Wheel travel at all four corners is 10 inches, and the shocks have
five-position preload rings to level the ride when carrying cargo on the
Speedracks. Lighter-rate shock springs deliver a smoother ride.
A 92mm bore and 82mm stroke add up to 545cc, and the Hemi
head has 9.3:1 compression. New closed-loop EFI increases fuel
range and reduces emissions, and the new CVT cover gasket reduces
vibration and engine noise.
A paper air
filter has a
tool kit rides
fuel cell rides
HOW DOES COST COMPARE?
The base XR 550 is $8399, while
the XT EPS is $9699 to $10,049, and
the LTD EPS is $10,399. The Polaris
Sportsman 570 starts at $6499 and
jumps to $7399 for EPS or $8499
for the SP EPS. The new Can-Am
Outlander 500 L is $7799 or $8699 for
the EPS version. Honda’s Foreman 500
starts at $7099 and climbs to $8,049
for the ES EPS, while the Rubicon 500
starts at $7799 and climbs to $9599 for
the DCT EPS Deluxe.
HOW FAST IS THE XR 550?
It’s pretty quick, especially in low
range. The 545cc H1 has excellent
throttle response and good low-to-mid power, but it flattens out on top
compared to the Polaris 570 and
Can-Am 500. The new closed-loop EFI
increases fuel efficiency and extends
range, and the 550 is good for more
than 60 mph on top. It takes a lot of
throttle and physical effort to wheelie
over obstacles, though, and it doesn’t
want to powerslide on high-traction
surfaces. The flip side is that it’s much
easier to ride on slick stuff and in
technical terrain than the hot-rod XR
HOW IS THE 4WD DELIVERY?
These claws are retractable, meaning
it’ll purr along until it’s time to get mean.
The Duramatic CVT has a constant
WHAT ABOUT THE HANDLING?
tensioner for the belt to reduce
engagement time and belt slippage. It
spools up quickly yet seamlessly. Not
only does the dual-range CVT have an
effective Engine Braking System (EBS),
the transmission has the H2’s spike
load limiter to protect the drivetrain. The
XR 550 also has a slick range selector,
and the new CVT cover has new
gaskets to reduce engine noise to 84
dB. Also, the servo-controlled front diff
engages 4WD and diff-lock quickly, and
the XT EPS can be ridden in diff-lock all
day long without wearing out the rider.
It’s more agile and stable than past
550s. New steering and suspension
geometry, along with moving the engine
forward for an improved riding position,
give the XR 550 more agile turning
manners. More room in the cockpit
allows the rider to use more body
English for higher cornering speeds,
and the 2-inch-longer wheelbase adds
stability at speed. Shock tuning is softer
than before, and the rear torsion bar
fights body roll in turns. EPS reduces
turning effort as well, especially in 4WD,
and the new riding position delivers
more centralized mass.
HOW IS THE SUSPENSION?
It’s smoother than past 550s.
It retains the 10 inches of ride-in
IS IT A ROCK HOUND, ER, CAT?
suspension all around, and the new
frame has revised geometry with lighter
shock springs for a smoother ride over
trail garbage. The XR 550 works well
on Moab slickrock, sand, loose rocks,
roots and ruts, but it’ll bottom on water
bars and big whoops. The rear torsion
bar helps the softer suspension fight
weight transfer in turns.
Yes, rocks are its habitat. With 11
inches of ground clearance and 10
inches of independent travel, a fully
locking front diff, and seamless CVT,
the XR 550 is as sure-footed as it gets
on rock monoliths. The rear torsion bar
allows full articulation in rocks, and the
skid plate and A-arm guards provide
ample undercarriage protection.
IS MUD ON THE DIET?
Mud, snow, deep water—whatever.
Not only are the airbox and CVT cover
well-sealed, with the intakes underneath
the instrument cowling, the battery has
its own cover and is located high under
the seat. The fuse box sits where most