With the Amid show looming, we fully expected to be introduced to some new stuff in the motorcycle world. We had no clue that we would get to ride this one. The chaps from Polaris SA invited us to come and have a look at something quite special – and they were correct. We vaguely remember seeing something about the Ace a while ago – probably in concept form, but we were not entirely sure whether it had been built or what was happening really. When they rolled this one off the trailer we were pleasantly surprised – we love innovation and new technology.
So what is it?
It’s not a bird. It’s not a plane… Ok, ok, It’s genuinely a cross between a conventional utility quad and a side by side. We’ll explain. Take a Polaris Sportsman. Move the engine to the back. Take off the fuel
tank and handlebars. Mount a very comfortable bucket seat where all of that used to be. Fit a steering wheel to the steering stem and boppa on a strong protective roll cage. That’s it. Ok not quite that simple but you get the idea.
The Ace is a bit like a high tech gokart on steroids. The build quality
is fantastic – so it’s a big quad that you climb in to rather than on to and you use a steering wheel instead of handlebars. No thumb throttle either – in the foot well you’ll find a brake and accelerator pedal. The gearshift is typical Polaris – CVT Belt driven, high, low and reverse, with 4wd at the push of a button. Long travel independent
suspension is fitted all round and things are brought to a halt by beefy disc brakes. There are lots of advantages to a machine like this. Naturally, the first thing that comes to mind is safety… A bucket seat holds you firmly in place. Nets close the doors and you are held firmly in place by an over shoulder seatbelt, so you can’t fall off and in the
event that you do crash, you have a safety net between you and mother earth.
The Ace is only slightly longer than a conventional Sportsman quad, but it is the same width. So unlike a conventional RZR or Ranger, you can go on narrow trails where your mates on the quads go – and, when you have to load it takes up as much space as a conventional ATV. We aren’t going to get to the engine just yet, we are first going to tell you what it is like to drive. Because this is the very first unit in
South Africa, the guys from Polaris SA were pretty concerned that we did not damage the Ace.
We opted to take it out into the farmlands just up the road to put it through its paces. Lots of fast, windy gravel, a couple of shallow rivers and a nice steep climb to test the Ace’s agility. Please bear with us – remember at the start of this lot, we said that we had no idea about this one? We hopped in and tore off onto the trails. Guys and gals –
even if you are not a quad fan – I dare anyone to tell me that they won’t enjoy this runabout. It is simply put, fantastic. Not hugely powerful, but with enough pep to put a big grin on your kisser. She
accelerates rapidly to the 80kph mark.
The suspension is typical Polaris – in a word – outstanding. Big lurkers and hobbles are smoothed out and the ride is marshmallow soft. Handling is precise, feedback from the steering wheel is perfect. Incredibly nimble too, so you can step the ass out just like on your quad and tear off down the road in Mach 4. The Ace has a ride quality similar to the Sportsman ATV, but it’s not rider active – being strapped into the seat didn’t allow us to use body weight and position to affect the handling like a typical ATV. The big Carslile shod steel rims offer plenty of ground clearance and traction. 4wd is spot on. When engaged, power is transferred to the front wheels whenever rear wheel slippage is detected. When traction is regained, the system disengages power to the front wheels and begins to monitor again for slippage.
As soon as the Polaris management team were out of sight, we
took on a monster hill… One of the concerns we had was that the
roll cage on a relatively small platform might make the Ace feel top heavy. But Polaris engineers are a clever lot – all of the weight is now moved to the floor of the chassis – and we have to confess that we were mighty impressed at the carretjies stability. Add to this the great power characteristics and traction, the Ace climbed that hill without even breaking a sweat…
Power characteristics: We automatically assumed that Polaris had fitted a 500cc plus engine coz the power was so lekker. Now this might sound like we are blowing smoke a bit, but when we discovered that the Ace is powered by the new Pro-Star 327cc mill, we were pretty surprized. It is an amazing engine – and for all of you who
believe that bigger is better – that’s not always the case. The engine generates a maximum power of 32 hp and gives some very cool real world performance whether you are creeping along in low range 4wd or blitzing the trails. It’s all about power to weight ratio – and Polaris
has nailed it. The small 327cc engine sounds lame.
This engine is a perfect example of why you shouldn’t have judged a book by its cover. The ProStar 32 single-cylinder engine is potent, and is the perfect size for this machine. Power is impressive, but not enough to get a novice into trouble too easily. In terms of rider comfort, the cockpit is spacious – no-nonsense, which is compliment. There’s not much room to put a bunch of fancy niceties, so the Polaris design team kept it simple. An adjustable seat, gear shifter, tilt steering wheel, centre mounted gauge pod, seatbelt, and a few switches pretty much sums it up. Given its small size, our larger frames fitted really comfortably.
Up front, under the front rack lives a large, water-resistant storage compartment capable of swallowing snacks, water, and a heavy jacket. The racks also feature Polaris’ Lock & Ride compatibility. Nice touch. Combined with the handy load bed out back, you can carry a substantial amount of clobber for those longer trails…
There’s no question this machine will attract novice users who are not able to safely ride an ATV, and those not willing or able to deal with the size of a typical Side By Side. This machine is perfect for
disabled or elderly sportsmen, while still entertaining enough to attract hardcore off-roaders like our lot. It’s one heck of a lot of fun – and we love new technology and innovations. Watch out for more on
this little machine in future issues. www.polarissa.co.za
For more information contact Smith on 011 284 2000