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'Airless' Tire Technology Featured on Polaris Sportsman WV850

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Now that Christmas 2013 has ended and all the presents have been unwrapped, it's that time of year when folks like to showcase the gifts they've received. One gift that certainly has online folks effusing is the Polaris Sportsman WV850 H.O. All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV). Those wanting to start their own militia to prepare for some Doomsday event might want to have a look-see at this 'airless wheel' vehicle just to "keep up with the Joneses."

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Minnesota-based manufacturer Polaris is no stranger to breaking new ground in the off-road vehicle market. And, earlier this year, Polaris unveiled its military-grade ATV for off-road vehicle consumers, highlighting its standout feature: Polaris' proprietary TerrainArmor non-pneumatic tires (NPT) technology with a polymer honeycomb structure. This Polaris all-terrain vehicle was only commercially released to civilian consumers earlier this month, December 2013, and in very limited quantities.

Said Polaris' Off-Road Division Vice President, David Longren. "We have seen great success with NPTs in military and disaster relief scenarios and are excited to bring this technology to the consumer market for extreme work applications."

TerrainArmor non-pneumatic tires were first designed to assist the tactical mobility of US military warfighters experiencing enemy fire (think an AK47 burst to a Humvee's wheels), disagreeable surface terrain, and otherwise onerous obstacles. Even Apollo astronauts drove a form of non-pneumatic tires on their lunar rovers back in the heyday of lunar landings. In turn, the WV850 was inspired by the MV850 military vehicle; consequently, the WV850 was built to military specifications. Just take a look at the chassis, push bumper, shift lever lock, rear suspension with heavy-duty shocks, and under-body skidplate to notice the military-based touches.

Indeed, the 'airless wheels"' technology has undergone rigorous field tests. According to Polaris, the TerrainArmor NPT can endure a direct hit from a .50-caliber (tests were also performed using M4 and AK47) round and still drive 350 miles afterwards -- moreover, it can still travel 1,000 miles "with a three-inch railroad spike in the tread and webbing." Hence, bringing NPT technology to the consumer market has sparked quite an avid interest, given that non-pneumatic tires never go flat, and need not suffer cuts, slashes, rips, tears, nor punctures. Spare tires no longer have to be lugged around either.

These "airless wheels" are touted as providing a better center of gravity -- even taking corners better than conventional tires. What's more, the WV850 'workhorse' has been designed to reduce rider fatigue. It is outfitted with a full-body steel exoskeleton housing electronic power steering, and has 77-horsepower all-wheel drive and automatic descent control for when the path is downhill. With a dry weight of 1,114 pounds, the Polaris WV850 likewise features a 4-stroke single overhead camshaft (SOHC), twin-cylinder engine with electronic fuel injection and a high-capacity (increased) cooling system to complement its forward and reverse gears on a fully automatic single-speed transmission. Compared to other ATVs, the military-inspired WV850 has wider foot wells to accommodate larger work footwear; not to mention, this ATV has a massive 11.75 gallon fuel tank -- which is more than the fuel capacity of its nearest competitor. The shock package design has been upgraded for improved handling under heavy load. Plus, it has steel racks to carry 850 pounds, as well as a standard two-inch receiver hitch to tow up to 1,500 pounds (but you can add a premium winch to more than double the load up to 3,500 pounds).

These robust TerrainArmor non-pneumatic tires certainly make the Polaris Sportsman WV850 a rugged consumer vehicle, capable of enduring longer -- yet less fatiguing -- work. While $15,000 is what this burly beast currently retails for, nonetheless, this 'off-road stallion' is well worth it for those into feral vehicular pursuits.

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