Friday, November 21, 2014

Chinese ATV Experience

My son on his New-To-Him Baja 90, his first quad
My first experience with a Chinese brand was back in 2009 when I was looking to buy an ATV for my kids. I found a used Baja 90 on Kijiji for half the price of the brand name kids ATVs. Baja was a new brand carried by one of our large retail stores here in Canada called Canadian Tire and the Baja 90 was basically a Yamaha Raptor 80 clone.
I was skeptical of this unknown brand but I figured that if Canadian Tire sells them they must be good. My bad.
We got probably four good rides out of it until and was reasonably impressed with my purchase. That was until one day when  I was teaching my son how to cross a ditch, he approached it at an angle as I instructed him and when he came to the bottom the wheel snapped over in the other direction. I watched him struggle with the handle bars but they looked like they were stuck. Frustrated and figuring he was just too weak I got off my machine and attempted to turn them, I couldn't. This blew my mind becuase I saw how slow he was riding when this happened, it really defied logic to me that some was wrong with the machine. Eventually I put it on its side and with all my strength I tried to straighten the wheels but they would not budge from the full lock position they were in.
As terrible as this machine was, it did survive our father son camping trip
I ended up having to pull it out of the ditch while lifting the front end and dragging it to the road. I rode my machine home which thankfully wasn't that far away and drove back with the truck and loaded it up.
At home I tried a prybar still with no luck. I eventually pulled out my tools and pulled it apart to find that the tabs to prevent the wheels from turning too far had bent and gone over top of the bump stops essentially locking the wheels. I pulled it apart and bend the tabs back into place but when the handle bars were straight, the one wheel was slightly toed out but the other wheel was completely toed out. This meant there were more components bent.
So I called Canadian Tire and asked for their local Baja service center, after being on hold for a while they have me the name and number of a guy, not a company. Confused I called the number and spoke to the gentleman and described my problem. His first response to me was to ask how I got his number? I explained that I got it from Canadian Tire and they they told me that he was who they recommended for repairs. He thought that was rather humorous but sure he would take a look at it.
He pulled the front end apart and tried to bend some pieces back but said that these machines had such soft metal that even if he could get it perfect it would likely bend back the first time it got hit. It looked a lot better but was still toed out pretty bad. He priced out the components that would need replacing and told me that IF he was able to get them that with labor it would likely amount to the value of the quad.
The first ride afterwards revealed that it was basically unrideable, the toed out front wheels would grab and pull the quad to either side without warning.
The baja sat in the shed for a couple years before I finally sold it for parts for $100.

My son is now 15 and rides a full size machine. Last year we bought a Raptor 80 for my girls to experience ATVing for themselves. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that this machine is build like a tank and has had no issues and is all the machine that the Baja had hoped it would be.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Well, the 2014 summer is coming to and end and the weather is reflecting this. Riding season has not and I will be continuing to ride well into December.
I have not posted since May which wasn't totally unexpected as I want to make the most of my opportunities to get out on the trails. My GoPro has been sitting in it's bag and I have not used my GPS software for pretty much the whole summer. I decided to just enjoy riding and not worry about the technology.
I haven't had any new maps submitted from other users for at least 6 months.
Over the summer we had some great adventures which I will post here soon. One major change for me is that I have sold my beloved 2009 Renegade 800X you see pictured here:
 And replaced it with this 2011 Outlander XMR 800, a decision I am still questioning
More to come.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Quad River Rescue

Dramatic rescue of ATV and rider as they got swept away by the South Saskatchewan river.  This is an area in the Nisbet Forrest that we have ridden many times. Thank God for well inflated tires that kept her afloat. Very happy this story has a happy ending.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Penland Exhaust at idle on Can Am Renegade 800

Product Review - Muzzy vs Penland Slip On Exhaust

Muzzy Renegade pipe in black
I purchased my 2008 Can Am Renegade 800X in January of 2012, and unfortunately the weather has not been cooperating. At the time I am writing this article I have only managed to get in two rides on the machine, the first ride was with the stock exhaust and the second was with the Muzzy. So my thoughts on the comparing the two are nice and fresh.

Last season I rode a 2007 Can Am Renegade 800 with an Penland exhaust, so I will be bringing my experience with that pipe into this review as well.


The Penland exhaust installed on my
2007 Renegade 800
The Penland pipe came installed on the used 2007 Renegade I purchased earlier that year, I wasn't sure what to expect from this pipe as I bought the machine used from a dealer nearly 800kms away and had it shipped to me. My jaw dropped the first time I hit the starter and heard the purr. I had never owned a twin cylinder machine, it reminded me of the sound of a Harley.
When I finally got it on the trail in spring I realized some of the problems with a loud exhaust. On the trail, a normal cruising speed would be somewhere in the range of 35-40kph depending on the terrain. It seemed like this cruising speed was also the speed where the RPM created a droning sound that nearly rattled my fillings out of my teeth. It rattled my eardrums enough that by the end of that ride I was seriously considering buying another pipe.
Funny thing is that somehow I got used to it, I cannot remember any other time riding that season that I was affected by that droning sound, at least not to the same extent.

