Bush­mas­ter Po­laris Sports­man 570 HD

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

Like every­thing in life, the mo­tor­cy­cle in­dus­try – in­clud­ing all­ter­rain ve­hi­cles (ATVs) and side-by-sides (SxSs) – ex­pe­ri­ences highs and lows. Over the past 12 months it has been a big fat low. In 2017, over­all sales fell by 9.3 per cent. You know things are a bit fizzy in the road bike mar­ket when Har­ley David­son is the high­est sell­ing mo­tor­cy­cle. But that’s what hap­pened.

Things weren’t quite so bad in the ATV/SXS mar­ket. Ac­cord­ing to the Fed­eral Cham­ber of Au­to­mo­tive In­dus­tries, what these days we like to call a ‘peak body’, de­spite the gen­eral sales de­cline, ATVs and SXSs grew their share of the lo­cal mar­ket in 2017 by a cou­ple of per­cent­age points. Po­laris was mar­ket leader last year, fol­lowed by Honda then Yamaha.

The Po­laris Sports­man has been with us for a long time now. In fact, I pretty much learned to ride an ATV on my col­league

Reg Grant’s Sports­man 800; what Reg re­ferred to as his Mumma Hum­mer. That big ma­chine crawled over any­thing for Reg, and did the same for me, prov­ing as it did that the old girl’s throt­tle con­trol, com­pli­ant sus­pen­sion and flex­i­ble trans­mis­sion were tough to beat when you re­ally couldn’t go around an ob­sta­cle and had to go over it. Reg sold that quad sev­eral years ago and to the best of our knowl­edge she’s still go­ing.

To­day’s Sports­man comes in three vari­ants: Util­ity, Per­for­mance and Scram­bler. The Util­ity model has 450 or 570cc; the Per­for­mance ver­sion 850 or 1000cc, and the Scram­bler is an XP model with 1000cc, elec­tronic power-steer­ing and camo colours. The unit we re­viewed is the 570 HD EPS, but there’s a vari­ant with a ute tray – one of the most use­ful ATV con­fig­u­ra­tions we’ve seen.

The 570cc ProS­tar engine is, we be­lieve, the bench­mark engine for farm ATVs. With 44 horse­power (32.8kW) and elec­tronic fuel in­jec­tion it de­vel­ops plenty of torque for gen­eral farm work, and at the same time is eas­ily con­trolled. There’s a lot to be said for full-size ATVs with en­gines around this ca­pac­ity. Larger en­gines are more dif­fi­cult to mod­u­late with the throt­tle. Too much grunt, if not han­dled ju­di­ciously, can pro­duce an un­ex­pected burst of ac­cel­er­a­tion when you least need it, and that com­pro­mises a ve­hi­cle’s rough ter­rain abil­ity. When cross­ing dif­fi­cult ter­rain you need an engine that will plug away at it, not charge it, and the 570 ProS­tar does this very well. It has no flat-spots ei­ther, and a de­cent top speed.

As an engine-re­lated com­ment, we’d like to see a brush-guard in front of the ra­di­a­tor. The ba­sic setup leaves the ra­di­a­tor prone to de­bris dam­age and that no doubt would be an ex­pen­sive fix.

The front and rear sus­pen­sion guards are enor­mous, and the bash­plate full-length, so no com­plaints there. The Sports­man also gets a beefy front guard. On the other hand, we no­ticed that for some rea­son they’ve aban­doned plas­tic racks and re-em­ployed steel ones. Not long ago there seemed to be a con­sen­sus that steel racks were dan­ger­ous. We don’t know how or why that the­ory was tor­pe­doed but some­one in Rack­land ob­vi­ously made the call so that’s the end of that.

AH, ABOUT THE STEER­ING

All 2019 Sports­man mod­els get “im­proved elec­tronic pow­er­steer­ing”, only it’s not an im­prove­ment. First thing you no­tice af­ter about 100 me­tres is that the steer­ing feels very light, too light ac­tu­ally, and the sen­sa­tion wors­ens as speed in­creases.

