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2015 Commander XT 1000
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A few weeks ago, my friends and I did a week-long trip around the Gaspe region of Quebec, Canada. Near the end of one day, we had to drive from sea level to about 1500 feet in a few miles and then back down just as fast. I was driving my 2015 Commander 1000 XT in low gear on the way up, and high gear on the way down. The engine braking worked flawlessly on the descent. I didn't need low gear. The guy behind me, however, was driving a 2020 Defender HD10 6-seater and apparently those don't have engine braking in high gear. This is a new machine for him, and he didn't realize that. He was using his brakes all the way down when he noticed terrible brake fade. We were communicating with one another with headsets, and I could hear the panic set in. We were on a very steep decline with a serious drop off one side of the trail. He pushed the pedal as far as it would go, and it took a few hundred yards for him to finally get stopped. The guy riding behind him attached a tow rope to him and guided him the rest of the way down. At the bottom he had zero brakes at all. The next morning, the brakes seemed to be fine. Anytime we came across a steep downgrade he used low gear after that for the rest of the trip. That was probably one of the scariest things I've ever seen happen in all our trips. I think Can Am needs to upgrade the brakes on the 6-seater. They are so heavy they gain speed fast on a steep decline.

Has anyone else experienced this with a Defender?
(Picture of the machine below)
Tire Wheel Plant Car Vehicle
 

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Regular Joe
2014 Maverick 1000r
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apparently those don't have engine braking in high gear.
First I've heard of it.

I've been on Canams for about a decade now, and on this forum in one username or other for almost as long, and I've NEVER read of someone dealing with a lack of engine braking.

FWIW, I sure wouldn't be in high range on a descent where I wanted/needed some engine braking assist. That'd be a low range operation for me.
 
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2017 Defender HD8
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I agree with BB. That machine has engine braking. The Defender Max is much heavier than your Commander and if his bed is loaded as that pic shows, L range would have been the prudent thing to do on steep descents.
 

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2015 Commander XT 1000
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
He's an inexperienced driver, the Defender was a brand-new machine for him, and he was only used to driving an original style Commander before that, which is what I drive now. His Defender wouldn't slow down at all in high gear and sped up quite a bit, which is why he was on the brakes so much. I realize he should have used low gear in that situation, and so does he, BUT, in my original post I was wondering if anyone has ever experienced losing their brakes before on the Defender, like he did, due to brake fade.
 

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2020 Outlander XMR 1000r Max
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Underrated brakes and an issue with engine braking. I think I would be contacting BRP on this issue. This could get someone hurt or killed.
 
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When your buddie realized he was using the brakes allot he should have stopped and switched into low gear. With the constant use of brakes on a hill like that he heated up the brake system to the point it faded until it cooled down.. This happens no matter what you drive when brakes get hot they fade on any veh..
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
When your buddie realized he was using the brakes allot he should have stopped and switched into low gear. With the constant use of brakes on a hill like that he heated up the brake system to the point it faded until it cooled down.. This happens no matter what you drive when brakes get hot they fade on any veh..
Geez thanks Captain Obvious!
He did try to stop, and it took him several hundred feet to do so. He's lucky he wasn't killed. Strange how all 8 of the other machines never had a problem engine braking in High gear slowing them down enough they didn't need to switch to low gear, Can Am, Honda, and Yamaha.
 

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Geez thanks Captain Obvious!
He did try to stop, and it took him several hundred feet to do so. He's lucky he wasn't killed. Strange how all 8 of the other machines never had a problem engine braking in High gear slowing them down enough they didn't need to switch to low gear, Can Am, Honda, and Yamaha.
Geez thanks Captain Obvious!
He did try to stop, and it took him several hundred feet to do so. He's lucky he wasn't killed. Strange how all 8 of the other machines never had a problem engine braking in High gear slowing them down enough they didn't need to switch to low gear, Can Am, Honda, and Yamaha.
his brake fade started long before they got to the point of being that bad... You were not in his drivers seat so you dont know how he was working the throttle or the brake. A lot more here to it than the other 8 machines did not have a problem..
 

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2021 Outlander Max 450 DPS
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I think Can Am needs to upgrade the brakes on the 6-seater. They are so heavy they gain speed fast on a steep decline.
Maybe, maybe not.
I suppose it would not hurt to have larger discs or something like that but even well designed brakes will heat up and fade if they are held on too long. Using a low gear on long steep downhills is standard procedure for any and all vehicles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
his brake fade started long before they got to the point of being that bad... You were not in his drivers seat so you dont know how he was working the throttle or the brake. A lot more here to it than the other 8 machines did not have a problem..
OH, I didn't know you were there! How stupid of me to have forgotten that, seeing how I was there, talking to him and his brother on a wireless headset, as it happened. His brother was in the passenger seat with him, who has tens of thousands of miles under his belt. But ZROCK knows better. You gotta love the fanboys that take offence to the fact they think their brand has been sullied somehow and then decide they should be the one to defend it. AND especially when they know better than the people who were actually there, about what happened.
 

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2017 Defender HD8
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Easy there. We're all on the same side.

Best advice I can give: Take it to an authorized BRP dealer and have them check it out.

5+ years riding up and down hills in my Defender and I've never ran into this. I'm in L range by the way.
 

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2016 Outlander Max XT 650
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Reading the original post and the comments, and learning how heavy the Defender is, may I ask how many passengers were inside the machine at the time? I am asking because it seems to me that the weight of the machine, combined with its load (passengers + cargo), and the steepness of the hill contributed to the engine braking not being able to slow down the machine enough going downhill. That's why the engine braking was sufficient in low gear.

