If your farm has some challenging and swampy terrain, the Max II amphibious six-wheel ATV may be the vehicle for you – but it takes a little getting used to
This machine has got to be of interest to duck shooters and farmers with large swampy areas. I’ve never tested an amphibious vehicle before, so the best part was driving into the water for the first time! Half expecting it to sink, I tentatively made my way into the duck pond to find the Max II can actually steer very well, although with a top speed of 6kph it was pretty slow going through the water. Getting out of the water can be tricky if you don’t have a relatively smooth slope to drive onto as you leave the water. I got stuck a couple of times trying to go up a small bank as the vehicle became cast between the front wheels. Nothing reverse gear wouldn’t fix.
A steel frame is enclosed by a one-piece polyethylene bottom to keep the water out, with a series of wingnuts to remove the single top unit. A small access panel can be removed at the back for limited fast access to the engine. I didn’t measure it, but the rear railing would almost be big enough to fit a square bale on top.
If you take one for a test drive you’ll find out, as I did, that you’ll get stuck on your first time in a swamp. It takes a while to gain the knowledge on how to get the most out of it by applying the throttle and turning at the same time. After a while I had no problems in deep mud and had to keep challenging myself in the deeper stuff once I got the hang of it.
My first impression on land was that it this is a difficult ATV to learn to steer. The Max doesn’t have a steering wheel or handlebars, but two vertical levers with the throttle mounted on the right hand lever. The system works by a skid steer system, stopping drive on one side by a brake on the dual transmission system, while the other side drives.
At speed, it is a fairly unstable vehicle. The problem I had was speeding along a track at around 20kph, even after two hours of driving it felt like one wrong move with the levers and I’d propel the Max and myself over a fence and into a paddock. Max advertises a 40kph top speed, but it would be a highly experienced person to reach it. Of greater advantage is its short 2180mm length compared to its 1270mm wheelbase, which, along with its six-wheel layout, helps with stability over difficult terrain at typical slow speeds.
Powering the Max II is a 16hp Briggs and Stratton 480cc V-twin engine. Traction wasn’t a problem either as each of its six wheels are driven by chain drive, which will need regular oiling to keep the water away. The one problem I did encounter was when traversing even half steep slopes, where I thought the Max would really shine. The transmission started slipping well before the wheels would, leaving me to back down the hill – even though it had plenty of power and traction. The manufacturer later said this can be cured by re-tensioning the drive belt.
A roll bar with seatbelts are some of the many optional extras, including a camo paint job when ordered new. Distance won’t be a problem, as the 19-litre fuel tank should offer a very good range and being transparent, and positioned at the front of the vehicle above the driver’s feet, can be easily monitored.
Prices start at $15,818 for the Max II and $19,995 for the four-seat Max IV.
By Terry Stevenson
For more information contact Southern Extreme Ltd, tel (03) 360 2550.