Riding ATV’s in Thunder Bay - A Fun Experience
by Scott A. Sumner
As a young boy growing up in a small town in NW Ontario I became an instant snowmobile enthusiast. During this time there was also another outdoor activity, riding a machine with an engine- ATVing. Maybe it was because I spend a lot of time on the golf course but I had never really had much time riding ATV’s. It was a great afternoon when I got the chance to change this and ride both a Polaris and Yamaha ATV with Randy Neufeld, General Manager of North Country Cycle and Sports in Thunder Bay.
“We started our ride at Mirror Lake campground and went across the highway and all around Loon Lake before coming back down the pipe line almost as far as Pearl. We are about 1/2 hour drive from Thunder Bay just past Pass Lake,” said Randy Neufeld. “ It is beautiful out here. There are hundreds and hundreds of miles of trail. We did a little bit of rock trails and some back trails. There are even more aggressive trails out there as well. The ATV's can go fairly deep into a couple feet of water. They are stable and agile as long as you ride within your abilities and the machine’s abilities. They are pretty safe. There are a lot trails and many riders out here. It is an increasing and growing market.”
“ I like ATVing as a means to get out into the outdoors and do something with my kids. I really enjoy that. You can see a lot of different places and the scenery is awesome in NW Ontario. I
been riding in this area for a few years now and there are many new places I haven’t even seen before,” said Neufeld. “It is slower than snowmobiling but more technical. You have to plan you approach to things, figure out how you will get around a mud hole or through a mud hole. Snowmobiling is more speed oriented. You have to navigate. The machines will crawl over a lot.”
On our ride we had a Yamaha 550 with electronic power steering in Yamaha’s full sized chassis. They offer a smaller chassis in the 450 machine. It is a single cylinder 550 which is probably the most popular sized engine now. “The power steering in my opinion is one of the best introductions to ATVing that has happened. Yamaha was the first to come out with power steering and it works really well. It is electric as opposed to hydraulic as on your car.”said Randy Neufeld. Our other machine was a Polaris Sportsman 850 Touring with
power steering. It had the back seat on it so the chassis is a little longer to legally accommodate a passenger. The engine is a twin cylinder in the Polaris XD chassis which they brought out a couple of years ago. They totally redesigned the chassis from front to back
at the time and it is the best handling ATV on the market all around, according to Neufeld.
“Right now the demand is quite big for ATV’s so it is harder to get the stock. They have become an all year round product and especially early spring to late fall. In the winter you can plow your driveway or put a set of tracks on the wheels to get out to some of the ice fishing holes. The track system can cost around $4000,” said Neufeld. “ It is not like a snowmobile with max speed but a good utility machine.” There is a little more maintenance on an ATV than a snowmobile with the front and rear differentials and the 4 stroke motor need to have to oil changes according to Randy Neufeld. Depending on your miles you can do an annual service.I found the day riding ATV’s fun! It is much different seeing grass and encountering rocks and running water than the frozen conditions during snowmobiling. It did offer great scenery, fresh air and a challenge to navigate your route which I enjoyed. Maybe now I might
have to start cutting into my golf time with ATV’s!