Stopped by the local Can-Am dealer first to check out the Can-Ams.
First was this one: 2012 (Gen 1) Outlander 650 XT
Love the colour. Pretty fast once you get the RPM's up. That's it. Everything else I hated. Stupid "left only" brake lever. Hideous gauges. Felt like a truck to drive. Heavy. No nimbleness at all. Sounded cool at first, but annoying after 5 mins. Some really stupid design features - the battery is completely outside, down low, and unprotected. Wouldn't buy one for half the price they retail at. In fact - I would rather drive my wife's Honda 420.
Next was the new Gen 2 2013 Outlander 650 XT.
Not mad about the yellow - a bit too "Tonka Toy" for my tastes. Would look bad-ass in the silver like the 2012. Great looking bike. I just love the looks. Much better suspension / chassis than the Gen 1 2012 - less like a dump truck. But STILL just felt heavy and solid. In fact, it felt like driving a solid-axle truck with handlebars. Again - once into the mid RPM and up it takes off like a scalded cat...but unless all you ride is fire roads - it was a pig. I hated it too. And I REALLY REALLY wanted to like it, I did. Not the bike for me, not at all. Might be OK if you lived in the desert. I can't imagine what a dog it would be in the rocks.
So, then it was off to the Yamaha dealer to re-try the 700 Grizzly - just to make sure I wasn't having false memories of it and therefore unfairly being to harsh on the Can-Ams.
Nope - I wasn't. The Grizz feels like a dirt bike with 4 wheels. Very light and nimble. Great ergonomics. Great gauges. And WAY superior controls - brakes at both hands (front on the right where it should be) - and a full, selectable locker. And the torque of the big 700 single is awesome. Off the line it is much snappier than the Can-Ams even though it only has 47HP to the 650 twins 62. I'd love to see the torque curves from idle up for both bikes - coz peak hp figures sure don't tell the story.
The Grizz handles like it's 200 lbs lighter, and I bet it's at least 100 lbs lighter in reality.
And the coup de grace - they had the new tactical black there. Here's some pics: