Bad Boy is no stranger to the hunting community. Under the Bad Boy Buggies flag, they were known for the electric, camo-clad side-by-side vehicles made famous by my friend Michael Waddell and his partners at Bone Collector. Of course, terms such as “golf cart on steroids” have been used to describe the quiet machines, but they are much more than that. Still, the image most sportsmen have of a Bad Boy is an electric hunting vehicle – a machine that doesn’t interest those hunters who want and need a gas-powered side-by-side.
Bad Boy decided it was time to make some noise. It’s a bold move that started with rebranding from Bad Boy Buggies to Bad Boy Off Road. They made some key staffing acquisitions and have dipped their toes into the already competitive market of UTVs. Their first offering is the all-new Stampede 900 4×4, and the machine proves they did their homework.
So let’s look at where Stampede fits in the market. You have your utility machines, those intended for work and work alone. Then you have the utility/rec category; these are the machines that do well with work, but can also be used for recreational opportunities, too. From there it goes rec/utility, rec, and then pure sport. The utility/rec is the biggest and most popular category, with machines such as Polaris Ranger, Yamaha Viking and Can Am Defender all fitting in and racking up sales for dealers. This is where you’ll find Stampede as well.
It takes “you know what” to jump into the most crowded segment of the side-by-side marketplace, so Bad Boy must be pretty confident with their new machine.
To make waves, you have to be different and that is where Stampede stands out. They started with a German-engineered, 846cc twin cylinder engine that pumps out a class-leading 80 horsepower. In fact, the engine is really impressive, especially compared to others on the market. There is power whenever you need it, making Stampede a lot of fun to drive. Acceleration is snappy and is responsive throughout out the curve, meaning you can tap the gas pedal any time and feel the grunt of the engine. It will go 60 mph – good stuff!
At first glance, folks will notice little something extra about Stampede’s cab configuration: there’s some extra space behind the seating before the bed starts. That’s another feature Bad Boy added – an extended cab. Think of it like an extended cab pickup; it’s a place to store your stuff without having to toss it in the bed. Bad Boy designed accessories specifically for this spot, and hunters are going to like them. They offer cool gun and bow holders designed to keep these expensive hunting tools safe and secure. That’s one of the problems with using a bed-mounted gun boot: it takes away from the cargo space of the bed. With Stampede, you still get full use of the full-sized dumping cargo box, which can haul up to 600 pounds.
You may also notice the doors. Even in the base model, you get full-sized doors, which are a very welcome addition. More manufacturers should follow Stampede and put doors on their machines.
Something you’ll notice right off the bat: Stampede is comfortable to drive. The seating is very nice, with enough support for long days behind the wheel. The digital display is pretty awesome, with a 5.25-inch x 3.25-inch LCD screen right behind the steering wheel. The rest of the controls are easy to reach and use. You don’t have to do anything weird or unnatural to engage anything. It’s a well thought out cockpit.
Suspension action is very good as well. Out front there is 9.5 inches of travel and 10.5 inches out back, both riding on dual A-arms. We were hitting some ruts, rocks and bumps on our initial ride in Moab, Utah. Moab is a mecca for off-roading in the U.S. and it was the perfect place to test out the new machine. (Travel tip: If you want luxurious accommodations during a visit to Moab, check out Sorrel River Ranch. It’s amazing.)
Toughness is another factor in the overall performance of the machine. It is very comforting to feel capable, and Stampede impressed all nine of the powersports editors on the Moab test ride. The only breakdown all day was a pinch flat from yours truly. Lucky for me there were some really nice folks driving Jeeps around that had air compressors, making the patch job pretty easy. We hit rocks, drove through ridiculously tight canyons and generally beat on the machines, only to have them pass with flying colors.
Is It Perfect?
No, but then again, can any machine be absolutely perfect? One issue that was noticed was a definite belt noise coming from the CVT transmission of a couple machines. It should be noted that these were pre-production UTVs and brand new ones at that. They didn’t have the normal break-in time that you would do on a machine fresh off the sales floor that would cure this. And this is an issue that can easily be addressed during actual production of the machine.
This and other small factors, such as a bed latch that acted funky every now and then, are issues that Bad Boy can easily address. Textron, the parent company of Bad Boy, developed a new state-of-the-art facility in Augusta, Georgia, to build Stampede. With controlled production, it will be easy to address small issues in the machine during production. Think about it: It’s not like they are going to produce all of the Stampedes for the year at one time and then be stuck with them as they sit.
Other Things to Like
Stampede is available with or without electric power steering (EPS) and with fancier trim in the EPS+ model. They start out at $13,799 for the non-EPS model, up to $15,599 for the EPS+. There are some really good accessories coming out with Stampede, including a front rack that is a very nice touch. The Hunter’s accessory package is going to be very popular, too, with gear designed to maximize the extended cab nicely.
The big thing to take away and like here is simple: Stampede is built in Augusta, Georgia, and it’s a tough, high-performance side-by-side that deserves very serious consideration from anyone looking to buy a utility/rec machine for work/play.
Author’s note: Want to get a taste of my test ride in Moab? Check out the exclusive video below.
Images and video by Adam Campbell