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The Polaris 850 Scrambler


Looking back on the year 2013 – we only got to ride one brand new ATV – and what a quad that was. The New Polaris 850XP is simply put – amazing. Our pick for new machine of the Year…

Why is it so good?

Well that’s easy. Sheer excitement from the moment that you hit the throttle…absolutely brilliant! But wait, there’s more – handling is faultless with the standard Fox suspension delivering one of the plushest rides on the planet. That simple.

Check out out youtube video of the scrambler 850.

But naturally, there is more to it than just that. The Polaris 850 is packed with all kinds of technology that we love… Be warned: The scrambler is a big monster 4×4. Beginners may feel overwhelmed by its size; however, the cockpit will accommodate most any rider comfortably. Its slim midsection aids in comfort and control adding to the sporty feel of the scrambler.

Deciding whether the new styling appeals to you or not is a matter of personal taste. We have grown to really like it.


A bit of history:

The Polaris Scrambler dates back to 1985 when it was introduced in the form of a 250cc, two-stroke powered three-wheeler. The original Scrambler had features unique to Polaris that are still found on their machines today, such as a fully automatic CVT Transmission, lots of suspension travel, and full floorboards.

Impending government restrictions in the USA spelled the doom of all three-wheeler, so the Scrambler disappeared from the Polaris lineup for a few years. In 1995, the scrambler was resurrected in the shape of a four-wheeler, as the four-wheel-drive, two-stroke powered Scrambler 400.

Two years later, Polaris added the four-stroke powered Scrambler 500 to its line. These machines were two of the fastest sport 4×4’s you could buy for years. Emissions killed the Scrambler 400 years ago, but the proven and powerful 500 remained in Polaris’s lineup throughout 2012.

We are pretty sad to say that a changing market has spelled the end of the venerable Scrambler 500. Today’s  sport 4×4 enthusiasts are trending toward the biggest and baddest, rather than the best bang for the buck. While the 500 was once the biggest, that time has passed. Yes, the historic Scrambler 500 has gone away, but 2013 brought about the next generation of Scrambler, the unbelievable Scrambler XP 850.

Going through mud
Going through mud

This one comes with automotive –style, stealth black body panels, beautifully crafted alloy wheels and POWER STEERING. A wonderful addition to any quad. The fox Podium X shocks feature piggyback nitrogen reservoirs and compression damping adjustment. Dual 50-watt headlights, with high and low beams, lights up the trail and we love the addition of LED lights.


Fun Factor:

An 850cc, inline twin, four-stroke engine gives you that grin factor power. Four-valves and single overhead cams per cylinder provides smooth, strong power all the way from the bottom – not as instantaneous as the oppositions V-Twin, but in a lot of ways, this one is more user friendly while staying plenty exciting.

Acceleration out of the hole and exiting corners is nothing short of exhilarating. If you think this machine has more power than you need for most trails, you’re right. If you think its huge displacement makes it hard to handle on tight trails, you are mistaken.

Going through water
Going through water


The fuel – injected power plant is super smooth and easily managed, never making us feel overwhelmed, even in tight technical sections. It was lekker wet and muddy during our test, so we got to try the 4wd system out properly – and it works faultlessly.

We could barely detect feedback from the AWD system in the steering. The machine simply hooks up better in the slippery stuff. If we wanted to really hang it out in the turns, we just switched it into two-wheel-drive and let the engine do it’s thing.



The chassis and suspension do a great job of keeping up with the performance of the engine. While wheelies are no problem, the front end is easily controlled under heavy acceleration.

The quad stays very flat and calm exiting turns thanks to the rear sway bar, which makes this monster machine feel almost like it has a solid axle. Any hint of front-end dive could be avoided by breaking the rear end loose and backing it into turns. It’s very predictable and stable on side hills, climbs, and descents as well.

Polaris Scramber 850
Polaris Scramber 850


With 9 inches of suspension travel up front and 10.25 inches out back, the Scrambler floats over just about anything. We did find that initially, the front end on this one was a tad soft, bottoming out a little under aggressive bumps, but them foxes are so easily adjusted, we solved that quickly. In spite of its plushness, the suspension doesn’t feel wallowy at high speeds.

Polaris Scramber 850
Polaris Scramber 850
Polaris Scramber 850
Polaris Scramber 850


We reckon that with the extra adjustment of the suspension and a little time, it’s possible that we could have made the ride even better. Brake wise, the way that the Polaris all-wheel-drive system works makes the use of separate front and rear brakes impossible; that’s one reason why you don’t’s see them on four-wheel-drive Polaris models. Still, the brakes offer excellent power, feel and the engine braking system is also very, very effective, so we have no complaints.


The Verdict

The 2013 Poalris Scrambler XP 850 is one of the biggest and baddest ATV’s going today. It delivers exhilarating trail performance in all conditions, with smooth power delivery and a plush ride that allows you to ride for hours in comfort. In our opinion, the newest Scrambler lives up to the legacy of the machines with which it shares its namesake. It is one serious rip-snortin, butt-kickin‘ quad! Get to your nearest Polaris dealer and ride it yourself.

Click here to see the article – Dirt and Trail – Dec 2013

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