Z’ Stand, which allows you to put the bike on the centre stand while seated. A very useful feature is the external fuel filling cap, negating the need to open the seat, but one does need to get off the bike to put the key in. A lever on the dash, would have been just about perfect, giving the convenience of a motorcycle that we are so used to. The parking brake is also very useful, when leaving the bike on a slope, ensures that it does not roll off the Aravalli Hills!

The TVS Jupiter is an extremely user friendly bike, giving a lot of features which are useful in day to day running. The Scoot comes with the reliability of the TVS badge and support network, it also adds in a few modern bits which motorcycle riders are used to. The ease of automatic scooters in traffic is the reason why one sees a spurt of them being ridden by middle aged men, unlike earlier where it was considered a lady centric product. TVS has surely got a winner on their hands, but as always the final verdict will be given by the consumer in the form of his hard earned money. I do feel that the TVS Jupiter will not just be taking sales off other scooters, but also attracting a lot of prospective commuter motorcycle buyers with a very attractive alternative.

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Indian Chief Classic Review

1,811CC N/ABHP 139NM

The Indian Chief Classic Review by xBhp in India.

This Indian comes to India from the land across the proverbial seven seas. And something as stately, imposing and majestic the red Classic inadvertently makes a grand entrance. Longer than most hatchbacks sold here, this 8 ½ ft long cruiser on two wheels makes for an involuntary visual magnet – a sure head turner. We met the big guy on a foggy winter morning and rode it around for a few hours only to walk away suitably impressed.

 Text: Sandeep Goswami/ Old Fox
Photos: Ashish Guliani

Indian Chief Classic engine

Indian Motorcycles was started in 1901, built some successful models for around 50 years, with the Chief and Scout being the most popular among the lot. The brand built its sales on the basis of its racing exploits and successes, at one point even being the largest manufacturer. The racing and performance aspect greatly emphasized and immortalized by Burt Monroe’s lone-ranger act leading to the legendary World’s Fastest Indian. But in 1953, the company manufacturing the motorcycles filed for bankruptcy. In the successive years they were many failed attempts by various owners to kick start the brand, but it never took off. Finally in May 2011, Polaris Industries, world leading manufacturer of Power-sports vehicles bought over the almost defunct brand. In a shockingly short period of time (27 months to be precise) Polaris showcased a brand new engine which its bikes would feature. The Thunder Stroke 111 was put to use and three complete models were launched in August 2013. An impressive engineering feat, shadowed only by the fact of how good the motorcycle really is, once you throw a leg over the saddle, but more on that later!

Indian Chief Classic engine front
Indian Chief Classic engine head light
Indian Chief Classic engine right side, panning

This engine built by Polaris is the first new engine that Indian has seen in the last 70 years! Though Polaris built it from the ground up, they have effectively put their experience with the Victory range of motorcycles to full use. The three models that have been launched by Indian are the Classic, Vintage and Chieftain. With the Classic being the straight cut cruiser, the Vintage is a soft bagger featuring soft leather panniers and a windscreen, while the Chieftain is the top of the line model with hard panniers and a different sharper rake and steering geometry, as well as some more bits and bobs which makes it stand out from its smaller siblings.

Indian Spirit of Munro, Daytona, FL, March 2013
Indian Spirit of Munro, Daytona, FL, March 2013

The Thunder Storm 111 is as thoroughbred as motorcycle engines go and remains true to its traditional Indian lineage in external architecture while incorporating most modern gadgetry that comes with engines nowadays. A 111 cubic inch or 1811 cc unit, this 49 deg V-twin runs two valves per cylinder via three cams. The push-rod activated valves are moved by self-adjusting hydraulic lifters. The engine remains air cooled via massive cooling fins much in line with what it was like with the original Indian motorcycles. There is a small inconspicuously placed oil-cooler for better reliability, thermal stability of the oil and thus longer intervals between oil changes (around 5000 miles or some 8000 kms). A good thing since the big engine needs almost 5 ½ litres of oil. Running an apparently mild 9.5:1 compression ratio, this nevertheless is close to the usual limit for large capacity air-cooled engines. Allied with a knock sensor, fuel quality will not affect engine performance to a large extent. The bore and stroke chosen (101 mm bore and 13 mm stroke) indicate the ability to rev quickly further accentuated by those short skirt pistons, thin optimized connecting rods and a relatively light counter-balancer – light considering the 1800 cc plus credentials of the engine. And rev well it does with Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection though the red-line stays at a low 5500 rpm. But there’s no dearth of power or torque with 161 Nm being the peak value for the latter at a mere 2600 rpm. Polaris have not declared any power figures ( they say it makes around a 100 bhp but no specific value given) but the engine produces more than 135 Nm of torque anywhere above a 1000 rpm or so. A flatter torque curve could possibly only be found on bull-dozer engines eh!

