All-Terrain Work Tools

Some crews work where there are no
roads — at least none meant for conventional trucks. These remote
jobsites require the right set of wheels that can travel through a
variety of challenging off-road terrain (whether it’s steep hills and
muddy trails or pristine golf courses and snow-covered streets).

These jobs call for an ATV or utility vehicle (UTV). Professionals have
been using these all-terrain transportation vehicles for decades to
carry personnel or cargo to out-of-the-way jobsites. In fact, companies
like Polaris have been making these all-terrain work tools for
professionals and recreational buffs for more than 50 years.

“In our business, the definition of work is transporting people, tools
and cargo,” says Jan Rintamaki, Polaris Ranger marketing manager. “And
our commercial customers have rough terrain to cover. If you want to
move cargo from point A to point B over a smooth
surface, there are lots of vehicles that can do that for you.

When conditions get rough, that’s when your all-terrain vehicle earns its money.”

It’s safe to say Polaris has designed its all-terrain machines to work
in the rough. CE had the chance to experience this firsthand when
Polaris held its 2006 press launch at the Windrock ATV club in Oliver Springs, Tenn., June
15-17. Situated on 72,000 acres of the old Coal Creek Mining and Mfg.
grounds, the ATV club manages thousands of miles of off-roading trails
in the Smokey Mountains.

It was the perfect setting for Polaris to introduce its new 2006 lineup
— seven new ATVs and five new models of utility vehicles. A small group
of farming and construction magazine editors gathered around the new
set of all-terrain vehicles, strapping on helmets, gloves and goggles.

After thorough instructions from Polaris product managers (covering
features, as well as safety), the editors got the opportunity to
test-drive the company’s new line of Sportsman ATVs. The Sportsman line
is Polaris’ rough and tough utility ATV series — which has “the
best-selling 4×4 automatic on the planet,” say Polaris professionals.

“If you talk to consumers, what you would hear is that [our ATVs] are
the toughest out there,” says Jeff LeFever, ATV marketing manager at
Polaris. “And that’s just to say we haven’t cut corners on any part of
it. So we’re known for the best independent rear suspension. We are the pioneers in
independent rear suspension. True all-wheel drive sets us apart, and
again, that’s the shift-on-the-fly and it truly engages all four wheels
with limited slip. That means all four wheels receive full power — not
a limited-slip system like you would find on most competitive ATVs.
Then some of it is the bells and whistles. We’re known for fantastic
ride and handling, integrated storage and innovate accessories like the
Lock & Ride system.”

Polaris also pioneered electronic fuel injection (EFI) for the ATV
market when it introduced the Sportsman 700 a couple of years ago. EFI
allows for a more effective fuel system (i.e. reliable starting in any
weather, altitude and temperature).

“It is also more fuel efficient,” says LeFever. “At typical trail
riding speeds — 25 mph — it’s about 25 percent more fuel efficient. So
that’s a big benefit. It will give you a longer range as well, which is
another safety factor. And it does give you better throttle response at
low speeds. So if you’re going over particularly rocky terrain, you’ll
have better low speed control.”

In 2004, Polaris added the Sportsman 800 EFI unit to its bag of tricks.
For 2006, Polaris brings that advance technology to the heart of the
segment — the 500-cc units. “We’re the only people who have it there,”
says LeFever. Today, Polaris has one of the biggest lines of EFI ATV
machines out there. The company also has one of the only two-seater
ATVs, called the Sportsman X2.

The full-size Sportsman X2 has the ability to transform from a
two-person riding machine to a cargo ATV with a rear cargo box. The
Sportsman X2 design is built on the best-selling Sportsman 500
platform. Because of the integrated seating system, the rider can
transform this vehicle from carrying cargo to carrying a passenger in
seconds. In this way, the Sportsman X2 is equipped to transport gear,
crew and family to and from a worksite, hunting site or campsite. The
unit retails for $7,899.

The Sportsman X2 enjoys the full benefits of EFI and the hard working
engine found at the heart of Polaris’ best-selling Sportsman 500. At
the core of the Sportsman X2 is a liquid-cooled Polaris 499-cc, high
output, four-stroke, single-cylinder engine. According to Polaris
officials, the engine delivers class-leading towing, hauling and
payload through an automatic Polaris Variable Transmission (PVT).
Towing capacity is 1,225 lbs, while cargo capacity is 490 lbs (400 lbs
in the rear box and 90 lbs on the front rack with a single rider).

“The X2 is really more than just a two-up unit,” says LeFever. “We’ve
heard one of the limitations to ATVs before is that you can only get
one person at a time on the machine. Now with this, you really have the
ability to take two workers to remote locations with one vehicle. And
it’s got a 400-lb dump bed capacity, so it can haul a lot.”

