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By: David Allen

The Bombardier's Quest 650 Put To The Test

Bombardier's Quest 650In early November when we got word we were going to be receiving the Bombardier Quest 650 for a test we were thrilled! This was our first ever look at the Bombardier product lineup. The one thing we knew about the Bombardier lineup was there unique step through design. That was what initially attracted us to the company for a special reason. I happen to be a disabled rider. While I can ride the standard "straddle seat" configuration just fine, the step through design offered me a more comfortable riding position. I'm unable to physically drive an automobile, but with ATVs being hand controlled, once aboard, I doubt you'll ever tell I'm disabled. An ATV allows me a level playing field with others, along with a method of independence. Factor this in with the step through design, we were counting the days till our unit arrived!

Just one day before we began the holiday season our unit arrived for testing at a local dealer. We were luckily provided with a brand new unit that had never been even assembled! When we arrived at the dealer we were just blown away by the units massive size. The Quest 650 is the largest unit Bombardier produces and it is no doubt large! You can forget towing this machine in a compact truck, you better have a full size or a trailer. Weighing in at around 750 pounds, 81.5 inches long, and 47 inches wide the Quest certainly makes it's mark in the big bore class as far as size is concerned. Bombardier's Quest 650 is 81.5 inches long, and 47 inches wide.At this point we decided bigger just might be better and left the dealership with a smile anxious to begin testing this beast! The picture you see above is straight off the truck ladies and gentleman! The size is very impressive! Take a close look, it won't be this clean for long!

The test is about to begin but before we do, lets take the opportunity to learn about the specifications of the machine. When we started taking note of the size of this machine and if nothing else the weight of the machine, when it became time to analyze our first stop was none other than the engine. At 750lbs the Quest 650 is the heaviest in the industry. We knew in order for the unit to compete with it's lighter opponents we had to be dealing with a very stout engine to haul the massive weight. From looking at the specifications, the Quest 650 is powered by a liquid cooled 644cc Rotax engine, which is fed by a Mikuni BSR 42 carburetor. Rotax engines are known for there torque producing abilities. We were anxious to see just what this engine could dish out! However, as we well know from past experience, a unit can have a stout engine, but if not geared properly, it's a lost cause. From here we took our scientific eye to the transmission.

The Quest transmission is a CVT dual range (high and low) with Neutral, Park, and Reverse. CVT, commonly known as belt drive transmissions have come a long way in there development, so we didn't let it bother us. Let it be said that during our testing as long as we used the proper range for a given situation we never experienced any type of belt slippage. We were happy to see a dual range setup, which enhances versatility of the machine. The Rotax and CVT transmission power a full time pump driven auto lock differential termed Visco-Lok, with a shaft drive solid axel rear end. We'll speak more in detail about these items when we discuss our test rides in detail. Beyond that, from a physical feature standpoint the Quest 650 matches up with most other sport-utility machines on the market Lets move on to some action, can this burly beast perform? Stick around and find out!

The Test
Let it be said from the beginning we do not test machines lightly. We try to test machines based on operating conditions be it work or recreation that a normal rider would encounter. The Quest 650 is no machine to be taken lightly and we sure didn't test it as such. We tested for 6 weeks against all conditions on just about a daily basis with our bigger rides taking place on the weekends when others were available to join. Lets begin our discussion right where the rider would begin his or her ride, the seat.

Looks unique doesn't it? Bombardier offers a seat configuration like none other in the industry, and for some folks it may look, different, or uncomfortable, but in fact I have grown to love it. It's what's called a semi-step through design. For someone like myself who is disabled it's welcomed as you can see, it takes a lot less leg bending and strength to straddle this beast. This style of configuration offers a wide balanced feel, even in the most off camber situations you'll feel strong and steady. Keep in mind, with my disability, if I feel strong and steady on the machine, you will without a doubt! For such a heavy machine the Quest does offer a smooth ride with independent front suspension and a solid rear with dual shocks.

This is what it looks like aboard the Quest 650. It looks similar to most other machines in it's class with one exception, the higher V-shaped handle bars. We found these to be very comfortable due to the fact that they are closer to the rider. The one negative we noticed was some excessive handlebar vibrations at idle. Everything from a control stand point seems properly placed, easy to read and makes since. If you look just below the key you'll see the fuel gauge which is a floating needle, nice touch! One thing we would like to see added is a light for the gauge, it's virtually unreadable during night riding. The one thing missing in this photo is the gear shifter which is located to the right of the rider.