Indian Chief Classic engine 3d illustration

A CAD rendering showing the wet multi-plate clutch, helical cut gears, crank-shaft counter weights and the 3 cam layout with the centre cam running the intake valves of both cylinders while the outer 2 cams lift the exhaust valves of each cylinder.

Heat should be a problem for this large an engine depending primarily on air cooling but the reality again is different. Ceramic coated exhaust headers, an exhaust shield and dual layered valve covers do a good job of keeping the heat where it belongs, away from the rider. Though its effectivity would only be seen once the bike hits Indian roads in peak summer. Throttle by wire is another modern tech bit and makes for easy interface with a nice cruise control that can be adjusted in 5 kph increments from a handlebar mounted switch. The engine had already gone through a million miles of testing before the bike’s US launch a few months ago, with quite a large part of those ‘miles’ having been done on-road in actual riding. Power goes to the carbon-fiber reinforced drive belt via a heavy duty but light action wet multi-plate clutch with an integral damper and a 6-speed gearbox. The ample torque produced by the engine is also typified by the fact that the top two ratios of the gear box are overdrive being 0.94 and 0.81 respectively.

Indian Chief Classic engine exhaust

Take a walk round the bike and you see a motorcycle which exudes class, power and panache. The bike and rider are not to be trifled with. Aboard this, you feel as if you have arrived and how. The big headlight assembly fuelled with an abundance of chrome, with the fog lamps standing as sentinels gives it an extremely purposeful look. The front fender has the iconic chrome and glass lit monogram of the Indian Chief. The fenders, front and rear, are skirted and cover the wheels just as the original Indian Chief 60 years ago. The spoked wheels with whitewall tyres complement the yesteryears’ look. Rubber covered floorboards, leather seats with chrome studs, a leather tank strap, chrome everywhere you look, the levers, headlight housing, disc oil holder, switchgear unit, mirrors forks. The richness is almost palpable and not just tactile.

Indian Chief Classic engine
Indian Chief Classic engine left side view
Indian Chief Classic engine tank

Throw a leg over the saddle, rest your derriere on the genuine leather seats and you immediately feel at home and ready for chasing the distant horizon. To get the Classic going you need to have the entry fob in your pocket or you can use your customised sequence to start the engine. Press the digital styled modern on/off button and thumb the starter and enjoy the sound of the twin exhausts. Indian has minimised the engine sounds, so that the only prominent aural pleasure you derive is from the exhausts. The handlebar is of the stretched out long arm variety, which adds to the classic cruiser feel. This 368 kg motorcycle is no problem to get off the side stand, as the weight of the machine is low and centred. Moving the bike in a parking lot is a ‘two feet’ down affair though, but once you start rolling at reasonable speed, then the bike’s weight all but disappears. At 26 inches saddle height, the Classic is easy to flatfoot. The engine is smooth and without too much vibration, but does get noticeable around 3000 rpm in the handlebar and footboard and is a deliberately engineered part of engine design to give that special feel and character to the bike. The clutch is light to pull, had a wide friction zone and shifting gears, though a trifle notchy which is more of a norm in this class of motorcycles, is nevertheless firm and positive.

Indian Chief Classic engine speedometer

Thanks to the oodles of torque, this Indian pulls cleanly from as low as a 1000 rpm. Gearing is tall enough for you to hit almost 70 kph in 1st and gets you past a 100 kph in 2nd! Overtaking manoeuvres are a breeze as one can easily accelerate out of a tight situation without the need of downshifting. Low mass centralization and great leverage from the wide handlebars make for easy and effortless steering, the directional control greatly aided by the superlative stiffness of the frame. Beefy 46 mm front fork tubes (no adjustment up front) and a mono-shock rear (with pre-load adjustment only) suspension is capable enough with only a hint of skittishness felt when cranked over in a turn at speed over badly rippled tarmac. The overall ride is plush and yet firmly controlled, a difficult combination to achieve.

