Tuesday, November 8, 2016

To Rebuild Or Not To Rebuild

The incredible excitement of finding a deal on Kijiji is addicting, and it keeps me checking the ATV section at least a couple times a day. Lately the deals have been few and far between.

But I got some excitement a couple weeks ago in the form of an ad simply titled "Two quads and two trikes". The first time I saw the ad I passed it by,  but it was the second pass that made me take a double take as I recognized the silhouette of one of the three wheelers in the thumbnail. Sure enough it was a Honda 250R.
My 1983 Honda ATC 250R and me at 16
Three wheelers are a part of my riding past. When I was 15, my Dad bought me a 1983 Honda 250R. I had many rides on that machine with my friends and to say it has sentimental meaning to me would be an understatement.

The seller on Kijiji was asking $900 for all four machines, I was quite sure that the 250R was worth nearly that amount alone. So I missed the meeting I was supposed to attend that evening so I could rush out to Osler SK and snag this deal. The other ATV's in the package were a Yamaha Moto4, a kids Gio 50 and an ATC 110. None of which interested me, my hope was that there would be enough value in the other machines that I could sell them and have a near $0 investment in the 250R.

Yamaha Moto4 in good shape but low compression

Kid's Gio 50, apparently in running condition

1984 Honda ATC 110 

Even though it was still early in evening here in Saskatchewan, I couldn't see much because it was pitch dark, winter is coming soon. This would be a quick purchase, no time to study each one and evaluate. Basically just pay, load and go. I managed to get the seller down $50 to $850 for the package even though he was getting multiple texts and emails from other interested parties even while we loaded the machines into my truck.

The 1984 ATC 250R:

It wasn't until the next morning that I could unload my purchase and find out what I actually got. The Moto4 was decent, but needing an engine rebuild dropped it's value substantially. It was mostly complete and in good condition but missing it's seat. The Gio 50 was a typical cheap chinese turd, and although complete didn't have much value. The ATC 110 was in very poor shape, missing the rear axle and the fenders and seat were beyond repair. Generally disappointing.

The 250R on the other hand, was better than I expected. It was complete but needed an engine rebuild and some TLC. It was everything I had hoped it would be, I'm just not sure if I have the time or money to rebuild it. I would love to ride one again, these machines are insane. So much power and torque, you can barely keep the front end on the ground, but also dangerous.

Nostalgia is cruel, it muddies the waters and takes the wisdom out of decisions. To start the rebuild on this machine could quickly exceed it's value if the bottom end of the engine needs a rebuild as well as the top.

The seller also included a bunch of parts for a 250R in the package purchase.
Engine and fuel tank from a 1982 250R

Fenders from a 1982 250R
He likely thought that he could use these parts for rebuilding the 1984, but unfortunately there are very little parts that can be exchanged between the different generation trikes. But I was more than willing to take them, if nothing else they would be good for resale. The seller texted me the next day and mentioned that he thinks that the guy he got these parts from may have the rest of the 250R on his farm and gave me his number. This was intriguing, but should I spend more money?

The rest of the 1982 Honda ATC 250R
I decided to contact him and said he was willing to let it go for $100. I figured that it was a good investment because it would increase the value of my parts and I would have a second nearly complete 250R.

Reunited with it's original fenders and tank
So here is the current tally on my investment:

$850 - Kijiji 2 quads 2 trikes package (250R, Moto4, Gio 50, ATC 110 & parts)
-$100 - Sold Gio 50
-$150 - Sold Moto4
-$40 - Sold other misc parts
+$100 - 1982 250R Purchase
$660 investment

Currently I am trying to sell the 1982 250R and I am looking into finding someone to rebuild my 1984 250R. I will update this page in the coming weeks.

I decided that I didn't have the time or energy to pursue a nostalgic project like this and sold the entire lot. Shortly after selling everything I found a great deal on a 2010 Can Am Renegade 800 which requires some TLC and am pursuing that instead. More to come on that project soon.

