Wednesday, June 3, 2015

ATV Review - 2007 Can Am Outlander 650

Alas the day of the Bruin has come to an end. If your not sure what I am talking about you can look back here on my review of our Yamaha 350 Bruin.

On one of our recent rides my son who is now 15 asked if he could take my 2012 Outlander 800 XT for a rip while we were playing around in the gravel pits in the Nisbet Forrest. Once he experienced a water wheelie in the waters around the pit he was hooked and the call for more power began.
Now I am not a fool, I know a young rider can't handle the power of an 800 which is what got me thinking about a 650.

As always I am working with a limited budget. The upgrade from a 350 Bruin to a 650 Outlander was going to cost at least $2000 over top of what I could get for the Bruin so I needed to look at the older models.
Not exactly the meanest looking face. The older Outlanders sported this "happy face"
before a more aggressive looking redesign in 2009
I still love the G1 Outlander design even though I am not very fond of the grille. But having owned 3 G1 Can Am's they are much more familiar to me even though my main machine is a G2.
So that settled it, I began my search for a G1 Outlander 650.
I was under the impression that it would be easier to find a 650 because more people would be buying the larger 800 but that wasn't the case. I finally found one in my price range around an hour and a half away from where I live, and I pounced on it like a cat on a mouse.

First Impressions

The model I ended up buying was a base model 2007 Outlander 650. There was also an XT package was available in this model year which would have added aluminum wheels and a push bar. The appearance of this machine was very utilitarian, basically looked like a farm quad.

Peeling painted steel wheels and factory tires makes this machine look like a sleeper

It's amazing how accustomed I have come to aluminum wheels on an ATV, and how steel wheels and factory tires makes a machine look docile. The fact that the paint was peeling on those steel wheels didn't help.

The Ride

My test drive was just around the farmstead of the owner on gravel but I was immediately impressed with the power. A little too impressed being that this ATV was going to be used for novice riders. The stock tires showed a lot of wear and are also very light which I thought may have been adding to feeling of power. I am of course comparing it to my 800 and it was scary how similar they felt, so much so that I was contemplating not buying it. But I did and mostly because I realized it had a throttle limiting screw that could be used to slow the machine down for my inexperienced riders.

A couple days after purchasing the machine we took it up to camp and gave it a good test run. The handling is everything I have some to expect from Can Am, it doesn't lean in the corners and stays nice and flat. Doesn't dive on heavy braking or squat on heavy acceleration. Everything was predictable.

The Power

Being able to get it flat out on the trails was where I saw a slight difference between it and the 800. Where as the power of the 800 never really seems to fade out you do notice a slight fade at higher speeds with the 650. Where as I have been quoted as saying that "No matter how I pushed its limits, it always had more. More power, more speed, more acceleration." in regards to the 800, I can't say the same about the 650. There is still ample power to do everything you want and it'll still scare you, just not in the same crazy psycho beast way that an 800 will.

Now sporting Maxxis Bighorn tires and ITP Delta wheels

The 650 HO engine is awesome, it is a V-Twin and has that gorgeous hum. And if your worried that it doesn't have enough power I can assure you it will still beat out any stock 4x4 from Honda, Yamaha or Suzuki. But if you were to ask me if faced with a decision between purchasing a new 650 or 800 I would take the 800 just because of the wow factor of the 800.

My first Outlander 650, a 2010 with power steering and my friends King Quad 700
I should mention that this is not my first Outlander 650, a couple years back I owned a 2010 XT for a very short while before selling it to buy another Renegade. Check out my video of the Outlander owning the King Quad on this hill climb.

More to come...

Monday, March 2, 2015

Bedliner on ATV plastics

Most of us are familiar with spray on bedliners which are used to protect the box of your truck from dents and scrapes, but not many know that the manufacturers claim it has many other applications. This National Geographic video shows one of those manufaturers by the name of Line-X spraying it on a brick, a wall and even an egg to give each one added strength to endure a torture test. And the results are very impressive.

 Great video of how amazing this stuff is

Spray on bedliners intrigue me, I really like the textured semi gloss black look and the durability of it and I really feel that bedliner has potential in the ATV world.

