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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am impressed with the new Polaris 550 2 up I just bought; enough to actually write some of my thoughts for others who are considering 2 ups for the specific qualities my wife and I were looking for in a 2 up. Our ATV trails in Utah are not (yet) approved for more than 50 inch wide machines and my wife and I did not like the cramped space and potential to bump shoulders in the side-by-side. We liked the more “open” form factor of the 2 up front-behind ATV.


Context : Most of my prior ATVs sport ATVs – Honda 250 and 400, Kawasaki 250, Suzuki 250, two stroke Polaris 250s,Yamaha grizly, Polaris 330 atv – all two wheel drive. These were not ones my wife, almost 60 years old, felt comfortable driving so, we bought a 2005 Outlander max 400 for me to drive and her to passenger. This first two-up changed everything in that I realized that there were higher levels of comfort and technology to be had. It was Larger, longer, more comfortable, had wonderful power. It was a 4 wheel drive with low range. For the first time, my wife and I could ride together in good comfort and the 4 wheel drive with low range allowed us to go places we never could go before in comfort we had not experienced before this. We bought SD helmet radios and that was also a game-changing experience to be able to talk without having to even turn our heads or even speak loud.

The can-am I have is a carbureted machine, and at 32 hp had all the power we needed for the type of trail riding we did. We live in southern Utah in the high desert and ride mostly higher mountain trails in the summer and lower desert trails in the cool of the winter. We put approximately 1000 miles on the machine each year. Only in the mountains above 9,000 have I wanted more power. Our motive in looking for a new machine was simply a self-reward which then became a search for the most comfortable ride rather than more speed or power or better looks. We wanted a nice ride that was not tiring us out over the entire day.

I decided on the Polaris 550 efi 2 up with Electric Power steering. Like the experience we had in first moving to the Can-am 2 up, this new machine has been another level of improved experience for us. I felt like I had to start a thread and give a review and a bit of an apple to orange comparison between the carbureted, smaller and older 2 up bombardier and the 550.

I bought the 550 from Steadmans in Tooele, Utah. The sales price went through unexpected changes but I think this was salesman confusion and not dishonesty. It was $9244 out the door (i.e. taxed and licensed) . I liked the people and the shop and I have confidence that they will honor the 6 month warrantee. I wish the warrantee was longer. The 2013 Can Ams came with a 3 YEAR warrantee, and for the extra money, I think their warrantee was much, much better.


COMFORT AS THE MAIN CRITERIA : My criteria for buying the Polaris was “the seat”. I wanted comfort for my wife and I. Though the various forums debate multiple qualities and advantages and disadvantages, such as quality of fit and finish, power, and dependability, etc; most forums even by competing brands, agreed that the Polaris has the reputation for the finest comfort in actual ride of the 3 manufacturers that have 2-up machines. Polaris, Can-am and Artic Cat are the three manufacturers having three up machines that I looked over. I honestly LOVE my Can-Am; I can afford the higher cost of the newer can ams, but I do not think it’s ride comfort will be as good as the Polaris.



THE BIKE :

LOOKS : I think the Polaris is simply good looking; But NOT better or worse than other 2 up machines.
I think the “fit and finish” is not as “polished” as the can am and seemed subjectively similar to the Artic Cat. However, I feel fit and finish of plastics may not represent fit and finish and engineering of motor and drivetrain quality.


SEATS: The 2013 and 2014 Can am seat has a much nicer material and is softer, so, even before buying the machine, I honestly started looking for ways to modify the shorter passenger seat on the Polaris. I had resigned myself to taking the seat to an upholster shop but could justify this on the bikes more modest cost. Initially I did not like the fact that the Polarist rear seat seemed to move from side to side a lot. I mistook this for cheapness, until I rode on the back a while. Only then did my wife and I realize we would not need to change the seat.

The front seat turns out just fine. The rear seat was the big surprise. On the Can Am, the rear seat bottom is longer and the seat back is “solid” and does NOT wiggle any from side to side. However, the fact that the Polaris DOES move side to side a bit meat that the seat chafes ones back a lot less since the passenger does move from side to side while driving. Now, I think the Polaris engineers were remarkably intuitive and smart to do this and think the rear seat is nicer due to it’s minor movement I think it was an intentional design. I do wish the rear seat was just a bit longer, (more like the can-am seat) but it is quite comfortable as it is. The seat handles are fine; nothing fancy, but functional and at a good height for our use.


