New Bombardier ATV could change industry

This is Bombardier’s leadership response to the growing practice of riding two-up on ATVs,” said Rob Schuetz, an expert in government relations and public affairs for Bombardier’s Recreational Products division. In a meeting with Powersports Business, Schuetz explained the current legal environment in which the manufacturer’s new Traxter Max two-passenger ATV will now exist. Bombardier introduced the Traxter Max to dealers last summer, and the machine is now available to consumers throughout North America.
Since its unveiling, the Bombardier two-up Max has raised more eyebrows — and more questions — than any other four-wheeler since, well, the first four-wheeler. Other ATV manufacturers, particularly those with Japanese headquarters, have had little to say about the two-passenger ATV, issuing only brief official statements that show some surprise at Bombardier’s launch. Editors of our sister publication, ATV Magazine, also tested a two-passenger concept machine from Arctic Cat, but that machine is not currently a part of Arctic Cat’s ATV or utility vehicle lineup. Polaris Industries is rumored to be testing a two-passenger vehicle similar to the Bombardier offering, but we could not confirm that item.
By being the first manufacturer with a two-passenger ATV, Bombardier certainly can claim a leadership role in this endeavor. Is the practice of two-
up riding that Schuetz refers to growing to a size that merits this machine? Is this ATV even legal to ride? Is the Traxter Max an ATV? Schuetz provided answers to these and other questions during our meeting.
A Two-Up ATV?
“If it looks like a duck …,” is perhaps the best answer to the question of how to classify the Traxter Max. Though legal classifications vary throughout the 50 United States and seven Canadian provinces, Bombardier calls the Traxter Max an ATV, and Schuetz says the four-wheeler meets the classification requirements established to define “ATV” throughout Canada and in 43 of the 50 states. In Canada, the Traxter Max complies with the Canadian “ANSI” standards, though the machine does not comply with the American ANSI definition of an ATV.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) 1988 Consent Decree, in which ATV manufacturers voluntarily entered an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department, included language limiting ATVs to use as one-passenger vehicles. The official ATV Consent Decree expired, but ATV manufacturers have kept its main points alive. Bombardier began building ATVs after the Consent Decree expired, but it abides by rules of that agreement.
“The CPSC has been made aware of the Traxter Max,” said Schuetz. “Right from the start, we let them know what we are doing.” We asked Schuetz how the Commission reacted to the unique vehicle, and he said “that is classified conversation.” He added, “It is not their position to endorse any product.”
Though many in the industry still fear the CPSC (not to mention Barbara Walters and similar sensationalist media personalities), the CPSC is not the main hurdle a manufacturer needs to overcome to enlist accepted and legal use of a product. Laws and legal classifications in the 50 states — as well as local law-making districts — are what make it easy or difficult for buyers of a Traxter Max two-passenger ATV to actually use the machine as Bombardier intended it, with a passenger on the back seat. And Bombardier ATV dealers will need to be actively involved
Class Struggle?
Off-road vehicle classifications vary widely throughout the 50 states. Most states have defined laws for an “all-terrain vehicle.” Some use ATV as well as “off-road vehicle,” “off-highway vehicle,” “off-highway motor vehicle,” and/or “recreational vehicle.” There are still other classifications, too, including Ohio’s “all-purpose vehicle,” and Wyoming’s “off-road recreational vehicle,” among others. In order for a vehicle to be legally registered for use on public land in these states, it must meet a wide array of standards. The definitions include guidelines for a vehicle’s weight, width, engine size, number of tires and their air pressure, and more, like passenger carrying capacity.
Vehicles that carry a passenger aside the drive, like the Kawasaki Mule and Polaris Ranger, are usually given a classification of “utility vehicle,” and their register may be limited further by their speed (or the restriction of), their larger size and other factors that can keep them off the public trails.
The Bombardier Traxter Max takes passenger carrying to a new place, and may require a new vehicle classification yet. The main difference between the Traxter Max and two-passenger vehicles like the Mule and Ranger is clear. With Mule and Ranger utility vehicles, the passenger sits next to the driver on a seat that has a seat belt. With the new Bombardier ATV, the passenger sits behind the driver. In simple terms, you sit on an ATV, you sit in a Kawasaki Mule.
Similarly, you sit on a snowmobile or personal watercraft, single-passenger or two-passenger. Bombardier’s Recreational Products Division is, of course, quite familiar with the creation of multi-passenger recreational vehicles for these other powersports markets. Schuetz said the manufacturer used its expertise in all its recreational fields to research and design the Traxter Max.
“We call the Traxter Max an ATV,” said Schuetz. “We want the Max to be classified as an ATV wherever it can be.” ATV owners in Canada, and particularly in Quebec, currently use their single-passenger ATVs as two-up vehicles. Several aftermarket manufacturers have designed padded rack attachments that single-seat owners can bolt on to their machines to add a passenger-carrying seat. For the Quebec market in particular, the Traxter Max will be a welcome addition to a lifestyle of two-up ATV riding.
And with the machines legal in all but seven U.S. states, the market indeed looks good for Bombardier, or any other manufacturer that wants in. The bad news? Two of the seven states that will not allow the Max’s use as a passenger hauler are California and Texas, two of the states that continually rank in the top five in ATV sales nationwide. The other five states are Idaho, North Dakota, Florida, Missouri and Iowa.
In California, Idaho, North Dakota, Texas and Florida, “we have a definition problem,” according to Schuetz. In these five states, the Traxter Max cannot be registered as an ATV, and as such, its use will not be allowed on public riding trails. “Owners will be able to use the Max on private property and on farms,” said Schuetz. Part of the legal classification of an ATV in these states is that it is a machine “designed for one rider only.” In some OHV parks in these states that also allow the use of buggies and sand rails, the Max could be used with a passenger.
In Iowa and Missouri, use of the Max on public lands is permitted, as long as there’s no passenger aboard. These states have a passenger-carrying prohibition in their legal definition of an ATV. The Traxter Max can be legally registered for one rider, but not used with a passenger, unless on private property.
Going Forward
We asked Schuetz if Bombardier could have done more ahead of the Max’s launch to prepare the legal path for this machine. “We didn’t want to show a prototype that didn’t clearly show people how we designed this machine to be a safe passenger-carrying vehicle,” said Schutz You can’t do this without showing the final product.”
The Traxter Max is designed as a passenger-carrier from the ground up. Bombardier took its existing Traxter XL cargo-bed-equipped ATV, and redesigned it for this unique purpose. It moved the engine, altered the frame, and re-engineered the machine’s suspension to make it a safe two-up rider.
Schuetz and his associates in government relations continue to work the legislative front nationwide. He said that many of these classifications are quite dated, and they continue to evolve as does product. “Some of the ATV classifications and state laws are designed around the three-wheeler,” he said.
The next phase of this product launch is rider training and certification with the help of its dealers. Bombardier ATV dealers will provide mandatory training for all buyers of its Traxter Max. “We would love to see mandatory education and training certificates issued to all ATV users,” said Schuetz. “But we’re limited, of course, by the re-sale market, borrowing of ATVs, etc… The smart dealer will hold training classes at the shop, bringing people back to the dealership as well as providing a quality service environment.”
The training is a new program that is specific to two-up riding, according to Schuetz. It contains classroom elements and video instruction as well as riding time. Bombardier will monitor its dealers’ commitment to fulfilling this training requirement. This monitoring process is not just in an enforcement nature, but to ensure that the users are getting the training they need.
Schuetz reinforces Bombardier’s commitment to the two-passenger ATV. “We’re expanding the market, expanding the lifestyle segment. This is just one model for now,” he said.

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