24 March 2000

If you dont like leg-overs, then this is for you…

ONE of the few things buyers of the Bombardier Traxter ATV will definitely not be doing is getting their leg over – this machine has a walk-through deck on it.

It is a feature which will appeal not only to those who have to get on and off a quad bike umpteen times a day, but also to those who are not so physically adept.

Marketed by Poole-based Sowester – better known for its marine activities – the Canada-built Traxter also breaks traditional ATV concepts in several other quarters.

"Bombardier looked at the best features of existing ATVs and then set about designing a totally new version," says Sowester managing director, John Buck. "They started with a clean sheet of paper and went for it."

Removing the seat allows direct access to the machines Rotax engine, a single cylinder, 500cc water-cooled four-stroke rated at 27hp. With the engine totally exposed maintenance becomes a snip.

Built as a combined unit with the engine is the transmission, which comprises a five-speed box with a high/low ratio lever and the ability to select reverse in any gear. Gear changing is clutchless and requires the operator to press a handlebar mounted rocker switch, up for higher speeds and down for lower. Drive to the front and rear axles is by shaft.

Further innovation is to be found in the engine cooling department. Breaking with tradition once more, Bombardier designers have placed the radiator high up at the rear of the machine where dust and mud find it hard to reach. This position also means that the operator is not riding in clouds of hot air, although in the winter one could question whether that is an advantage.

Thought has also been given to the front axles differential lock system. Most are activated by torque if excessive slip is experienced by one wheel, which, says Bombardier, can lead to difficult steering.

Instead, the Traxter is fitted with a differential speed sensing system which, it is claimed, works more instantly and does not interfere with the steering so radically. All-round disc brakes, with the discs tucked into the wheel hubs are fitted as standard.

By some standards, controls for the new machine are sparse. The left hand is responsible for the rear brake, gear change and engine start up – start up can take place when the machine is in gear, providing the rear brake is applied – while the right hand has the throttle and front brake.

A lever to the left of the dashboard selects neutral, hi/lo and parking brake. In the foot department there is just one brake pedal on the right-hand side.

To drive the Bombardier Traxter is to experience a significant degree of comfort combined with distinct ease of operation. Gear changing is smooth – an indicator on the dash board reveals which ratio has been selected – and the Rotax engine is both lively and gutsy.

Carrying capacity on the front and rear racks is rated at 40kg and 80kg, respectively, and there is also a spacious tool box positioned beneath the front rack. Towing capacity is rated at 500kg.

With only one model available, Sowester intends to market the Traxter through selected dealers who are probably already involved in the ATV business.

"We intend to proceed slowly and carefully," says Mr Buck. "It is important we get things right from the start, more important than high volume sales at this stage."

Mr Buck considers the Traxter to be a top of the range machine, which will command a 10% premium on similarly powered ATVs. He says that Bombardier has plans to increase the range in the future through the introduction of smaller machines.

BOMBADIER TRAXTER

&#8226 Engine 27hp 500cc Rotax single-cyl, water cooled.

&#8226 Transmission Five-speed with hi/lo, reverse.

&#8226 Suspension

Front – Independent double A-arm.

Rear – Rigid swing arm.

&#8226 Brakes Disc.

&#8226 Ground clearance 24cm.

Top:Walk through ATV. Bombardiers Traxter has the engine beneath the seat. Above: With the seat removed, access to the engine and transmission for maintenance is as easy as its going to get.

Its new and its different. The Bombardier Traxter ATV is

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