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$5,000 Buys A 4X4 At Canadian Tire

Edwin Plohr paid $3,000 for a new two-wheel-drive 250cc Panterra ATV two years ago. This is the only ATV the farmer from Raymore, Sask., has ever owned, so he doesn’t have personal experience with any of the well-known brands, but he’s been pleased with it so far.

Panterra ATVs are made in China and imported into Western Canada through Grandwest Enterprises in Saskatoon. Grandwest has a network of distributors, including Kelliher Motors, the Ford dealership in Kelliher, Sask. That’s where Plohr bought his.

“We were going to buy at Canadian Tire, however got basically the same unit at a local Ford dealer with better warranty and service,” Plohr says. “We’ve had it for two years and it has worked OK, mainly running around the yard.”

It has had some glitches. When he first got it, the front brakes would lock on. He had to bleed the brakes to get them to unlock. After doing this a couple times, the brake fluid ran dry and they never topped it up. “We still have the rear brakes,” he says. Also, when you put it in reverse “it wants to slip out.” Other than that, it has worked fine.

Len Kayter, owner of Kelliher Motors, says everyone who bought a Panterra ATV or motorcycle from his shop “has been happy with it.” Besides normal wear and tear service such as clutch cables and brake cables, he hasn’t had to do any major repairs.

CANADIAN TIRE QUADS

Canadian Tire is the exclusive Canadian distributor of Baja brand. The company is based in Tempe, Arizona, but imports its ATVs in crates from China. Canadian Tire carries three Baja ATV models: Wilderness Trail 90cc ($1,449.99), Wilderness Trail 250cc ($3,599.99), and the 4×4 Model 400 ($4,999.99). They come with a 90-day warranty and Canadian Tire doesn’t carry parts or offer service. Baja aims to have a warranty service provider within 15 miles of every Canadian Tire store, says Kat Robinson, customer service rep for Baja.

If you buy one of these ATVs at the Canadian Tire store in North Battleford, Sask., for example, Pro Ag Sales in North Battleford does the warranty work and other repairs. Trent Smith is a mechanic with Pro Ag.

“They seem like not too bad quality,” he says. But the assembly sometimes “seems like they’re just slapped together and shipped,” he says. Cables and hoses are sometimes wrapped where they shouldn’t be and bolted on parts are often loose, he says. He recommends giving your ATV a full inspection to check on the assembly before taking it for a drive.

I asked Smith whether he’d buy one. He would, but he’d take the 250cc model over the 400cc because it has “fewer problems,” he says. “If you know what you’re doing, it’s a decent buy.”

Smith also recommends you store the ATV inside. “They don’t weather well. And if the ignition key slot gets water in it, it shorts out,” he says.

Gerry Dousselaere, who farms near Roblin, Man., has a friend who bought the smaller Baja a couple of years ago and “it lasted a year,” he says.

“I did a little looking recently and I found a new 2008 brand name — a 400cc 4×4 — for $7,299. So for an extra $2,574.88, including tax, you could get a new brand name,” Dousselaere says. “In my mind, it’s a no brainer.”

If you do an Internet search for comments about Baja ATVs, it seems the biggest issue is the time it takes to get parts. It can be weeks. The company realized this and has taken efforts to improve. “This was a bigger problem when we first started. Now we’re getting the hang of inventory and ordering,” Robinson says.

Since May 2009, Baja is working with Gardner, a parts distribution company based in Columbus, Ohio. Gardner stocks and distributes parts for many major tool and appliance brands. Baja Motorsports was also recently acquired by Techtronic Industries Inc., a global company with brands Ryobi, Milwaukee, Dirt Devil and Hoover. “TTI is committed to the growth and success of the Baja brand and one of its first key initiatives was a large investment in after sales service and parts,” says Robinson.

At a recent Canadian Tire Dealer Convention in Toronto, Baja announced that beginning October 5, 2009, all Baja parts will be stocked and distributed in Canada by Power Source Canada, a division of Gardner Inc. “This will provide our Canadian consumers with shorter delivery times (one to four days) compared to seven to 14 days when shipping from the U. S. In addition, the cost of shipping will be significantly less,” Robinson says. To order parts from Power Source Canada, call 1-800-663-9700.

If you want more information about Baja’s product line, go to Canadian Tire, visit the website at www.bajamotorsportsonline.comor email Kat Robinson directly at [email protected]For Panterra, go to Grandwest’s Panterra website at www.panterramotors.caor visit the depot at 815 Circle Drive East in Saskatoon.

Jay Whetter is the editor of Grainews.

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