Friday, February 14, 2014

ATV Review - 2009 Arctic Cat DVX 300

2009 Arctic Cat DVX300

Arctic Cat DVX300
We bought this ATV early summer last year (2013). I needed something that my wife and kids could ride as our Yamaha Warrior’s transmission with a clutch was proving to make riding a less than pleasurable experience for my inexperienced riders. I knew they needed something easy to ride, a machine that would allow them to get out and experience ATVing and start enjoying riding without having to worry about gears, and that meant an automatic transmission. I assumed that there must be a bunch of options but when I started to look at what was available I found out my options for a two wheel drive sport machine was limited. You may ask "why not four wheel drive?" It's true, the majority of automatic transmission ATV's are four wheel drive, but we wanted something light and easy to transport and something that was reliable with less moving parts. Looking cool was a side benefit.

Polaris Phoenix 200
In my research I found that there were only two sport quads with an automatic transmission, they are the Polaris Phoenix 200 and the Arctic Cat DVX300. My opinions of Polaris are slowly changing but I have had a couple of bad experiences, so I had a hard time considering the Phoenix. But I wanted to give it a chance so I test rode a Phoenix that I found on Kijiji. Right off the bat there were a number things I didn't like about it and one of them was the styling. It looks okay, but next to a DVX it couldn't hold a candle. I also didn't like the way the CVT felt or the fact it had a rear drum brake. That combined with the sluggish feeling of the wimpy 200cc engine and my mind was set, DVX it is.

It wasn't long before I found one on Kijiji, I took a look at it and liked it right away, it was in very good condition and you could tell it had hardly been used. At first glance it looks like an all-out race machine. It has these tiny little fenders that provide little or no protection for the rider, if you hit water or mud you just need to accept the fact that you will be covered afterwards. It also has a taller riding stance which is good for smaller riders, but for me it felt I was too high and would be tipsy.

My 12 yr old daughter riding the DVX at family camp
Not a ton of features here, the DVX like all Arctic Cats use a Suzuki engine. The engine is reasonable peppy, pretty much what you would expect for a 300. Because it is mated to an automatic transmission your ability to really use the higher RPM’s of the engine is limited and this engine makes more power in the higher RPM range. It is liquid cooled with fan assist which is great for riding on those hot summer days. It is not fuel injected but starting is never an issue with the carburetor and choke. Dual disks up front and a single rear disk on a solid axle make up the rear. You would expect that the suspension travel is a lot better than it is considering the clearance that the wheels have but it is nothing spectacular.

Needless to say I bought it. Our experience riding it has been okay, I haven’t spent a lot of time on this machine but enough to get a good feel for it. The seat is skinny and hard, your rear will be tired and sore after a day on it. It accelerates reasonably well and you can get the rear end to break loose around corners when you blip the throttle on medium traction surfaces. Top speed would be somewhere in the 60-70km range. Jumping and wheelies are an option but you will be using your body weight to throw the machine around more than you would with a regular sport quad.

My son just after he rolled the DVX captured on my GoPro.
He was not injured.
One thing to note is that this machine has been rolled 3 times in our short time of ownership. Most of the fender supports are bent or broken right off. Nobody has been seriously injured in any of the roll overs but I think this has to do with the taller riding stance I mentioned earlier.

We have had only one mechanical issue. When hot the DVX will idle very high, especially when shifted into neutral. So much so that you cannot shift back into forwards or reverse. We have started using the choke to bring the idle down so that you can shift and then turning it off once in gear. An issue we will have to get looked at this coming season.

Overall this machine is only average, and I probably wouldn't be recommending it at all. But the automatic CVT transmission is its saving grace. Over the summer we had a number of friends ride this machine, none of them had ever rode an ATV previously. The fact that these people were able to hop on and experience something they never would have been able to otherwise is a great thing and gives it a pass.

In conclusion, if you are looking for an entry level pure sport machine and know how to ride a machine with a manual transmission, this is not the machine for you. I would recommend a Honda 400EX, or a Yamaha Raptor 350. But if you need a sporty two wheel drive machine with an automatic transmission, this is pretty much your only choice.

My son, showboating

My wife and her friend who had never been riding just back from an adventure

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