You're in the middle of unfamiliar woods, scanning the environment. Fallen trees line the right side of the landscape, large boulders dot the ground to the left. Through the dense overgrowth, you can make out a body of water in the distance. On foot, it's a time-consuming maze of obstacles, but on the Suzuki LT-R450 Special Edition QuadRacer ATV it becomes a fast and fun ride.
Designed with the help of Motocross champion Doug Gust, the stylish LT-R450 is a lightweight tensile-steel all-terrain vehicle for the extreme sports enthusiast. The 2008 fuel-injected model features a strong chassis and a 450cc four-stroke engine, allowing the brave at heart to accelerate quickly to speeds of 80 miles an hour, all the while feeling completely in control. The five-speed transmission is compact enough to allow for easy gear shifting and the Kayaba front and rear shocks help absorb the impact from jumps. The dual hydraulic front disc brakes facilitate smooth stops and the unit makes sharp turns easily, which is useful in an emergency.
Novices should ease the initial challenge of riding the LT-R450 by first taking a safety course from an instructor registered with the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America. The 16-lesson series will mentally and physically prepare you to ride an ATV. Riders should wear protective gear from head to toe and assume the proper 90-degree posture to avoid injury. Practice makes perfect as our initial attempts at braking jarred us from our seats. Ease into braking using both rear and front brakes on the rubber handlebars so you don't rocket out of your seat. It also took a bit of coaching to learn to shift into turns properly. Shifting our weight to the left to make a fast left turn while keeping our thumb on the throttle button on the right handlebar proved difficult. But we loved speeding around the course once we got the hang of it.
The LT-R450 is perfect for the lake house or desert. Riding through hard-packed snow may prove challenging as the unit sits lower to the ground than professional ATVs and thus can get stuck in a rut. It retails for $7,499.