We took a trip to Harlan, KY on the weekend of the 22nd. It was my first time with the XX out of the yard/around the subdivision. I had read reviews until my eyes crossed and it seems like I’ve read every thread on this forum. I had expectations….some were met and some weren’t. My background in ATVs is fairly long with a good break thrown in there. I got back into riding in ’06 with a leftover ’05 450R. I sold that bike to buy the XX so that’s sort of the angle my review is from. This trip had been planned for a long time but it wasn’t supposed to be my first trip on the XX…..I can thank a forgotten key and a trusty Rancher for that……..anyways……..
We (8 of us) met at our local Wal-Mart on Friday morning around 8am to buy groceries since we were going to be camping. Three of us were on new bikes, but the other two new ones had gotten to ride theirs. We had me on an XX, a SRA Outlaw, Z400 and then we had an LTR 450, another Z400, a 450R, an Ozark and a dirtbike. All of us talked about not sleeping the night before but, truth be told, I hadn’t slept well all week in anticipation of finally getting to ride the XX. After finally getting out of Wal-Mart we were on our way for our 3hr drive.
We arrived around 1pm and set up camp as quick as you’ve ever seen. We tent camped but had nice facilities to use at the North Evarts Campground. We had decided to ride that afternoon on the Black Mountain Adventure Park http://www.harlancountytrails.com/ since most of us knew the area and knew that there were several little playgrounds to get warmed up for the big off the park ride on Saturday morning. Everybody rushed to get their gear on so we could be off.
To get to the trail, you have to ride about a mile of blacktop out of the city of Evarts which is legal. I still can’t get used to riding by police and have them wave and smile at you. We knew the exact playground we wanted to hit so I decided to bring up the rear so I could do what I wanted without someone watching. I had told myself that I wasn’t going to try anything out of the ordinary (knarly hill climbs is what I love) and that I was going to take it really easy all weekend. There is a pretty long hill to start the ride with ruts, rocks and all manner of obstacles strewn throughout. By the time I topped the hill I couldn’t stop smiling. I was worried I would be sick of selling the 450R and buying the XX. I was not sorry. The XX ate that hill up and spit it out. After topping the hill there is a nice level road with meandering curves and a few mudholes thrown in. Turning the XX is different. I thought I was good enough and big enough to manhandle it and make it slide like I want it to. I am not. I did get used to it during that 1st day though. I also felt right at home wheeling over small mudholes and didn’t really notice the weight difference in that aspect.
We got to the first hill climbs that we normally stop at. There is hill there that I always climbed on the 450R but no one in my group ever really tries it. Again, I had told myself that I was not trying anything this weekend. I still had to break it in right? Well, I said earlier that I was bringing up the rear and by the time I had caught up every one had shut their engines off. I didn’t stop rolling and shot up the hill with a mild blip of the throttle that I always climb. PURE JOY! This hill isn’t particularly long or steep but it’s rutted, uneven and throws you funny as you jump out the top. Two of my buddies just shook their heads. I guess I lied.
We motivated on to our first real destination…..a place called the Stadium. It looks like a humongous outdoor stadium cut right down the middle. There’s several smooth hillclimbs and a few jumps here and there and flat places to do doughnuts….or so I thought. I couldn’t cut a tight doughnut for the life of me. I drew several laughs from my buddies. I could get a nice 30ft radius doughnut going but never a nice tight one where the left front wheel never moves from one spot. I really thought I could manhandle the XX into doing what I wanted with it. After playing awhile, we headed down a fairly rocky goat path and again, the XX shined. I heard clanks of skid plates all around but I didn’t touch a single thing. We headed back after that trail to get ready for Saturday’s 100 mile ride. Along the way, is another set of long curvy hill climbs. One hill in particular was rough because trucks had rutted out deep holes at the top. The XX was the only one to make it without help or trying to turn around. I would have been toast on the 450R because I didn't know the ruts were there until I got to the top. The hill had been smooth the last time I was there.
