Polaris Sportsman 850 Top Speed: Unleashing Raw Power

Polaris Sportsman 850 Top Speed

There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of opening up the throttle and feeling the power of a high-performance ATV. For thrill-seekers and adventure enthusiasts, raw speed is a major selling point. And when it comes to blistering top speeds, few ATVs can match the exhilarating performance of the Polaris Sportsman 850. This rugged and capable machine is built to conquer the toughest terrain while delivering blistering acceleration and a breathtaking top speed that will leave you craving more.

Today in this article, we’ll dive deep into the Polaris Sportsman 850’s top speed capabilities, exploring the key factors that contribute to its impressive performance, how it stacks up against the competition, and what you can do to push the limits even further. So buckle up and get ready to experience the thrill of high-speed off-road adventures like never before!

Polaris Sportsman 850 Model Overview

The Polaris Sportsman line has long been a favorite among ATV enthusiasts, renowned for its rugged build quality, exceptional off-road capabilities, and powerful performance. The 850 model sits at the top of the lineup, packing a potent punch with its 78 horsepower ProStar twin-cylinder engine and a host of impressive features.

Highlights of this top-tier ATV include:

  • 12 inches of ground clearance for tackling rough terrain
  • High-performance suspension with 9 inches of travel (front) and 10.25 inches (rear)
  • On-demand all-wheel-drive system for superior traction
  • 1,500-pound towing capacity and a heavy-duty winch
  • Premium components like LED lighting and electronic power steering

The 2024 Polaris Sportsman 850 has an MSRP starting at $10,699, but prices may vary depending on the specific trim level and dealer. It’s available through Polaris’ extensive network of authorized dealers across the United States and Canada.

The Need for Speed: Sportsman 850’s Performance

At the heart of the Polaris Sportsman 850’s impressive performance is its powerful twin-cylinder engine, which churns out a whopping 78 horsepower – nearly double the output of the smaller 570 model. This prodigious power, combined with the ATV’s robust drivetrain and efficient weight distribution, translates into blistering acceleration and an exhilarating top speed.

According to Polaris and independent reviews, the Sportsman 850 can reach a top speed of around 65-70 mph, making it one of the fastest production ATVs on the market. While its acceleration from 0-60 mph may not rival a sports car, the 850 is no slouch, providing thrilling bursts of speed that will leave you grinning from ear to ear.

Here are some key specifications that contribute to the Sportsman 850’s impressive performance:

EngineProStar 850 Twin-Cylinder
Horsepower78 HP
DrivetrainAutomatic PVT P/R/N/L/H
Ground Clearance12 inches
Suspension Travel (Front/Rear)9 inches / 10.25 inches
Towing Capacity1,500 lbs
Dry Weight864 lbs

With its potent engine, advanced drivetrain, and capable suspension, the Polaris Sportsman 850 is built to deliver an exhilarating ride, whether you’re blasting down open trails or conquering challenging off-road obstacles.

Factors That Determine an ATV’s Top Speed

While the Sportsman 850’s impressive top speed is a major selling point, it’s important to understand the various factors that can influence an ATV’s maximum velocity. Several key elements come into play, including:

  1. Engine Power and Displacement: The more powerful and larger the engine, the greater the potential top speed. The Sportsman 850’s 78 HP twin-cylinder engine packs a serious punch, giving it a distinct advantage over smaller-displacement models.
  2. Gearing and Transmission: The gear ratios and transmission type can significantly impact an ATV’s top speed capabilities. The Sportsman 850’s automatic PVT transmission is designed to optimize power delivery and performance across a wide range of speeds and terrains.
  3. Aerodynamics and Weight: While not as crucial for ATVs as for motorcycles or cars, aerodynamics and overall weight still play a role in determining top speeds. The Sportsman 850’s robust build and 864-pound dry weight may slightly hinder its top-end velocity compared to lighter models.
  4. Terrain and Conditions: The type of terrain and environmental conditions can greatly affect an ATV’s ability to reach its maximum speed. Factors like loose surfaces, steep inclines, and adverse weather can significantly limit top speed potential.
  5. Driver Skills and Experience: Even the most powerful ATV won’t reach its true top speed without a skilled and experienced rider at the controls. Proper throttle control, weight distribution, and riding techniques are essential for maximizing performance.

By understanding these key factors, riders can better appreciate the impressive engineering and design that allow the Polaris Sportsman 850 to achieve its blistering top speeds, even in challenging off-road environments.