The controls on the Quest are very logical and follow that of most in the industry. One thing that was a little confusing was the operating of the headlights, which is based upon the ignition key position. With the key in the center position you have the lights off, one turn to the right and they are on, with the bright and dim switch located on the left handlebar. At first, you may think that's not a problem, but look at it this way, when you're on the move your hand must leave the controls to turn the lights on.

Here, we see the shifter, a unique design of being located down below the rider. As you can see the Quest features high and low ranges with the standard reverse, park and neutral. We did notice during our testing the shifter tended to be a little sticky at times especially when going from a forward gear to reverse. Lets see, we've introduced you to the machine, got you aboard it, time to ride isn't it? Lets go!

Bombardier's Quest 650 pulls like an ox.Riding the Quest 650 is unlike no machine you'll ever ride. What makes it so unique is it's simply a beast, it's like riding a mini tank. Weighing in at around 750lb, we were concerned at what the power to weight ratio might be. Ride it one time and your mind will be put at ease. Low range is thus that, it pulls like an ox, we had no trouble pulling standard farm equipment, firewood, or just about anything else you might need.

High range on the other hand has a very unique feel to it, at speeds under 30mph it seems the machine unsure what gear it belongs in thus producing a "lugging" sensation. However, push the Quest over 30mph and you better hold on, the Rotax really show's it's horse. The speedometer registers 60mph, and in our open land testing it has no trouble achieving such a top end. Power and handling go hand in hand, the Quest 650 shows it's power, it also has something to show for handling! For a 750lb full time 4wd machine handling and steering do produce a light somewhat sporty feel. As you can see from the picture above the Quest 650 easily excels in cargo hauling abilities. The Quest does offer something that, in our look at the competition, no other has to offer, a big cargo box! To access the box, just open the front rack and lift the lid. This is one of the best things about the unit, it's large enough to hold tools, or a small cooler for those long hauls. Keep in mind however, it's not waterproof or mud proof. The Quest 650 is one of the most cargo equipped, with the large cargo box, and sturdy racks, pack your supplies and head off for the day!

Speaking of sport, the Quest 650 does play as hard as it works, but you have to play somewhat selective. Our one major complaint with the Quest 650, was it's low ground clearance at the trailer hitch. At a rough seven an one quarter inches, we found several struggles in deeper mud or crawling out of deep trenches the rear end had a tendency to drag. Dragging is ok, but sitting on top of an obstacle with all four wheels spinning is an issue. Those are the only situations which we found the Quest struggled. Give the Quest a little more ground clearance and it would become virtually an unstoppable tank. Going in mud did puzzle us in testing at times. Bombardier does offer a unique 4wd system called "Visco-Lok" that in certain situations puzzled us. Granted, we understand that the Quest 650 does have it's own version of the slip differential system, we didn't always understand why it was reacting certain ways. For instance, in muddy situations on level ground the system spins all 4 tires in a locking situation, which is what one would expect. Bombardier's Quest 650 whell spin.However, when we weighted the Quest down on level ground, for instance with a land leveler the steering became somewhat jerky, which indicated to us not all four wheels are spinning equally. The same case also held true when on uneven ground.

Power is sent to the wheel up in the air, not to the one needing power. We realize that most manufactures have a slip system and it's not going to be what you would consider "true 4wd" without positive traction, but we'd like to see some power transferred to the wheel in need. That would allow a slip system be far more effective.

Conclusions
As with any ATV it's really dependant upon it's intended application as to weather it succeeds or fails. The Quest 650 is a wonderful all around utility based machine. For a 750 pound machine the Quest 650 is loaded with power and stability. If you're looking a versatile utility machine with loads of torque and the ability to have some trail gumption this is the machine for you. If you're looking a machine to be more sporty, hill jumping and corner sliding, this isn't the machine for you.

For the specifications sheet on the entire Quest lineup, click here.

Special Thanks
Louise at Bombardier and Vance at Capitol Cycle for making this possible! Visit them in the North Carolina area for all your Bombardier needs!


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