By the time we returned to camp, kygoat, of this website, had arrived with a drool inducing XX. Razr tires all around, Honda skids, bumper and nerf bars and Elka shocks up front. Oh, and Fast Flex bars. He had taken a short ride himself and hung around to eat with us. Our Ozark rider, and oldest member of our group at 40, provided hamburger and steak from a cow slaughtered on his farm. After a great meal, we hit the showers and got ready to sit around the campfire to discuss the day that had passed and the day ahead. One of the guys that makes me feel real welcome in Evarts came over and told me our guide had arrived for the next day’s ride. He’s a pilot by profession and an iron-butted ATV rider on the weekends. He informed me that he and his guy that brings up the rear of the ride had a heck of a ride mapped out complete with a brand new trail. Now, we had been working on this ride for quite some time and he was as excited as we were because he was getting to guide sport quads (except the Ozark) and would get to move on and cover some ground. But, it was not meant to be. When a guy is this good at leading rides, the word spreads fast that there’s a ride heading out the next morning and there are lots of people that want to join in. So, a group from Northern Ohio with 3 SXS’s and 2 utility quads and a group of 3 utilities from Missouri were in for the next morning.
Another night that I didn’t sleep very much. Around 5am, the wind kicked up and the tickle of raindrops started hitting the top of the tent. By 7am, we were pretty much ready to head out and by that time it had started raining steady and looked to be set in. We all hovered in the shelter house getting camelbacks and other gear ready. It’s funny because everyone was silent as we waited for the others to show up. A 100 miler was a first for all of us. Kygoat showed up around this time and got unloaded and was ready to go in pretty short order. Then everybody else showed up and we were all standing around in nervous anticipation waiting for 9am sharp.
Ed, our guide, was over by his toy hauler going over his Sportsman 850 completely decked out with GPS, two way radio, and every manner of things we might need on the trail. Rob, the tail guy, had left his Razr at home since he thought this was going to be a quad only ride. He was strapping down a chainsaw on his quad and checking tires. They then walked over and informed us that as soon as we got off the blacktop we would be hitting a new trail that they had never been on when wet. Get ready…..no easing into this ride. They also informed us that we could get gas at 18 miles in and then again at 18 miles before camp. This meant that we only needed to make it 64 miles and we all thought we could do that so we only hauled about 4gal of gas on the Ozark.
The hill did not disappoint. Again, I decided to hang back with Rob and watch everybody else. He’s a funny guy that can fix anything and he kept me cracking up at his commentary. This trail was steep switchback after steep switchback. We were starting and stopping a lot to make sure each rider made it ok. I swear, I think we traveled up for 3 miles of this. Our dirt bike guy was worn out before we started. The XX laughed at this hill. Again, I couldn’t quit smiling. Rob said, “You like that thing don’t you?” and laughed. We finally got on top of a ridge and hit some 3rd gear riding with some small mud holes and curvy mine type roads. Everything was going fine until our older Z had a wrench bounce up and short out his battery cables burning the posts and part of the cable. Luckily, were close to the gas station and Rob was able to fix it good enough to run the rest of the day. While at the gas station, our dirt bike kid found a huge split in the sidewall of his tire exposing the tube. Ugggg…..I was thinking “it’s going to be one of those days”. Thankfully, one of the guys in a Razr let dirtbike guy ride with him and we left the bike at the store.
On we went and again we kept going up and up. The trails so far had been rocky, smooth and everything in between. We, as a group, had decided to jump up in front behind Ed since this was our ride after all. We were making a little better time now and had topped out on a ridge where we over looked a lake with a sandy beach. I had made it a point to get behind kygoat and sure enough…..we would hit a nice curve and he could slide and I couldn’t. He tweaked on his shocks a few times I think but the bike seemed really dialed in. *jealous* ;-) With a quick couple pics and snack, Ed was moving us on….we needed to make tracks to make 100 miles. We got a little ways and then Ed stopped. He says we got a breakdown and he headed back towards the end of the pack. We, like good sportquaders, found a little jump and played awhile. Ed never came back. So we headed back to find a Polaris turned over on its side with a hammer flying. A ball joint had broke letting the wheel turn too far and jerked the axle out and somehow, the tire was split a good 6in around the sidewall. So, with that, the SXS’s and the two quads with them, limped out to the nearest gravel road. Uh oh, there went our ride for dirt bike kid. Not wanting to turn back with them, he talked his dad into letting him ride with him on the Ozark. A 250 Ozark. With bald tires. The dad is 230 and the kid is pushing 150. This couldn’t end well.