Indian Chief Classic engine switch gear

Cruise control switches on the RH side bar end switch cluster. The bottom left button with a clock-face is the ‘cruise engage’ button while the toggle switch on top lets the rider dial in the cruise speed increasing and decreasing it in 5 kph chunks. The bottom right hand button with a lightning bolt within a looped arrow is of course the starter switch.

Brakes have excellent effectivity and great feel. The 4 piston twin floating disc set-up at the front and 2 piston single disc rear brakes do a fantastic job of stopping this nearly half a ton bike. The standard ABS cuts in and out gently without a very prominent pulsing of either the front lever or the rear foot pedal. The 130mm front and 180 mm rear Dunlops decidedly chip in with their substantial contribution to the traction equation, immensely helping both braking and handling. Ground clearance is sufficient for some spirited riding Slow speed manoeuvres though are an issue with U-turns necessarily being a ‘both feet out’ move. The wide turn radius needs to be kept in mind and parking lot turns need a ready hand on the clutch that allows you to ‘power-walk’ the bike into tight places. The Chieftain with its sharper rake and lesser trail would be a tad better than the Classic and the Vintage in turning around. But off vertical, allow it to tilt a little beyond upright and getting it back upright while static is a big task. Weight and bulk need power and motion to become manageable.

Indian Chief Classic engine chassis

The built-up frame and chassis is a complex multi-segment assembly that uses the engine and even the rear fender as stressed members. The force distribution has been so well optimized that the entire structure, built like a bridge, weighs a mere 58 lbs! And that for a bike weighing in excess of 800 lbs with rider, pillion and bags aboard.

The ergonomics of the bike are typical cruiser and feels comfortable and ready for a long ride. The rider seat (26 inches up and away from Mother Earth) is especially plush and well contoured. The rubber covered foot-rests are large enough to allow for a range of foot placements though traffic in India will rarely let you stray your right foot very far from the rear brake pedal. Wind blast is an issue on the Classic but then sustained speeds fast enough for that aerodynamic beating pretty well negate the true charm of an easy cruiser. The tank mounted dial incorporates an LCD Screen which shows gear position, ambient temperature, fuel economy, estimated cruising range, and all this can be toggled with a trigger button on the left handgrip. The 55 W main headlamp and twin 35 W auxiliary lights flanking it should be more than enough for piercing the darkness and lighting up the road well at any sane speed. The 710 W alternator also leaves enough reserve electrical power at hand for the user to mount accessories of his choice. The 21 litre fuel tank should provide enough juice for at least 200 kms between top –ups. The mirrors give a clear view of the past and all handlebar mounted switchgear falls naturally under hand.

Indian Chief Classic engine

In all probability, Polaris realized post its experience with the Victory range that the only way to fight an icon (read Harley Davidson here) is with another icon. And the Indian is in no way junior or subordinate to HD in that respect. It is true that this staid brand is usually not envisioned with tattoos on biceps and bandanas on bald heads but a sense of community can nevertheless be garnered by its historic lineage, iconic exclusivity and sheer majesty. The Indian in India for now is a small step towards what we wish becomes a thousand mile walk. Let history unfold.

Compare the engine architecture of the present day Thunder Storm 111 with that of the 1953 model Indian in the pic above and you'll realize how close the modern design is towards maintaining that classic look.

Compare the engine architecture of the present day Thunder Storm 111 with that of the 1953 model Indian in the pic above and you’ll realize how close the modern design is towards maintaining that classic look.

Indian Chief classic assembly line
Indian Chief classic engine clay model

Clay model of the engine side covers at the development stage. It took Polaris a mere 27 months to bring out these 3 brand new bikes. the usual time for a new model in this category is about 40 months.