Pictured below a DIY kit made by Dominion Sure Seal called Gator Guard II on an Arctic Cat 

Photos courtesy Curtis Gyorfi

Bedliner has really become popular in the offroad world, I've seen many Jeep owners removing their carpets and using it to cover the floor. The other day I saw a Toyota Tacoma with the entire body top to bottom covered in it.
From the research I have done I have concluded that there are three different levels that a person considering using bedliner can pursue:

1. Professional Spray Ons - This will typically be done at a body shop by professionals that know how to properly coat your plastics to ensure the greatest strength and reliability. They will also typically warrant the product and repair it if it ever starts to chip or peel. It still is somewhat DIY (Do It Yourself) in that you will have to remove all of the plastics from your ATV and then have them sprayed and then reassemble them afterwards. The only real disadvantage I can see with it is the cost, which appears to be in the $2000-$3000 range from our local Line-X dealer.

This is a sample of a kit that includes a Shutz gun but many
include a roller and a brush. These bottles will directly attach to the gun
2. DIY Bedliner Kits - There are a ton of different products out there supplying kits for the do it yourself-er. You have three options for applying these products, brush, roll or spray.

If you have a Shutz gun and an air compressor adding a nice thick coat of
a DIY product can be pretty simple other than the clean up

 Brushing and rolling is pretty straight forwards, for the spray option you will need a Shutz gun and an air compressor big enough to handle spraying. There are so many different brands out there, and what I have available to me here in Canada might not be what you have available where you are. There are many good products on the market, and some that are inferior. Make sure you do your research and find the good ones that are available where you are.

The biggest advantage of this method is the cost, you can buy a kit from your auto body supply store for around $250. Grab a shutz gun, air compressor and with a weekend's worth of elbow grease you can get some nice results.

The are some disadvantages too. Biggest being the mess, it gets everywhere. You need an area to do this that is well ventilated and you can get messy. You also need to have a steady hand, it was very difficult to see where our coats were too thin until the product was dry and we had cleaned up. The product stands up the best when the coats are thick and the liner is sprayed all around the edges, almost encapsulating the pieces. Clean up is also a pain, not just all the black dust from the overspray. You need to use thinner and take your time cleaning up the gun and the containers you used to measure the product.

Aerosol bedliner made by Dominion Sure Seal and
available at Canadian Tire
3. Aerosol Bedliner - This is the easiest option for a DIY project and it works pretty good overall but I would compare to a textured spray paint. I have used this product on a couple of projects but it doesn't have the thickness that a good bedliner really needs to be effective.

With all of these products proper preparation of the surface is key to making the product stick to the plastics. Most ATV plastics are made with polypropylene, this plastic is very flexible and has a very shiny finish and the shiny finish is the problem with getting paint to stick. Roughing the surface will always help paint to adhere better but it is also recommended to use an adhesion promoter.

Adhesion promoter made by Dominion Sure Seal
 My first project where I used the aerosol bediner was for my 2011 Can Am Outlander XMR. The two side panels are the only plastics that are not available in black plastic from BRP so I decided to use the bedliner.

A non prepped panel will peel on the edges

I was told that as long as I encapsulated the entire piece in bedliner that I didn't even need to do much for prep, so all I did was wipe it down with a degreaser. Unfortunately this was incorrect and the panel has shown peeling in a number of places around the edges although it has stuck well on the flat areas which are covered by a decal.
The Rhino hood pictured above was painted a couple of months ago and has not been tested for durability. I took extra precautions with it, here are the steps:

1. Roughed up all the surfaces with a red scotchbrite pad
2. Wiped it down paint prep from an autobody supply store and thoroughly cleaned it
3. Sprayed adhesion promoter and let dry for half an hour
4. Sprayed multiple coats of bedliner, approximately 5 in total    

The hood of my Rhino painted with the aerosol bedliner
With all of these products proper preparation of the surface is key to making the product stick to the plastics. Most ATV plastics are made with polypropylene, this plastic is very flexible and has a very shiny finish and the shiny finish is the problem with getting paint to stick. Roughing the surface will always help paint to adhere better but it is also recommended to use an adhesion promoter.