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.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

ATV Bags & Boxes

Whether you choose a hard box that mounts to your rack or a soft bag it feels nice to have the ability to bring things along with you and be prepared for what can arise when you are deep in the bush.

We've tried a number of different bags & boxes and I am going to cover a number of them and give my opinions on each.

1. The Cabela's Weatherproof Extreme ATV Bag

For at least two seasons now I have ran the Cabela's Weatherproof Extreme ATV Bag. This is my number one pick and the bag I recommend to everyone. There are a number of reasons I like this one:
  • It is just the right size, not too big or small
  • It keeps my stuff dry every time, even when doing a water wheelie and dunking it right in the water
  • It's a soft bag which is much more comfortable when attached to the rack behind you
  • It's made to attach to an ATV rack and has build in buckles that are easy to use
  • If you do puncture the membrane (which I have) it's easy to patch up with silicone and a piece of rubber
  • It fits perfectly in the rear lower storage compartment of my Commander
Cabela's Weatherproof Extreme ATV Bag

I love this bag so much that even it gets destroyed, I will be buying the exact same thing. The only negative I can say about it is that to get to your items you need to undo four buckles and pull a velcro strip apart which takes more time than the others but worth it in my opinion.

2. The Stanley Fat Max Toolbox

I'm pretty sure that it was not intended for ATV's when they built it but it works pretty good. Available at any home depot for around $30 it's claim to be water resistant makes it appealing. It may be good for casual riding but for the deep water riding I was doing at the time, the seal couldn't hold up.

I probably should have used u-bolts to attach it but I didn't want to make holes in it and therefore I had issues keeping it on my rack. I purchased the smaller of the two toolboxes Stanley offered at the time which I regretted as I found it was too small for all of the items I wanted to bring with me.
  •  Easy access to your items (two latches)
  • Affordable
  • Somewhat weatherproof with the lid seal
  • Not easy to attach to your rack (other than u-bolts or straps)
  • Hard surfaces, rattling

Hard boxes like the Fat Max toolbox are hard, and a downside of all hard boxes is that they rattle. Not only do they rattle on the rack but they also rattle everything inside. Another reason my preference is a soft bag.

3. Ogio Honcho Rack Bag

The Ogio bag was what made me realize that soft is where it's at. Ogio makes a high quality product, built well and it looks great

I chose the Honcho front rack bag as it was a bit smaller than the the rear bag and also less expensive. Price is big factor when it comes to bags and boxes and this Ogio bag is one of the more expensive options, and in my opinion the value just isn't there.

The red stripe around the outside of the bag is Ogio's dust seal
 Ogio makes no claims to this bag being waterproof, so I never expected it to be. But it's not even dust proof which it does claim to be.
  • Quality construction
  • Looks great
  • Absorbs water 
  • Doesn't keep out dust
  • Straps to attach to rack are too short to be useful
  • Expensive
  • Too small although larger sizes are available
I didn't realize before purchasing this bag, how much mud and water I would be going through and so I accept the blame for that. But I couldn't believe how bad it was. On the ride that I decided that it wasn't the box for me I got caught in a heavy rain. Not only did it not keep my stuff dry, it actually absorbed the water and all my stuff inside got wet. My tools were rusty and my dry towels were soaked. It took 3 days for the bag to completely dry out from that ride and it eventually developed a musty moldy smell.

4. Hard Box

I don't know the name or brand of this box, but it only took one or two rides before I decided it wasn't for me. I both love and hate how large boxes like this are, you can carry a lot of stuff but they are clunky and get in the way when riding. This particular box has a seat back for a rear passenger which is incredibly dangerous and I wouldn't recommend ever riding two people on a machine not built to take passengers.

Poorly planned, I needed to remove the jerry can to open the box
  • Lots of room
  • Rear seat rest
  • Latches rattle open
  • Not at all weather or dust proof
  • Big and cumbersome
  • Has to be attached with u-bolts
  • Becomes a liability if there were a roll over
There are many different designs of boxes and maybe I should have tried a different one but this one turned me off on the whole concept. It was very easy to access my stuff, although in my case I attached a jerry can holder to the back and the jerry needed to be removed before I could open the lid (my bad).