Indian Chief classic engine
Indian Chief classic clutch

The clutch assembly. Aluminum basket, oil-immersed multi-plate type with the torsion damper also visible. Note the protruding shaft pointing downwards used to operate the clutch via a bell-crank

Indian Chief classic frame CAD
The built-up frame details
Fastener details for joining up the different forged section of the main frame.
Dyno mounted acoustic testing up close. Note the restraining chains!
The simple, robust and yet highly flow optimized two valve cylinder head.
The simple, robust and yet highly flow optimized two valve cylinder head.
Indian Chief Classic Thunderstroke

The two valves seen nestling in the combustion cavity. The larger one is the inlet, the smaller exhaust. Actually a simple reason for this – the exhaust stroke happens under positive pressure and so a smaller orifice is needed to get the gases out. Comparably the inlet is mere suction needing a bigger orifice to let the air fuel mixture in.

Indian Chief Classic tech specs, technical specifications
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Polaris RZR S 800 Review

760CC N/ABHP N/ANM

TEXT: Sandeep Goswami (Old Fox)
Photos: Sundeep Gajjar (Motographer)/ Ashish Guliani

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Mud-slinging, with all its negative connotations, was never as much fun as it was when done astride a machine that’s a pro at it. A powerful, nimble, capable, tough and aggressive machine like the Polaris RZR 800S for example. ATV’s (All Terrain Vehicles) are in every sense true to their name, capable of taking you though almost anything the lie of the land throws up short of climbing over rock walls and ascending mountains. Anything that constitutes a trail and is wide enough for its four wheels is fair game for the likes of the 800S. In fact in evolved markets for the ATV’s they are rated according to the their wheel track – the 50 inch ones capable of taking the tighter trails while the 60 inch ones needing the regular trails that allow jeeps and buggies. The RZR 800S incidentally is a 60 incher.

The 800 was once the big brother in the Sport side by side ATV world though is now superseded by the more powerful 900’s and 1000’s. But the presence of bigger brethren in no way undermines its superlative capabilities. Powered by a 760cc high-output twin cylinder 4-stroke engine that is liquid cooled and belts out a healthy 55 bhp, most of it accessible at low rpm’s as is the tree-stump pulling torque right from tick-over speeds. Capable of blistering acceleration on off-road flats notching up 60 kmph in less than 5 seconds, the 800S is just as adept at climbing out of deep holes and ascending up slopes where the driver only gets to see the sky while the 800S does the climbing! More on that later though. Lets take a wordy walk-around of the vehicle and get to know it before climbing in and flinging it around. Or will it be the other way round with the 800 flinging us around!

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What you notice foremost on your first encounter with the RZR 800S is its size and stance. Big and butch. The fat all-terrain tyres, tall roll-cage, the hornet-face twin lamps up front flanking the radiator grille all suspended on a visually exposed and complex looking suspension. But above all the vehicle exudes purpose. Quite like ‘take me where you fear treading on foot’. The RZR looks toughness personified with even the plastics feeling and appearing ‘muscular’ to coin an expression. Inside the roll cage the seats provide enough space for both the driver and the passenger. The harness and the side-retaining nets work in tandem with the contoured seats and the roll-cage in making the occupants feel well fitted in and safe through the range of antics that the RZR can be put through. The tilt-adjustable steering gives the option of somewhat more room for the six-footers and plus who might feel the seating to be a trifle tight. The 60 inch wheel track and the 70 inch wheel base provide it with enough stability to be poled around with gay abandon both by the trained expert and the timid amateur. The 27 inch Bighorns give excellent traction and contribute substantially to the suspension cushioning. The 12 inch ground clearance is enough to take you over almost anything without even the thought of side-stepping it occurring.

Add to the ground clearance the 12 inches of suspension travel through the dual A arm front suspension and a similar dual A arm bolstered by a anti-roll bar at the rear. This independent suspension system allows the 800S to climb with one wheel and traverse a ditch with the other and still keep the traction flowing through the tyres. The on-demand 2WD/4WD shift on the fly option is a real boon. The 2WD high ratios suffice for most off-road work with the low ratio or the 4WD needed when either climbing over tricky rocks or climbing steep gradients. The driver has at his disposal the Polaris variable Transmission, a version of the usual CVT thing but one optimized for extreme low end torque by Polaris. The ‘gear lever’ on the right hand side of the steering wheel can be shifted through Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive. The low and high forward ranges are between themselves are sufficient to pull you out of any tight spot you find yourself in, be it so in terms of gradient, traction, slush or sand. Clutch engagement is a trifle abrupt owing more to the hefty torque that comes in even at very low rpms.