The end product looks great but I have yet to see if these extra steps will ensure decent durability.

More to come....

The Bedliner Kit: This product worked awesome on metal. The ATV racks we sprayed with the product turned out great and were incredibly durable. We also sprayed a very thick coat on the bumper of my Outlander which was very durable but didn't look the greatest because of how uneven the texture was sprayed on. This would have been less of a problem with good lighting and practice.

Unfortunately our tests on plastic were less than stellar. With a sharp object we attempted to damage the piece above and both the side with the adhesion promoter and without scratched very easily. And once scratched or chipped the bedliner could be pealed off in large chucks. After such a disappointing failure, we never attempted to use the product on plastics after this.

Aerosol Bedliner: As great as the Rhino hood looked it did not hold up well. In fact, a piece easily pulled off when a decal was put on and then removed when I was not happy with the placement. I sold the machine shortly thereafter and I am not sure how it held up under regular use. I am guessing not well.

Monday, January 26, 2015

BRP's ATV History

If you've been reading this blog much you have probably figured out by now that I have become a big Can Am fan since purchasing my first Renegade in 2012. Comparatively speaking, Can-Am is still the new kid on the block in the ATV market even though its parent company (Bombardier) has been around since the 1940's. The innovations Can Am has brought to the market since 1998 are simply amazing, here is a brief overview of some.

I am adding my own commentary, but all of the information is from BRP's history page on it's website located here. I have exclude all non-atv content and also added pictures to make it more interesting. I have also added a several events that I felt were noteworthy. You may agree or disagree, let me know in the comments at the bottom.

1998 Bombardier enters the all-terrain vehicle market

In February, Bombardier enters the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) market by introducing a prototype of its innovative ATV, the Traxter.

Bombardier Traxter

Bombardier Quest
Bombardier's introduction to the ATV market wasn't at all along the same lines as the powerful performance ATV's they are now known for. No, they were going for utility and riders and riders with mobility issues. The Traxter's claim to fame was that the fuel tank and engine were moved back creating a void in front of the seat where the tank would typically be. This meant that you didn't have to swing your leg over the seat making it easier to get on and off. Many farmers, ranchers and tradespeople that were constantly getting on and off the machine found that there was less fatigue in their legs at the end of the work day and really liked this feature.
The Quest was introduced later, it was the same machine as the Traxter but with the addition of a CVT (Constant Variable Transmission) verus the semi automatic footshift of the Traxter.

1999 Traxter is named ATV of the Year

One year after it's introduction the Traxter is named “ATV of the Year” by ATV Magazine. An impressive feat for a new company showing it's Japanese competitors that they are here to stay and that they mean business. 

1999 Bombardier Introduces the DS650 

The Bombardier DS650

1999 also sees the launch of a second Bombardier ATV model called the DS 650. The DS650 was a pure sport machine directed at those that were looking for performance. At the time, 650cc engines were not at all common in the industry. And the thought of an engine of that size in a sport ATV was especially insane.
As with the Traxter, Bombardier wanted to set themselves apart in the styling department and without a doubt the DS650 was a departure from the traditional sport ATV. History would seem to say that this risk backfired on Bombardier as it had a polarizing effect and you either hated it, or loved it.
More powerful, but also wider, longer and heavier than it's competitors. It seemed confused as to who it was to appeal to and by 2005 it's production was canceled.

2002 Bombardier launches the first two-rider ATV

On June 6, Bombardier opens an untapped market segment by introducing its Traxter MAX ATV, the first and only ATV with the manufacturer’s approval to accommodate two riders.

Bombardier Traxter Max

2002 Bombardier's ATV line-up grows

In November, Bombardier introduces four new ATV models: the Outlander 330 H.O. 4x4 and 2x4, the 2x4 Outlander 400 H.O. and the Outlander 400 H.O. XT.