My friend Paul's supposedly waterproof box
 Many people like myself assume that boxes are waterproof, or at the very least weather and dust proof and find out the hard way that they are not.

Whats your favorite or what did I miss? Leave your comments in the comments section below.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Know How To Change Your CVT Belt

A typical CVT from a Can Am (Primary Clutch on left, Secondary on right)
In my younger years riding sport quads, we never brought tools with us. And to be honest, we rarely had break downs. Those machines were simple, less moving parts and less electronics. Although easier to ride, modern ATV's are much more complicated and the chances of breakdowns have increased.

You need to be prepared! For a list of tools and supplies to bring along with you are your rides check out our article "What's in your bag?"

One of the things that has made modern ATV's easier to ride is an automatic transmission called a CVT (Constant Variable Transmission). First used in snowmobiles as far back as the 1950's, CVTs are now the most popular transmission choice for ATV manufacturers. Even the automobile industry has seen the advantages of the CVT and many current models have them.

In a CVT you have one large belt, primarily composed of rubber which connects the engine (the primary) to the wheels (the secondary). It is a much simpler set up than a geared transmission and rather than just 5 or 6 forward gears, there are an infinite number of gears as the belt rides up and down the sheaves.  

This is a great video for understanding how a CVT works

There are many positive attributes to a CVT but one big negative is that a CVT belt will wear and eventually break as compared to a geared transmission. Any ATV with a CVT is prone to a belt failure over time, but even more so if the ATV has been modified with bigger tires. A CVT belt failure will result in a complete disconnect from the engine to the wheels and leave the ATV unable to move.

  This video is what happened to me when my belt broke
was at the Bruno Rally in 2015

The upside of a belt replacement is that it is a relatively easy part to replace yourself, even on the side of a trail. If you know what you are doing.


The key is to learn how to do it when you are under ideal conditions like in your garage when you have time, so that you know how when the conditions are not ideal like on the trail while all your buddies are waiting for you.

Make inspecting your CVT belt a part of your regular maintenance on your ATV.

The procedure to change a belt isn't much harder than it is to inspect it. If you learn how to remove the various body parts blocking the cover and remove it, you are 90% there.

Search on YouTube for how to change the belt on your specific ATV, I can almost guarantee you will find one. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

What's in your bag?

Over the years we've gone from not bringing anything along with us on a ride, to bringing a snack and a drink to carrying tools and supplies just in case. Part of the reason for this change is how long we go riding but also the ATV itself and it's ability to carry more items.

How you carry your items is for another article, see our upcoming ATV Bags & Boxes review coming soon. For today we will talk about whats in it.

Here is a list of things that I find I like to have with me on the trail:

  • BRP tool kit - This is the tool kit that came with the ATV when I bought it. It includes all of the basics you need including secondary clutch spreading tool
  • Knife - I mostly use mine to trim branches to make roasting sticks
  • Saw - This is a small compact, portable saw but it give me the ability to cut down small trees that may be laying across the trail
  • Screwdrivers
  • Pliers
  • Vice grip
  • Sockets - Make sure you know if your ATV requires standard or metric
  • Hay wire - One of the best ways to connect two pieces together and stronger than cable ties
  • Electrical tape
  • First aid kit - If you don't carry one with you, you should
  • Complete change of clothes - Shirt, pants, underwear & socks in case you get wet when its cold
  • Cable ties
  • Water - one of the most essential parts of your kit, not only for drinking but also cleaning and topping off low coolant in a pinch
  • Extra CVT belt - You should carry a spare if you ride an ATV with a CVT
  • Tree saver - Wrap this around the tree and connect your winch to it so you don't damage the tree
  • Tow strap - In case you need to tow your buddy or be towed yourself
  • Snatch block - If you don't know what it is and you use your winch regularly you need to research this
  • Shackles - Best way to safely connect two ropes\straps to each other
Not pictured 