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Settled in the seat with the harness up tight and the retaining nets latched (don’t forget that helmet please), you face a minimalist fascia that has a slot for the ignition key, a digital display for gear position, fuel level and an analogue speedo in the same housing. Alongside are switches for selecting 2WD/4WD, one for the headlights, a 12v charging socket and yes, a couple of cup holders! Ensure the shifter in P (Park) position and turn the ignition key to bring the 760cc twin to life. And it comes alive soon enough with a low rumble and settles to a lumpy but steady idle so typical of big pistons thrashing about. The engine responds to the throttle pedal inputs with alacrity. Shifting to Drive and pressing the throttle gets you underway with a decisiveness that is neck snapping if you have a heavy right foot. The tyres grip with nary a slip and the 464 kg hulk gathers speed with a vengeance irrespective of what lies in its tracks. The direct unassisted steering gives good feedback and feeds in just the right amount of resistance to inputs. The 800 S steers precisely almost belying the presence of loose mud and rocks under its wheels. The suspension smothers the undulations and only the big jumps and whumps get past and through to the occupants. The passenger side has a very useful grab handle on the dash in front that is adjustable for reach. The seats though are not adjustable quickly though can be moved forward and back a bit by unbolting and re-bolting on additional mounting holes.

2 wheel drive is where the real fun is as it allows you to drift wild on loose surfaces. Just apply full lock to the steering wheel and floor that throttle for the inside wheel to start spinning madly for traction while the outside one powers through. Correction opposite lock and you shoot off straight at a blistering pace. Fun huh! The gradeability is nothing short of fantastic for some not accustomed to ATV antics. Descending down slopes where you only see the ground coming up and climbing up slopes when only the sky is visible are everyday stuff for the 800S. Turning radius is pretty tight and rare are times when you need to three-point in a tight spot. The high ground clearance gets even better by straddling the high spots and the well protected underbelly makes for a feeling of further security on the roughest of terrain. The shock absorbers are adjustable for preload and the spring rates have been selected so well that rare would be a need for any further adjustability for the ordinary mortals who would ride it. In fact the rebound damping was so quick that we really had to work hard at getting even the front wheels up in the air on a bump. The moment the wheels were unloaded the suspension would extend to full length and make contact with the ground.

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The brakes, for an off-road vehicle, have astounding retardation prowess. We wonder where the tyres and the brakes get the kind of traction for that kind of phenomenal braking that 800 S displays. Hydraulic discs both up front and rear allied with steel braided brake lines do this fabulous job of stopping this hulk on the proverbial dime. Pedal feedback is also good and braking can be accurately graded underfoot. The ATV can be hitched to a 800 kilo load on a trailer if need be.

An outstanding machine purpose built and standing true to it to the core. A machine that lets you go where you wouldn’t possibly want to walk (through knee deep slush for example) and then some more. The ability of the RZR 800S to climb or descend on slopes that seem difficult to handle even on foot in nothing short of astounding. And the user-friendliness of the engine, chassis and the controls makes it as much a fun machine for the novice as it is useful for the expert.

Not being street legal, you do not need to pay any registration fee on buying one. Of course you cannot drive them around on public roads. But then who would buy an RZR 800S to drive to office huh!

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Polaris Sportsman 500 HO Review

498CC N/ABHP N/ANM
Polaris_Sportsman_500_HO_Review

The Polaris Sportsman 500 HO Ridden

Text: Avinash Noronha (The Monk)
Photos: Sundeep Gajjar (Motographer)/ Ashish Guliani

“Turn Turn Turn; Turn Darn You”. My first words as I rode the Polaris Sportsman 500 HO for the very first time!

Polaris’ Sportsman series has achieved ‘legendary’ status in the ATV world and it did not get this far by mere luck and good fortune. This ATV has been tried and tested by the sands of time. Originally launched in 1996, the Sportsman range of ATVs was an instant success, with the industry leading technology that Polaris came up with. Even today, many ATVs from other companies are unable to match the quality and capabilities of the Sportsman from yesteryears. There are already more than a million Sportsman on the road, or should I say not on the road!

