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Polaris Outlaw 450 MXR

Polaris Outlaw 450 MXR
Polaris Outlaw 450 MXR
A few years ago it was pretty easy to identify the sport segment of the Polaris lineup. The Predator was the 500cc straight axle and the Outlaw was the (first and only) sport quad to offer independent rear suspension (IRS). Of course, these days Honda has come back with an IRS equipped sport quad of their own in the 700xx and the Predator is no more. In its place is the Outlaw--no, not the original IRS model but rather a whole series of sport/ performance machines bearing the Outlaw namesake. Confused yet? Don’t be, all you need to know is that the original Outlaw still exists and what used to be the Predator’s spot in the lineup has been filled with the Outlaw 450 MXR and the Outlaw 525S.

Savvy readers may remember hearing about collaboration between KTM and Polaris back in 2006 (before KTM hit the market with race quads of their own). Well, the partnership was fairly short-lived, but the end result can be seen even now through the Polaris Outlaw ATVs as KTM engines power them all. This review will focus only on the straight-axle Outlaws as the IRS model is designed for more weekend-warrior types and trail riders who don’t let a little thing like mud and rain ruts get in the way of the fun.

That being said, the Outlaw 450 and 525S share the same frames, suspensions, and bodywork. The motors themselves are nearly identical save for the fact that the 525 features a slightly larger bore (95mm as opposed to 89mm on the 450). The remaining differences are quite minor. The 450 comes with piggyback reservoir equipped front shocks while the 525S does not and the 525 comes stock with 20 inch rear tires (for trail use) while the 450 comes with 18 inch rears for MX applications. Other than that the quads are essentially clones (not unlike the relationship between KTM’s own 450 and 525 XC ATVs). Even the motor mounts and compression ratios are identical!

We recently spent some time aboard the 450 MXR and tested the machine on both a dusty MX track in the mid-August heat and spent a few days ripping along some east-coast trail networks. The ATV, we are pleased to report, is equally competent in both environments (with a bit of suspension tuning). One thing for sure is that whether a rider chooses the Outlaw 450, 525S, 525 or any of the KTM brand machines (which now includes two XC models and two SX variations), they win. KTM’s desire to enter into the ATV business has benefited riders of many disciplines, styles, and budgets.

The Setup

The Polaris Outlaw 450 MXR mill is based on KTM’s motorcycle variation with a few tweaks. Instead of running a six-forward gear transmission, the ATV configuration is dropped to five forward gears with reverse. Best of all, since a forward gear was removed to make way for reverse, it didn’t add much weight to the equation (KTM says a bit under 2 pounds total). With a stance of 47.5 inches, the 450 MXR is just shy of the racing regulation max of 50 inches. Coming in the form of fully adjustable Fox Racing Shox, the 450 boasts an impressive ten inches of wheel travel both up front and in the rear. In keeping with KTM’s long-standing tradition both in the two and four-wheeled worlds, the rear suspension design is linkless. We tested this setup on the KTM 450XC and were quite surprised with the results. If there is one company on the planet who has ample experience developing linkageless rear suspension, it’s KTM.

Maxxis Razr MX tires wrap around Douglas Wheels all around and like all KTMs (and Polaris Predators for that matter) the Outlaw sports a Magura hydraulic clutch. The exhaust pipe has been moved to the center of the quad and, like the remainder of the system, has been lightened and designed to flow more freely. Bucking the popular trend of fuel injection, the Outlaws (like their cousin quads from KTM) retain carburetion in the form of a 39mm Keihin FCR. All told, the Outlaw 450 MXR weighs in at 365 pounds (making it a very light addition to the 450 field).

Sure the spec sheet is very impressive, but we all know that means little once the gate drops so we took our 450 MXR to several open night MX track practices and then into the thick of the woods to find the quad’s strengths and weaknesses. Here’s what we learned:

On The Track:

With a quick stab of the bar-mounted e-start button, the Outlaw fires up with a surge of authority, be it early on a frost-laden morning or after stalling it hot in a corner. The hydraulic clutch’s throw and pull are industry-leading and try as we may, refused to slip despite our abuse. Once underway, the engine simply shined in the intermittent soft loam and hard packed clay that our local tracks consist of. Much like its cousin, the KTM 450XC, the Outlaw 450 is blessed with abundant torque that can be utilized through nearly every rpm of its range. In fact, a common technique with the MXR was to exit a corner a full gear higher than we should have been able to pull, feather the clutch, and let the engine’s torque fill in the gaps. With this technique, it was often like riding an automatic around the course (a benefit especially noted when the terrain demands your full attention).

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