Quad Review: 2006 Bombardier Outlander 650

Last year my husband, Jim, and I tried ATVing for the first time and instantly fell in love with trail riding

May. 23, 2006 By Terry Taylor

 

Last year my husband, Jim, and I tried ATVing for the first time and instantly fell in love with trail riding. We were fortunate to wrap-up our first riding season with a dream trip to the Paiute trail system last October.

As spring, 2006 approached we rehashed all the good times (and snags) from last year’s rides and started making summer plans. For sure we wanted to do more mountain riding, but getting our quads fit for the altitude change turned out to be a major hassle. We got caught in the time between making carburetor adjustments and our departure without anything to ride. Then there was the repeated experience of going without our wheelers while they were being readjusted after we returned. Not to mention the expense of the adjustments back and forth. We didn’t want to repeat that frustration this year. It was about that time that we started discussing the advantages of electronic fuel injection. I sniffed, it was my first official symptom of the “Let’s upgrade!” flu. Jim had been experiencing symptoms for quite a while already.

We bought our Bombardier Outlander Max 400s in the spring of 2005. Having had zero experience, we got lucky and loved Bombardier’s cushy ride and dependability and hoped to repeat the good experience.

Originally, I was pumped about the prospect of the more power-packed Bombardier Outlander H.S. 800 with EFI. But I’m not quite 5’2” tall and wasn’t sure I could handle it. And since dollars were also a factor, we opted for what ATV Magazine described as the “700cc like-power” of the 650. It still had EFI and the V-twin engine plus a lot of the other goodies that the 800 had, not to mention its ATV Magazine’s pick of the year.

But don’t let my lack of height discourage taller and heavier riders from the 650, even 6’ plus testers reported being quite comfortable on the Bombardier 650.

When I climbed on, the first thing I noticed was that the shift lever is more conveniently located—still on the right side, but higher on the council, so I didn’t have to lean over as far. I’ve heard other riders complain about their rides popping out of gear. That has never been a problem with either our Bombardier 400 or the 650s.

 

I was also happy to discover that along with the missing carburetor, there was no longer any choke lever to mess with. It’s also got an additional inch of travel (9in) and 2.7in additional ground clearance (12in) compared to the 400. Even so, I was up over the boards in mud and water the first time out, and happier than a pig … You get the idea.

Even though the length, width, and height of the 650 is the same as the 400 (86 x 46 x 45 in) the tires are an inch larger (26in) and the wheelbase is two inches wider (51in). But the 650 actually has a lower seat height by .5in (34.5in) than the 400. And it was good thinking for Bombardier to replace the plastic racks with tubular steel.

Initially I was concerned about the additional 32 pounds of the 650 (649 pounds total dry weight), but it turned out to be an asset. I didn’t feel near as likely to be thrown over on the steeper embankments or running deeper ruts at higher rates of speed.

 

I had always raved about our 400s, but I felt super-power-invincible on the 650. (That’s a scary thought!) It was probably due to a combination of things. The EFI gave me smoother acceleration and better overall throttle control, for one thing. And even though the 650 is heavier, I didn’t need to work any harder to maneuver it compared to the 400. Maybe the aluminum A-bar front suspension lightened the front up a bit and redistributed the weight somewhat.

I love the multi-function gauge. At the touch of a button I can go from digital odometer to the engine hour display, to trip meter, to trip hours, to RPM. The gas gauge graphic of the 650 is a big improvement over the wobbly needle on the gas cap of the 400. It also has a digital encoded security system—only your encoded key will allow you to start your quad. It’s a feature I hope we will see on other quads in the future.

 

Simply writing about our Bombardier 650s gets me psyched up about them all over again and there isn’t much I’d change, especially not the sound of that V-twin! I fess-up to still getting confused between the 2 x 4 and 4 x 4 graphics on the rocker-switch, although it’s the same as the 400. For some reason, I need to go through a series of mental gyrations in order to logic-out the graphics in my head. The 2 x 2 position has two different colored circles as opposed to 4 x 4 which has 4 circles of the same color. Even though the switch location is convenient on the top right, I worry about knocking the switch from one to the other when riding in heavy brush. If the 650 could go from 2 x 4 to 4 x 4 on the fly, it would solve the problem and be more convenient. Who wants to stop still every time you shift from 2 x 4 to 4 or vice versa?

I also admit missing the fuel reserve on the 400. I figure Bombardier didn’t include it on the 650 because of the bigger 5.3 gallon fuel tank (additional 1.1 gallons) and new digital fuel gauge. Even so, I liked the security of the reserve when I was having such a great time I forgot to check my fuel. Did somebody say blond?

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