ELKA STAGE 4 SHOCK TEST
Utility ATVs can be lots of fun to use for exploring and extreme trail riding. The stock suspension works well at slow speeds, but at faster speeds it tends to bottom out a lot and make the ride unenjoyable. To help our Can-Am Outlander 500 and Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 handle better in the rough stuff, we got in contact with Elka Suspension to test their Stage 4 shocks that they offer for these machines. Elka is one of the leading shock companies for sport ATVs, with years of knowledge and experience in off-road. These coil shocks are direct bolt-on replacements providing compression and rebound adjustments, along with a spring preload adjustment. These adjustments allow fine-tuning of the shock to better suit your riding style and needs, whether you like a softer or firmer ride. Elka sells their Stage 4 shocks as a pair for $1399 for the front or rear and a complete kit for $2798.
Installation was very simple with standard hand tools and a jack. With the new shocks installed, we loaded up our test machines and headed out to our favorite testing spot. Within the first few miles of our test we instantly felt a dramatic increase in handling on both machines. These new shocks soaked up all the big bumps with ease, letting the machines float over the terrain compared to bouncing all over it like it did with the stockers. The Stage 4 shocks offer rebound and low-speed compression adjustments to dial in the comfort while on the trail. Preload adjustments can also be changed when carrying heavier loads or to set your desired ride height. These new shocks feature a dual spring, meaning the two springs have different weight rates to absorb. After about an hour of testing and gaining confidence in the new suspension, we were able to drop seconds off of our timed loop.
The stock suspension on the Outlander is very plush at slow speeds, but once you start to pick up the pace, it cannot keep up with demand, especially up front. After numerous rides the shocks began to sag, resulting in a lower ride height and softer ride. With the installation of the new Elka Stage 4 shocks, we gained our ride height back, along with being able to adjust the height to our liking. The new shocks performed excellent in the rough with little to no bottoming out on the stock settings. Elka offers compression and rebound adjustments to fine-tune the comfort of the ride whether you want it softer or firmer on hard hits. During our test we upped the compression three clicks from stock for a more highspeed comfort. We kept the rebound set to stock for our test area.
The Sportsman offers preload-adjustable shocks that work surprisingly well at higher speeds compared to the stockers on the Outlander. With the addition of the new Stage 4 Elkas, we dramatically noticed an improvement in ride comfort. The Sportsman now soaked up the big bumps with ease and floated over the smaller chatter bumps. Overall, the machine felt about 200 pounds lighter. The power from the 1000 allows you to keep the front end light in the rough. During our test we went up two clicks on the compression in the front from middle, and one click in the rear to help eliminate bottoming out at high speeds.