  • Tire repair kit
  • Air compressor or air supply
  • ATV Booster cables

A couple things I have remembered that are not as necessary but nice to have are 
  • rags
  • toilet paper or baby wipes
  • lighter

Over kill? Maybe. You can't be prepared for everything. Some people I know go even further and carry full tool kits with them including a battery operated impact wrench. What's right for you is what you need to bring but hopefully this list will help give you some ideas.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Maxxis Bighorn vs Maxxis Zillas - Tire Review

Spring is almost here and it is tire buying season. I found this article while trying to get ideas for new tires for my RZR. This comes from somebody who has had both and therefore qualified to give an opinion.

Original article located here:

Maxxis Bighorn

Maxxis Zilla
 *Edited forum post:

After approximately 5500kms on my 28" Zillas and now about 600km on my 26" bighorns there is no doubt in my mind that the bighorns are a Tire that will last longer...but that is it...the Zillas IMO are a FAR superior tire...

Better in Snow for handling and traction
Better in Mud (of course)
Better on Dirt Trails
Better on Paved (but wear faster)

There is not one thing better for the Big Horns other than that they will last longer...

The Zillas with hard riding should still last a good 10,000km.


One word SLOPPY. I’m spinning all the time...never any traction and just all over the place.

Spin some still but they dig. The handling is crazy they dig around corners, traction is unbelievable for snow riding


They are fine and smooth riding but traction is lacking in dry grass. I have trouble wheeling my machine (with a rear seat). Handling is still good but when going fast around corners the front slide more than they should and it's hard to drift around corners when the fronts are sliding.

Smooth and traction is incredible. In wet grass I can wheelie my machine sitting on the air box. Handling is good even for a 28" tire. I can drift and the fronts stick to the ground.


These tires actually perform really well in the mud, you do get a sloppy feel, and they spin like crazy but very seldom will you get stuck. Water wheelies are a lot harder but can still be done

Hands down perform a lot better than horns in every aspect.


This is where the radial of the Big Horns come in. The Big Horns are a tough tire. I have seen some with holes in the sidewalls and tread but they are all around a tough tire. They do grip better on rocks than any other situation but that is obvious.

Not as tough as Bighorns but still pretty tough. I have put a sharp rock through the tread in one of my Zillas but nothing a plug couldn’t fix. Again the Zillas do grip better but Big Horns are the tougher tire.


On paved, the only good thing about the BHs is that they will last a long time. They have a slight wobble at a higher speeds (80km/h plus) but if you look at the big horns there is a little yellow dot with a black dot in the middle on the white lettering side because theycome balanced from factory and those little dots are supposed to be lined up with the valve stem. If you don't line them up you may get a bit of a wobble. Mine are not lined up so that is most likely where the wobble is coming from. With this in mind the BHs are probably as smooth as the Zillas.

Again traction is awesome, they are extremely smooth at high speeds and even smoother than the big horns. But they will wear fast if doing a lot of paved riding. I don’t mean just being on paved the odd time...I mean paved all the time.


The 28" Zillas weight in at a total of 98.6lbs for all four tires. The 26" Bighorns weight a total of 103.4lbs. Other than the bigger diameter the 26" Big Horns are on a 14" rim.

So I was able to gain two inches in tire size and still shed some weight.


There is no doubt in my mind that the bighorns will last longer, but that is the only advantage I can see. The Zillas are a far superior tire and even with hard riding they should still last a good 10,000km.

After buying the bighorns and retiring the Zillas I plan to switch back and the Big Horns will be up for sale. I hope this helps someone else with their purchase decision.

Friday, November 6, 2015

All of my ATV's

As you can tell, I have had a lot of ATVs and done a lot of buying and selling. I put together a photo album on Facebook with all of the various machines and some of my favorite memories.

You can see them here