That left our original group and the 3 guys from Missouri, Ed our guide and Rob the caboose. By this time the rain had stopped and the sun had popped out. Ed decided to up the pace because 100 miles was slipping away. He changed course from a muddy trail after an incident with a tricky mud hole. Ed went through with no problem, of course. The Outlaw was behind him. He tried to follow Ed’s track and got stuck. Next was a Z400. He tried the left side. Stuck. Next was kygoat. He tried the same left line and made it fine. I was next and tried the middle. I might have spun a little but it wasn’t noticeable. Next was another Z400. Crossed up and stuck but we shoved him on out. Next was an LTR 450 with 18” tires. He wiggled through but got pretty wet in the process. Ha…..the Ozark was next with two people and bald tires. No problem. And of course the utilities bringing up the rear made it fine. Lesson? If I had been on my 450R, I probably would’ve been one of the ones getting pulled out from being high centered on the ruts in the bottom of the mud hole.
We continued on at a pretty good pace heading for the Virginia/KY line and another beautiful overlook. The road got sandy on this part and was a nice contrast to what we had been on. We made great time on this section but not enough time. We didn’t stay at the overlook very long. The ride was winding down by this time. We made another stop at an active coal mine and then started descending down down down. We were deep enough in a hollow and deep woods that lights could’ve been used if they weren’t covered in mud. Everything is up and down in that area. The hills are tall and the hollows (hollers fer common folk) are deep. We stopped at the lake that we had seen way off in the distance at the first overlook.
By this time I was ready for the ride to be over. Not because I was beat up and tired…..but because I was heading back home that night and not staying with the other guys at the campground. The gas station was the next stop where we could get gas and pick up the dirt bike we left there. Rob duck taped the tire at the split wrapping it around the tire and rim over and over and then pulled out the widest, thickest zip tie I’ve ever seen. We had 18 miles to go and we didn’t want that tube popping. Luckily, the tire held all the way back. We made it back to camp around 7:30 and I immediately starting loading up. I was curious how many miles we got in though. Ed said 86 and one of the utility Missouri guys said 87…..either way, it was my personal best for a day of trail riding. So, after showering I was headed home by 9pm and arrived home at midnight. Luckily I didn’t have a run in with bambi….he was too busy with kygoat. I waited until Sunday morning to unload everything…..this story continues here http://www.club700xx.com/vb/showthread.php?t=3830
*IRS of course. I think it helps my type of hill climbing and I love love love not having my skid plate hit every rock, stick and stump
*Torque. I love the power and I’ve decided my stock gearing is fine for my riding style and the group I ride with. We hit some pretty technical trails and I didn’t stall it once on those. The only time I stalled it was a goof on my part on flat ground.
*Ergonomics and overall feel. I’m 6’3” 235lbs and feel right at home on the XX. I always felt cramped on the 450R. I was not sore like usual the next day and actually worked outside in the yard and cleaned up the XX.
*Electric start and reverse. It’s nice to be a part of the 21st century.
*Fuel Injection. I don’t know if it was my imagination or what, but the 450R always ran funny in Harlan as we went up and down in elevation. I swear I believe it was enough change in elevation to mess with it. Not so with the XX……and I love how smooth it runs.
*Pushing in the corners. kygoat proved this can be remedied though.
*clunky front end. I swear it’s almost like it needs new A-Arm bushings. Not nearly as tight as the 450 after riding it for 4yrs. There is also a noticeable “bump” when I pull the front wheels off the ground as the suspension fully extends and has been since day one.
*plastic that rattles. This is picky I know……
*I would say the oil leak, but I think that will be a simple fix and a non issue.
Overall, I love this quad and think it fits me better than any other. There are still sections I can’t wait to try when I get it on my home riding area.
So what ever happened with the oil leak? Either way it sounds as if you had a good weekend. The xx is a beast and every now and again it has to be challenged. Its unlike any quad I have ever owned and I am still finding ways to push it to its limits. Not many things get in its way.
i recently did some riding in ky while visiting a friend ( i grew up there) and i have to say the style of riding i did had me way out of my comfort zone at first but all in all i learned alot about my quad as well about how to ride it! it wass def. an experience so if u have the chance to travel with your quad/dirtbike/utv def. do it! i never knew the front tires floated ion water until that trip lol and the xx handled everything perfectly