15 March 2002

Suzuki a big player again

SUZUKIS launch of its Eiger and Ozark ATVs is aimed at re-establishing the firm as a major player in the ATV market.

Suzuki introduced its ATVs into the UK in 1982 with a four-wheel version – the first of its kind. This lasted until 1993 when the company decided to withdraw from ATV production and concentrate on motorcycles.

A year-and-a-half later and the Suzuki-powered Arctic Cat ATV range was introduced. This was marketed by Suzuki in the UK until quite recently when the marque was adopted by Massey Ferguson.

So, Suzuki is now back and looking to establish a dealer network which, it admits, has been asked to accept some radical changes over the years.

The two-wheel drive Ozark LT-F250, with its new styling, is powered by a 246cc air-cooled single OHC four-stroke engine. Transmission comprises a five-speed box with a creeper low gear.

Weighing in at 183kg, this model has a throttle responsiveness which belies its relatively small engine. Ride comfort, aided by wishbone suspension at the front and swing arm at the rear, is acceptable and the use of full length floor boards provides a welcome protection from the elements.

The Eiger, which is available with a manual or automatic transmission, is powered by a 376cc engine which uses a thermostatically controlled fan to cool oil that has passed through the engines cylinder head.

As a manual version, the transmission offers five speeds with high and low ratios. The automatic employs a toothed belt drive with expanding pulleys to alter gear ratios in respect of load. A one-way clutch on the crankshaft is designed to provide engine braking when descending steep slopes.

A key feature of the Eiger is use of a torque sensing limited slip differential which is claimed to transfer power smoothly and, as a result, produce lighter steering. ATV buffs will recognise that this type of differential is also available in a number of other ATV makes.

On the track, the power of the Eiger becomes obvious and one can only agree with Suzukis claim for the benefits of the front differential design.

Light in steering for what is a relatively large quad, the full potential of the differential is realised when the going gets sticky – at low engine speed the front wheels appear to take it in turn to haul the machine through.

Stopping power is as important as pulling power and the use of front disc brakes and a rear drum brake is ample in this department – even when a trailer is in tow.

Overall, Suzuki would now appear to have the product capable of performing well for UK farmers – farmers which have become increasingly selective and knowledgeable about the type of quads they want to operate.

Establishing a dealer network to market them may prove to be the obstacle. &#42

Powering through the mud… Suzukis new ATV range – the Eiger and Ozark – is set to re-establish the companys ATV business.