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By: Tim Donaldson

Polaris Sportsman 800 EFI Touring
A Comfortable Ride for Two!

Polaris Sportsman 800 EFI Touring
Polaris Sportsman 800 EFI Touring

Polaris Sportsman 800 EFI Touring Video - [File Size: 26 megs, Format: .WMV]
Polaris Sportsman 800 EFI Touring Video
[File Size: 26 megs, Format: .WMV]

Having a love for the outdoors, ATV riding has always been a natural choice for escaping some of the doldrums of everyday life and an opportunity to soak in some fresh air (except for those riding or following a 2-stroke) and scenery. As enthusiasts know, a leisurely ride can be a quite relaxing and invigorating experience. Not too long ago, I pitched the idea of a laid-back, afternoon ride to my father– a competent yet less than overly experienced rider. Upon agreeing, we each saddled up an ATV and took off on our journey. As I led the way, periodically looking back to see how Dad was doing, we traversed the rolling foothills of Northwestern Appalachia. The scenery was remarkable.

Referring to the panoramic views that we just negotiated, finishing our countryside trek, I smacked Dad in the shoulder and excitedly shouted, “Was that some incredible stuff or what?!”  Relieved, he calmly replied, “I don’t know. I was too busy holding onto the handlebars and watching where I was going.” I was shocked! Did he really miss the stunning “eye candy” of our surroundings? Apparently, that was the case. It was then that I realized the potential value of having a 2-up machine such as those produced by Polaris Industries, where less experienced riders can enjoy the same thrills of ATV riding without actually performing or worry about the navigation. Polaris currently offers 4 models in their 2-up, Sportsman Series lineup with the Polaris Sportsman 800 EFI Touring being the “ultimate combination of big-bore power and plush, 2-up comfort.” was recently afforded the opportunity by Polaris to get some seat time on the Sportsman 800 EFI Touring, so let’s take a look at how this machine actually performs!

About the Polaris Sportsman 800 EFI Touring

The Polaris Creed boasts that their employees not only build and design the machines but are also enthusiastic riders, giving them a competitive advantage in maximizing the riding experience for their customers. With the Sportsman 800 Touring model in mind, the primary focus was certainly about comfort. Fitted with a host of ride-enhancing features, the machine comes standard with an Ultra-Comfortable Seat and Backrest, Vibration Isolating Handholds and Footrests, Rolled Independent Rear Suspension (IRS), Active Descent Control (ADC), On-Demand AWD , Versatrac Turf Mode, and a Metallic Automotive-Style Finish–to name a few.

The Ultra-Comfortable Seat and Backrest is a large, removable, rear seat that–when complimented with the Vibration Isolating Handholds and Footrests–provides a secure, confident, and roomy fit for the passenger. When the seat is removed, Polaris’s patented lock and ride accessories are available to enhance the utility of the machine. The Vibration Isolating Handholds are made of rubber to sufficiently eliminate the buzz typically felt in the hands from machine vibration. Also, the supports provide three separate locations for the passenger to grip while riding, extending the range of comfort. As for the Footrests, they come standard with adjustable riser blocks. Taller passengers can remove the standard-sized blocks, allowing for lengthened foot position. Even the shortest of riders have the option of purchasing a taller riser, as an accessory from Polaris.

As most people realize, independent rear suspension is an essential enhancement for any ATV in the ride comfort department. Polaris’s Rolled Independent Rear Suspension on the Sportsman 800 Touring is patterned after the other Sportsman models; however, in this case, the IRS is specially angled with passenger ride comfort in mind. Keeping the passenger comfortably seated in the rear is also achieved through the Active Descent Control (ADC). Working together with the engine braking system, the ADC provides smooth, controlled decelerations down the slopes–allowing driver and passenger to remain firmly in command and not over the handlebars. Selecting the On-Demand AWD feature engages all four wheels to provide additional forward traction and automatically reverts back to two-wheel drive mode when no longer needed.

Providing additional machine versatility, the Sportsman 800 Touring is equipped with Versatrac Turf Mode. Rather than tearing up the lawn or other sensitive terrains when both rear wheels are uniformly engaged, Versatrac Turf Mode allows the inside wheel to slip. This feature minimizes the machine’s footprint on the terrain and reduces the turn-radius from 94 inches (2x4 Mode) to 75 inches. Rounding out the comfort and versatility features of the Sportsman Touring is an appearance package that is sure to turn heads. With an automatic-style finish, Polaris boasts that the surface is 9-times tougher and more scratch-resistant than standard, plastic hardware. Coupled with cast wheels, the Polaris Sportsman 800 EFI Touring is easy to clean and keep looking good.


Powered by a 4-stroke, 760cc, twin-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine–the Sportsman 800 Touring packed a heavy punch and was very fun to drive. This same engine is also the power plant of the performance-driven Polaris Ranger RZR. Even with the weights of both a rider and passenger, the quad never seemed burdened. While the engine RPMs seemed high at lower speeds, there was more than sufficient power throughout the bottom to top end range. Never really finding a limit to the throttle, this quad was snappy whenever it was needed.

With so much power produced by the big-bore engine, it was easy to see why Polaris designed it to utilize a liquid-cooling system. Even so, the engine produced a noticeable amount of heat while riding, especially on the right-side where the exhaust pipe is routed to the rear of the machine. From appearances, Polaris has fitted the machine with some heat shielding to prevent melting of the body work.

Equipped with a turn-key, rather than push-button, starting mechanism–the electronic fuel injection (EFI) delivered consistent and reliable start-up. Producing a pleasant exhaust note, the 760cc engine purred at a steady rate with very little engine vibration being transmitted throughout the machine. Although providing plenty of comforts for the trail, make no mistake. This explosive ATV will certainly deliver more than the lazy day, Sunday afternoon jaunt requires–raising the fun-factor of the machine.

The Sportsman 800 Touring utilizes a large-handled, transmission selector mechanism which includes Park, Reverse, Neutral, Low, and High ranges. Selecting one mode over another was achieved effortlessly. However, placing the unit into and out of park required slightly more exertion. Considering the fact of what may happen if the ATV slides out of park, it may be a good thing that it does not make the transition easily. An unsuspecting passenger, relaxing on the back, will likely appreciate this, as well.

Another transmission feature on the Sportsman 800 Touring is the use of u-joints, rather than CV-joint, linkages. Though not advocating a preference over one type of transmission joint over another, it was noted that routinely there was sufficient “backlash” in the joints when changing from forward to reverse and vice-versa–resulting in hesitant and erratic switches between forward and reverse. Given the prominent torque delivered by the engine, the service life of the drive-train joints may be problematic.

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