We tend to ride around a lot of cabins, camps and lakes on trails in the Northern part of the province. At one of the smaller lakes that we ride at there was a comment about how my machine could still be heard on the other side of the lake. I was sufficiently embarrassed by the comments that when we went back to that lake later in the summer for family camp, I chose to ride a quieter machine and leave my Renegade at home.


When I bought my 2008 800X I had never heard what a factory exhaust sounded like, so when I heard it start for the first time I was reasonably impressed. It still had some growl to it and wasn't nearly as anemic sounding as I thought it would be. That being said it had to go, after having the Penland on my other Renegade stock was just too quiet.


Muzzy pipe (in polished finish) installed on my
2008 Renegade 800X
I decided that I needed something quieter than the Penland but louder than stock. Surely there must be something in the middle. When reading on the forums I came across the Muzzy brand. It was more expensive, but from what I had been reading online most people were saying it was a quality built pipe and quieter than a lot of the others. The decision clincher  for me was the fact that the Muzzy had a removable "Quiet Core", meaning that you could make adjust the loudness of the machine for your situation.So I ordered it up.

Install was quick and easy, basically two bolts and a clamp and it was on. Unfortunately it does hang a couple inches lower than the factory pipe, probably not a big deal for most, but for me it meant that I could't close my tailgate on my truck.

My first startup with the pipe surprised me, the sound was nowhere near near as loud as what I though it would be. In fact I had a hard time telling the difference between it and stock. Maybe it was because I was expecting something closer to the Penland but I was disappointed. On the trail you could tell it was a bit throatier, with a bit more growl but not as much as I had hoped.

As of the morning that I am typing this review, I realized that the "Quiet Core" that I mentioned earlier is actually pre-installed. So I will be removing it very shortly and updating this review at that time.

*Update - Once I removed the quiet core I was much more satisfied with the volume than with it installed. Removal was quick and easy and once removed I never did reinstall it. It was that happy medium I was looking for. 

Funny how things change over time, I have now sold the 2008 Renegade 800X and am now riding a 2011 Can Am Outlander XMR 800. I purchased the machine used with an HMF swap series pipe installed. I have never complained once about the loudness of the pipe even though it is likely as loud as the Pendland pipe and have come to enjoy it.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Creating GPS Tracks Tutorial - Drawing with Google Maps

In my constant hunt for GPS maps I have realized that most people don't know how to use GPS maps and map software. So I will be doing a couple of tutorials over the next while which will hopefully help those of you who would like to submit maps but don't know how.

For this first tutorial, I will show you one of the most basic methods of creating a track using Google Maps. The neat thing about this one is that you don't even have to have been on these trails to draw a track.

Let's define what a GPS track is. Simply put, a GPS track is a method used to track a route on a map. Most handheld GPS's have the ability to create a track, it takes coordinates at regular intervals and then connects those coordinates with a line. Think of it like connect the dots. We are going to create and connect the dots manually, using Google Maps. The downside of this method is that you need to be able to see the trail on Google Maps. If you can't this method can still be used but it will not be as accurate.

Here is my Google Map I use to mark trails and places I would like to visit

Getting Started

1. Your will need a Google account, if you have Gmail that will work, click on this link:

2. Once signed in you should have a screen that looks like this:

Along the left are the saved maps I have created, also a red button that says "Create Map". Underneath the button it says "Or create with classic My Maps", this is the option we are going to use as I am more familiar with the classic view.

3. You can now name your map if you so choose in the title field.

In the upper left hand side of the screen you now have three buttons that you do not normally have on a Google map as highlighted in red on the above picture. The first is the hand, that will allow you to easily navigate with your mouse and move the screen. The second is "Add Placemark" tool, this will allow you to drop a pin on the the map that can be seen at any zoom, very handy for marking areas you would like to ride. The third is the "Draw Line" button, which is the main tool we will be focusing on.

4. Now zoom into an area that you know has clearly visible trails. I am going to use the Ottopasso Trails South of Saskatoon on the Chief Whitecap Trail (the highway that takes you to the Dakota Dunes Casino).

5. When you have the "Draw Line" function selected and your move over the map you get a dialog box that says "Click to start drawing a line". You can now start to place your "dots" on the map.

6.I am using the south East practice track at Ottopasso to draw my track. Each click will leave a white box and will connect you to another line. To make intricate curved lines you will need to use multiple dots, use as many as needed, there is no need to conserve.

To end your line, click the last point (your mouse will turn to a "finger" when you are directly above the last point) or the first point which will create a circle. When completed and you click done it should look similar to this

7. Now that you have your tracks drawn in you can share the tracks you just created, make sure the map is marked "Public", if it is you can send a link to your map by using the "Collaborate" button and emailing it.

What I will usually do with my track at this point is to export it to Every Trail ( To do this, go back to your main Google "My Places" screen, click on the map you just created and you will see a link that says "KML" in the summary bar on the left (see picture below). This will export your track to a KML format, save that file somewhere you can find it and import it into EveryTrail. I will have a tutorial soon for importing into Every Trail.

Monday, March 17, 2014

RidersWest Magazine Article

Your's truly had the opportunity to speak with Kirsten Armleder of RidersWest Magazine earlier this month to talk about my passion for ATVing and Sask Trail Riders. Take a minute and check it out.