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Bombardier DS650 X

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Review from off-road.com

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We have been riding and testing the 2005 Bombardier DS650 X for some time now. The first thing that comes to mind is just how "Bullet Proof" this ATV is. We have rode it in just about every environment and under all type of conditions. It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

Off-Road.com test rider airs out the DS650 X

For 2005, Bombardier changed the DS650 lineup just slightly, offering only a DS650 and a DS650 X; whereas the 2004 lineup included a DS650, DS650 Baja, and DS650 Baja X.

Comparing the 2005 X to the 2004 Baja X you will find that the the new X is 1/2 inch wider and 1" shorter. The difference in length is due to a shorter swing arm that allows you to get the front end up just a little easier. This is a welcome improvement but unfortunately the 2005 DS650 X has picked up an additional 13 lbs over the 2004 Baja X.

Comparing the DS650 to the DS650 X, the X version gets high pressure gas shocks, nerf bars, aluminum skid plates for engine and a-arms, a tachometer, halogen lights with aluminum covers, rims with reinforced edges, aluminum front bumper, foot peg extensions, hand guards, aluminum muffler shield, and a modified seat design. The bad part is that all these goodies add 25 pounds, bringing the X model up to 495 pounds dry. Smaller riders need not apply.

Nerf Bars and extended foot pegs are standard on the 2005 DS650 X The DS650 X also gets a large Tach

Big Bore Sport Quads

It was difficult to determine what to compare the DS650 to. We figured the closest competition has to be the 660cc Yamaha Raptor and the 700cc V-Force from Kawasaki. The DS650 in stock form is the least expensive of these three at $5,999, while the X version is the most expensive. However, the X version is only $500 more than the KFX 700 and $800 more than the Raptor. You can't get all the goodies from aftermarket suppliers for that.

Performance

The Rotax motor in the DS650 is rock solid

Performance-wise, all three have very impressive power plants. But the Rotax motor in the DS650 has to be one of the most durable engines available in a quad. We very rarely ever hear of engine problems with the DS650, and over and over again we hear about its success in long distance endurance events, like the Baja 1000 and Paris DaKar. If you want reliability, there is no question that the DS650 should be on the top of your list.

We love the top-end speed of the DS650 and found that the power band works fantastic when you are on open fire roads, desert terrain, or dune riding. When riding it on tighter mountain trails, we discovered a weak spot where the engine did not have enough RPM to make power, but if you dropped down a gear you were too high in the RPM range. We only encountered this occasionally on very tight trails - not the sweet spot for the DS650.

Handling

The DS650 X excels in desert terrain.

As mentioned, the DS650 is at home on high speed fire roads, desert terrain and sand dunes. It is very stable thanks to its wide wheelbase. The shorter swingarm on the 2005 model helps you get the front end up over obstacles.

Jumps with nice smooth takeoffs and landings are fine on the DS650, but honestly, putting it on a serious MX track is just NOT fun. The DS650 tackles rough terrain nicely, but when you get into a lot of whoops the suspension does not work as well as some of the lighter, more-nimble quads.

Size

Big riders will love the DS650. It is not as cramped as the Raptor or even the KFX700 for riders over 6 feet tall. Big riders also find extra weight to NOT be a problem. One large adult test rider did suggest that the handlebars should be moved forward slightly, as he sometimes hit his knees on the bars when taking tight turns.

Small riders are not going to like the weight. The DS650 X is nearly 100 pounds heavier than a Raptor, but it is 18 pounds lighter than the KFX 700. Small riders would benefit from reverse to move it around or get un-stuck, and the DS650 doesn't have that available. It seems to be a combination of the weight and the rear grab bar height that makes it so difficult. If you are bigger or exceptionally strong, then you shouldn't have a problem.

The rims on DS650 X have reinforcing rings installed.

Durability

We put the DS650 through some brutal testing and we have found it to be extremely durable. Like we said - almost Bullet-Proof.

We had three minor issues:

1) We got roosted by another ATV and a rock broke one of the two halogen lights.

2) We had a front fender bracket break. Many people pull their front fenders off, but if you like to leave them on, this bracket is expensive (we found it for around $150) if you don't have a friend with a welder.

3) We had one of the front aluminum a-arm guards vibrate loose and come off.

None of these items would be considered major faults, and considering how hard we rode it, the DS650 took better care of itself than we did.

Aftermarket

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If you're not into spending a bunch of money on aftermarket parts, then the DS650 X should be at the head of a short list.

I have heard some owners complain of a lack of aftermarket parts for the DS650 and those parts being more expensive, but the fact is that you just don't need to spend alot in the aftermarket. The DS650 X is so well-equipped you can pretty much take it off the show room floor and enter the SCORE Baja 1000. Sure, it could always be made better with a complete Epic/Elka suspension or a Ron Woods engine kit, but it can also be very competitive as-is.

Summary

The 2005 DS650 X is a Rock Solid big bore sport ATV that excels in the desert and dunes, and is the perfect fit for the larger adult rider. We expect to see this quad around for many years to come, holding a good used-market value, and Bombardier holding it as the flagship of their sport Quad lineup.

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