Oct. 01, 2005 By Pattie Waters

WIth the changing weather, it's time for glorious mud and slop on the trails, if you can get to it. Even better, just on the horizon is the first snow of the season. If you are an avid outdoorsman, you probably don't let any kind of weather stop you, or the enjoyment of your ATV year-round. Or maybe that's the goal anyway. What if you had an option that truly gave you all-weather and all-terrain usability of your favorite toy? Enter the company that is EVERYWHERE when it comes to personal recreation products.

Bombardier practically invented the snowmobile and now Bombardier Recreational Products continues to challenge all-comers with their Ski-Doo lineup. They own the water with Sea-Doos, Evinrude and Johnson motors. And they are looking to make a huge statement these days with revolutionary additions to their ATV lineup. But besides the vehicles themselves, they are constantly working to bring out accessories to enhance your experience.

New for 2006 is the APACHE track kit for ATVs. Looking at what was previously the original and best-selling track kit, they saw in detail what worked, and what could be improved on. Then they turned their engineers loose. The most important improvements on their design board were improved steering, durability, and better obstacle clearance. To their advantage was years of snowmobile engineering expertiese. If the product is intended primarily for use on the snow, there had to be something to be learned there. And there was.

The most important difference we noted in our test ride, head-to-head against the leading competitive product installed on identical 2006 Bombardier Outlander 800's, was the ease of steering. The "other" unit was fun, sure, but on tight or fast turns, you had to really crank hard to bring that front end around. At the end of a fairly short track, this reporter's arms just couldn't take any more. I didn't opt for my second lap of the course. In fact, I cut the entire second in-field portion out of the first lap. I was not physically strong enough to pull it around as I needed to, to stay on the tight designated course. Yeah, I'm a wimpy woman. So don't send me out to gather the firewood.

What is the reality of needing to manuever a motocross track on an ATV in the winter? How about if you plan to ride anywhere around trees or other obstacles? A problem.

Cilmbing on an Outlander with the APACHE kit to attempt the same course, the difference was noticable immediately. It doesn't exactly "float" across the powder like a snowmobile will, but it certainly turns more like one. Not only were my arms not tiring, I remained securely in control of the vehicle, in flat turns as well as up hills and down.

The APACHE Track makes winter more safe and more fun.

Getting up close, there are two main reasons for this. The track itself was designed with a "point of rotation" - that is, on the front track, the center has the most grip, while the outside edges are angled off to have less bite. Something narrow, like a ski, turns easier than something wide like a tank track. But you haven't lost the full track, so it's there when you need it for maximum traction in mud or snow.

Add to that an innovative steering limiter, and the hard work this Track unit is going to do for you, won't do long-term damage to your other steering components.

With great tools (and toys) like this, you want them to last a lifetime.

In addition to steering changes, you'll notice the APACHE unit has much larger wheels front and rear in the track unit, and a higher angle of attack. This provides better obstacle clearance and better leverage or "grab" when you need to reverse or start against an obstacle.

And get this - besides fitting their own models, it is also engineered with several optional conversion kits so it will also fit most other manufacturer's units as well. In addition, their system comes as four fully-assembled tracks. You just bolt them on. The after-market brand - be ready for a large box of parts, or a large installation charge from your dealer. And then a voided warranty on your ATV. If you buy a Track system from BRP and put it on a Bombardier ATV, your warranty remains fully intact. That is something I hadn't even considered when looking at other units through the years, but is important to note.

I'll admit I've seen Track units on ATVs for years, and always wanted to try them. And while they aren't a high-speed action-packed blast through the snow, they do make sure you can get to the most-remote cabin and over most any obstacle with ease.

And honestly, we were on a summer hard-packed glacier at 9,000 feet on a groomed track; it wasn't exactly deep, fluffy powder. It does certainly throw the white stuff, so there may be some fun tucked away in there, just waiting to be truly discovered...

How about this - first one out there to try this unit in REAL life, send us some pictures of your adventures? We'll share them, and send you an Off-Road.com t-shirt!

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