LIGHTS : The Lights are wonderful. They are brighter than any machine I’ve had so far. The additional POD light that comes on when you switch lights to “bright” is also a wonderful addition and helpful when turning tight corners.


CONTROLS AND 4WD: The Polaris controls are intuitive and I actually LIKE using the single left brake lever to operate all brakes. The foot brake is small and out of the way. It almost seems an afterthought and it is not nearly so powerful as the lever. It is not inspiring but it is functional. The lever is perfectly fine and decisive in it’s power. The 2X4 to 4X4 and ADC control is simple. I am not sure if I prefer the Polaris system of 4X4 since the Polaris system only engages when it detects differing wheel speeds.

I like the feeling of “locked” 4X4 mode I had on the Can-Am but, must admit that the engagement both in and out of 4 wheel drive in sand dunes on the Polaris is seamless; so much so that I simply cannot often tell if it is in 4wd or 2wd though it obviously it in 4 wd when I am climbing dunes. It works as well going up hills in 4 wheel drive as the can-am, but I cannot tell when it engages and when it disengages. This confidence in "full time" engagement is something I've become accustomed to when going DOWN sand dunes perhaps more than when doing UP sand dunes.

THE ADC is probably wonderful for rock crawlers and my wife liked it a LOT sense it really IS a controlled and a SLOW descent in very steep slopes. However, it was TOOL slow for me since I simply don’t go down terribly steep slopes. (At least not with my wife and when 2 up – I might do it if I was riding alone…) Still, the ADC works.


POWER STEERINGThis is one of the most wonderful add ons I could have bought. I LOVE it AND, it changes the nature of our exploration. Let me explain.

Though my wife and I drive fairly slow trails, the trails often are rock strewn or have significant ruts. Both rocks and ruts require a fair amount of my attention as I pick the best “line” over a road or through a trail. The Power steering negates a huge portion of this need to “pick a perfect line” through such trails. I am able to pay more attention to the scenery. This is very, very nice. Additionally, my wife can now have confidence in driving a machine up such trails and maintain control with her lower upper body strength and inexperience at “picking lines” up trails. This has empowered her to be confident and able to manage this 780+ pound machine. In fact, she claims this as her machine now and I am back to the Can Am (which has no power steering). This ALSO changes the nature of our exploration.

BEFORE, I was reluctant to take a trip more than 15-20 miles from our base camp or base loading vehicle in case of breakdown on a single machine trip. NOW, we can take two machines and this alone increases my confidence in longer trips with the lower risk of two machines. It may seem that I have dwelled on this single point for longer than it deserves, but power steering on any machine changes the nature of the trip as well as empowers those having less upper body strength and decreases the aches and pains of shoulders after a day long trip on challenging trails. I LIKE power steering for more reasons than simple comfort. It changes the fundamental nature of the rides we take.


THE TIRES AND WHEELS – While I like the looks of the aluminum wheels, but I could just as soon ride with steel wheels. I LIKE the concept of larger tires. One need merely ride the older, smaller wheeled ATVs to realize that the larger tires do not dip as low into ruts as a larger tire. Thus, the ride is better and, in this case I do not think the unspung weight is increased from steel to aluminum. The tires are fine for the trail riding we do though I think they are “sand compromised” for dunes we ride. Still, I think they are an ok base tire type and size.


THE ENGINE : I agree with many posters who have pointed out the sometimes unnerving noises coming from this engine in mid range (above 4000 rpm). Up to this point, the engine sounds fine, but mid-range it sounds like bolts are loose and something is flapping. I have another fuji-engined Polaris that makes similar sounds so I have resigned myself to trying NOT to pay attention to this single point. The engine does not make the quick-spin-up speed of the typical can-am engine but it seems capable enough to move the 780 pound machine (dry weight) with 400 pounds of passengers at speeds that are above our capabilities and up sand dunes that our can-am (which sets my prior limited standard) has been able to do.

I admit that I have NOT driving the engine wide open as I am still breaking it in and want to be very, very prudent in this aspect.

I LIKE the fact that the Electronic Fuel Injection seems to be spot on. The engine starts within the first second of turning over in every instance so far. Very nice. The weather has not been freezing yet but near to it. I’ve heard of changing idle speeds, but mine idels between 1350 and 1400. I have noticed a rare change and irregular idle for a second or two but this is rare. We’ll see over time what happens.


