Friday, August 26, 2016

Can Am Commander vs Maverick

I didn't own my Maverick very long, and I regret selling it. I only got a couple of rides with it, all of which were a ton of fun. My buying and selling allows me the opportunity to try out a lot of different machines, and sometimes when you buy you get the feeling like you should just hang onto a machine rather than flipping it. I got that feeling with the Maverick but sold it anyways for reasons I'll discuss later on.

The Maverick I owned was a 2012 XRS 1000, it was completely stock right down to the beadlock wheels and bighorn tires. My Commander, which I owned for just over a year had a number of modifications to it most of which were cosmetic.

When comparing a Maverick and a Commander, it is very important to realize that they are the same machine in many ways. The interior is the same and all of the parts can be swapped from one machine to the other including seats, dash, gauges, center console, and steering wheel. So when you sit in one, and then in the other the seating position, look and feel is almost identical. They also share the same frame and in fact most of the parts between the front and rear wheels are also the same. Even the engine is the same although tweaked for the Maverick for higher horsepower.

Using one platform to create two different machines was a very smart move financially for BRP, and likely saved them a ton of money in the building of the Maverick. But how can you use the same chassis for two completely different purposed machines? The long and short of it is that you can't without sacrificing something somewhere.

Music video of some of the cool things we did with the Maverick

The Maverick is a pure sport SXS built off a sport utility SXS chassis. This design worked for BRP, and the Maverick quickly became a major contender in the pure sport SXS category. In face most people would consider it second only to the Polaris RZR, the SXS that started everything.

Arctic Cat is also a contender in this category, at least in performance specs if not popularity. I've never been a fan of the brand but I have always respected the way they designed the Wild Cat. They didn't try and adapt their sport utility SXS, the Prowler. They started from the ground up with an all new machine with amazing suspension travel and a very laid back seating position making it a true pure sport machine. Their engines seem to be their biggest limitation as they never have entered into the horsepower race with BRP and Polaris.

The biggest difference between the Commander and Maverick is the suspension. Can Am engineered an all new suspension for the Maverick they call TTA or Torsional Trailing A-arms. It's unclear as to why they went this way rather than going with a more traditional 5 link design like their competition. My guess is that it was their way to set themselves apart from the competition, but I also think it's because a 5 link would not have worked with the Commander chassis.

For more info on the TTA suspension watch this video

The claim to fame of the TTA suspension is that it was supposed to reduce bump steer and camber changes better than a five link. But this came at the sacrifice of suspension travel. Just a couple weeks before the writing of this article BRP introduced the new Maverick X3, and what sort of suspension do you think it has? Well they call it a 6 link suspension, but it is a version of a 5 link. I think it's safe to say that the TTA was a thorn in the side of BRP.

The suspension makes all the difference between the two machines, it makes the Maverick feel like and nimble and the Commander more utilitarian or truck like. It may not be a 5 link but the Mavericks suspension is awesome! It gives you a confidence to tackle obstacles at higher speeds because you know it will suck it up. And it makes that dip in the trail an opportunity to get all four tires off the ground and jump it as compared to an obstacle you need to slow down for.

The engine, although it is the same 1000cc V-twin Rotax in both machines jumps to 101 horsepower in the Maverick. This is compared to the 85 horsepower in the Commander, the power increase due mostly to changes in the timing and valve-train. And what a difference that 16 horsepower makes! Wow, it felt like a fire breathing beast. I'm sure that the dual exhaust was instrumental in making that increase feel that much more significant.

In the end I had to make a decision to keep one and sell the other so sold the Maverick and kept the Commander. My decision was mostly financial, I had a much higher investment in my Commander with less chance of getting my investment out. And the Maverick was bought at a price which was way below market value, and therefore I had a huge profit I could get out of it (click here if you'd like more details on the price and what I was able to sell it for). Another was that I had a rear seat for the Commander which allowed me to take more of my family with me when riding which wasn't available for the Maverick. So I made the "practical" decision and kept the practical Commander and sold the fun Maverick. It was very mature of me.

Fast forward a year later, I think I made the wrong choice. And ever since I have been looking for another machine similar to the Maverick. I have bought/sold several RZR 800's, which I really liked but they couldn't compare handling or power-wise. So last month I sold the Commander, and bought a RZR XP1000. I took a hit on the sale of the Commander but I think the XP1K is more the type of machine I want. Certainly more comparable to the Maverick.

Have you driven both machines? What's your take? Which one would you rather own? Let us know in the comments.

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