From Bombardier:
These new models offer advanced technology and are ideal for consumers who want a sporty look and a comfortable, superior ride in a lightweight package. The Outlander 400 H.O. 4x4 XT adds a value-added package, including the addition of a winch, heavy-duty front and rear bumpers, hand guards and chrome rims to the base 400 H.O. model. The Outlander 400 H.O. 2x4 offers many of the same benefits as the 400 H.O. 4x4 in a lightweight, attractively priced package. The Outlander 330 H.O. 4x4 and 2x4 models introduce a reliable new high performance Rotax® 4-TECTM engine to the Bombardier ATV line-up, based on the powerful 400cc engine of the Outlander 400 H.O. ATVs.

Bombardier Outlander ATVs feature the innovative TTITM (Trailing Torsional Independent) rear suspension which provides superior ride comfort over a broad range of terrains and conditions. This system significantly improves rider comfort by repositioning the two independent pivot points so that the rear wheels travel in a predictable straight "up-and-down" line when encountering bumps.

Outlander ATVs also include Bombardier's revolutionary SSTTM (Surrounding Spar Technology) frame. This one-piece perimeter steel frame provides greater strength, structural integrity, better engine protection and superior power to weight ratio. The SST frame delivers a narrower bottom profile "runner", whose "slide and glide" action allows Outlander ATVs to virtually "ski" across obstacles without getting bogged down.

All Outlander models have a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) automatic transmission, full floorboards and eye-catching molded rack design. All 4x4 models include 2WD/4WD selection options. These new Bombardier models will be available starting in March 2003.

2003 Outlander model named ATV of the Year

In January, the Outlander is named ATV of the Year by both ATV Magazine and Canada’s 2003 ATV Guide.

2004 Bombardier Outlander 330 with color matched floor boards

 Check out ATV Television's Review of the all new Bombardier Outlander

2003 Bombardier partners with Deere & Company

On January 23, Bombardier and Deere & Company announce a strategic alliance to develop new wheeled industrial vehicles and technologies.

The John Deere Buck and Trail Buck were a joint effort between Bombardier
and John Deere from 2004-2006 based on the Traxter

2003 Two new additions to the two-seater ATV line-up

In May, Bombardier Recreational Products introduces the Outlander MAX and Quest MAX ATVs, two new additions to the first full line-up of two-seater ATVs on the market.

2005 BRP Outlander Max

2004 The BRP brand is born

In mid-June, BRP launches its new brand and signature: leveraging a rich heritage of entrepreneurial spirit and innovation with a renewed focus on providing consumers worldwide with uniquely crafted products that inspire passion and enthusiasm.

2005 BRP's Can-Am DS 650X ATV finishes first at the Dakar Rally

In January, Antoine Morel of France places first in the ATV category at the 27th edition of the famed Dakar Rally, after crossing the finish line on a DS 650X ATV.

2005 BRP introduces the APACHE kit

In September, BRP launches its revolutionary APACHE ATV Track Kit, the first and only OEM ATV track kit that fits most major all-terrain vehicle (ATV) models.

2005 BRP wins the GNCC Championships

In October, BRP wins its first Utility Modified GNCC Championship with its Outlander 800 ATV which would later spark a streak that would see BRP earn an additional 12 GNCC ATV championships during the next four seasons of racing.

2006 The Can-Am brand is reborn

In May, Bombardier ATV becomes Can-Am ATV. BRP launches its 2007 all-terrain vehicle line-up and re-brands its ATV segment to Can-Am. The Can-Am name recaptures the spirit of BRP's unequalled performance, superb handling and advanced design that are unique in the industry.

2007 BRP introduces the Renegade to it's ATV lineup

Based on the Outlander chassis and engine the Renegade bridges the gap between the sport and utility market. It's bold styling is just a bold as it's performance. Initially offered with the potent 800cc engine it is later offered with the smaller 500cc add 1000cc engines in later model years. Although not the first sport 4x4 ATV it revives a segment of the industry thought to be dead.

2009 BRP introduces first air-controlled suspension system

In May, BRP launches the industry's first air-controlled suspension system (ACS) on the Can-Am Outlander 800R MAX EFI LTD ATV.