Mechanically speaking, the engine braking is applied to the wheels through starting with the one-way bearing in the primary clutch -> belt -> secondary clutch -> gearbox -> differentials -> tires. If engine braking was working in Low, then there's no way it wasn't working in High. As I said above, it was more likely overpowered by the weight of the machine and the steepness of the hill.

To conclude, yes I would definitely take it to a BRP dealership for them to check it out and make sure everything is working fine, but, more than likely, what happened is a combination of the above.


As a forum moderator, I must remind you all to remain civil and polite with one another. There's no need for tension and name calling as we work together to find out exactly what happened, to fix it, and if need be, to warn other drivers about the problem and the solution. It's very rare for our interactions to heat up like that on this forum so let's stay cool and ride on and enjoy our machines :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Reading the original post and the comments, and learning how heavy the Defender is, may I ask how many passengers were inside the machine at the time? I am asking because it seems to me that the weight of the machine, combined with its load (passengers + cargo), and the steepness of the hill contributed to the engine braking not being able to slow down the machine enough going downhill. That's why the engine braking was sufficient in low gear.

Mechanically speaking, the engine braking is applied to the wheels through starting with the one-way bearing in the primary clutch -> belt -> secondary clutch -> gearbox -> differentials -> tires. If engine braking was working in Low, then there's no way it wasn't working in High. As I said above, it was more likely overpowered by the weight of the machine and the steepness of the hill.

To conclude, yes I would definitely take it to a BRP dealership for them to check it out and make sure everything is working fine, but, more than likely, what happened is a combination of the above.


As a forum moderator, I must remind you all to remain civil and polite with one another. There's no need for tension and name calling as we work together to find out exactly what happened, to fix it, and if need be, to warn other drivers about the problem and the solution. It's very rare for our interactions to heat up like that on this forum so let's stay cool and ride on and enjoy our machines :)
The entire length of the trail descending the mountain was 1.27 miles, (2 km), he lost his brakes approximately two thirds of the way down the mountain. There were only two passengers in the machine, one guy weighs about 200 lbs and other guy about 180. They had some gear in the back of the box and back seat, including coolers, clothing, and food. They were well below any weight restrictions for that machine. They were not in low gear; they were in high gear. He should have been in low gear, as I stated in my second post, but being an inexperienced rider, he was unaware. His brother thought he was already in low gear but realized they weren't when they kept gaining speed. His brother told him to stop and put it in low gear. The driver said he already had the brakes to the floor and the vehicle wasn't stopping. In my opinion the brakes should not have overheated to the point of losing them in less than a mile despite the fact it was a steep trail. That was basically the point of my original post, and I wanted to see if it happened to others. It was extremely dangerous; someone could have been killed. A few days earlier in the trip I remember the owner's brother commented that he didn't think the machine had any engine braking in high hear because when he was driving it, he mentioned how fast the machine was gaining speed on declines, almost as though it was freewheeling. It seemed to work fine when he was in low gear throughout the trip.
Picture of the trail from Google Earth attached.
Water Mountain Natural landscape Slope Terrain
 

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The entire length of the trail descending the mountain was 1.27 miles, (2 km), he lost his brakes approximately two thirds of the way down the mountain. There were only two passengers in the machine, one guy weighs about 200 lbs and other guy about 180. They had some gear in the back of the box and back seat, including coolers, clothing, and food. They were well below any weight restrictions for that machine. They were not in low gear; they were in high gear. He should have been in low gear, as I stated in my second post, but being an inexperienced rider, he was unaware. His brother thought he was already in low gear but realized they weren't when they kept gaining speed. His brother told him to stop and put it in low gear. The driver said he already had the brakes to the floor and the vehicle wasn't stopping. In my opinion the brakes should not have overheated to the point of losing them in less than a mile despite the fact it was a steep trail. That was basically the point of my original post, and I wanted to see if it happened to others. It was extremely dangerous; someone could have been killed. A few days earlier in the trip I remember the owner's brother commented that he didn't think the machine had any engine braking in high hear because when he was driving it, he mentioned how fast the machine was gaining speed on declines, almost as though it was freewheeling. It seemed to work fine when he was in low gear throughout the trip.
Picture of the trail from Google Earth attached.
Thank you for the update and the detailed explanation. Did he take it to the dealership yet? We look forward to hearing what they find out and say?
 
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I don't know about this machine specifically but on some machines when you're in a sport mode it will disable engine braking as well.
 

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I don't know about this machine specifically but on some machines when you're in a sport mode it will disable engine braking as well.
That is not how engine braking works in these. Engine braking occurs via the secondary clutch helix cuts and the primary bearing. This cannot be changed via tuning or putting it in a different mode.The defenders do not have a one way bearing they have a regular needle bearing that free spins both directions. So once speeds are low enough and belt rides on primary bearing you wont have engine braking. Although this should be a speeds below approximately 6 or so mph. The defenders don't have nearly the engine braking of the outtys or even commander primarily because of the weight.



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That is not how engine braking works in these. Engine braking occurs via the secondary clutch helix cuts and the primary bearing. This cannot be changed via tuning or putting it in a different mode.The defenders do not have a one way bearing they have a regular needle bearing that free spins both directions. So once speeds are low enough and belt rides on primary bearing you wont have engine braking. Although this should be a speeds below approximately 6 or so mph. The defenders don't have nearly the engine braking of the outtys or even commander primarily because of the weight.



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x2 with Can AmRancher

I do have sports mode and nothing changes.
It's all mechanical through the clutches/primary one way bearing.
 
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