At $7399, the Polaris Outlaw 450MXR is the lowest-priced, high-performance sport ATV on the market. Honda’s TRX450R is $100 more even without the electric start option, and Yamaha’s YFZ450R and X models garner $1100 more at the dealership.
While the Outlaw may cost less than the others, it’s still very competitive. To power the Outlaw, Polaris uses an electric-start, 448cc, liquid-cooled KTM powerplant. This compact, single overhead cam engine produces about the same ponies as the top Japanese quads at around 40 horsepower in stock trim.
The Outlaw uses a center-mounted exhaust system like is found on Suzuki’s track-ready machine. On the downside, the intake is handicapped by a small airbox and even smaller air filter. This machine would definitely benefit from using a product like the EHS Racing airbox cover. Their cover allows more air and cleaner air into the intake system, providing better horsepower numbers while reducing the amount of times you need to service the stock filter element. The complete EHS Racing lid for the Outlaw sells for $110 at (866) 997-2345. (www.ehsracing.com)
The Polaris Outlaw 450 is one of the lightest 450s out there. Its compact KTM engine, small Maxxis tires, Douglas wheels and Fox Shox should get the credit for this. Those shocks have preload and compression adjustments. We lowered the ride height about 3/8 inches to get it to ride as low as possible.
This power is transmitted through a manual clutch, five-speed transmission with a reverse gear. Believe it or not, the higher-priced Yamaha and Honda machines still do not come with a reverse. That extra gear in the transmission along with a steel frame still allows the Outlaw to have a respectable curb weight of under 400 pounds, which is one of the lightest in the class. Many other machines, like Yamaha and Kawasaki, now feature aluminum frames, but weight savings are minimal.
Other ways Polaris saved weight and added performance to this machine is by choosing Fox Racing Shox as standard equipment. The Foxes are lighter than most OEM shocks, and feature preload and compression adjustments on the front of this machine. Out back, a single shock features preload, compression and rebound adjusters sitting on a steel swingarm with an impressive ten inches of travel front and rear.
The Outlaw is equipped with lightweight Maxxis Razr MX tires at both ends. Small 20×6-10s up front and 18×9-10s out back are all mounted on strong, rolled edge, aluminum wheels, making this machine almost track-ready, if not for the 47-inch width. At least an inch more width on each side would help it live up to its MXR moniker.
The Fox Shox found on the Outlaw work well, but they don’t have rebound adjusters. This feature keeps them from being great. More OEM shocks are becoming fully adjustable.
A 50.5-inch wheelbase helps the Outlaw get over bumps well while still allowing it to squirt from tight turn to tighter turn. Ground clearance numbers are low at barely four inches, so you would want to keep this machine on the track or on a fairly groomed trail. On the trails, you can still reach speeds over 70 mph, and the large three-gallon fuel tank should get you close to 75 miles of uninterrupted seat time, if you are easy on the throttle, to go that distance.
A single-overhead cam design and liquid cooling give the KTM engine plenty of ponies to move the Outlaw 450. A similar engine also powers their two 525 trail quads. KTM uses their new DOHC engines for their MXers. If it keeps costs low, we are happy with this power plant in the Polaris machines.
MORE RIDE TIME
We took this Outlaw on a Wild West trail-and-track test to see how it performs. It fires easy, thanks to manual choke, keyed ignition and push-button starter. The exhaust is one of the quietest in the class. With such close ties to KTM, we wish Polaris could install a less restrictive muffler, like KTM does on its ATVs. With a stab of the throttle, the motor doesn’t feel too choked up, but you can tell there’s some hidden horsepower wanting to be unleashed. Polaris does sell an FMF slip-on muffler for $380 at their dealers. In stock trim, power is ultra-smooth. There are no hard hits, nor are there any flat spots in the power-band.
The transmission shifts smoothly, and at our test track, the gears seemed to be spaced a little further apart than most other quads we ride there. However, the KTM motor does have the torque get the Outlaw moving even at low revs. The motor felt most powerful in the middle to the top portion of the rpm range.
In the rough stuff, the Outlaw’s suspension action is top notch right out of the box. It’s controllable, predictable and suitable for novice to intermediate riders. Flat landings and big mistakes are soaked up without much abuse to the rider. We did remove three turns of preload to lower the machine about a half an inch and to reduce the rebound slightly. It worked. Even with a somewhat narrow stance, we could rail around the track fast. However, the tackier turns had to be taken using a little more body English.
Out on the trail, the power was just as usable. The wide spacing between the gears kept speeds high despite the small tires. Those tires did hurt the ground clearance numbers. Our measuring tape read no more than four inches of clearance. However, Polaris does equip the Outlaw with thick chain and brake rotor guards, which took all of the punishment we could throw at the machine. For most trail riding on this machine, we simply installed a set of 20-inch (rear) and 21-inch (front) tires for the extra clearance and comfort.
Although the Fox Shox offer a smooth and predictable ride, the machine has some comfort quirks. The thumb throttle housing is a bit awkward and caused an unusual blister that we don’t get from other machines. Also, our rider’s inner legs were getting beat up a bit due to hitting a steel frame member under the side panels. It wouldn’t hurt to wear full-coverage knee pads or a set of knee braces if you plan on getting aggressive on this machine.
Very little vibration is felt through the handlebars or the footpegs. However, we would like to see a set of aluminum bars grace this machine in the near future. Wider pegs would provide a more solid platform as well.
Polaris and Suzuki use a center-mounted exhaust system. We wish Polaris would take cues from KTM and equip this machine with a racier, lighter aluminum muffler. Josh Croughwell did the riding for this Polaris test.
With price in mind, the Polaris Outlaw 450MXR is a good buy. It has great suspension and even better power for both the track and trail. Only a few extra bucks out of your pocket could greatly improve the machine no matter what terrain you ride. A set of taller tires for the trails or a set of wheel spacers for the track would make it competitive against any other 450.
Polaris does have a habit of making major updates to some of their ATVs every few years. They may very well be implementing our suggestions in the next generation Outlaw. But why wait? Buy this one and fine-tune it yourself.