AN ATV THAT RIDES ON WATER

— First test of the wild new Sherp ATV —

By the staff of Dirt Wheels

There are a lot of firsts going on here for us: first time in a Russian off-road machine, first time with 63-inch tires and first time we truly understood the concept of letting nothing stand in our way. The letters “ATV” have become a name or a model designation, but they are actually an acronym for “all-terrain vehicle.” If we are totally accurate, most all-terrain vehicles are really multi-terrain vehicles, and most ATVs actually perform better in some terrains than others.

Enter the Sherp ATV. Developed by Russian engineer entrepreneurs, the Sherp is built to thrive in the most daunting off-road situations on earth.

Speed over water is very modest with just the tires for propulsion, but the machine is surprisingly stable and comfortable when it steps into liquid.

TRULY GO ANYWHERE

There are some important innovations here. For one—and a very important one—Sherp had proprietary extra-low-pressure tires made that measure an astonishing 63 inches tall and 23 inches wide on 25-inch rims. In addition to stunning traction on any surface, including bodies of open water, the tires provide substantial flotation properties, as well as all of the machine’s suspension. The tire pressures employed are so low that psi gauges are not effective. The on-board system that lowers or raises the tire pressure for varying conditions is controlled by a gauge calibrated in millimeters of mercury. Maximum tire pressure never reaches 2 psi!

Sherps use a full frame, but you don’t see it. The watertight aluminum body is all-encompassing like a boat hull. Propulsion is produced by a Japanese Kubota-equipment, four-cylinder diesel engine and five-speed manual transmission. Performance is modest by quad or UTV standards, but the drive components should last for a millennium.

You know that owner Jim Monk is confident in the water when he drives the Sherp in with the front and rear windows open and the sunroof open as well.

If you can afford the buy-in of $100,000 (to start), fuel consumption probably isn’t your first concern, but the Sherp is surprisingly thrifty. It burns as little as a gallon every two hours and never as much as a gallon an hour. The main tank holds nearly 18 gallons. Even math-challenged drivers can see that is over 20 hours of exploration fun on a tank. As the TV infomercials proclaim, “But, wait, there’s more!” What look like wheel covers are actually fuel bladders—a total of 15 additional gallons in each wheel.

The claim is a fully fueled Sherp could drive from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico and halfway back without refueling. Of course, it isn’t road-legal, so finding an off-road route the entire way is problematic. Also, with a maximum speed of 25 mph on land and 3.7 in water, you might get a little bored.

Obviously, transcontinental trips are not the Sherp’s forte. However, exploring, searching, working, hunting and camping are in its wheelhouse. The Sherp has a cab with two seats and seat belts, but the rear cargo area has crew benches. The space can be converted to four bunks, and the area is heated for use in, say, Siberia. The passenger compartment can be heated by the engine, the vehicle heater or WEBASTO autonomous heater.

New Sherp owner Jim Monk used to lament this boggy part of his property, but now he uses it as a playground for his Sherp ATV. Mud and water do not slow it down.

IT CAN GO ANYWHERE!

Sherp has promotional videos online that show off its capabilities. It traverses boulder fields, cambers, downed trees and crawls over K-rails, in addition to the usual sand, mud, snow and ice. Oh, and open water. The most astounding visuals show the Sherp driving over broken ice floes over water. The driver purposely drives until the Sherp (amazingly light for its size at 2,866 pounds) crashes through the ice into freezing water. You can order the Sherp with normal paddle-tread tires or with carbide studs in the edge of each tire rib. With the studded tires, the Sherp will crawl out of the water and back up onto the ice!

The Sherp looks small in action photos because the tires dwarf the body. It isn’t small. Jim Monk is 6 feet tall!

HANDLING

Since the Sherp is a skid-steer machine, it has a turning radius of under 9 feet! It isn’t made for speed in the rough, but it has a comfortable and fairly quiet ride. It is claimed to be impossible to get stuck, but if you get in a narrow ditch with high-enough sides, it probably would have to back out.

The rear compartment of the watertight aluminum body isn’t luxurious, but it does have room for crew, cargo and can be decked out with four bunks.

So, how did we get to experience a machine that is arguably as rare as a Bugatti Veyron in the U.S.? After a medical wake-up call, Nebraska’s Jim Monk decided he needed one. He was more than willing to take us out in it. He claimed that land managers don’t exactly know what to make of it yet, so he registered it as a boat and an OHV to avoid problems.

The company claims that a Sherp ATV can handle a 35-degree grade. We only had this type of short, steep climb to judge, but we believe the claim.

His property has ponds of open water and marsh that he used to consider wasted, but now that he has a Sherp, he happily splashes around the place effortlessly, traversing between packed earth, grass, mud and open water without a hiccup. It does flatten bushes and grass, but as long as it doesn’t skid-steer on them, it doesn’t appear to tear anything up. It truly is an amazing, amphibious, go-anywhere vehicle. To see more or watch the videos, go to www.sherpatv.com, or search “Sherp ATV” on video sites.

The Sherp ATV definitely has a unique look. It could be a prop from a science-fiction movie. In this case, the look is tied to the performance.

SPECIFICATIONS

Maximum power 44.3 hp

Maximum speed 24.5 mph

Max. speed on water 3.7 mph

Capacity 2204 lb.

Gradeability 35º

Ground clearance 23”

Length 133.85”

Width 99.21”

Height 99.21”

Body Aluminum

Dry weight 2866 lb.

Engine Kubota-V1505-t/E3B

Fuel Diesel

Displacement 91.41 c.i.

Transmission 5-speed manual

Suspension pneumatic circulating

Number of cylinders 4

Load capacity 2204 lb

Tires tubeless, ultra-low pressure

Tire size 63×23-25

Passable surfaces Any

Hourly fuel consumption (depending on off-road conditions) 0.52-0.79 gal. per hour

Fuel tank capacity 17.7 gal.

Capacity of extra fuel cans 15.3×4 gal

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