Outlander Max 800 Limited with ACS

2010 BRP completes its off-road segment with the Can-Am Commander side-by-side vehicle

BRP brings Can-Am DNA to the side-by-side market by introducing the 2011 Can-Am Commander line-up. The five model line-up with two engine options delivers on the Can-Am promise of cutting-edge design, meaningful innovation and a focus on convenience, maximum value and more usability for the consumer.

2011 BRP's Can-Am Commander Side-By-Side Vehicle Named ‘Best Of The Best’ Award

BRP receives the coveted 2011 “Best of the Best” Award in the Side-By-Side ATV category from Field & Stream magazine with its Can-Am Commander 1000 side-by-side vehicle.

2012 BRP introduces the Maverick Sport Side-By-Side

This is the one everybody was waiting for. Consumer demand for a sport side by side was at an all time high and Can Am answered the call in spades. The Maverick wasn't just a sport Commander, it was an all new design with performance as it's foundation. Introduced with the 101hp 1000cc Rotax engine it was the reigning king for horse power. The Maverick was key in securing Can-Am's place as the power and performance leader in the industry.

2012 BRP introduces the SST G2 Chassis 

The next generation and industry-exclusive Surrounding Spar Technology (SST G2) frame. The welded-steel frame incorporates new processes and updated geometry for increased structural integrity, improved durability and precision handling. The more efficient SST G2 design offers increased strength compared to a traditional tubular steel chassis, a lower center of gravity, better handling and requires far fewer components, materials and welds.

Included with the SST chassis redesign are subtle cosmetic changes for both the Outlander and Renegade but still keeping the same general design.

The SST G2 Chassis used on the 2012 Outlander and Renegade
The 2012 Outlander got updated plastics with the SST chassis, keeping the same general
shape but adding composite racks and projection headlight

2014 BRP introduces the first factory Turbo Charged ATV

A huge surprise to everyone, Can Am introduces the Maverick X DS package. This package enables you to lead the pack with the most powerful two-seater sport side-by-side in the industry. Its 121-hp turbocharged engine option leads the way, and its rider-focused design and impressive handling provide a comfortable and confident ride. 

So what do you think? Anything missing? Please comment with what you think should be added to the list.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Can Am Renegade vs Outlander

This seems to be a hotly debated topic, and why shouldn't it be. These are two of the hottest machines on the market. I have owned both so I think I have a good point of view and will throw my opinions out there for debate.
One of the first things that to address which might come as a shock to many of the uneducated, is that they are the same machine. If you were to take an 800 Outlander and and 800 Renegade, strip the plastics and and stand back 20 feet, only those with a very well trained eye would be able to tell the difference. Sure there are some tweaks here and there that are different, but the frame geometry, the riders stance, the weight distribution, the suspension geometry, the engine are all the same.
So the main differences between the two are aesthetic. The Outlander is classified by Can Am as a "Recreation-Utility" ATV, it has more squared lines to accommodate front and rear racks and overall more of a traditional utilitarian appearance. The Renegade is classified as a "Sport 4x4" and has jagged, angled lines with no racks and more tires exposed. I don't understand the psychology of it, but if you expose the tires on an ATV it does give it more of a sporty look. Many of the race quads have very little fenders if any at all. Which brings me to my first deficiency with the Renegade:

Prepare to "wear the trail" on a Renegade

Fender Coverage

This wasn't a concern for me when I purchased my first Renegade, but it became one. My first Renegade was a 2007 800R, you can read my full review here. On my first ride where we encountered mud it became very clear how little fender protection I had. We were at a camp and it had rained for three days before we got there and it rained the entire first day. Everything was muddy and mucky. We were using our ATV's to get to various areas in the camp that were connected by dirt road. I had brought boots with me but for comfort I wanted to keep my shoes on, besides, it's not like we were going mudding. Boy was I in for a surprise. Driving slowly I started getting clumps of mud thrown off my front tires and onto my shoes, so I slowed down and put my feet on top of my front fenders. Even that didn't make much difference. The sticky clay road we were on constantly sent clumps of mud coming off the front and rear tires skyward and raining down on me like an artillery barrage.
When we arrived at our destination I was covered in mud, but my friends were not. In fact they were dry as a bone. Check out my "Mud Virgins" video to see first hand the mud flinging. Buying a set of fender flares was the first thing I did when I got back.

