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Can-Am DS 250 Youth ATV: Review, Specs, Pros & Cons

The Can-Am DS 250 is a versatile and capable ATV for beginner and advanced riders. Combining performance, durability, and style, this quad is a reliable choice for off-road adventures.

The Can-Am DS 250 is an entry-level ATV designed for youngsters and young-at-heart riders. This entry-level machine features sport-quad styling, long-travel suspension, a CVT system with a gated shifter, and safety features such as a speed governor and a throttle limiter.

The Can-Am DS 250 boasts a robust chassis, beginner-friendly mannerisms, and much more! If these attributes pique your interest, discover what else this mighty four-wheeler has in store.

Yellow and Black Can-Am DS 250 ATV on Sand

A Glimpse at the Can-Am DS 250

The Can-Am DS 250, produced by Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP), has a rich history in the realm of ATVs. Over the years, the entry-level lineup has become synonymous with quality and innovation in the youth and powersports sub-segments. Introduced to the market as part of the DS series in 2006, this machine has consistently delivered a winning combination of versatility and comfort.

One of the standout features of the Can-Am DS 250 is its remarkable performance. Although not as deviously quick or powerful as a Raptor or a QuadSport, this ATV still packs a punch while ensuring a thrilling and memorable ride.

The engine’s power is delivered smoothly, making it accessible to riders of varying skill levels. Moreover, its tamed top-end speed instills rider confidence — an essential for riders transitioning from an introductory quad to a racier, more challenging 350cc/450cc speedster.

2008 Can-Am DS 250 Specs and Features


It is brought to life by a 4-stroke, liquid-cooled single-cylinder SOHC Rotax® engine. It has a bore-stroke ratio of 71 x 63 mm (2.795 x 2.480 inches) and a compression ratio of 10.6:1. Piston displacement is 249.4 cm³ (15.2 in³), delivered by a Keihin PTG-23 with manual choke and supplemented by a wet-type sponge air filter.

Here are the performance figures:

Can-Am DS 250 Top Speed*45—54 mph (72.4—86.9 km/h)
Maximum Torque**20 Nm (2 kgf-m, 14.8 lb-ft) @ 5,500 RPM
* Lower-limit value is true with the speed limiter on, prior to completing the ATV’s break-in period
** Values derived from

Fuel & Lubrication 

The fuel tank capacity is 12.5 L (3.3 USgal) of regular unleaded gasoline with a minimum PON 87/RON 92 Octane rating. For all production models, the best fuel choices should contain appropriate additives to prevent corrosion.

Lube-wise, the 250cc DS employs a forced circulation and splashing system with the following requirements (the bullets below include other fluid capacities):

  • At disassembly: 1.4 L (1.5 US qt)
  • With oil filter change: 1.2 L (1.3 US qt)
  • Gearbox oil change: 800 mL (27 US oz.) of 85W-140 or XP-S chaincase oil
  • Coolant: 850 mL (28.7 US qt, engine and radiator) of Ethylene-glycol/water mix with a 50%:50% ratio

Recommended engine oil is SAE 5W-30 4-stroke motor oil or equivalent.


A Continuously Variable Transmission (including neutral and reverse gear) controls the Can-Am DS 250. The rear wheel has a chain drive with a solid axle (view on Amazon), while the engine and transmission are belt-driven. An electric starting system fires up the engine. Given its target market, the quad didn’t have the LinQ™ Quick-Attach Accessory System or the Convertible Rack System (CRS™).

A hand-and-foot operated braking system provides the vehicle with its stopping power. To add, a parking brake embedded into the front brake lever prevents the machine from tipping over when left unattended.

Ignition & Electricals

Yellow and Black Can-Am DS 250 ATV

This machine has an electronic CDI (Capacitative Discharge Ignition) system with a non-adjustable timing. An NGK CR8E spark plug — with an electrode gap of 0.8 mm (0.031 inches) — is responsible for spark ignition. The machine also utilizes a 30A main fuse and a 12V 31.5/31.5 W headlight assembly.

A single-phase magneto generator with a rated output of 338 W @ 5,000 RPM is the DS 250’s charging system. This is supplemented by a 12V 10 Ah/(10 HR) YTX12-BS battery (view on Amazon) across all production models from 2006 to 2019.

Tires & Brakes

Steel wheels with respective measurements of AT 10 x 5.5 and AT 9 x 8 have Ohtsu® 22 x 7-10 tires at the front and Ohtsu® 20 x 11-9 at the back. Recommended cold-tire pressure for these tires slightly differs — 34 kPa (0.35 kg-cm2, 5.0 psi) for the front and 26 kPa (0.27 kg-cm2, 3.8 psi) for the rear. Again, they can be adjusted depending on riding conditions and whether payload capacity is maximized. As for the brakes, the 250cc DS utilizes triple hydraulic discs with axial/inline mounting.


