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YFZ450 - Kory Ellis Test Ride Interview  (article from yamaha)

CBR600 BEST BIKE AWARD!  (sep. 2003)

ITP Nationals Open Big! - A record number of entries and the debut of the Pro Production class made the ITP Nationals opener a great one!

Iowa ATV/Dirt Bike Harescramble Series

Maxxis 6 Hours Of America


Wide Open Showdown
Four Of The Biggest Sport Quads Battle For In California

Staff Report
ATV News
Thursday January 15, 2004

So, we gathered these four big-bore sport quads for a battle in the dry-and-dusty desert of Southern California. We chose not to include new 450cc “racers” because they are niche specific and don’t fit in the Open class. As much as we like the high-performance 450cc four-strokes, we like cruising, racing and playing on these big bore quads equally.

This fearsome foursome is comprised of different technologies and setups with one thing in mind: Providing an entertaining ride in a variety of terrain. The cast credits read like a dream sequence of top performers: ardier DS650, Kawasaki V Force 700, Polaris Predator 500 and Yamaha 660R Raptor. “But,” you may ask, “where’s the Yamaha Banshee?” Well, Yamaha declined to include it in the shootout this year.


Last year, the Bombardier took some knocks for being big and heavy. This year, the manufacturer cut away 20 pounds and made it both narrower and shorter. With these changes, the 2004 DS650 was much more pleasant to ride, and still had that strong and energetic 653cc four-stroke engine. One tester said the DS650 had the best bottom-end power of all the machines tested. It doesn’t take much of an effort to point the bars, give it gas and hang on. With the strong powerplant, we had to pay more attention in the whoops and when exiting corners. With too much throttle, the front end would leave the ground.

ATV News
Bombardier DS650
Overall, the DS650 Rotax engine is hearty enough to make it potent down low and at the top-end; it also proved to be the fastest unit in our radar runs.

Most of our test riders said the Kawasaki V Force had a fast engine and was fun for cruising. The 697cc, twin-cylinder, four-stroke powerplant is unique to the sport market. Teamed with a continuously variable transmission, the V Force is the simplest ATV to operate in this group.

Our test riders said the power was amazing, especially for an ATV with an automatic transmission. “Not only is the auto tranny easy to use, but it works well,” one tester said.

Every rider said the Kawi’s stock clutch setup was almost perfect and were pleased with its steady, consistent power from the bottom end to the top. But one rider said a heavier driven clutch spring and more backshift could help this quad. Wheelies are simple on this ATV thanks to clutching and big power and torque transferred to the traction-happy ITP Holeshots.

The Polaris Predator 500 is powered by a potent single-cylinder, four-stroke engine. Although the Predator’s overall power felt muscular, the bottom-end power lacked immediate punch. Most of our test riders said the power felt slightly delayed, but was impressive up top. The power is delivered smooth and efficiently, however, there’s a slight issue with the transmission, though it’s improved from last season. One tester had trouble finding neutral. Another described it as “rough,” especially when shifting and clutching from third gear to fourth and back to third. This quad required the most input to loft the front end over bumps and whoops.

Our test riders said the 660cc single-cylinder mill powering the Raptor proved to be both throaty in exhaust note and fast for a four-stroke single. A few testers said the engine had enough torque to take off in second or third gear as long as the rider provided good clutch and throttle control.

We also found our test Raptor had better bottom-end power than the Predator, but not as much as the DS650. We liked its top-speed abilities and didn’t find the serious gearing issues that were noticable on past Raptors.


We lumped all these categories as one because they all affect one another in testing. For example, a poor suspension will produce handling issues. And a quad with its weight bias shifted too far forward will also handle poorly.

Even though Bombardier lightened and reduced the size of the DS650, it still was heavy on the trail. But it’s definitely better than a year ago. Our group of riders liked the 2004 DS650 improvements, but when compared to the quads in this class, said the front end was quirky when steering.

ATV News
Kawasaki KFX700 V Force
Though lighter and easier to loft, the front end still had sluggish tendencies, but not to the point of being uncontrollable. “It can, on occasion, grab the side of a narrow trail and try to turn when you don’t want it to. It’s a bit sluggish and takes a lot of work in tight technical applications,” one tester indicated.

Smaller riders said the DS felt tall compared to other quads, yet still provided a stable ride thanks to the suspension and power. The suspension was forgiving in the terrain we rode, and the DS was at home in the whoops most of the time. As the majority of testers wrote, the machine still feels like it is best-suited to wide-open desert applications.
“The suspension is plush, and well suited for open, medium-fast terrain — a good fit for Baja,” one said.

Most of the riders said the Kawasaki V Force was tall and heavy. Maybe because it’s more than 40 pounds heavier than the next heaviest quad, the DS650. Surprisingly, however, none of them said they felt out of control on this quad. “It’s a little heavy for the whoops and jumping, but still lands smooth,” said a tester.

One test rider found the weight bias made the quad a little more nose heavy than the other quads during rough sections and high-speed turns. A stiffer front suspension setting should improve this feature. “The suspension handles many areas well, but the rear shock bottoms a lot, and also tends to pack up in the whoops.”

Our test Kawi had heavier steering than the other quads in this group and it seemed as though we had to work harder to ride as sporty as either the Raptor or Predator. One rider said aggressive cornering was more difficult on the V Force because it didn’t powerslide like the rest of the s in this group.