Along with the Sportsman X2, Polaris’ 6×6 Sportsman is the company’s
other heavy-duty, commercial ATV. Engineered with six wheels (and
six-wheel drive), the 6X6 features a powerful liquid-cooled Polaris
499-cc engine and a molded rear dump box, hinged for easy unloading and
800 lbs of capacity. Both the Sportsman X2 and 6×6 are great for a
myriad of transportation and cargo applications (from hauling bales of
hay to surveying construction sites).

Also new to the Polaris 2006 ATV lineup is the introduction of the
Sportsman 450 (replacing the 400) and the launch of the small Sawtooth
(a 200-cc ATV) and the mid-size Hawkeye (with 2×4 or 4×4 options).

Getting Behind the Wheel of a Ranger

After tooling around the gorgeous hills and muddy trails of Windrock
with a whole host of ATVs, Polaris introduced its 2006 Ranger utility
vehicle lineup in the afternoon. Five new models for the new year,
including ground-breaking integration of EFI technology to the UTV
segment.

“Polaris Ranger is the first and only lineup of utility vehicles to
offer electronic fuel injection or EFI,” explains Rintamaki. “That
delivers three benefits — start anywhere capability, altitude
compensation and temperature adjustment. Landscapers and contractors in
four season climates can now have a machine that starts easily at 20
below or 110 degrees — whenever they need to get their work done. EFI
requires no re-jetting for altitudes up to 10,000 ft. And EFI
automatically adjusts the power and fuel efficiency to current weather
and temperature conditions.”

EFI technology is standard on the Ranger XP, the Ranger 6×6 EFI and the
limited edition Ranger 4×4 EFI (available in December). The Ranger 4×4
will also continue to come in a carbureted version, as the 4×4 is
Polaris’ most popular commercial vehicle.

“[The Ranger 4×4] is about getting your work done over rough terrain
anywhere, anytime,” says Rintamaki. “You know Ranger’s motto — hardest
working, smoothest riding.”

The Ranger 4×4 is popular with many professional users because of its
electronic-locking rear differential. It gives operators the choice of
all-wheel drive, two-wheel drive and one-wheel drive, so drivers can
minimize damage to turf and sensitive terrain, yet get through
treacherous topography when they need to. The carbureted Ranger 4×4 is
also the company’s only machine in the 2006 lineup that still has the
innovative SpeedKey system.

The dealer-installed SpeedKey option costs around $200 and can control
a module that can limit the speed of a UTV without loss of power. You
end up with two keys on the machine — a yellow key that limits the
machine’s top end to 25 mph and a black key that lets it go up to 41
mph. It’s engineered for those contractors who want to limit speeds on
worksites and then have fun with their unit after work. As of right
now, SpeedKey is not on any EFI units.

Along with the Ranger 4×4, the Ranger 6×6 is also a popular commercial
UTV — especially when considering heavy-load applications. The new
Ranger 6×6 EFI model offers smooth weight-carrying ability and
traction. With its 40-hp, 700 Twin EFI engine, the Ranger 6×6 has a
1,750-lb payload and a 1,250-lb cargo capacity — the highest in the
industry. The unit sports a 15-cu ft cargo bed, industry-leading
1,750-lb towing capacity and a top speed of 44 mph, not to mention
exclusive, on-demand, true six-wheel drive.

“Ranger 6×6 EFI lives to carry and tow heavy loads in low traction,
rough environments,” says Rintamaki. Rounding out the new lineup,
Polaris introduced two limited edition Ranger XP models — a Mossy Oak
XP and a painted Midnight Red Ranger XP.

To go along with all of these 2006 ATVs and UTVs, Polaris is still
heavily promoting its innovative Lock & Ride Cargo System
accessories. The Polaris Lock & Ride system is engineered as an
easy-on/easy-off attachment system that takes only seconds to remove
and replace ancillary items such as storage racks, tool boxes, gun
racks and cab enclosures. New for 2006’s Lock & Ride system is a
multi-mount winch (with a 4,000-lb capacity) and a 3-point hitch
attachment system for Ranger with attachments like a box scrapper,
blade and a landscape rake.

“Lock & Ride attachments carry items easier and better,” says
Rintamaki. “We carry stuff above and on the sides of the box, which is
different than just about everybody else. We also have dedicated tool
holders that can come on and off in seconds — backpack blowers,
weed whips, fuel cans, chainsaw mounts, water carriers, tool boxes,
expanded bedwall extensions. What all of that means is increased
productivity.”

And increasing productivity is what Polaris is all about.

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