Twice the Fun

These new ATVs are built for riding double.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

The notion of building an ATV designed to carry two passengers in safety and comfort seems so obvious that you have to wonder, "What took them so long?"

The dangerous practice of riding with a passenger on the seat or even the cargo rack of an ATV is, unfortunately, all too common. And yet who hasn't yielded to the temptation to give a buddy (or a child) a short ride up the trail, perhaps even while sitting on that big warning sticker on the seat that reads, "No Passengers"?

A Safer Ride
If people are going to ride double, let's make it safer. That's exactly the aim of the Arctic Cat 500 4x4 TRV ($7,199, www.arcticcat.com) and Bombardier Traxter Max ($7,399, www.bom bardier-atv.com), models designed expressly to carry a passenger. Each is based on a long-wheelbase chassis and has a passenger seating area equipped with footrests, grab handles and a backrest. Spring rates are calibrated to bear the load of a passenger. The concept is similar to that of a two- passenger snowmobile or watercraft.

There's just one problem. If an ATV can carry two people, is it still an ATV? Turns out that depends on where you live. State laws across the country offer different definitions of what an ATV is and how it may be ridden. Those laws will have an impact on the sale and use of the Arctic Cat TRV and Bombardier Traxter Max.

"We're going to have to lobby to change the laws in some states," says Arctic Cat ATV product manager Ron Solberg. "We hope after the TRV has been out there for a while, regulators in those states where its use is limited or prohibited will recognize that it's well-designed and certainly much safer than riding with a passenger on a standard ATV." Amen to that.

Arctic Cat's TRV
The Arctic Cat 500 4x4 TRV works so well that riding with a passenger on board quickly becomes a non-issue. The TRV is based on the Arctic Cat 500 4x4 TBX dump/utility model, which has a 58-inch wheelbase-that's 8 inches longer than the wheelbase of a standard Arctic Cat 500 4x4 model.

The extra wheelbase, combined with the Arctic Cat's long-travel, independent rear suspension, gives the TRV outstanding stability and a smooth ride. You really don't notice the extra weight, and as a passenger, you'll feel very secure. The longer seat does shrink the rear rack, but the TRV is designed to accept the Arctic Cat MRP system of interchangeable accessories that fit on the front rack. With an overall length of 8 feet, the 500 TRV is 15 inches longer than a standard Cat 500 4x4, which means it's going to be a tight fit in some truck beds and a little less agile on super-tight turns and twisting trails. Arctic Cat is selling the TRV with age restrictions: Drivers must be at least 18 years old and passengers must be at least 12 years old.

Expanding Versatility
The two-passenger capacity of the Arctic Cat TRV and the Traxter Max expands the versatility of the ATV concept for hunting (especially if you hunt with your children), farming and casual trail riding. If the law can be changed to allow the use of two- passenger models on public lands in key states like California and Texas, look for more manufacturers to jump into this category.