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By: Tim Donaldson

Polaris Sportsman 800 EFI Touring
A Comfortable Ride for Two!

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Overall Handling

When driving, the quad handled as if there was no passenger–almost seeming better with the passenger always on board. The steering provided an excellent turn radius and was improved further with the aid of the standard, Turf Mode feature. However, riding some tight switchbacks did prove troublesome out on the trail. Possibly due to our lack of experience on a 2-up, we had to stop short in a few turns and back up to navigate the correct turning angle. Being a 2-up, this is a big quad.

The size of the quad, being very large, did have it advantages. With a wide and long wheel base stance, off-camber slopes and hills were easily conquered with confidence. Additionally, with 11 inches of ground clearance, typical rocks and other terrain protrusions were handled with ease. The stock skid plate adequately handled the aggressive terrain requirements and, more importantly, kept critical components scuff free. We would have, though, liked to have seen a little more A-arm protection in the rear. At 8.2 inches of travel in the front and 8.75 inches in the rear, the ride was still all about providing comfort in all situations.

Even more so with a passenger, keeping the machine under control is very important. Part of that control is acquired through the means of deceleration. Accomplished on the Sportsman 800 Touring through the Active Descent Control (ADC), Engine Braking System (EBS), and hydraulic disc brakes–the safety of the machine is enhanced. Most times the EBS work so well that applying the disc brakes was not necessary. When things were really hairy on descents, the ADC–automatically used in conjunction with the EBS–provided a very slow, c­ontrolled speed down the slope. It’s very impressive, considering that a walking-pace speed can be maintained down a steep grade while holding back the 795 pound dry weight of the machine plus the weight of the driver and passenger.

The single, brake lever actuated the hydraulic disc brakes on all four wheels simultaneously. Though prejudiced towards separate lever control over the front and rear brakes, the Sportsman 800 Touring braking worked extremely well and may have changed my perception of the concept. The brake lines that transported the fluid to each disc were constructed out of a high-quality metal braiding. On the machine that we tested, the braiding which was routed to the rear wheels protruded away from the frame, leaving a loop that looked like an inviting place for branch or other protrusion to lodge and tear out the break line. The addition of rear A-arm, skid plates would likely eliminate this possible scenario.

To fairly assess the handling of the Polaris Sportsman 800 EFI Touring, we had to take a turn as both driver and passenger. Giving up the controls was like giving the car keys to your 16 year-old son or daughter. Nonetheless, riding as a passenger was surprisingly enjoyable. The seat was incredibly comfortable and the handholds provided multiple places to grip and adjust for a variety of sitting positions and riding terrains. Only when the driver drove at excessive speeds, over bumps and characteristic of all 2-ups, did the ride get a little tough–simulating a catapult launching a projectile through the air. A momentary release of the handgrips, if possible, for a quick jab in the driver’s ribs was the most successful remedy for the problem.  Overall, there was plenty of room between driver and passenger, eliminating any interference between the riders. The ride was very comfortable.


As for convenience, the Polaris Sportsman 800 EFI Touring offers ample storage space in the front storage compartment–providing room for coats, rain gear or other smaller items. Since this is a 2-up, most of the room in the rear is taken by the seat. Although, removing the seat allows for the addition of one Polaris’s many optional, patented lock and ride accessories. True to their nature and increasing versatility, the lock and ride accessories can be added to or removed from the machine very quickly and easily. The deck of the front storage compartment will also support the addition of these accessories. Standard on the Polaris are two cup holders, located adjacently to either side of the rear seat.

Ergonomically, the machine is easy to board and mount. Riding positions are equally accessible, as well as natural feeling. The handlebar grips are smaller in diameter than most manufacturers’ machines, providing a unique feel to the driving experience. With a 6-gallon fuel tank, more time can be spent on the trail. Aided by the extremely comfortable driver and passenger seats, the extra time gained in the saddle is only welcomed. With plenty of floorboard protection, the driver and passenger can remain reasonably dry while riding through the mud and water.

Equipped with high and low-beam lights (high-beam centrally located between the handlebars), there is plenty to the light up the path. Additionally, the large high-beam turns with the steering column, providing light wherever the handlebars are turned. Although, loading the front rack to the full, 90 pound capacity may limit the ability to use the high-beam light–something inherent with all ATVs using a central high-beam. The Sportsman 800 Touring model also provides a comprehensive, standard instrumentation package which includes: Digital Gauge, Speedometer, Odometer, Tachometer, Trip meter, Hour meter, Clock, Gear Indicator, Fuel Gauge, Hi Temp/Low Battery Lights, and DC Outlet. All instrumentation is clearly visible and easy to access.

Final Thoughts

The Polaris Sportsman 800 EFI Touring was designed with comfort at the forefront of consideration. It most definitely delivers in this department. We found the ride to be impeccably smooth and enjoyable for the both the driver and passenger. Combining the comfort of the machine with the power available from the 760cc engine, the Sportsman 800 Touring is a blast to drive, too.

The Turf Mode, ADC, and EBS are all worthy features that add to the overall functionality of the machine. When riding with a passenger, it is no longer only personal safety that is a concern. These features give confidence, when riding with a passenger, to tackle tougher obstacles and terrain. With a removable seat and Polaris’s patented, lock and ride accessories, the functionality and flexibility of the machine can be greatly expanded to explore the utility of the machine.

The automotive-style finish is really an added bonus to the appearance of the quad, and it really makes cleaning it much easier. We don’t think anyone would mind being seen on the rear of one of these. Though we pointed out a few issues, nothing stands out as a deal breaker. We think the Polaris Sportsman 800 EFI Touring is the 2-up cruiser for supreme ride comfort and enjoyment. If you get the chance, try one out, and share the enjoyment of ATV riding with someone else.

For more information about the Polaris Sportsman 800 EFI Touring and Polaris’s other ATV products, visit

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