All-terrain, all day long

End of week and end of December! Brief respite from office and work! It was a sunny Sunday and we were on the lookout for a bit of fun and adrenaline-pumping adventure.

The powerful Polaris Sportsman 850 XP ATV is ideal to challenge and defeat rough terrain.After considerable brain storming and assessment of the different options at hand, it was decided that we try some skills at off-roading, an adventure motorsport involving speed, energy, action and a lot of terrain.

We got the ultimate opportunity, when Polaris, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of powersports and ATVs (All-terrain Vehicles) came calling and a test ride was organised to make one understand the quintessential intensity and thrill that off-roading entails.

The off-road test ride was held at Kothanur village, a short distance out of Bangalore, where the company’s Bangalore-based dealership, AKB Motors, had meticulously constructed a dirt track with all relevant features such as gravel pit, slush, obstacles and so on.

Off-roading

The name says it all! A pastime, which is popular in the West, refers to riding in those parts where there are no roads and you may choose your purpose to tread such often ‘dreaded’ tracts. Some like exploring the countryside or climbing atop rocks and mountains, while others opt for just ‘getting lost in the woods’.

We were yet to figure out our purpose. On arriving at the venue and signing paperwork, we were made to wear certain body protection equipment, including helmet, as this sport has its share of risks and accidents.

After turning into knights in shining armour, we mounted a couple of ATVs. A powerful beast is the 850 Sportsman XP, which is powered by an 850cc 4-Stroke SOHC Twin Cylinder. It uses an EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection) and works on automatic transmission.

The ATV began to roll the moment the throttle was applied. These ATVs are monster trucks with a handle! Initially, it feels a little awkward, as one negotiates a hairpin curve or a hump, on a four-wheeler, which is controlled using a handle that feels like a bike. But once getting used to it, it only promises hair-raising action.

The ATV is indeed powerful. One can realise this fact, while riding on obstacles at considerable speeds. Even on entering the slush pit, the wheels tend to develop enough traction and the entire machine, with the rider, easily emerges out of it. Another feature is that these off-road vehicles are extremely comfortable, owing to the powerful shock absorbers present on all four wheels.

The ATV comes with 4WD (Wheel Drive) and a 2WD options. If it is your first time, please keep the switch on 2WD, as you don’t want to be thrown out of those wheels.

Another smaller monster we caressed that day was the 550 Sportsman, which is the best-seller in its class globally. Fewer whips in the throttle compared to the 850cc, but sure packs a punch with every twist of the finger (These ATVs have a choke lever on the right thumb which acts as the throttle).

ATVs are made for people with a bit of humour left in them, who trail the path of no-men. A word of caution is that these ATVs and Rangers (with a steering) are not road permissible. So these machines cannot be registered and are best played around with on rough terrain, preferably outside city limits.

Certain of their practical purposes may include moving along country roads to one’s farm or driving to a mine, wherein one can sit up on one of these and start trailing on those endless tracks, with a mountainous torque beneath a comfortable actual seat, with lot of leg room. It feels like sitting on a throne.

The day was complete. Wanting to know more about these vehicles, we managed to learn that they are meant to tear up dirty tracks in an open land or mountains and forests with style and power, with the company claiming that the 850 can pull up a tonne of weight.

Presently, Polaris has dived into the Indian shores with its range of off-road heavy duty ATVs and Rangers. It has launched the Polaris ATVs, Polaris Ranger RZR Side-by-Side vehicles and Snowmobiles in the market.

What an end to the year gone by! Mammoth 850s and 550s at our realm, torquing on slush, obstacles, huge boulder size rocks, literally, all day long!

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