The ag­gres­sive tyre tread pat­tern may have some­thing to do with vague­ness in the steer­ing, and the Sports­man’s fond­ness for un­der­steer, but as a gen­eral ob­ser­va­tion we’d say that most ex­pe­ri­enced op­er­a­tors will find this Sports­man’s method of chang­ing di­rec­tion un­set­tling un­til they get used to it. The old Sports­man steered bet­ter.

But the same can’t be said for off-road abil­ity. The Sports­man has al­ways felt like a ship of the line, a bat­tle­ship more ac­cu­rately, a bit of gear that would take an aw­ful lot to stop. We’re not talk­ing about the brakes, which are strong with­out be­ing touchy, but about the gen­eral feel­ing you get when you’re punt­ing around the place on a full-size ATV like this one. The Sports­man ride has

al­ways been soft-as, in fact you can flog it across bro­ken ground and barely feel any dis­tur­bance. Power-steer­ing has a lot to do with this, but even be­fore Yamaha in­vented ATV power-steer­ing, the Sports­man was show­ing us all how sweet a rough ter­rain ride can be. Okay, so it comes with no­tice­able un­der­steer, but it re­ally does seem to float over rough ground and that means a lot when you don’t feel like be­ing smashed around all day by a farm ATV that should know bet­ter.

Engine brak­ing is first rate too. Reg Grant and I are tough on any ATV with lousy engine brak­ing, and there are still a few of them, but the Sports­man ain’t one. The fac­tory has per­fected its Ac­tive De­scent Con­trol to the point where, like the Ranger XP side-by­side, this model has one of the safest brak­ing set­ups in the petrolpow­ered ATV world.

FI­NAL THOUGHTS

Okay, con­clu­sions. When we get an ATV for re­view, we have it for a few days and then it goes back to the dealer who, by cir­cuitous means, got it to us in the first place. We don’t keep the ma­chine for long so we don’t know what me­chan­i­cal weak­nesses may show up over time. It could run sweetly for years or bust a boiler to­mor­row.

The ob­ser­va­tions we pass on to you guys are gained over a short but in­tense pe­riod. We eval­u­ate the ma­chines on a cat­tle prop­erty be­tween Toowoomba and Ip­swich in Queens­land, a place of big hills, deep wa­ter, bridges, gates, grates, sheds, fallen trees, and steep tracks that’ll catch you out if you’re not pay­ing at­ten­tion. The area is known to us as Fat Camp, be­cause we have a big cow­proof shed – the girls like to poke around when we’re not there – and we have cook­ing gear, a toi­let, bench space, a ta­ble and chairs, all which make ATV test­ing more plea­sure than pain.

But some ATVs have failed that course. Bits fell off. Things broke. On a few, engine brak­ing was pa­thetic or non-ex­is­tent. One had a front wheel that locked up with­out no­tice. One nearly broke me in half. One caught fire. But since first im­pres­sions are of­ten the most ac­cu­rate, we know what most ma­chines will do be­cause we’ve seen ‘em all. The Sports­man isn’t per­fect, but it’s big, strong, com­fort­able on any ter­rain, and the driv­e­train is the best in the busi­ness.

If noth­ing else, it’s a good place to start your search for a new ATV.

Far left: Po­laris added a vari­able low speed lim­iter to this engine, a wel­come safety mea­sure for the in­ex­pe­ri­enced. Speed can be set be­tween 11 and 22km/h.

1. In the US, the Sports­man is claimed to be the best sell­ing 4x4 ATV of all time. It’s not do­ing badly here, ei­ther. In 2017 Po­laris was Aus­tralia’s lead­ing ATV sup­plier.2. Sus­pen­sion com­po­nents are well shielded and thema­chine wears a full-length bash­plate3. Whack on a brush-guard to pro­tect the ra­di­a­tor4. In high range the ve­hi­cle de­scends with twice the speed it does in low range so you get a choice about how you want to tackle a hill

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