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TEST: Can-Am DS90X

May 13, 2016
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The largest segment of the sport ATV market these days are the youth models. All of the top OEM’s are still producing kids’ quads, even if they aren’t building full-size 450s. This is a good area for the manufacturer to be involved in to attract brand loyalty. Out of the major manufacturers, CanAm’s DS90X is the most feature-filled machine of the bunch. A handful of years back when Can-Am was heavily involved with racing their DS450, they introduced the 90X as sort of a mini-me racer. No, it’s not as fast as one of the real race two-stroke minis from companies like Apex, Cobra or DRR, but it does have a few components we wish the other kids’ quads had.

 The DS90X is powered by a 90cc aircooled engine mated to an automatic transmission. It has an electric starter with a kick-lever backup. The transmission has forward, neutral and reverse.
The DS90X is powered by a 90cc aircooled engine mated to an automatic transmission. It has an electric starter with a kick-lever backup. The transmission has forward, neutral and reverse.

SAFETY FIRST
Instead of having a boxy plastic floorboard for the kids to stand on, the 90X has real footpegs connected to full-coverage nerf bars and heel and toe guards. The DS is also equipped with a speed limiter for the thumb throttle, but not an ignition tether that will kill the ignition if the kid does a sudden dismount. The hand-operated brakes operate hydraulic discs all the way around. All of the controls fit a variety of kid sizes well. Can-Am recommends this machine for children 10 and over. The racy look of the X model can be attributed to the big, aluminum, number-plate-equipped front bumper; racing seat cover; and Can-Am X-Team graphics. In total, the DS90X weighs 250 pounds before adding fuel. Overall dimensions measure out at 59.8 inches long, 43.7 inches wide and 38.2 inches tall. The seat height is 27 inches and the wheelbase is 39 inches. Ground clearance is better than average for a kids’ quad at 4.5 inches.

 Dual A-arms are what set this machine apart from most other minis sold today. They provide 7 inches of travel. Disc brakes handle the stopping chores front and rear.
Dual A-arms are what set this machine apart from most other minis sold today. They provide 7 inches of travel. Disc brakes handle the stopping chores front and rear.

BETTER SUSPENSION
What sets the X apart from the other DS models and most other popular kids’ quads is its suspension. In particular, the front end has dual A-arms instead of a single-A-arm system. This setup reduces bump steering and improves suspension action. Yamaha added dual A-arms on the Raptor a few years back but removed it on the 2016 model. Cost was most likely a factor. Can-Am does price the DS90X a bit higher than most other machines in the class at $3749. Most of the 90cc quads out there are listed for around $3000. The two-stroke, 90cc racing minis we mentioned before from DRR and Apex start at $4000.

The solid-axle swingarm provides an incredible 9 inches of travel in the rear. That’s about double what you would find on the Yamaha, Suzuki, Honda and Kawasaki minis.
The solid-axle swingarm provides an incredible 9 inches of travel in the rear. That’s about double what you would find on the Yamaha, Suzuki, Honda and Kawasaki minis.

The advantages of the 90X do not stop at the A-arms; the shocks, too, are upgraded. At the front end, 7 inches of travel is found and is almost double what the nearest competitor offers. The piggyback reservoir shocks are preload adjustable and hold significantly more oil to resist fading. Out back another reservoir-equipped coil shock controls 9 inches of movement and is also preload adjustable, which is great for those kids who grow in size overnight. Handling improvements on this machine can also take credit from the racing-type Kenda Klaw tires. These are the same size and profile as what the top 450 racers use on their MX machines. The 20-inch fronts and 18×8-inch rears are mounted on aluminum wheels. Rider position lends itself to standing in an attack position thanks to a 1-inch riser block under the taper-style handlebars.

Large footpegs and full nerf bars are provided on this mini, making it as safe as a race machine. The motor works well for casual riding, but is too mellow for racing and would need to be modified if your kid hits the track.
Large footpegs and full nerf bars are provided on this mini, making it as safe as a race machine. The motor works well for casual riding, but is too mellow for racing and would need to be modified if your kid hits the track.

