Replacing the old ETX Sportsman ATV, Polaris has a new entry level model in the form of the Sportsman 450 HO. Howard Walsh puts it through its paces.
Mixing it with the volume sellers in the 400cc ATV class comes the new Polaris Sportsman 450 HO.
It is essentially replacing the smaller engine, 325cc Sportsman ETX, and brings with it a number of familiar ‘Polaris features’. The manufacturer is hailing it as a full-size capability ATV at a 400cc class, entry-level price.
If ‘grunt’ is what you want, this one won’t disappoint as in tailoring it to this sector of the market, the manufacturer has taken the fuel-injected engine from the larger Sportsman 570 and de-rated it to 31hp.
One result of that is a claimed 50 per cent more torque, resulting in a bike which can really pick its feet up on the road, but will keep on slogging through the mud with a trailer in tow. Fuel efficiency is also claimed to be the same as its 325cc predecessor.
Chassis-wise, it is the same as that found on the Sportsman 570, but shod on 24 inch tyres giving the outward appearance that it is a smaller bike. However, it does have a generous 266mm (10.5 inches) of ground clearance, a useful attribute particularly given the recent wet weather.
Familiar features include Polaris’ automatic four wheel drive system (automatic once it has been switch-selected), MacPherson strut front suspension with more than 208mm of travel (eight inches), and a slightly softer set-up on the independent rear suspension. That, coupled with more foam padding in the seat does make for a noticeably better ride.
There is a fairly convenient to use range selection lever to the driver’s right hand – a bit notchy on ours, but we put that down to ‘newness,’ as it was straight out of the box.
In action, we found this bike extremely responsive and with good straight line stability at speed. The brakes are superb – progressive but powerful, and in the mud, the rider remains relatively clean. It is not perhaps the quietest on the market but there is a pleasing ‘rorty’ exhaust note.
For a working bike, as opposed to a ‘trail rider’, we do feel a rail around the rear rack should be standard. And although there is a waterproof storage box under the front load area, you can’t get anything sizeable in it such as a bottle of wormer and drenching gun, and you will soon be fastening the old bread tray on top.
And we do wonder however if in seeking an entry level price, Polaris has perhaps omitted one useful feature - instead of a rear storage box, you get a blanked-off void.