Sport and utility By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Have you seen those signs from businesses that claim, “Difficult done instantly, the impossible might take a little longer.” Jumping a brand-new company into the UTV scene is certainly difficult, and many who have attempted it now think it to be impossible. Even established names have struggled with acceptance. The new brand of the moment is Georgia-based Bad Boy, and the model on everyone’s mind is the Stampede 900. Bad Boy began with highly specialized electric UTVs, and as you might imagine, hunters are super pumped on the silent nature of electric propulsion. Other industries embrace electric UTVs since they can be operated indoors. With the e-UTVs plugged in, Bad Boy is looking to integrate gasoline-powered Bad Boys into the market. They have the backing and available technology. Bad Boy is part of the Textron family, a Fortune 500 company known for Cushman industrial vehicles, Cessna aircraft, Bell helicopters and Greenlee tools.
Now, with the Stampede 900, the company’s basic business plan is one that Dirt Wheels can always embrace—build a great machine. When we picked up the Stampede we were immediately impressed with the fit, finish and general look and feel of the machine. Currently, the UTV market runs about 70 percent utility and sport utility, and performance models make up the remaining 30 percent. The Stampede is focused on the large share of the market.
We call machines that have features like dump beds and trailer hitches “utility,” but some utility machines have enough suspension and features to make them attractive for sport endeavors like camping, hunting or just exploring and rock crawling. Some of the very popular trail systems—the Hatfield-McCoy system, for example—are better suited to a well-suspended utility machine than to a wide sport unit with 100 or more horsepower. Bad Boy hit a specification that straddles the line at the high end of sport utility bordering on full sport.
Bad Boy did a nice job dialing in the suspension and the chassis. The ride is very nice considering the total amount of travel available.
Bad Boy blessed the Stampede 900 with the suspension travel and action to handle performance driving. It also has a supremely smooth-running engine. There is virtually no engine vibration that finds its way into the cab, though you do have some engine sound. It starts easily and responds crisply to throttle inputs, and it offers impressive acceleration. Even though it has a bench seat, the cab is comfortable. As odd as it sounds, the tall doors add to the sporty feeling. You feel secure in the cab, so you are at ease pushing the limits a bit. The same is true of the optional full-coverage roof. Altogether, the features add up to a welcome companion for outdoor activities
Bad Boy kept the controls on the clean and simple side. There are a few rocker switches—two are on the left side of the steering wheel, and one toggles between 2WD and AWD, and the other selects rear diff status. The choices are 2WD in the rear or a turf mode where there is power to only one rear wheel. That allows the Stampede to turn on cement without leaving tire tracks and to drive on grass without tearing it up. On the center dash there are more rockers to control lighting and the optional winch.
The main control is a dash-mounted shifter with park at the bottom. You shift up for reverse, neutral, low and high; you won’t use low range much. Overall the gearing in high range is fairly low, and the Stampede climbed well and easily pulled a drag to repair sandy dirt roads. We were pulling a lot of sand with the drag, but there is more than enough power to pull in high gear despite the load we pulled.
The seat is not adjustable, but if you pull up on the front and pull it out of the machine, you gain access to the battery, one of the fuse blocks and the air filter. Bad Boy calls the Stampede an “extra cab.” In trucks, that term usually refers to passenger room, but the Stampede has a closed cargo area between the cab and the manual (strut-assisted) dump bed. We found it handy, because you can carry tools or a cooler or other work or recreational materials and still dump the bed. The added storage space has small doors at each end, but they are closed only with rubber straps.
There is a control on the dash that looks something like a mirror control, but it is a comprehensive diagnostic screen that will tell you the condition of various aspects of the machine. The screen display is on the dash readout, and we found the display easy to read with all the handy information we needed.
The four coil-over shocks have five-position preload adjustability, but the spring rates and damping are well suited to the machine. We didn’t carry enough weight to need preload changes. Some machines don’t provide much in the way of tie-down points for transporting the machine. The two tow hooks on the front and the trailer hitch on the rear made tying the Stampede down easy.
With an 80-horsepower engine as willing and energetic as the Stampede, it felt wrong to lock it up with ranch and rock-crawling duties, so we headed for Oceano Dunes near Pismo Beach. We took it easy in whoop sections, but the car was otherwise a lot of fun and very capable in the dunes.
It is only 58 inches wide, so we kept turning enthusiasm in check, but the Stampede is stable, feels at home at speed, and it had the power to handle any dunes we pointed it at. It isn’t pretending to be a sport machine, but it handled sport use very well.
Back at the homestead we made the Stampede work for a living. As we said, we dragged roads and moved an 18-foot dual-axle flatbed trailer up the hill to a better parking place. Before we could hook up the trailer, we had to use the winch to drag it around 90 degrees.
Once the work was finished, we drove it onto a trailer and headed out to our local riding area. It is a mix of dirt tracks split about 50/50 into maintained and unmaintained. The largely ignored, unmaintained routes are rocky, rutted and slippery with sides choked with brush. There is no easy option. As stated before, high range was the usual choice. When the routes grow extremely slow and technical, we dropped to low range.
Part of our choice of low range was our wanting to run slower in technical sections, but we liked the added throttle modulation that low range allowed. It was easier to control traction and throttle control if the track was bumpy and the car was jumping around at all. Naturally, with technical climbs, there were a few long descents as well. Bad Boy has a CVT setting that provides ample engine braking, enough so that we always shifted back to high range for drops.
Part of the sporty feel of the Stampede springs from the appearance. The lines are square rather than streamlined, but the car has nice proportions. With the painted plastic (black, green or a shade of rich burgundy like our machine are standard colors; camo is an option), and the distinctive cage that covers the extended cab, the Stampede has a rich, classy appearance we like. Choosing this German 900 powerplant guarantees that the Stampede will provide plenty of fun and work. It tows well, the winch is super handy and there is ample in-cab comfort, whether you are at work or play. This is a new entry to the class, and for a first effort, it is exceptional. We know that there are other models coming, and we are eager to see them.
Sometimes we lament new brands popping up, but not this time. This is a Bad Boy we’ll happily have as a friend.
BAD BOY STAMPEDE 900 EPS
Engine type Twin cylinder, SOHC, liquid-cooled 4-stroke
Final drive Shaft
Fuel system EFI
Fuel capacity 9.5 gal
Ground clearance .11.25”
Curb weight, ready to ride 1690 lb.
Front Double A-arm/9.5”
Rear Double A-arm/10.5”
Front 26×9-14 Kenda
Rear 26×11-14 Kenda
Front Dual hydraulic, 9” discs
Rear Dual hydraulic, 9” discs
Bed capacity 600 lb.
Towing 2000 lb.
Colors Black, green, burgundy