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Polaris Dwarfs Competition

Sportsman 800 Twin, the biggest yet

by Chaz Rice
contributing writer

It is evident that the displacement wars are upon us. In the past few months, the ATV industry has seen two machines break the 700 cc mark, and now one is flirting with the 800cc mark. The Polaris Sportsman 800 Twin EFI features a 760cc engine that marks the largest displacement engine ever put into a production ATV chassis by a major manufacturer.
Even though the machine is well short of the 800cc mark, it is a significant step for an industry once afraid to push the performance and sizes of its ATVs. The engine is based upon its 683cc parallel twin — but displaces 77 more cubic centimeters. It also features dual exhaust silencers that join to one main headpipe via a Y connector.
The chassis is virtually identical to that of the Sportsman 700 Twin EFI, but weighs 10 pounds more according to Polaris. The specs claim the 800 Twin weighs 770 pounds. That is more than 1 hp per cubic centimeter.
Since the chassis is the same as the 700, the 800 also features Polaris’ redesigned Sportsman styling and features. More storage, beefier plastic components and better lighting highlight the redesign. It represents a departure from the smooth curves of previous Sportsman ATVs, and ushers in the angular and more-modern design of the 2005 models.
While riding the newest Sportsman, we noticed two things almost right away. The first was power delivery. The 800 EFI felt like it had more bottom end than the 700 EFI. While that could be due to the displacement, it could also be a by product of the freeer-flowing exhaust setup.
This helped to get the front end light when attempting to clear over obstacles out on the trail, but would also help when pulling heavy loads in low gear. It still felt heavy, though. Polaris claims the Sportsman 800 Twin EFI weighs 770 pounds dry. Add to that an average rider, gear and fuel, and the weight adds up quickly. The engine has to haul a lot of weight on the trails, it does so nicely, but a lot of horsepower is spent due to the machine’s weight. psb

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