An ATV is big, much bigger than you expect. Standing menacingly on a pile of loose mud, it sends a shiver down your spine as you anticipate the FUN to be had and the pain in case something goes wrong. This is not a small light motorcycle, which won’t hurt much even if it lands on you, this is big and heavy.

The machine is imposing when stationary, with the off-roading tyres, the big plastic panels housing twin headlights, with the third on the handle, the slightly angled radiator gives the Sportsman a very purposeful look. It inspires confidence as you get ready to tackle the steep slope ahead. The rear proudly showcases the Independent Rear Suspension (IRS) which was a first on any ATV and still keeps this Polaris ahead of the competition. The overall styling is pretty aggressive, which is further accentuated once you hop on. The big road-block doesn’t look so big anymore!

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For a biker getting onto an ATV, one must remember to forget. All that you know about motorcycling comes to naught as you try to get comfortable with this beast. Your brakes are in your left hand, there is no clutch, the feet only have to stay balanced on the footboard, there is no throttle control in your right wrist and a big lever to change from different riding modes, all this gives the rider a false feeling of familiarity. To get this beast in motion, first yank the lever into the parking mode and then twist the key as you feel and hear the 498 cc engine come to life with a low rumble. The accelerator is a small lever operated with the thumb, switch the mode into drive with the long lever and accelerate away, but don’t forget that the brakes are in your left hand and your right is redundant when bringing this 300kg plus hulk to an incredibly quick halt. Operating the throttle with the thumb and the brake with the left hand takes a bit of getting used to as muscle memory dictates otherwise.

Once you get into the groove, the Sportsman starting showing its sporty colours. The 11.25” of Ground Clearance lets you ride rough shod over some pretty harsh terrain. Don’t side step the boulder, just ride over it! The torque produced by this Single Cylinder Carb Engine propels you with enough speed to give you a smile. That is till you decide to turn, whence you go back to screaming “turn baby turn”! In simple English this is how one must change direction on an ATV. Transfer weight on foot in whichever direction desired, pull handlebar with all the muscle built in the gym in the last 100 years and give up hope on all that and pray! Well okay, I might be exaggerating a bit, but this machine has a mind of its own when it comes to handling curves.

The real fun begins when you want to do jumps and some more tricks for a few treats. Slot it into reverse, back up onto the slope, and when you feel are perched at a perilously dangerous enough angle, then let go with all ponies and hold on tight for the rush of dust, air and blurred vision. Brake to a screeching halt and smile through all the grime that has collected on your goggles and face and yell out “Yeah, let’s do that again!”

The HO version is powered by roughly 5 horses more than the standard and this is put to good use with the very well tricked out Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT), in fact this was one of the reasons why Polaris shot ahead of the competition in the ATV market. The best part about this is the on demand All Wheel Drive (AWD), this kicks in only when you need extra power to move forward and automatically switches off when you don’t. This feature really can be felt when climbing steep slopes, where the only thing clearly visible is the sky!

After having my fair share of fun on the Polaris Sportsman 500 HO, I realized something, my butt didn’t hurt! The seat is extremely comfortable, you don’t feel a thing even after some hard thrashing on the off-roading terrain it is designed for. The IRS and big tyres, ensure that you enjoy sitting in the lap of luxury, well at least considering the surroundings!

Some other stuff that this Sportsman sports, which we didn’t get a chance to try out, is a 50W Halogen Headlamp as High beam fitted on the handlebar, the company assured us that it will keep you going fast even in the dead of the night. There is a space for storage of a lot of luggage in the front and racks, which can be fitted, front and rear, to ensure that you carry your world with you. One aspect which I sure would have loved to test out, is its reputation of being an able tow machine, with a capability of 1225 lbs., it should be able to get your small trailer with luggage around the place.

At the end of the day, this machine will give you a thorough workout, as every muscle in your body is used to keep this on track at reasonable speed. Even on a winter morning, I had worked up a sweat heaving the HO around the dirt. It is fantastic to ride around a dirt track and gives you an extremely macho and adrenalin pumping feeling of satisfaction, as you get off the saddle, knowing that you dived right in and came out stronger!

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Sportsman 500 HO
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Polaris Sportsman
Polaris Sportsman 500 HO
Sportsman 500
Sportsman 500 HO