My second bad experience with fender coverage was during a wet cold spring ride with my 2009 Renegade 800X. The sun was shining and the snow was starting to melt, it was still pretty chilly though. Mindful of the temperature, I wore my snowmobile suit which was water resistant, not water proof. We encountered many very large ice crusted puddles on that ride, needless to say I was soaked like I have never been soaked on a ride before, right down to my underwear. Terribly cold and uncomfortable. I installed fender flares as soon as I got back.

In contrast the Outlander has fenders that cover the tires and more and provide amazing coverage. You'll still get wet, but not soaked to the bone.

Fender Flares
Renegade 800R with flares freshly installed
Most of the fender flares extend out about 4", they also fill in some of the other areas of the fender and give a uniform edge to the fender edge. But even with the flares on you can still see much of the tire exposed. Any tire visible to the rider will be an area where water and mud are thrown at you. So yes they make a difference but they are not going to keep you dry.

The other consideration is appearance. After installing the flares on my 2007 800R I found I didn't like the way it looked as much any more. And after installing flares on my 2008 800X I un-installed them later for the same reason.

Many models of the Outlander come with fender flares already installed.



Having entered the 4x4 ATV world from a sport quad I was used to not bringing any supplies with me on my rides. But that started to change when I got my Renegade, at first I just wanted to bring a cold drink and a snack but later on I want tools, extra clothes ect. and the Renegade has nowhere to put anything. My 800X at least had some loops behind the seat but my 800R had nothing and I ended up using a backpack which I found uncomfortable and difficult to clean. So I started looking into rack options.

On my 07 800R I got a Rubberdown Customs bracket that allowed me to use an Outlander rack.

2007 Renegade 800R with Outlander rack
 With my 09 800X I purchased an aluminum rack from PRM that mounts beside the rear push bar. I thought that this was a cleaner look and would keep more of the original Renegade look.

2008 Renegade 800X with PRM rack

Both of these rack ended up costing nearly $400 when all associated costs were calculated.

The Outlander comes with both front and rear racks from the factory, no need to adapt an after market solution.

Nowhere to push

This may be a minor point but still needs mentioning. If you plan on taking your Renegade in areas where you might get stuck, you really don't have many areas to push. I can recall a time we did a group ride and all of us were getting stuck in an area where the snow had really blown in. When I got stuck I had three guys some over to give me a push, but they had nowhere to push. The rear grab bar is pretty much useless although one guy can somewhat get under it the other two couldn't do anything. I ended up having to use my winch to get out.

The Outlander has racks and brush guards that are very sturdy and provide many areas to grab onto for a push.

Rad Relocate

If you plan on doing serious mudding with your Renegade you will find out very quickly that your Radiator will plug up with mud in it's current location and you will forever be overheating and put into limp mode. From my research there are only two manufactures that are making rad relocates for the Renegade with the exact same design, Wild Boar and Gorilla. My personal opinion is that these are butt ugly and completely ruin the sporty look of the Renegade, but with the design of the front plastics you really have no other option for a rad relocate design.

An otherwise gorgeous Renegade build ruined by an ugly rad relocate
The Outlander XMR has a rad relocate that looks in proper proportion to the rest of the ATV. It blends in the machine and does't stick up like an billboard like the Renegade's rad relocate.

Ironically after all my modifications I found that I wasn't happy with the look


All of this has brought me to this final conclusion, buy an Outlander. Why go through all the cost and problems to customize a Renegade and basically turn it into an Outlander. I feel that if I was only riding dry trails I would likely still own a Renegade today but mudding is just too fun to ignore.
Both are awesome and you will have an exhilarating ride with either, but if you are in the market to purchase and are weighting the options between the two hopefully this has given you some food for thought.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Using a GoPro on your ATV

For Christmas 2011 I received one of the best presents I have received from my wife, my GoPro. She knew I had been spending a lot of time watching ATV videos on YouTube and she thought it would be great if I could start making my own. And I have enjoyed making videos ever since.
I haven't made a ton of GoPro videos, at present I have approximately 20 videos on my channel. My relationship with the camera hasn't been all bubbles and sparkles, and to be honest I have a bit of a love\hate relationship with it. For this article I am going to point out some of my beefs with the GoPro and point out some of the problems you may have when using your GoPro to film you ATV adventures.