INSTRUMENT PANEL - The speedometer is fine. I do not like the fact that the odometer on the dash does not give mileage with 1/10s of miles in real time. The distinct disadvantage is that often, we want to describe trails accurately to others. Normally, we can say, “go 3.4 miles up this trail to the 2nd cut off to your right and then go east”. Now, we have to guess. The machine actually measures in 1/10s on the mile/hour meter, but doesn’t display this on the working odometer. This is a silly mistake for Polaris to make. Though the instruments are rudimentary, this helps hold the price down and I am not unimpressed with the signal lights for other functions.


THE THROTTLE PADDLE : I think the throttle paddle push is just fine. It is light and should be comfortable for anyone who does not have arthritis in their thumb joints.


THE FRONT STORAGE COMPARTMENT : I LIKE this storage compartment. It is handy and locks nicely and seems to be waterproof as well. I wish it was about 2 inches deeper. 2 inches would not have changed the trail view much and would have made for ability to hold larger items in the compartment.

It may sound strange, but in the forum where, in one thread, individuals discuss the 550 motor, only a couple of individuals had motor problems. Though they were, understandably, quite disappointed, the fact that many, many machines have been sold and only a few on the forum describe the same engine problem was actually encouraging for me to try this motor. (I wished it had come with the 570 motor instead….). EPS is a hit and miss on how dependable it seems to be. I will wait a month and write up additional insights over this next year. I have thought that next year I would probably get another outlander max in 500 size and may offer comparisons between what are, more similar engine sizes and similar competition types (i.e. “A arm” can am vs “A arm” Polaris c similar engine size).


THE RIDE : I almost forgot to describe this main criteria. Certainly the ride is less bumpy and more "cushy" than any atv we've ridden. This is wonderful. I think that this machine is not as responsive or nimble as any of the sports machines I've had. (It's not even as nimble as my outlander 400 which is 100 pounds lighter). On the other hand I did not expect it to be. It is heavy and made for a different type of ride. I have sometimes wondered at the "need" riders feel to buy the 850 so as to be able to ride faster. I admit, that as a "guy", I considered the 850, but felt I simply didn't need the power for my type of riding on THIS machine. The ride and especially the power steering did not disappoint us. We'll have comments on reliability and use over time in the ensuing months to come.


Clearly
 

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Welcome to the board.
 

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Good review. Got my Touring maybe 6 weeks ago but haven't driven it yet more than a mile in the neighborhood. Taking it up to the lake to live permanently this week and so should get some time on it finally. My take is the Polaris machines are inexpensive and I can overlook a lot. Having driven and owned one and 2-up snowmobiles for years, even on powerful, 2 stroke, touring machines, there is always a very noticeable power loss when riding with a second adult rider. That was some of my rational for going with the 850 versus the 550...right, wrong or indifferent.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hi jkust and bruce!.

I think the issue of "power" (ie 850 vs 550) has much to do with personality and riding style. As a "guy", I LIKE acceleration, however, as a 2-up rider with a 60 year old wife on the rear of a machine, I have to ride differently if I want to keep her comfort and confidence/fear level in mind. I simply don't ride the same way on my sports machines as I do on the 2 up with two passengers. Since i was not going to use the extra power, even at high elevations, and thus, there was no advantage to extra power for my riding style, I chose the 550. I had a honda 929 race replica motorcycle with 164 horsepower and was always feeling a bit of underlying frustration when riding as it always seemed that I had to "idle" around town and, even on the freeway, I could very rarely open it up and when I could, it was only for just a few seconds before it was into a dangerous and unlawful range of speed. My point is that I felt like if I bought the 850 and rode 2-up on small trails (our usual fair), then I would constantly experience this same feeling, i.e. having power that I couldn't really use...

I take some solace in the fact that I expect the engine to last as many miles, have better gas mileage and a smaller rebuild cost when that time comes.

If I do buy another can am, I will probably ride it a bit more aggressively since it will be a 2-up machine that I will ride one up, since my wife has adopted this 550 as her machine. This is an unexpected plus since she has not had confidence to ride one-up on her own machine in the close trails we ride in before having power steering. Having said all of that, if anyone wanted to trade their 850 machine for my 550, I would trade.... but I would still ride no faster than I ride now. I would mainly do it for value increase and a tiny bit of vanity of having an "850". good luck in your journeys jkust.

Clearly
 
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