Double A-arms with dual shocks (oil-damped) and a rigid swingarm with a mono-shock (oil-damped) are enclosed in a tubular steel frame. Each unit offers a respective front-and-rear wheel travel of approximately 140 mm (5.5 inches) and 170 mm (6.7 inches) — a long-travel suspension setup lending to enhanced handling, reduced fatigue, and improved comfort.

Other aspects of the quad’s overall maneuverability include a 1,187-mm/47-inch wheelbase, a 3.5-meter/11.5-foot turning radius, and a 260-mm/10.2-inch ground clearance.

Dimensions & Capacities

The overall dimensions of the Can-Am DS 250 are 1,830 x 1.030 x 1,105 mm (72 x 40.5 x 43.5 inches — L x W x H). Saddle height is 800 mm (31.5 inches), making the four-wheeler especially enjoyable for taller individuals and adults. Conversely, its dry weight is 195 kg (429 lbs.) — approximately 80 lbs. heavier than the average 250cc entry-level ATV.

The payload limit is 150 Kg (330 lbs.), including rider weight, full tank and fluids, cargo, and accessories. Based on this figure, the machine’s GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) is an estimated 345 Kg (760.6 lbs.).


On the outside, the Can-Am DS 250 flaunts a sport-quad styling reminiscent of racier counterparts like the same-class Yamaha Raptor and Suzuki QuadSport. It was made available mostly in two-tone color schemes like Yellow/Black, Red/Black, and Blue/Black.

The machine has a single-piece saddle with a high center of gravity, standard handlebars, and a layout designed with in-training or less experienced riders in mind.

Can-Am DS 250 Price

The listing price of the Can-Am DS 250 ranges from $3,299 to $4,199, with current resale values averaging at $3,235, according to JD Power. This proves the machine can keep its value well, retaining at least 75% of its most recent MSRP.

Auction listings are not too far behind, with some posts reselling for better prices than what’s quoted by the former website. ATV Trader shows pre-loved DS 250s selling for $2,500 to $4,799.

Can-Am DS 250 Problems 

Yellow Can-Am DS 250 ATV

Like all other ORVs, the Can-Am DS 250 is bound to age and suffer wear and tear. However, there may be instances when these situations might prematurely occur.

Several factors typically come into play in such a situation, like upkeep frequency, severity of use, and climatic conditions. But sometimes, certain components just give out sooner than intended:

Sputtering and Failure to Hold RPMs

Some DS owners report that their quad will turn over after it’s hot but wouldn’t crank. The machine would run perfectly for 10-15 minutes with no accompanying noises. But soon after, it’ll sputter and die unless a choke is applied or the quad is constantly revved up.

Because these symptoms can go several routes, many riders fall for the trap of doing the compression test first. However, according to veteran mechanics and owners, the first thing to do in this situation is to clean the carburetor — especially if the quad has sat for any length of time (it doesn’t matter if it had ethanol or non-ethanol fuel).

You have two options for maintaining your jets: clean them thoroughly or buy replacements from reputable dealers like To ensure you get the correct jets, dismantle the stock carburetor and note the stamped numbers on them. Then, compare these numbers with those on the website where you plan to purchase your replacement jets. To do this, you’ll need calipers that measure in millimeters for accurate comparison.

While at it, remember to empty the tank and clear the hose from the tank to the carburetor. Additionally, replace any filters that might be part of the system. These extra steps not only eliminate the possibility of a fuel-related issue but also resolve any existing ones. Furthermore, performing them will help prevent your carburetor from clogging up shortly after cleaning.

If telltale signs persist after these initial diagnostic processes, then will be the perfect time for a compression test and, potentially, a leak-down test or a voltage test (if you suspect your battery is toast). A compression tester, leak-down tester, and a Fluke 1587 FC 2-in-1 Insulation Multimeter (view on Amazon) or its equivalent will be needed for these respective tests. Side note — In most cases, testing the battery reveals a bad cell impeding the power mill from engaging completely.

Electrical Starter Breakdown

Outside of a bad cell, several other reasons can cause your battery not to work as it should. If mechanical components check out, but you’re still experiencing starting or performance issues, you should verify spark strength and the integrity of the spark plugs. Testing the CDI and shift box for power by checking their Ohm readings should follow shortly after.

To do this, remove the CDI and shift box, then connect them to the battery to see if they function correctly. Either that or scrutinize your battery’s health (which should already point you to other culprits as you’re already done with voltmeter testing at this point).

