Tuesday, November 25, 2014

ATV Review - Can Am Renegade 800

I have been fortunate enough to have owned two Renegades in recent years. My first Renegade was a 2007 800R, and it was actually my first 4x4 ATV. I grew up riding three wheelers and eventually graduated to sport quads but it took me a long time to get into 4x4's. I just didn't see the point. Riding for me was all about going fast and getting air, that all changed when I was in my mid twenties and injured in an ATV accident. It was as I lay on the ground after the accident, my life flashing before my eyes I realized that I wasn't 10 feet tall and bulletproof anymore. The thought of not being able to provide for my family because of my hobby really knocked the wind out of my sails. So I sold my quad and decided to take a break from ATVing for a while.

Check out my article Renegade vs Outlander

It was still in the back of my mind even though I couldn't ride. I missed the freedom, the nature, the excitement riding gives you. Little did I realize that I didn't have to give up riding, it was how I rode that needed to change.

One day, as I was on YouTube and I came across a video by a guy named Ostacruiser and decided to watch it. Osta was and still is big into Can Ams, which was a new brand that I had heard about but knew nothing of. I sat there and watched him and a couple other guys ride into a swamp with only their handlebars out of the water and this intrigued me. But what really got me was the noise these things were making, I had never heard anything as beautiful as the low rumble of these V-Twin engines.

So I started researching Can Am, reading every review and watching every video I could get my hands on. I was concerned about their build quality, we had just had a bad experience with a Chinese brand ATV I bought for my son and I was skeptical that this was possibly just another Chinese re brand. Besides, I was a dyed in the wool Honda guy, the brand that is all about quality, craftsmanship and reliability. But I couldn't leave those Can Am's alone. They excited me like I had not been excited in a long while. I wanted that engine rumble, I wanted that power. So I discussed it with my wife, convinced her that I needed this bad and the hunt was on.

I decided that the Renegade was the machine for me, I loved the aggressive style which still had the sportiness of the sport quads but with all the capabilities of a 4x4. I also decided that I wanted an 800, a 500 just wasn't powerful enough even though a 500 still would have been more powerful than all the machines I have owned. Problem was a Renegade 800 isn't cheap. I already knew that buying new wasn't an option but even the used were quite a bit out of my price range. $5000 was the limit my wife and I set but most were selling for $7500 and up. I obsessively scanned Kijiji and every other ad source I could find for weeks finding nothing. I schemed how I could come up with another $2500 but I couldn't.

Then a month later, while scanning Alberta's Kijiji ads, I came across a 2007 Renegade 800R, only slightly over my price range. It was at an Alberta Can Am dealer which gave me confidence in making a long distance, sight unseen purchase. It had 6000kms but I had seen many Honda's and Yamaha's with much higher and so I didn't think it would be a problem. Besides, it already had a winch, skid plates and a pipe which were things I wanted and would have to buy later. So this was a good value.

Ugliest homemade bumper ever!

I made arrangements to get the dealer to crate it and get it shipped to Saskatoon (approximately 500kms) and I wired them the money.

I was on pins and needles and the day it arrived I was like a kid at Christmas. It was everything I had hoped it would be, it was cleaned and detailed and looked awesome. I started it up to hear that amazing exhaust note and was not at all disappointed. I even took a video.

It was the middle of winter but that didn't stop me, I had a large parking lot at the place where I was storing it and would frequently go for short late night rips. They had to be short because there was an apartment building very just to the other side and I knew they would be calling the police about the noise that HMF pipe was making.

With the snow on the ground I couldn't get enough traction to really see what kind of power it had but I could tell it was far beyond anything I had rode. Switching on the fourwheel drive gave me amazing acceleration on the snow and make sideways drifts possible.

I stripped the factory decals and bought a wrap off of eBay

And that bumper....well it just had to go.

Eventually the snow melted and on the May long weekend we headed up north so I could give the Renegade its maiden voyage. It didn't disappoint. The other guys I was riding with were amazed at the power, but not more than me. We have a trail that goes along the East side of the lake at camp, this trail follows the telephone poles and is reasonably straight. I opened up the throttle along this straight away and literally scared myself. Every machine that I have rode in the 20+ years I have been riding I could out-ride it, meaning that even when it was giving me all it had I wanted more. The Renegade on the other hand could out-ride me. No matter how I pushed its limits, it always had more. More power, more speed, more acceleration. It was amazing.

Later on in the summer we went to a camp and I was able to try mudding for the first time.

As the video title suggests, I was indeed a mud virgin, I had no idea what this machine was capable of. With my sport quads I avoided swamps and water, it was a huge eye opener to see what a 4x4 ATV was capable of going through.

As you can see in the video it did ok, I was running the factory wheels with factory Holeshot tires. They really are quite horrible in the mud, but they weren't designed for that either. The video also brings up one huge drawback of the Renegade, and that is fender coverage. The Renegade is a sporty looking machine but fender coverage is minimal. I had to get used to getting both muddy and wet pretty much every time we went riding.

After getting completely covered with mud and seeing my friends who ride other ATVs completely dry, I decided I would buy some fender extenders. I was very torn, I liked the functionality of them, they kept some of the mud and water off of me but I felt it took away from the aggressive look.
The next mod was some Maverick wheels\tires, these were a 12" beadlock rim with 26" Bighorn tires and they substantially increased my traction.

The last modification I did was a Rubberdown Customs rack adapter which allowed me to put an Outlander composite rack onto the Renegade. I never did use the rack to hold anything, just liked changing the look.

I sold this machine in the fall of 2012, after owning it for nearly a year. I had it in a shop and discovered that the bearings on both the input and output drive shafts from the transmission were worn and needed to be replaced. This required removing the engine and splitting the engine engine/transmission. A job that would have cost $1500 at a minimum and potentially more than that if other worn parts were found in the engine.


Even though I sold this Renegade, I did purchase another shortly afterwards. That in itself should tell you a lot. The Renegade raised the bar, and made me as a consumer want more.

I still love Honda and always will, but I feel that they and the other Japanese brands have fallen behind their North American counter parts when it comes to raw fun factor. That being said, if I was a farmer, rancher, surveyor or oilfield worker and required a workhorse ATV that would work all day, 365 days a year I wouldn't look at anything other than Yamaha and Honda. 

It was a great machine and a great introduction into the Can Am brand. In the future I would stay away from higher mileage machines.

If you are looking for a sporty, fast ATV that will give you years of enjoyment I highly recommend the Can Am Renegade 800.


  1. Great write up. How much did your fender extenders help?? Thinking about buying a Renegade 570. I have a 08 Raptor 700r but I'm looking for all around 4wd machine.

    1. Hi Deuce, thanks for the reply. No, I'm sorry to say they didn't very much. I was still soaking wet at the end of pretty much every ride. Plus they took away from the look of the machine in my opinion.
      A 570 Gade would be a great choice, tons of power even though it's not an 800 or 1000 and nice and light which will be easier to get used to coming from a sport quad.