How to Mount

Chin mount I made from a bracket I found in my garage
There are many ways to mount your camera but you want it in just the right place to get all the action. The square boxiness of the GoPro limits your mounting options. You can see in the picture below that I opted for what is referred to as a chin mount. I did quite a bit of searching but I couldn't find any manufacturer that makes an actual chin mount, so with the help of some YouTube videos and uncle Google I decided to make my own. I used a braket I found in my garage that was originally a mount for a pulley. All I needed to do was spread the arms out a bit, and drill two holes. The fit is almost perfect. The chin mount also helps you avoid showing the brim of the visor at the bottom of your image with is very apparent in many of my first videos. The camera sees everything that I see, I don't need to guess where it is pointing, and that makes the difference between catching a great moment or missing out.

Traditional top mount, very vulnerable around trees
When I started filming my rides I was using a traditional mount on the top of my helmet. I was worried about how vulnerable it was to trees and my fears were confirmed on a chilly March ride where a tree smacked the camera and it fell behind me. Thankfully it stayed on the machine. Some sort of tether strap may be a good idea regardless of what method you use.


When ATVing I have noted that my average ride is 4-5 hours, I found out very quickly that to be filming for the entire ride is pretty much impossible no matter what battery you use, and for the sake of editing it isn't very wise anyways. But even with switching the camera on and off I still would barely last for an entire ride. To solve this I purchased a GoPro Battery Backpac which combines it's own power with the internal battery and more than doubles your battery life. If I turn the camera on and off between filming sessions I have found that I can get through an entire ride with both batteries pretty much spent at the end of the day. The Battery Backpac was an additional $80 to the cost of the camera, and was an expense I was not prepared for.

The Battery BacPack clips onto the back of the camera and includes a larger
rear housing for the case


My Hero 3 Black came with a remote, even before I got the GoPro I knew that it would be essential for turning the camera on and off while riding. As promising the remote control sounds, it is an imperfect device. It also has a battery that needs to be charged (if you are keeping track we are now up to 3 batteries) but does have a reasonable battery life. But it only works half the time. I'm not sure what the problem is, something to do with the connection between the two but often times it will just stop connecting to the camera in the middle of the ride. I have tried to get it to reconnect, but this is a difficult task when you are wet and covered in mud. When this happens I end up powering it off and try and use the beeps the GoPro makes to know if it has responded. With an aftermarket exhaust it is almost impossible to hear the GoPro over the engine noise, the problem is exacerbated because your ears covered by a helmet. Often times when I think it's on, it's off and vice versa.

The remote that has given me much grief. Note the cradle which uses
a GoPro sticky to mount it to your ATV

No Viewfinder

This isn't really the GoPros fault, it just wasn't designed with a screen (at least not this model). But it would be really nice to know what you are filming.
I tend to ride around a lot of water and mud, and when you get a chunk thrown onto the lens protector or it gets wet and the view is impeded there is almost no way of knowing without talking the helmet off to look at it. I started to make it a habit to constantly wipe the lens protector with my glove which has helped and is the only real solution for the time being that I can think of. Unfortunately it does scratch the lens and am now having to replace mine.

That's one dirty lens
These issues have caused me a lot of my grief with my GoPro. The frustration of not knowing if the camera is off or on is really stressful and steals the joy out of filming the ride. There were a couple rides this year that I said "screw it" and I decided to just leave it at home.

As of the time that I am writing this review I am contemplating the purchase of the Sony Action Cam Mini POV camera (HDRAZ1VR). Two major advantages of this camera are that it has image stabilization and it has a remote with a screen on it that you strap to your wrist so that you can see what your filming. It does have a couple other minor features that interest me but I will address those in an article if I end up buying the camera.