There’s nothing that ruins going to work like having your tires shot out with a .50 caliber machine gun round. If that happens to you a lot, and your commute is across open fields and through the woods, you might want to consider the Polaris Sportsman WV850 HO with Terrain Armor. This military-grade All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) abandons traditional inflatable tires for Non-Pneumatic Tires (NPT) that feature a flexible polymer honeycomb.
Airless tires have been around in one form or another for a long time. The US military already uses them, the Apollo astronauts rode on them in their Lunar Rovers, some wheelchairs and special security vehicles have them, and they’re positively ancient when you consider that horse-drawn carts have run on iron tires for centuries.
According to the Minneapolis-based Polaris, its Polaris Defense division began offering its NPT tires to the US military as an optional extra this year. What is new with the WV850 HO is that the technology originally developed so that a Humvee could make it back to base after taking an AK47 burst in the wheels is now moving into the civilian market.
“In early, 2013, Polaris announced we’d launch the NPT technology on an off-road vehicle built for consumers,” said David Longren, vice president of Polaris’ Off-Road Division. “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.”
NPTs have a number of advantages over inflatable tires. For one thing, they never go flat, don’t suffer from punctures, cuts, slashes, or outright bursting. This not only means not having to change tires unless one is almost destroyed, but that a spare no longer needs to be carried.
To prove how rugged its NPTs are, Polaris subjected them to fire from .50 caliber, M4, and AK47 rounds, then used them in logging over a distance of 350 mi (563 km), Then they drove a 3-in (7,6 -cm) railway spike into one and drove it 1,000 mi (1609 km). According to the company, the NPT also has a better center-of-gravity and takes corners better than conventional tires.
But the NPTs aren’t the only military-grade thing about the WV80. The 0.85-liter, 77-bhp, 4-stroke SOHC, twin-cylinder engine with electronic fuel injection has a high-capacity liquid cooling system that feeds into a military-grade automatic, single gear transmission with all-wheel drive and automatic descent control for going downhill. The shift lever lock, underbody skid-plate, push bumper, foot wells, chassis, and full-body steel exoskeleton are all military based.
With a dry weight of 1,114 lb (505.2 kg), the WV80 has dual A-arm front and rear suspension with heavy-duty shocks and single-lever, and 4-wheel hydraulic front and rear disc brakes with a hydraulic rear foot-brake. It can carry 850 lb (385.5 kg) and tow 1,500 lb (680.4 kg). Electronic power steering is standard and fuel capacity is 11.75 gal (44.48 L).
The WV80 HO with NPTs goes on sale in December in very limited numbers.