Reviews

Cover Story: Polaris Sportsman 570 HD EPS

The recently released 2018 model is equipped with a number of heavy-duty specs and additions for the same price as the 2017 model it replaces

The hills on the outskirts of Morrinsville, Waikato, where a box of the local brew was traded in exchange for the use of a nearby sheep and beef property, provided plenty of challenges for testing out the new Polaris Sportsman 570 HD EPS.

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With a variety of terrain and plenty of mud, we were able to give the new 2018 Polaris a thorough testing in different conditions, and it excelled all day long.

I would say Polaris has one of the most complete ranges of off-road ATVs and side by sides, with 20 or so models to choose from, as well as youth machines and RZR sport and competition models.

When it comes to a farm ATV, the Sportsman is ideal for all manner of farming operations: for any property wanting the convenience of a quad bike for getting around the farm or a solid workhorse that can carry a load or pull a trailer.

The Sportsman hitch is rated to 555.7kg towing capacity, ideal for pulling a calf trailer or fert spreader. It can be easily switched between front and rear towing, making it easy to push the trailer into a tight spot, where reversing could be tricky.

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The large built-in sealed front box and steel rack can take a weight of 40.8kg, and the rear is geared up to handle an impressive 81.6kg load.

The beauty of the Polaris Sportsman 570 HD EPS is its heavy-duty specifications, coupled with quality suspension and handling. While abbreviations such as ADC, EPS, and IRS may be a touch mind-boggling, they represent key features that set this ATV apart from the crowd: Active Descent Control, Electric Power Steering, and Independent Rear Suspension.

The HD in the model title hints at the heavy-duty features, such as uprated greaseable/sealed ball joints, sealed driveshaft splines, and sealed suspension bushings.

And to complete the appeal are thoughtful touches such as heated hand grips and thumb throttle to keep icy polar blasts at bay.

Engine

The ProStar 567cc single-cylinder engine has been a stalwart of the Polaris brand over the last few years and is fitted in seven models from the current Polaris line-up. Polaris has tested these engines and rated them at an impressive 44hp.

Despite our efforts during testing, we didn’t get close to maxing out the full potential power. I did have it under pressure navigating the wet, swampy area of a paddock, but it was still in high range, and I didn’t need to select low range with additional revs.

There’s plenty of power available at low speed and revs as well as the higher speed and revs. Thanks to a good exhaust, engine noise was not excessive.

Transmission

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Like many manufacturers, Polaris has opted to fit automatic transmissions on its range of bikes and side by sides. The transmission lever mounted on the right-hand side of the fuel tank has a Park position. This locks the transmission: Reverse, Neutral, Low, and High. The in-line shifting works well and is easily changed with a firm bump with the palm of your hand.

The addition of ADC is the most notable change and improvement on the 2018 model, which until now has been a feature offered on most of the Polaris Ranger models. Working in conjunction with the engine braking system, the ADC allows you to control the rate of your descent on any terrain.

With no throttle input, the vehicle will take over and control the descent until reaching a complete stop. This works in conjunction with the engine braking system on the rear wheels.

The ADC function is selected with the same control on the right handlebar you use to select 2WD/4WD. The mode you are in is shown in the centre display console. What I liked about the transmission was the smooth take-up of the drive when the accelerator was applied.

Another feature I haven’t seen offered on other ATVs is a selectable speed limiter. This can be set between 11 and 22km/hr in two-kilometre increments. It’s a great feature for spraying or spreading tasks to help with consistency. The low range is also now 30% lower to suit New Zealand farm conditions (ideal for following stock).

Suspension/handling

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The upgrade to Polaris HD spec suspension is one of the features included in this model. Sealed bushes are used throughout, with new stronger half shafts to ensure longevity and reliability.

Front travel of 20.8cm with MacPherson strut suspension and dual A-Arm independent 24.1cm helps handle a full load and soak up the bumps. The remains of a wet winter and damage in the creek, as well as stock tracks around the sides of the hills allowed a fair test on the suspension at the Morrinsville property. 

