My buddy and I did a 170 mile trail ride Wednesday through some mountains near his cabin. During the ride, he let me ride his Outlander 800, and then the next day, he let me ride his 650 Outlander Max. (He has also let me ride his Outtie 1000 several times before, so I will include it in my thoughts). I put about 20 to 25 miles on each over various terrain. I tested out 4wd, 2wd, Hi and low range, braking, handling, acceleration, and top speeds. He has also let me ride his Outtie 1000 several times before, so I will include it in my thoughts.
First off, let me say that my second choice of brand after Kawie is Can Am. I am addicted to vtwins and will never buy another single cylinder machine again unless it's a dualsport motorcycle. That effectively limits my market to Kawie and Can Am. Of the two, I think Kawie is better overall. But Can Am has some great things too. My complaint with Can Am is that the things they do that I don't like, I really HATE. For instance, I hate single lever braking, automatic lockers controlled by the physics of goo equivalent of toothpaste, plastic racks (g2 models), big weights (g2 models), belt slamming helixes (some g2 models), hard serviceability (g2 models). etc. etc. However, I love their Rotax engines, the ride, the TTI rear ends, their gas mileage, and their power steering. So I guess it's safe to say that what I love about both machines, I like pretty equally well. The difference is in the stuff I don't like. Kawies just have fewer things I don't like.
As for my thoughts on the CA models I got to ride....
Let me first say that all of them have had their little issues.
The 650 max was having issues with the DESS code key and wouldn't let me run it in the "lights off" mode. So it's headlights were on all day. It also had a pretty bad clutch knock at idle. That bike has less than 1000 miles on it.
The 800 has had a water pump go out, and some driveline issues.
The 1000 has burned out several sets of brake pads already and it's got about 4000 miles. It has also had some electrical issues wherein it wouldn't start, and it recently blew a chunk of material out of the spark arrester.
But all in all, they are all in good working order as of my riding.
Random things I noticed on the 1000:
The 1000 is a beast. It is worth the little bit extra money over the 800 or 850.
It gets incredible gas mileage for how many ponies are being fed.
It handles remarkably well for how heavy it is.
The ride is very comfortable and the TTI rear end will power slide nearly as good as a SRA.
Power steering is a must because of it's weight, but that is covered very well. The PS works fantastic.
The smile factor with this machine is always at 100%.
It does not engage the clutches very smoothly. At a stop and going from park position into High, it slams when it engages. Not good on clutch, bearing, or belt!
Good ergonomics. Great ride. Some good designs such as improved battery location, improved air filter location and design, and nice, comfortable seat.
Random things I noticed about the 800:
Very sluggish clutch to react. Slow but overly aggressive backshift, slow react upshift. BRP has greatly improved their clutch design in the last ten years from this model.
Tremendous amount of nose dive under deceleration.
Tremendous amount of heat coming off the left side of exhaust. I was moving at 30 mph and couldn't physically stand to leave my leg near it anymore. Rode most of the way with my leg up on the front rack! Can't imagine what it would be like to rock crawl with this bike in Moab on a 95 degree day! It would be truly like being in hell!
Powerful engine. And quite smooth running.
Lighter weight of the G1 chassis combined with the awesome engine gives a powerslider his heaven.
Love the looks of this machine.
Great visibility of the trail in front and around the rider.
NEEDS a front brake!
Random things I noticed about the 650 Max:
Clutched really high. First thing I'd do if it were mine is add a stiffer primary and secondary spring. It feels quite gutless in high range off the start, and even could burn a belt very easy on small logs and rocks. But the low range is AWESOME! Totally restores the engines torque. Just too bad you can't leave it in low range and do 35 mph all day.
Absolutely the smoothest running engine I've ever felt in an atv. Purrs like a kitten. Runs so smooth you can't even tell it's running.
Absolutely awesome gas mileage. 28 mpg with 62 well clutched ponies (with the addition of aforementioned springs) would be just about the ultimate trail riding combination known to man.
The Max puts the exhaust tip just further enough from the rider's ear that this bike's noise is so low that it almost puts you to sleep! You could easily carry on a quiet conversation with your passenger while zipping down the road at 30 mph.
I didn't like the turning radius of the Max. It was a three point turn at nearly every tight corner in the trees.
I also didn't like how much harder it was to drift the Max. The added length made it feel vague as to what my rear end was doing. By the time I did feel it come around, it was nearly too late to save it from spinning out.
I also didn't like how the added leverage of the length of wheelbase jarred me when I crossed washes and ruts. I'd think I was across and then suddenly a jolt would come from the rear of the bike. I also didn't really notice it being more stable going up hills. Maybe just a little bit, but not worth buying solely for that. The only way I'd buy a two up is if I was going to transport a passenger all the time. And I mean all the time.
Loved the look of this machine. I much prefer the looks of the pre 2012 models.
Loved the power steering for turning in the tight wooded areas.
Did I mention I love this engine? So smooth and tight. Like a Swiss watch.
In comparing the CA riding experience to my Kawie, I would say I like it, but with some reservations. Perhaps I'm just old school, but I kind of feel like the refinement, and newer CA feel, is a bit too "luxurious". Some folks love to be as pampered as possible when operating a vehicle. But I prefer to feel the trail, hear some noise, and have some vibrations in the bones. I like being a part of the machine and seeing how far I can push it while remaining part of the equation. These newer CA with their power steering, soft seats, maximum suspension travel, and creature comforts kind of take away some of that feeling that you're riding something. After awhile, it kind of numbs you to the fact that you're piloting a half ton machine down a tight trail at 40 mph.
I guess the closest analogy I could come up with is this: If you got to have the whole racetrack to yourself for the day, would you want to do your laps in a Porsche 918 Spyder, or with a Dodge Viper ACR?
Or Goldwing or Harley? Or maybe do you prefer champagne or whiskey?