FOUR-STROKE ENGINE
Can-Am gave the X a 90cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled, four-stroke engine. It’s carbureted and mated to a fully automatic CVT transmission with forward, neutral and reverse gears. Having the ability to shift into neutral and reverse allows the kids to build their riding skills and also helps with warming up or tuning the machine. Many quads are in full-time forward gear. Another nice feature of this electric-starting powerplant is that it has a backup kick-starter, which many minis do not. Fuel capacity is 1.6 gallons, which should provide a few hours of fun between fill-ups. The standard warranty on this machine is six months, but you can pay to extend it to 30 months.

 No, this is not a four-wheel-drive mud mini, but the DS90X does pretty well in the slop. If anyone is to come out with a 4x4 mini, it would be Can-Am. They make great mudders.
No, this is not a four-wheel-drive mud mini, but the DS90X does pretty well in the slop. If anyone is to come out with a 4×4 mini, it would be Can-Am. They make great mudders.

PLAYGROUND
We didn’t have to look far to find a group of kids who wanted to test ride this mini. The X looks way cooler than almost every youth ATV out there. Just staring at it you know it’s fun. We had our group of testers ride it around our mini track for a weekend, as well as out on the trails for another long session. No matter how long the kids rode the X, they came off of it smiling. This mini not only makes the kids’ ride a little more aggressive with its high handlebars, but it shows them the importance of standing up. The suspension soaked everything up—from small pothole bumps to flat landings on the tabletops, the quad was plush. Just watching the quad corner, you could see the machine carved better and stayed flatter than other quads we have ridden. Again, it lends itself to the kids riding faster and trying to slide it more around corners like adults do on big quads. The dual A-arms keep the front tire sitting straight up and down and putting the quad exactly where you point the bars. We didn’t have any complaints of heavy steering, either.

SPRD_DS90X_0180

Power out of the air-cooled fourstroke was on par with what the other minis offer. It wasn’t quite as torquey as the EFI-equipped 110s we featured last month, but it wasn’t bad, either. Power comes on low so it doesn’t spin the tires unless you really go wide open. The DS gets up to the 30-mph top speed in 30 seconds. Soft sand and even mud can be tackled, too, as it has the power to do that and small hill-climbs.

Can-Am puts an age recommendation on this machine for kids 10 and over. Our skilled tester was 4-foot-4, 62 pounds and was a good fit.
Can-Am puts an age recommendation on this machine for kids 10 and over. Our skilled tester was 4-foot-4, 62 pounds and was a good fit.

REPORT CARD
Our panel of kid testers all reported back that the DS90X deserves an A grade. It’s fun to ride and inspires the riders to go just a little bit faster than they might on one of the other cookie-cutter 90cc machines offered. We had trouble getting some of the kids off of the DS, and some even thought it was the best quad they had ridden, and we let this group test all our minis. We are not sure if it’s the looks or the way the kids feel on the DS90X, but they like it. All Can-Am quads can be seen at www.canamoffroad.com, and dealers can be located there too.

DS90X_10_

2016 CAN-AM DS90X
Engine….. Single-cylinder, air-cooled, 4-stroke
Displacement……………………………..90cc
Starting………. Electric w/ kick back-up
Fuel delivery…………………………….Carb
Fuel capacity………………………… 1.6 gal
Transmission…………….Fully auto CVT
Final drive………………………………Chain
Suspension/wheel travel:
Front…………………. Dual A-arms w/ 7”
Rear……………………….Swingarm w/9”
Brakes:
Front……………….Dual hydraulic discs
Rear…………….Single hydraulic discs
Tires:
Front……………………………………. 20×6-10
Rear…………………………………. 18×10.5-8
Length/width/height.. 59.8”/43.7”/38.2”
Seat height…………………………………..27”
Ground clearance……………………….4.5”
Mfg. claimed weight…….. 250 lb. (dry)
Colors…………………………… Black/yellow
Price………………………………………….$3749
Contact……..www.canamoffroad.com

Kids like to pick up stuff out on the trail or around camp. When we asked the test-riding kids what they would store inside this front storage box, they said potato chips, drinks, lizards and rocks. Hopefully, not at the same time.
Kids like to pick up stuff out on the trail or around camp. When we asked the test-riding kids what they would store inside this front storage box, they said potato chips, drinks, lizards and rocks. Hopefully, not at the same time.

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