Other factors influencing the ride quality and handling are the large bear claw aggressive tyres fitted as standard on Polaris ATVs now, so you don’t have the added cost of changing the standard tyres (which are more suited to less demanding overseas markets) to more appropriate tyres for New Zealand farm conditions.

Power steering is another of the many features packed into the Sportsman, which works well. Coupled with a large well-padded seat for a comfortable riding position and generous flat footwells, this is a machine you won’t mind spending hours each day on.

Brakes

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A good safety feature is the addition of a single hand brake, which controls both front and rear brakes. Like a brake pedal in a car, this helps prevent lock up or sliding of either front or back wheels and loss of control of the machine. A simple but effective park lock is incorporated into the handbrake lever. To provide premium stopping power, disc brakes are used front and rear.

The foot pedal brake only brakes the rear of the bike. As mentioned before, the transmission has a Park position, which locks the transmission.

Controls/display

Controls are similar to other ATVs on the market, and it’s a straightforward set-up, requiring only a quick familiarisation to get comfortable. The small things that initially caught me out were a key start rather than a push button starter, and flicking the 4WD button the wrong way – right locks in and left goes back to 2WD.

It depends on what you’ve been used to, but it’s easy to get the hang of, helped by the fact that all functions are clearly shown in the central display unit.

The large display offers plenty of options and you can toggle through to set your personal preferences. The variable speed limiter +/- buttons to set are also on the centre unit while controls for the heated grips and thumb control are on the right of the display unit; everything is within easy reach.

Construction

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With the 2018 HD model, Polaris has added plenty to make the bikes last and perform. The improved suspension componentry and drive shafts, as well as all the other additional features, represent good value for money when you consider that these are included in the same initial purchase price as the 2017 model.

Also new to this model are front and rear steel carry racks, which I think will go down well with New Zealand farmers. The sealed front box is still incorporated, allowing you to stow a few tools, lunch, and a jacket, and still load up the front carrier if necessary.

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The one design feature I‘m not convinced on is mounting the battery in the bottom of the chassis just behind the front wheels. The placement of this lends itself to getting fairly filthy, although it is easy to access and wash.

The radiator tank is located under the front mudguards – nice and easy to see check fluid levels. The air filter box under the seat avoids the worst of the dirt and dust encountered in farm environments. A clip-out panel in the right footwell allows for an easy engine oil check
and servicing.

Polaris backs its ATVs with a 24-month warranty, reflecting the brand’s confidence in its products. With build quality like this, however, I wouldn’t expect any serious issues but it’s good to know you are covered should there be a problem.

Verdict

FTMCOVER

After testing the Polaris Sportsman 570 HD EPS, I walked away covered in mud, so the addition of rear mud flaps may be warranted (to be fair, I did spend a lot of time challenging it in muddy boggy patches).

Luckily, Polaris has added a mudguard flare to its substantial accessories line-up. I was impressed by the way it handles life on the farm, with plenty of power and smooth riding.

With a sharp price and loaded with features, I think the Sportsman is a serious contender in the mid-range ATV offerings available to the New Zealand farmer.

Polaris Sportsman 570 HD EPS specifications

Engine Liquid cooled, single cylinder, four stroke
Power 567cc 44hp
Starter Electric key start
Gearbox Auto PVT P/R/N/L/H
Suspension
Front ndependent, Mac Pherson Strut (208mm of travel)
Rear Independent, dual A Arm (241mm of travel)
Brakes
Front/rear Single lever 4 wheel hydraulic disc
Rear Hydraulic disc
Tyres
Front 25×8-12
Rear 25×10-12
Dimensions
Wheelbase 1283mm
L x W x H mm 2108 x 1219 x 1219mm
Ground clearance 279mm
Weight 325kg
Towing Capacity 555kg
Fuel tank 17L
Service intervals 50-hour initial

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Pluses

  • The addition of heavy-duty specs 
  • Engine braking mode and Active Descent Control for increased safety
  • Steel front and rear racks for securing loads, with built-in sealed front box
  • Aggressive Bearclaw tyres fitted as standard
  • Speed limiter control for spraying/spreading operations
  • Heated hand grips and thumb control

Minuses

  • Battery location in the chassis where it is going to get covered in mud, although it is easily accessible
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