What Owners Say About the 850’s Speed

But don’t just take our word for it – let’s hear directly from Polaris Sportsman 850 owners about their experiences with this high-performance ATV’s top speed capabilities:

“The acceleration and top speed on the 850 are simply mind-blowing. I’ve owned several ATVs over the years, but none of them come close to the raw power and velocity of this beast.” – Jake T., Colorado

“I was a bit skeptical about the claimed top speed at first, but after opening it up on some wide-open trails, I can confirm that this thing is an absolute rocket ship. It just keeps pulling and pulling until you hit the rev limiter.” – Sarah M., Texas

Of course, no product is perfect, and some owners have expressed concerns about the Sportsman 850’s fuel economy when pushing its top speed limits:

“While the speed is exhilarating, you definitely pay for it at the gas pump. This thing guzzles fuel when you’re riding aggressively and hitting those high speeds.” – Mike R., Florida

Overall, however, the overwhelming consensus among Polaris Sportsman 850 owners is that its top speed performance is nothing short of incredible, delivering a thrilling and adrenaline-pumping riding experience.

How the 850 Stacks Up Against the Competition

In the world of high-performance ATVs, the Polaris Sportsman 850 faces stiff competition from several rival models. Let’s take a look at how its top speed measures up against some of the key contenders:

  • Can-Am Outlander 850 XT: With a claimed top speed of 65 mph, the Can-Am Outlander 850 XT is nipping at the heels of the Sportsman 850, offering similar performance in a slightly lighter package.
  • Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon 4×4 EPS: While not quite in the same league as the Sportsman 850 in terms of outright speed, the Honda Rubicon tops out at around 45 mph – still respectable for a utility-focused ATV.
  • Yamaha Grizzly EPS XT-R: Yamaha’s top-tier Grizzly model boasts a top speed of around 55 mph, making it a solid performer but falling short of the Sportsman 850’s blistering pace.

It’s worth noting that while the Polaris Sportsman 850 may have a slight edge in outright top speed, some of its competitors offer advantages in areas like fuel efficiency, pricing, and overall size/weight. Ultimately, the “best” ATV will depend on your specific needs and priorities as a rider.

Pushing the Limits: Modifications for Extra Speed

For some ATV enthusiasts, even the Polaris Sportsman 850’s factory top speed isn’t enough – they want to push the boundaries of performance even further. Fortunately, there are several popular modifications that can help extract even more velocity from this powerful machine:

  1. Performance Exhaust Systems: Aftermarket exhaust systems can improve airflow and reduce back-pressure, resulting in gains in both power and top speed.
  2. ECU Remapping and Tuning: Reprogramming the Engine Control Unit (ECU) with performance maps and tuning can unlock additional horsepower and torque, translating to higher top speeds.
  3. Gearing Changes: Installing different gear ratios or sprockets can alter the Sportsman 850’s gearing, potentially increasing its top-end velocity at the expense of low-end torque.
  4. Weight Reduction: Shedding unnecessary weight by removing components like racks, bumpers, or even the battery can marginally improve top speed performance.

It’s important to note that any modifications should be performed by experienced professionals and may void the manufacturer’s warranty. Additionally, some modifications may not be legal for street use or could potentially compromise the ATV’s safety and handling characteristics.

Pros and Cons of the Polaris Sportsman 850

Like any high-performance machine, the Polaris Sportsman 850 has its share of pros and cons. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the key advantages and disadvantages to consider:


  • Blistering top speed and acceleration
  • Powerful 78 HP twin-cylinder engine
  • Exceptional off-road capabilities with 12″ of ground clearance
  • High-quality components like LED lighting and electronic power steering
  • Impressive 1,500-pound towing capacity


  • Poor fuel economy, especially when riding aggressively
  • Heavier weight (864 lbs dry) compared to some competitors
  • Higher price tag, with an MSRP starting at $10,699
  • Limited tech features like Bluetooth connectivity or a horn
  • Potential for excessive noise and vibration at high speeds

While the Sportsman 850’s top speed and overall performance are undeniably impressive, it’s important to weigh these factors against your specific needs and priorities as an ATV rider.

Top Alternatives to the Sportsman 850

If the Polaris Sportsman 850 doesn’t quite fit your needs or budget, there are several other high-performance ATV models worth considering:

  1. Can-Am Outlander 1000 XT-P: With a claimed top speed of 75 mph and a potent 91 HP Rotax V-Twin engine, the Can-Am Outlander 1000 XT-P is a formidable competitor in the high-speed off-road arena.
  2. Yamaha Kodiak 700 EPS SE: While not quite as blistering as the Sportsman 850, the Yamaha Kodiak 700 is a solid mid-range option with a top speed of around 55 mph and a more budget-friendly price point.
  3. Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon 4×4 Automatic DCT EPS Deluxe: Honda’s top-tier Rubicon model may not be the fastest in a straight line, but its advanced Dual-Clutch Transmission and capable off-road performance make it a worthy alternative for those prioritizing utility over outright speed.

