Last summer we asked Team FIN member Kent Lock to test the updated Bombardier Traxter XL. Operating a crop farm and cow/calf operation outside Avon, IL, Lock was more than ready to try out the Canadian-manufactured ATV. He put the vehicle with its new dump box to the test. The result? At the end of the two-month trial, Lock opened his billfold and bought the Traxter. Here’s his report.

I already had two ATVs of different brands but was anxious to try the Traxter XL, equipped with a dump box. ATVs on our farm see all work and no play. We check crops and cattle, pull wagons, and run errands over paved roads, through mud, and over steep timbered hills. A neighbor said, “If Bombardier wants to find the limitations of the Traxter, they have sent it to the right place.”

The only time we drove the Traxter into the shop was when it was pulling in a wagon, hay rake or trailer. The rest of the time we backed it in … in case we needed its quick-starting, 500-cc, liquid-cooled engine and 10-speed transmission to deliver an extra bag of seed, chase a cow or run an errand.

The Traxter has plenty of power and speed but lacks the agility needed to round up cattle. The turning radius on this full-time 4-wd machine is 50% greater than the Honda 250 Recon 2-wd that I use to herd cattle.

The Traxter's ample ground clearance and wide stance took me places no ATV had gone before. The 10-speed electric shift had me reaching for the shift button when I rode my other foot-shift machines. The transmission has a “park” feature, which I like.

The brakes are easy to apply and effective, and they had my confidence at road speeds in excess of 50 mph.

The machine I tested had 25-10-12 rear tires, which are too narrow. Wider tires, both front and rear, would add some flotation in mud.

Rear suspension is adjustable. I had it set a little stiff on purpose because 500 lbs. of seed or feed often found their way into the dump box. A hard plastic dump box is a colossal idea. I used the box often, but seldom used the dump feature. With a 600-lb. rating, the box can handle nearly any nonliquid commodity.

The front suspension is a little stiff but keeps the wheels in contact with the ground while climbing hills strewn with logs and ruts.

I'd never been on an ATV that did not fully protect my shoes from cow manure splatter until I rode the Traxter. The ample front and rear fenders protected my shoes so well that they were welcome under the kitchen table at lunchtime.

I used the hitch frequently, but it should be mounted above instead of below the rear gear case to decrease the amount of stoop needed to hook up implements.

An operator station with wide comfortable footrest and a well-padded, easy-to-mount seat with a backrest was a favorite of all riders. The driver can easily view the fuel gauge, gear indicator, headlight beam indicator and engine temperature alert warnings from the operator station. However, the fuel gauge malfunctioned at the end of the test period.

A higher visibility color would be a safety feature of value to me. Reflective stripes on the front and rear are easy to see. A downward discharge stainless steel muffler makes for a nearly stealth ATV when traveling at low speeds.

I'd like to see two improvements: 1) make it possible to check the engine oil without lifting the seat, and 2) use a more common oil filter (no major filter manufacturer could supply me with an oil filter).

With key features such as the easiest to mount and dismount operator station that I have ever seen, plenty of power transmitted through an easy-to-shift transmission, handiness of a dump box, a backrest and smooth riding suspension, I had to use my checkbook to convince Bombardier to let me own this machine.

For more information, contact Bombardier Recreational Products, Dept. FIN, 565 de la Montagne St., Valcourt, Quebec, Canada J0E 2L0, 514/532-2211, www.bombardier-atv.com.