The 2009 Polaris Press Launch took all of us in the off road media by surprise. First they showed us one all-new and one majorly-upgraded side-x-side, then major news from the Sportsman Utility ATV family. By the time Polaris came to show us the Outlaw sport offerings, we were pretty sure there couldn’t be anything newer than maybe a color change or some new graphics. How big is Polaris’s R&D budget anyway? But for the fourth time in an hour, the folks from Minnesota surprised us with a host of updates and an entirely new look to the Outlaw line of sport ATVs.
Left: 2009 Polaris Outlaw - Right: 2008 Polaris Outlaw
Same Models, New and Improved
For 2009 the Outlaw line is still comprised of three models: the straight-axle 450MXR, straight-axle 525S and Independent Rear Suspension 525IRS. Both the 450 and 525 engines are built for Polaris by KTM. The choices of rear suspension and engines give the Outlaw machines an appeal to a broad range of riders all the way from MX racers to recreational trail riders. The big news for this coming model year is that Polaris reduced the weight across the lineup, changed the bodywork and headlight, changed the steering system, and lowered the center of gravity.
Aesthetically the new Outlaws are completely different than before. The bodywork has been completely redesigned to be narrower and lower at the front. The old two headlight design with large front fenders that has been around since the Predator days, is replaced with a much cleaner-looking single headlight bodywork. The bodywork is race-inspired with more compact fenders and a slimmer seat. One of our complaints with the old Outlaw and Predator was how flimsy the front fenders were - they would flap like wings when you went over bumps so we are not sad to see the plastics replaced for 09. The new single headlight design is much lower than the previous design, placing the headlight just in front of the shocks. This saves weight and makes the quad "look" lighter.
At first impression, the Outlaws appear to have a taller steering post, but it turns out the steering post is the same height as before. The bodywork is that much lower on the front, so the steering post sticks up and looks taller.
Another nice change is new common 8mm fasteners that hold on the plastics, allowing the owner to strip down the machine using only one tool. And throw in an adjustable front brake lever on all Outlaw models.
On A Diet
Aside from re-vamping the looks, Polaris also took almost seven pounds off of the overall weight. The weight savings was achieved by replacing the old steel front bumper with an aluminum bumper, the steel and plastic heel pockets have been replaced with welded aluminum, and removing 47 fasteners has further reduced weight.
Polaris has really stepped up its race team in recent years, signing top riders like Doug Eichner, Daryl Rath, Brock Lyons and Dana Creech. Undoubtedly these factory riders have played a big part in the changes to the '09 Outlaws. According to Polaris, the racers were telling them they wanted the seat height as low as possible. So on the 450MXR, the shock body itself has been cut-down, effectively lowering the seat height - even if only a fraction.
|Weight (lbs)||Seat Height (inches)||Price|
Check out PAGE 2 for Ride Impressions...
Throwing a leg over any of the 2009 Polaris Outlaw ATVs, I immediately noticed the more slender and lower body. I am a big believer in the theory that how the machine looks from the rider's perspective greatly affects how the rider feels about the machine. For example if the machine looks and feels lighter, even though it may not be lighter on the scales, the rider will feel that the machine is lighter and more maneuverable. Obviously someone in the R&D department at Polaris shares this theory as it definitely holds true on the new Outlaws.
Head to Head
Switching between the 525S and 525IRS models I was expecting the IRS to roll much more in the corners. Amazingly the differences in body roll between the two models in negligible. It was noticeable however on the dirt that the IRS didn’t accelerate out of corners like the S. The solid axle S and MXR models tend to slide in the corners to a certain point and then the tires dig in and rocket out of the corners. The IRS model didn’t have the same feel because the IRS allows the suspension to compress on the outside whereas the solid axle forces the tire to gain traction.
The second day the weather was not cooperating. Heavy rain quickly changed the Millville AMA track from one of the nicest in the country, to an area with a lot in common with the High Lifter Mud Nationals in Texas. This hindered us from giving the Outlaws as thorough of an evaluation as we had hoped. We did however take the quads out for an afternoon session and got absolutely covered in thick Minnesota mud. Although it was a lot fun, the conditions didn’t give us a chance to fully evaluate the suspension and engine. Hopefully we will be able to set some more seat time on each model in the future.
Overall the 2009 Outlaw sport line from Polaris is impressive. All the updates make sense and the new bodywork looks great. In my opinion the new Outlaws are some of the best looking quads on the market. An impressive bonus are the premium parts, like the KTM engine, FOX shocks, Maxxis tires, and Magura hydraulic clutch. Polaris is clearly taking the sport segment very seriously and it shows in their new products.