Can-Am Renegade 1000 X xc Revives ATV Owner’s Passion for Off-Road Racing
For Chris Robinson, 32, riding ATVs has been a part of his existence since as early as he can remember. When speaking to Can-Am Off-Road he mentioned getting his taste of off-road riding on a small displacement three-wheeler at the age of 2, and then rediscovering his passion for riding three decades later as an adult. The Port Arthur, Texas, resident has done a lot on both three and four wheels over the years, including strapping on his helmet and motocross gear to do battle with few future ATV pros. From 1999 to 2003, he competed in the ATV MX National series. The latter portion of that amateur career had him riding a hybrid race quad (with a thumper-style motorcycle engine) and peaking out in the 4-Stroke A class.
In 2004, Robinson changed up his racing program. He ditched the double jumps and starting gates of motocross for mud, rocks, roots and tree-lined trails that typically highlight a gnarly woods racing course. He became a regular at the now defunct ATVCCS in Texas, where he competed in the Pro class and finished in the runner-up spot for two consecutive seasons. Not bad for a motocross racer, huh?
After 2006, Robinson decided it was time to hang it up, so to speak, and he retired from racing and only rode for the fun of it. That all changed five years later when he heard about a new Can-Am ATV that was soon to arrive at a local dealership. “When I heard of Can-Am releasing a Renegade 1000 in the fall of 2011, I knew this would be an awesome machine for XC racing and I purchased one from my good friend Phillip Orange at Team Mancuso South in La Marque, Texas.” Robinson knew instantly he’d found his machine of choice. Now the self-employed general contractor (at his family’s Finishes That Last Construction company) had to find a series to race the big-bore crossover 4×4.
He entered the Renegade 1000 X xc in the Texas Off-Road Nationals (TORN) series in both the Utility class and Open Expert A class. “I got some strange looks pulling up to the line against the 450s, but by the end of the race I had opened some eyes,” he explained. “We are now four rounds into the TORN series and I am currently in second place in the Utility class. I won the first two rounds.”
A racer with Robinson’s level of competitive experience should be expected to contend in any 4×4 Utility class aboard the Renegade 1000 X xc, but to give the 450 quads a run for the money is something he says nobody was expecting. “I am holding down third place in points in the Open Expert A class and my best finish so far was a third place at round 2. I have pulled the holeshot twice and every holeshot in the Utility class!”
Robinson also said he gave the Can-Am Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) series a try this year aboard the Renegade. He made the trip to Florida for the 2012 opener and took ninth in the Vet A 28+ class and was the only 4×4 quad in the afternoon race. “I plan on making a couple of more GNCC races and the 10-Hour Heartland Challenge in Iowa later this summer,” stated Robinson.
The most impressive fact Robinson shared was that his 1000 X xc was completely stock for the first two rounds of TORN. That’s no longer the case, he says. “With the help of Team Can-Am / UXC Racing’s Michael Swift and Josh Owens of Dirt Works Motorsports I have been getting the suspension dialed in to better suit my riding style and size,” said the 6-foot-6, 255-pound racer. “Jake Balsiger at Six 5 Design has built me a taller anti-vibe steering stem [to match my height] and is working on designing some caster and camber adjustable A-arms.”
Now that Robinson has the Renegade dialed in for his size and riding ability, he can focus on his racing, which he says has changed since getting the Can-Am, both because of the ATV’s innovative design and the 450 he competes against. “It is tough competing against the 450s, however, I think it is making me learn to ride smarter and by the end of the year I hope to have at least one 1st place finish,” he said. “The main place the 450s pull away from me is in field sections and open areas that end in wide-open, flat corners because they are lower and slide easier at high speeds compared to my 4×4 Renegade. We have yet to have a really bad mud race, but when we do I am pretty sure I will be at the top of the box.”
However, it’s the Renegade ride height, ground clearance and 4×4 abilities that sold Robinson. “I would say besides the high horsepower and four-wheel-drive with Visco-Lok QE, the other two main advantages I have over the sport quads is the electronic power steering and the ground clearance,” he said. He called the Dynamic Power Steering almost effortless and nice feature for the tight woods, switchbacks and off-camber turns.
“Power steering also acts like a dampener in the really rough tree root and rock sections,” he added. “The ground clearance is a big difference because I can just fly through rutted-out sections and creek bottoms where the sports quads usually get high centered and cross rutted. The height of the Renegade is also nice in deep-water crossing areas. And it is the most comfortable quad I have ever thrown a leg over.”
Robinson, an active participant in the Can-Am X-Team Contingency Program, says it’s fun to be paid for doing something [racing] so fun. “Hats off to Can-Am for offering such a sweet racer program while the other manufactures just sit back and do nothing.”
When he not racing or working, Robinson spends his time entertaining himself in other ways, including bow fishing, turtle hunting, floating on rivers, spending time in the woods, working on his farm, collecting and restoring old three-wheelers and playing with his dogs. He also spends his time educating a younger rider ATV riding skills. “My girlfriend Kristin Runnels has a son named Cain and I have been teaching him all the fundamentals of riding like my dad taught me as a kid. He started riding this year on a Can-Am DS 90 X and raced his first cross-country race this summer.”
Chris Robinson’s sponsor list: Finishes That Last Construction, Performance ATV Parts, Six 5 Design, FourWerx Carbon/Titanium, Spider Grips, GBC Motorsports, Hiper Technology, Fasst Co. Flexx Bars, Rigid Industries – LED Lighting, Richochet Offroad Armor, Dirt Works Motorsports, DP Brakes, Fly Racing, Extreme Powder Coating, Blown Concepts, Twin Air and my parents.
Racing scenes photographed during an organized race involving highly skilled operators under controlled conditions. Do not attempt.