I finally got a chance to take my ACE out and stretch its legs today.
First, let me just say this:
I've written this all based on my OPINION, based on my PREFERENCES in riding style, terrain, comfort, and what I consider fun.
Feel free to disagree with me. The world is a big place and there are many different places and people, and everyone is entitled to their opinions and preferences.
But if you disagree with me, please do not disrespect my opinions and preferences because they are different from yours.
Today I went to Walker Valley ORV Park, near Mount Vernon, WA. This is a medium-sized park (relatively speaking), situated in the Pacific Northwest mountains.
It features lots of forest service roads, tight technical 50" dirt trails with rocks and roots, and muddy rutted jeep trails, also with rocks and roots.
I enjoyed my day out quite a bit. I'll enjoy it even more when the "new engine smell" wears off. Nasty!
I'm considering selling the RZR. I'll continue to evaluate that this spring, summer and fall when I take the ACE to all of the places I've taken the RZR - Eastern WA desert, Moab, mountain trails, and the Paiute trail, and really nail down whether the wife is going to ride double with me or not, and then I will know for sure.
I was originally planning to wait for a bigger engine in the ACE, but then I looked at how Polaris has made each RZR physically larger and more expensive with the increased engine power, so I decided to take a risk with the first generation ACE.
I think it is going to turn out just fine for me, and for many other people.
There is a lot of talk that the ACE is targeted at, and only good for, women and children. I call bullshit on that. The ACE is a very respectable and capable machine, with a unique feature set that will appeal to many different people.
Haters gonna hate, but their derogatory remarks are all forgotten when I'm rolling down the trail with a big cheesy grin on my face.
On the wide open service roads, I was cruising comfortably at 35-40. I didn't go above 40 because the roads I was on were too curvy, I didn't feel the need, and I am avoiding extended wide open throttle during the break in period.
It did not seem to me like it took a long time to get from 30 to 40, but I was not counting. I was following the 500 in front of me, pacing him - not drag racing, and not running all out in the desert or sand dunes.
At 35-40, the ACE was solid and sure-footed. My Grizzly, by comparison, is a bit squirrely in the front end at that speed, and my RZR's butt tries to outrun its nose around every curve at that speed. It always has.
Update: My RZR has aftermarket EPS installed on it, and it is not progressive, which means it boosts at high speed the same as it does at low speed, which is what causes the squirrely factor. I just installed aftermarket EPS on the ACE, and now the ACE handles pretty much exactly the same as the RZR.
The high RPMs seemed a bit weird at first, but once I felt the machine settle into its rhythm, I got used to that quickly. It's still a lot quieter inside the cab than my RZR, even with the aftermarket "silent" exhaust I put on the RZR.
On the tight, twisty trails, the ACE kicked butt. It was like a mean-spirited mountain goat, climbing over muddy rocks and roots without hesitation or bogging down at all, even in high gear.
I went places I could never have gotten in my RZR S, and it did not feel tippy at all. The Sportsman 500 H.O. with huge mud tires (he was 53" wide) in front of me was leaning hard over and putting his foot against the wall of the trail to keep from tipping over, but I was snug as a bug in a rug. The guy behind me told me he was impressed how my rig just clawed its way through whatever.
When I did use low gear, that's when the "mean spirited mountain goat" aspect REALLY came out. There was no stopping it. I did get hung up on for a few seconds between a huge stump and a rock that was nearly as tall as the luggage rack, on a particularly tight trail, but I just backed it up a bit, took a different line, blipped the throttle at the right time, and I was through. A machine with a longer wheel base such as a RZR 570 or a 50" 800 would have really struggled there.
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Overall Score* out of 130
*This excludes maintenance, because that data is incomplete.
Gas mileage and range are not represented here because I have not calculated it for all three vehicles.
Explanations for why I rated these vehicles the way I did:
The ACE is fast enough for me, in most circumstances. But I occasionally like to haul butt on long wide open straight roads. I've only gone to sand dunes a few times.
The Grizzly and the RZR are faster than the ACE, and so are better suited for that kind of riding. I am putting this first in the chart NOT
because I think it is most important. Quite the opposite in fact.
But I am putting it first because I know it's what everyone wants to hear about.
Stability at Speed
The 2007 Grizzly 700 gets squirrely in the front end at speed. I've had two of them and they acted the same way.
The 2010 RZR S 800 tries to drift a lot at speed. This is fun, but not very safe, and can be annoying.
