2006 Polaris Outlaw Review

Off-Road.com Tests the 2006 Polaris Outlaw

Apr. 01, 2006 By Dean Waters
Not what you're used to seeing on a high-performance sport quad?

When Polaris unveiled the Outlaw last fall, we were immediately intrigued. The first fully-independent rear suspension on a high performance sport quad. The Outlaws of the wild west were very interesting characters. So is the 2006 Polaris Outlaw. While were were intrigued, we were also cautious. We know it took a couple of years refinement on the Predator, but we also knew Polaris had all the pieces required with the end product and many years of experience with rear independent suspension on utility quads. In any case, we knew we needed to get our hands on one for some on the trail and track experience.

The Outlaw will "hook-up" coming out of the corners.

For the past two months we have been putting the Polaris Outlaw through testing with a variety of riders and skill levels, with some very interesting outcomes. We have had first-time ATV riders on it and A level competition riders on it. We have had it on a variety of terrain to see just how it would hold up.

Outlaw First Test

The Outlaw handled the air well and soaked up rough landings.

For our first test we headed to a local testing spot with a MX track and trails. The trails were very sandy and whooped out, and the MX track was in very rough condition and had not been maintained. Our test riders included a young adult ATV rider, whose main qualification was that he is an accomplished snowmobile and motorcycle rider. We also had an experienced A level test rider. We had a couple other sport quads with us for comparison purposes, including the stock 2006 Yamaha Raptor and 2006 YFZ450.

As we started the day of testing the first impression from both riders was that the Outlaw was VERY impressive. They couldn't believe how much smoother the ride was on the chopped up MX track as compared to the other sport quads. On the un-groomed track the Outlaw was the favorite of both riders and our A level rider was very happy with how it jumped and handled the less-than optimal take-offs and landings.

More dirt for the Outlaw.

Next our riders headed out to spend the rest of the day doing some trail riding. These were primarily well-used trails with many whooped out sections. It was interesting to hear the feedback from the two riders as the day went on. While the first-time ATV rider continued to favor the Outlaw, our A level rider became less enthusiastic about it. Why the change?

Primarily because the way the Outlaw handeled the long whooped-out sections. Our advanced rider felt the front end was a bit heavy, which made it harder to stay on top of the whoops. He also felt it kicking off some of the whoops in an awkward fashion that made it harder to control than other sport quads with a standard rear suspension.

Next our riders hit the drag strip for some informal testing. Both were impressed with the performance of the Outlaw. The Outlaw held it's own on the drag strip and many times came out on top.

More Testing - different test rider, different track

For more variety, we took the Outlaw to a local Grand Prix track and handed it over to a third Off-Road.com test rider for the weekend. This facility features a 6-mile-long Grand Prix track with a variety of conditions, elevation changes, and some MX style jumps. Here is what he had to say at the end of the weekend:

For me it was a very comfortable fit from the foot pegs to the seat relationship. It was roomy for my 6' 2" frame, so small riders should also be comfortable. The seat is very soft, almost couch-like, which is not a bad thing.

The power of the Outlaw is very smooth. It is able to pull a gear too high and still chug it's way out of things. The 500cc motor pulled strong from low to high rpm's without any excess wheeling or tire spin.

The handling impressed me the most. The independent rear end looks to be well put together with forged aluminum dual A arms and piggy back, fully adjustable Fox shocks. The four wheel independent suspension soaked up the stutter bumps with ease. Jumping the Outlaw was smooth on landings. Whether you landed straight or on uneven terrain, it was not
harsh. In corners, you could slide it but you had to be careful. It wouldn't two wheel so much as the independent rear end would hook up. So a steady throttle had to be applied or it would go which ever way it was pointed.

The brakes are very impressive, with steel braided front and rear brake lines. The front brakes were progressive and smooth. The rear brakes, on the other hand, locked up very easily.

What I didn't like:
My biggest complaint was how the seat would catch the top of my boots and come off on hard corners or big hits. Nothing a couple of zip ties through the seat latch wouldn't fix. The second complaint I have is that I had to be easy with the throttle in slow corners or it would launch the front end skyward instead of sliding the rear end around the corners. Finally, I felt that the rear brake locked up way too easily.

Final Thoughts:
I was very impressed with the Outlaw. In a race setting, it did very good for an amateur class rider. For experts, it couldn't quite keep up with modified YFZ's and TRX's. The Outlaw would be a great quad for tight technical trails with lots of uneven terrain to claw over. The motor was smooth and powerful and the Outlaw would be comfortable on all day trail
rides. This is a machine that any level of rider could have fun riding but is more geared toward the trail rider than the racer.


More Testing and Conclusions

Our test rider found out the Outlaw does NOT slide like a solid axle sport quad.

We continued to put the Outlaw in different environments with different riders and have came to a number of conclusions.

  1. The suspension on the Polaris Outlaw excels in choppy terrain. It's downfall appears to be in the whoops.
  2. The power of the stock Outlaw is very good. That said it does lack the torque that is very obvious in the Yamaha Raptor.
  3. Rear fender brace is built-in.
    The overall comfort is very good and it does not have the tendency to slide you up on the tank like the Predator does.
  4. Cornering is, shall we say, "different". Riders who are used to sliding the corners must change their technique. The rear end of the Outlaw tends to "hook-up" rather than slide.
  5. We are not a big fan of the plastic and how it is held on. Polaris has made improvements over the Predator and the rear seems to hold up much better. We didn't have a problem with our Outlaw on either end but did see an Outlaw running at a national race with the front fenders falling off. In addition, our aggressive rider found that when he stood on the footpegs and rocked his weight back, he actually put his heels through the running board plastic. Both sides.
  6. The Outlaw is not just smoking guns, it is a serious contender in the high performance sport quad market.
    We weren't able to break it. We did have the seat pop off, we did have it leak oil all over the trailer when we stood it on end for hauling, and we managed to put a hole in one of the front tires in rocky terrain. But we had zero major mechanical failures or problems.

As with any new sport quad, the Outlaw it still to be subjected to a true test of time but we can say with confidence that the Outlaw is a top contender and Polaris has done an impressive job creating this entry into a very competitive market.

And as for the saying "Put your money where your mouth is", well, Polaris is doing just that. How about $25,000 Purse for anyone that can win the 2006 Baja 1000 in Class 25 on an Outlaw? If you're up for it, send us your story. Heck, win it, and we'll send an ORC photographer to Spotlight your team!


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