Ultimately, the “best” ATV for you will depend on your specific needs, budget, and intended use – whether that’s all-out speed, off-road capability, or a blend of both.

Who Should (and Shouldn’t) Buy the 850?

Based on its impressive performance capabilities and top speed potential, the Polaris Sportsman 850 is an ideal choice for:

  • Adrenaline junkies and thrill-seekers who crave blistering acceleration and velocity
  • Experienced riders comfortable handling a powerful, high-performance ATV
  • Those who prioritize raw power and speed over fuel efficiency or tech features
  • Off-road enthusiasts who demand a capable and rugged machine for conquering tough terrain

On the other hand, the Sportsman 850 may not be the best fit for:

  • Novice or inexperienced riders who may struggle to control such a powerful ATV
  • Riders on a tight budget, as the 850 commands a premium price tag
  • Those primarily focused on utility tasks like towing or hauling heavy loads
  • Riders who prioritize fuel efficiency over outright performance

Ultimately, the decision to purchase the Polaris Sportsman 850 should be based on a careful assessment of your specific needs, riding skills, and priorities as an ATV enthusiast.

Common Issues and Troubleshooting Tips

While the Polaris Sportsman 850 is a well-engineered and capable machine, no ATV is perfect. Here are some common issues owners may encounter and tips for troubleshooting:

  1. Radiator Clogging: The Sportsman 850’s radiator can become clogged with debris, leading to overheating issues. Regular cleaning and maintenance are essential.
  2. Fuel Efficiency Woes: As mentioned, the 850’s powerful engine can be a gas guzzler, especially when riding aggressively. Proper throttle control and moderating top speed runs can help mitigate this issue.
  3. Excessive Vibration at High Speeds: Some owners have reported increased vibration and harshness at sustained high speeds. Ensuring proper maintenance and considering aftermarket components like handlebar dampers may help alleviate this issue.
  4. Electrical System Glitches: While rare, some users have experienced electrical gremlins like faulty gauges or lighting issues. Thorough diagnosis and potential battery or wiring replacements may be required.

By staying proactive with regular maintenance and being aware of these potential issues, Polaris Sportsman 850 owners can help ensure their high-performance ATV continues to deliver exhilarating top speed thrills for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions About the 850

Even after our in-depth exploration of the Polaris Sportsman 850’s top speed capabilities, you may still have some lingering questions. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked queries:

What is the actual top speed of the Polaris Sportsman 850?

While Polaris doesn’t provide an official top speed figure, independent testing and owner reports suggest the Sportsman 850 can reach speeds of 65-70 mph in ideal conditions.

How does the 850’s top speed compare to other Sportsman models?

The 850 is the clear speed champion of the Sportsman lineup, outpacing models like the 570 and 450 by a significant margin thanks to its larger twin-cylinder engine and higher power output.

Is it possible to increase the Sportsman 850’s top speed with modifications?

Yes, various aftermarket parts like performance exhaust systems, ECU tuning, and gearing changes can potentially unlock even higher top speeds, but may also impact reliability and handling.

How does the 850’s fuel economy suffer at higher speeds?

Riding the Sportsman 850 aggressively and at its top speed can significantly decrease fuel efficiency, with some owners reporting mileage as low as 10-12 mpg in these conditions.

Is the Sportsman 850 street-legal for use on public roads?

No, the Polaris Sportsman 850 is designed and classified as an off-road vehicle, not suitable for use on public streets or highways. Its top speed capabilities should only be explored in safe, legal environments.

By addressing these common questions, we hope to provide a comprehensive understanding of the Polaris Sportsman 850’s top speed performance and what to expect from this high-octane ATV.

Final Thoughts

There’s no denying that the Polaris Sportsman 850 is a true speed demon in the world of high-performance ATVs. With its potent 78 HP twin-cylinder engine, robust drivetrain, and capable suspension, this machine is built to deliver blistering acceleration and an adrenaline-pumping top speed that will leave you grinning from ear to ear.

Whether you’re an experienced thrill-seeker or a newcomer to the world of high-velocity off-road adventures, the Sportsman 850 offers an exhilarating ride that few other ATVs can match. Just be prepared to pay a premium for this level of performance, both in terms of its higher price tag and reduced fuel efficiency when pushing its limits.

Ultimately, the decision to invest in the Polaris Sportsman 850 comes down to your specific needs, priorities, and riding preferences.

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