The ACE tracks straight and goes where you steer it at speed. This is very refreshing for me.
Stability on Trail
The Grizzly does well enough, but the suspension is squishy and the short wheel base and 46" width makes it a bit unstable with extreme terrain.
The RZR does well with stability because it is 60" wide and has a very long wheel base. So yeah, it's stable on the trails.
The ACE feels nearly as stable as the RZR, which speaks well for it given its smaller dimensions.
On the Grizzly, I can crank the handlebar, spin the rear tires, and almost spin in place on gravel. No turn is too tight for the Grizzly.
The RZR takes a lot of whipping the wheel around for not much turning. I often have to back up and try again on "tight" (for the RZR) twisty trails.
The ACE is right in the middle here. It turns sharper than the RZR, and seems to take less steering wheel spin to do it, but still fails the tight turns.
Low End Power
The Grizzly is a single cylinder, and when I put it in low gear, has respectable power, but it's nothing to write home about.
The RZR has a lot of power, period.
The ACE may not have a big engine, but the gearing is such that when you put it in low gear, it is a TRACTOR
. It feels unstoppable.
High End Power
The Grizzly feels pretty good in the higher speeds. It can accelerate well when already cruising along. Very responsive.
The RZR is also responsive to a power boost in the high end, maybe not quite as much as the Grizzly, but it has a higher end to give.
The ACE is not great shakes at high end power. It will cruise along all day, but dropping the hammer isn't going to make a big impact.
The Grizzly is very quiet, and the tone of the noise is muted. It's rather soothing, for a motorized offroad vehicle.
The RZR is frankly quite annoyingly loud. I replaced the exhaust in mine with an aftermarket "silent" one which quieted it down from the outside, but in the cab the vibrations are still very loud.
The ACE is in between. In the cab, you have no doubt about whose engine you're hearing, but the tone/pitch of the noise is not off-putting, and the volume is manageable.
Short Term Comfort
The Grizzly's squishy seat, EPS, and soft suspension make it pretty comfy for a relatively short ride.
The RZR and the ACE are about the same for short term comfort. A bit more than the Grizzly because of the standard seat instead of a saddle, and the wheel instead of bars.
A long day on the Grizzly makes me stiff, especially if the trails are super-twisty, or super bumpy. Even with the EPS, the handlebars fight you, and the saddle takes effort to stay on, and leaning is required.
The RZR does much better, and you can ride all day and feel good at the end of the day.
The ACE is pretty similar to the RZR, except because of the smaller footprint, you don't have to be quite as vigilant and so it produces less fatigue.
The Grizzly has racks and a small weird plastic bladder thing, and that's it.
The RZR has excellent storage. Large bed, large trunk up front, and some RZRs have glove boxes in the cab. But the front and rear storage gets hot, which is not great for food storage or anything that is sensitive to heat.
The ACE has nearly as much storage as the RZR, and the heat is not as much of an issue.
Ease of Cleaning
The Grizzly is pretty easy to clean. Most areas are easily accessible and the mud just flies off when sprayed.
The RZR is a pain in the butt to clean. There are SO many little nooks and crannies where mud collects, and many of these reflect the water right back at you, spraying you with mud and water when you clean it. It takes forever to get the mud out of the cab floor, because it keeps swishing around and is slow to drain out.
The ACE is MUCH easier to clean than the RZR, but there is more area and more little recesses than the Grizzly.
Ease of Transport
The Grizzly is smallest and lightest and therefore easiest to drag around.
The RZR is pretty big, even just the S 800, and heavy. It takes up a lot of real estate in the truck, in the toy hauler, and on the flatbed trailer. The RZR cannot side load on the flatbed, and would be over legal width even if it could.
The ACE fits in the truck bed with room to spare for a bit of gear, and without fear of slicing open the sidewalls on the sides of the truck bed (which I have done with the RZR), leaves room for me to hook up the straps to the truck's tie down loops, and I can close the tailgate (long bed). It also fits sideways on the flatbed trailer.
The Grizzly needs minimal maintenance. It just keeps on riding with just oil changes, occasionally topping off a few zerks, a bit of filter cleaning, and very occasionally changing diff fluids. The suspension components are holding up very well.
The RZR needs more maintenance. As far as fluids and grease, it's similar to the Grizzly, but it wears out bushings, ball joints, and tie rod ends relatively quickly.
I don't yet know enough about the ACE's maintenance needs to comment or rate it.