Generally quad bikes fall into one of two categories. They are either speed merchants, capable of clocking up the km/h, or they are built for towing and carrying, along with sure-footed climbing.
I have seen a Kymco MXU 300RL belt along at 60mph (97km/h). But it was on the road. This is a bike that you buy road-ready and, fitted with the right tyres, is likely to be a useful machine when you need to dash across an estate. It has a beefy 271cc four-stroke engine, is shaft driven and has automatic transmission in high and low ranges.
It offers double-wishbone suspension on the front and multi-link on the rear, and also has carriers to front and rear for carting sacks of seed or fertiliser. Towing capacity is 225kg.
We have not yet had the chance to look at Arctic Cat's quad bikes but the specifications of this brand suggest it is worth a trial. You should also test-drive some of the larger Kawasaki machines, such as the 650-D or 750-D, and the Grizzly 450 from Yamaha. We also hope to test some of the Polaris Sportsman quad bikes soon.
A quad bike we recently tested, which I reckon will fit the bill, is the Honda Rincon AT. It has a 675cc engine and is Honda's largest liquid-cooled four-stroke. This bike gives ample torque and dependable power. And it sits at the crossroads between speed and utility. It's a real multi-tasker.
The latest-edition Rincon (2007) features a 40mm fuel-injection system for consistent performance at high altitude, improved cold-weather starting, improved fuel consumption and increased power. The dual front disc brakes have callipers with built-in scrapers, while new brake pads feature thick, long-wear material with improved mud durability, feel and control.
Equipped with Honda's automotive-style automatic transmission, this model draws power through a hydraulic torque converter to drive three forward gears and a reverse. The liquid-cooled, overhead valve, single-cylinder, fuel injected engine is mounted longitudinally in the frame, allowing direct drive-shaft alignment to front and rear wheels for improved drive train efficiency.
This bike loves mud and water, thanks to a snorkel-type air intake system. And it gives a thrilling ride. It's got phenomenal acceleration but you can feel the engine-braking kick in as you descend slopes. Ground clearance is 25.4cm.
The Rincon comes with a two-year manufacturer's warranty - subject to annual servicing. It will set you back around £6,970 plus VAT.
- Sally Drury has reported for HW and its forerunner GC&HTJ for 25 years, and has spent more than five years testing machinery for HW and What Kit? The advice in this helpline is independent.
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