One issue that faced the Cayman was that to save weight LEM used weak composite plastic hubs to hold the wheels on. During our jumping tests we broke a right rear hub and had to order a replacement. The other major issue was that the Caymanâ€™s limited slip rear axle prevented powerslides and sand riding.
Now a new one-piece alloy hub/rim assembly solved problem number one, and a solid rear axle solved the second one. For the new unit they also redesigned the front bumper to provide more protection for the nosepiece. Another change LEM made to the Cayman is lowering the MSRP 200 bucks to $1899. With all these upgrades in affect for the Cayman 50, we thought the machine would be worth another look.
A NEW BEAST
This ATV was actually created using parts from LEMâ€™s minicycle line and shares the engine, seat, gas tank and shrouds from their little MXer. The Cayman 50 is one of the last ATVs on the planet to use a kickstarter. Its air-cooled, two-stroke powerplant requires pre-mixed gas/oil to get it up and running. The only other quads that still require pre-mix are the Banshee and the new Gas Gas 300.
Instead of using typical footpegs, this quad uses nerf-bar-like baskets for the rider to stand on. The platforms are large enough to accept motocross boots up to at least a size seven and provide a stable platform. With the absence of an oil-injection system and an electric starter, the Cayman remains a very light 134 pounds. Most other minis weigh between 200-250 pounds. Ask a six-year-old kid to push a 200-pound quad around and theyâ€™re liable to retreat to playing with toy cars.
Of course parents should be very close when their kids are riding ATVâ€™s at a young age. The Cayman does have some safety features built in, like a throttle limiter and a tether ignition stop. LEM aimed this machine at aggressive riders between six and eleven years old. If you have a kid that is a little more on the timid side of things, LEM offers the smaller and slower 50cc Condor.
Power output is about 2.5 hp on the little 50. Motion is transferred through a single speed auto transmission to the rear wheels via chain drive. To get the machine fired up you must move the manual choke lever behind the exhaust pipe, turn on the gas and kick it over. The choke lever needs to be relocated to the other side of the carburetor. With some effort, junior will be able to start it up on his own. If you want to make sure your kid does not go for a ride unsupervised, you can simply remove the key or ignition tether.
After a good minute or two of warm -up the machine is ready to go. Our eight-old-tester Lance Nelson initially complained about the thumb throttle. It was too big and had a heavy feel for his hands. The handlebar mounted front and rear brake levers seemed to fit better. There is no foot brake pedal. The relationship between the bars, seat and footpegs fit Lance well.
We tested the sporty Cayman on a backyard track and on some of the nearby trails. Initially, the new Cayman seemed a little slower than the unit we previously tested. We searched for hidden restrictors in the exhaust and carburetor and found nothing. This unit struggled to hit 20 mph down an open trail.
Around the track our tester could hold the throttle wide open around most of the track with a simple chop of the throttle in the turns. Cornering was better than most 50s we have tested. We could navigate the tight turns of the track without trouble. There is no need for reverse with this unit. The new solid axle was definitely a plus. If the rider got on two wheels and wanted to keep moving forward, he could. With the old setup the rider was forced to slow, drop the machine to four wheels then get back on the throttle. Now if the machine climbs up on two wheels a simple steering correction would get the quad on all fours without missing a beat.
Over the jumps, it was tough to find the limits of the suspension. With four inches up front and seven in the rear, we could really abuse the machine without affecting the rider. With as much speed as the little 50 could muster out of the tight turns on our test track, our rider could simply hold the throttle to the stop and launch it.
Out on the trails, the Cayman could climb small hills if the rider could carry some speed on the approach, and sand travel was improved because of the solid axle. Deep sand was still a struggle due to the lack of horsepower and narrow tires. This machine would not make a good candidate for sand dune riding. A quad with larger tires and a bigger engine would be better for sand dune travel.
Although the Cayman has over six inches of ground clearance under the middle of the quad, the chain and sprocket are less than three inches from the ground in the back. So picking your way through the rocks is important.
Last time we tested this quad our riders complained about how much effort was needed on the front brake lever to slow the machine down. This year both the front and rear lever were easy to pull and slowed the machine down instantly. Our rider was having a blast locking the rear brakes and sliding down the hills on our test loop.
The Cayman is the sportiest 50 you can buy. If you want a quad that can be modified easily and is built for the track, this is the one. Having a lightweight quad a child could lift up if need be is definite peace of mind for a parent. Having to mix the gas and kick-start the machine may be a hassle for some parents, but this is a sport about being involved.
At $1899, the Cayman is about a hundred dollars more than most 50s and a few hundred dollars less than most 90â€™s available today. Aside from a Honda or Suzuki, LEM has one of the most reliable minis on the market. With LEMâ€™s large dealer network, buying a Cayman for a spunky young kid looking to chuck some roost would be money well spent.