Most of the testers said the V Force was fun in the whoops if it stayed straight. Once it got off course or off line, it became a chore to regain control because of its weight and the need for quicker back shift in the clutch. The faster the quad is able to get to the optimum engine rpm and transmission ratio, the easier it is to get optimum power when it is needed.

ATV News
Polaris Predator
The Predator competes with the Raptor in the “most nimble” category; the Predator’s suspension package and 412-pound dry weight makes it so. Polaris shaved more than three pounds off this ATV from last year’s . “I like it because it’s light, nimble and good for jumps; it’s easy to lift, too,” explained a tester.

All test riders said the Predator had the quickest and most responsive steering, but the rear tires still made the rider work to keep the quad tame in high-speed corners. Others thought the slide-happy Predator helped with cornering as it required much less effort. “When it comes to turning, this is the machine. The Predator seemed to have the tightest turning radius of all machines we tested. A tight turning radius is great for tight, technical sections and high-speed sweepers,” is how one tester summed up the Polaris.

Testers said the Raptor’s suspension was one of the best despite issues we had the first day of testing. During that first day, the Raptor’s rear shock repeatedly bottomed-out on G-out ruts, causing the rear to rebound harshly. Yamaha’s on-site engineers stiffened the shock and none of test riders experienced the same effect on day two. The bottoming was eliminated and the Raptor’s all-around handling was improved, too.

On tight-and-twisty trails we found the Yamaha smooth and effortless to control. “Yamaha is the second best at cornering behind the Predator,” one test rider said. “It would be my first choice for weekend recreational riding and trail riding.”

The Raptor held up to high-speed runs through the whoops. Many of our test riders appreciated the crisp-and-snappy power and plush suspension.


All these quads are comfortable in their own way. The ardier DS650 outshines everyone because of its plush ride and perfect seat. The seat extends along the side of the fuel tank and provides padding for the inside of a rider’s knees. This eliminates the need for knee pads, yet doesn’t give the ardier a fat midsection.

One rider didn’t appreciate the DS650’s unique fenders, however. “The ‘fenders’ are distracting, for me, because I can see the suspension working under the trail conditions — weird,” a test rider commented.

Our lone female rider said the DS650 was built for larger riders. For her, it felt large, but had “Cadillac” comfort. She said it made her feel perched on the quad and that the DS650 is best for cruising and the occasional whoops section.

ATV News
Yamaha 660R Raptor
The Kawasaki scored big in the comfort department for its long, cushioned seat and for its simple power delivery approach. The handlebar-mounted shifter takes some getting used to, but its design is clever. We appreciated that it’s not near the fuel tank where we would hit with our knees.

Even though most riders felt tall in the saddle, overall, we all came away rather impressed. “I smiled from ear-to-ear the entire time riding the V Force,” one rider said.

The Polaris Predator is a comfortable quad for riding hard and for competition, but it has a unique stance about it. From the footpegs, to the rear seat and handlebars, the Predator seems to push the rider toward the bars. Most of our test riders learned to deal with these features, but commented on the design. This quad was considered one of the best-handling machines in this test, so the awkward stance didn’t detract from the benefits of the Predator.

One of the taller test riders said the seat was firm and that he continually hit his knees on the front fenders of the Predator.

Aside from a stiff seat, the Yamaha 660R Raptor continues to offer one of the best seat-to-handlebar positions in the business. “It offers an ideal riding position and has a narrow fuel tank that lets me hug it with my knees,” one test rider said.
Another rider said it’s the Raptor’s fit-and-finish and stylish looks that make it appealing. One of it’s brightest points is that the Raptor can accommodate both big and small riders comfortably. And, similar to the Kawasaki, we appreciated the reverse gear when we got into sticky riding situations


Our test riders were undecided on which they liked best because they liked different s for different reasons.

With the major changes, the ardier DS650 offers a much-improved ride and package than previous DS s. It feels stronger in the power department, and the weight reduction and new size make it even better. It still carries a few of its old less-than-stellar tendencies, but they are greatly reduced in the 2004 . Like the Kawasaki, the DS is fun for the dunes and other fast, open rides. We’d even entertain the idea of riding it in tight woods, which we hadn’t considered before this year.

The Kawasaki is a unique performance experience with gas-and-go manners. It’s at home in many conditions, from our test locale in SoCal, to the sand dunes and woods. Buyers looking for big power and fun performance should consider the V Force. We admit, a high-performance ATV with an automatic transmission sounds odd. But there’s nothing odd with the Kawasaki’s abilities and radar numbers; we came away impressed.

Polaris changed its Predator from 2003, the we selected as last year’s overall winner. The alterations give the Predator a better feel and improve its handling and suspension. It still needs a few ergonomic tweaks — body-to-bar positioning, rear tires — but overall it’s the most ideal for competition and technical riding. The suspension is tuneable and perfect for most situations.

Yamaha didn’t change the Raptor for 2004, maybe it didn’t need to. Described by our testers as an “all-around” performer, the Raptor offers a pleasurable ride with excellent power. It’s a great quad for many different rides, from woods trails to desert to dunes. It may not be the best at top-speed sprints or pounding through the whoops, but it’s capable of doing it all.

So there you have it. You’ll have to pick your own winner based on your riding style and needs. We wish picking a stand-out winner was a cut-and-dry, straight-ahead decision, but, then again, it’s cool that quad technology is evolving so rapidly and wonderfully that we can’t pick which ATV is best.

Check out the March issue of ATV Sport for radar results and more photos!

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