Speed Limiter Glitch

When troubleshooting your Can-Am DS 250 for performance or starting problems, consider another possibility apart from mechanical or starter system issues — that’s the speed limiter (or throttle restrictor, as referred to by some owners). When this safety feature malfunctions, it can stop the machine from moving forward when you try to start it.

Specifically, a speed limiter glitch causes the machine to inaccurately perceive itself at maximum speed, effectively restricting its throttle or engine power. When this happens, the quad becomes incapable of gaining speed and moving forward when started since it wrongly believes it’s already going too fast.

If you’re mechanically savvy, you can diagnose issues related to the speed limiter by first locating it (it’s typically integrated into the ATV’s ECU/ECM, with the throttle limiter screw built into the throttle housing). However, there may be slight differences in placement based on the quad’s model year and design. For specifics, it’s best to consult your owner’s manual. Otherwise, you may outsource this task to an authorized service technician.

Engine Overheating

Of all the dilemmas associated with the DS 250, this seems to be inherent — with the DS and bigger displacement lineups like the Can-Am Outlander 570. With bigger Can-Am ATVs, the excessive heat resulted from a poorly positioned exhaust pipe, forcing engine heat to be blown across it — lest the gas tank melts. With the DS, a deteriorated radiator, cooling fan, or faulty thermostat seems to be at fault.

Flimsy Bodywork

Despite its target market, the Can-Am DS 250 reportedly has exterior components that cannot match the driving behaviors of teens and younger riders. Its plastics, braces, and seat are notoriously flimsy — with the braces connecting the axles, bumpers, and lighting assembly being the quad’s main pain points. The chain also tends to break relatively easily when the machine is ridden by an adult or a youngster with a similar weight.

Handling the machine with care can only go so far in extending its longevity. That said, riders may need to dig into their wallets to improve the durability of the quad. Here are some ways to achieve this goal:

  • Upgrade of factory seat and plastic panels
  • Installation of skid plates and guards on vulnerable areas
  • Custom fabrication or bodywork reinforcements

Product Recalls

Although there are no widespread nor inherent faults within the Can-Am DS 250, some California and NY-based riders received a recall notice sometime in 2011. According to Can-Am dedicated forums, the notice advised owners of 2006 to 2011 models to bring their quads to the nearest authorized dealer to have their stock crankcase made EPA-compliant.

The issue was that the stock crankcase vented straight to the air through an open hose routed up by the handlebars (view on Amazon). To resolve this, dealers would presumably install a port and chamber in the airbox to reroute the crankcase vent hose back to it behind the air filter.

Unfortunately, no clear links trace back to this announcement. At the same time, many Can-Am patrons chose not to undergo the recommended changes as they intended to eventually open up their machines’ airboxes.

DS 250: Benefits & Drawbacks

Yellow and Black Can-Am DS 250


  • Performance and Power. The Can-Am DS 250 exhibits outstanding performance, smooth power delivery, and abundant torque. They start effortlessly and idle smoothly.
  • Reliability and Engine/CVT Package. These quads are highly dependable and boast an excellent engine/CVT combination.
  • Transmission and Shifting. Some owners claim that the gated FNR (Forward-Neutral-Reverse) lever on these quads is the best they’ve ever encountered. Gear transitions are virtually noiseless, “smooth as silk,” and easily done using just one finger.
  • Fit and Finish. The overall build quality of the DS appears to be on par with the OEM’s other product offerings.
  • Maintenance and Access. Access points for fluid checks and maintenance are well-designed. The same can be said for the quad’s air filter, which only takes approximately two minutes to remove.
  • High-Speed Stability. Some riders attest to the incredible stability of the machine when cruising at speeds up to 54 mph (86 km/h), even across fluctuating terrain. According to them, the DS can glide over uneven ground with confidence.
  • Trail Riding. This quad provides predictable power delivery, excellent speed control, and tracks well in trail-riding scenarios. It’s also pleasantly quick and agile in off-road environments despite its weight.


  • Challenges with Handling, Weight, and Suspension. On the downside, the handling, weight, and suspension of the Can-Am DS 250 leave much to be desired. At 195 Kg (429 lbs.), the machine is what savants would describe as obscenely heavy for its category. Its heft is partly due to the use of cheaper components.
  • Performance and Comparison. It’s worth noting that the DS 250 isn’t built to win races. The Suzuki LTZ250 QuadSport may outperform this machine, considering the latter’s manual transmission (shifter) setup.
  • Weight Impact on Jumps and Shocks. Another weight-related drawback is the striking difference in its landing versus its same-class counterparts when taken to the air. It also doesn’t help that the factory shocks are stiff as a board, impacting the ATV’s overall ride quality.
  • Graphics and Aesthetics. The graphics on this four-wheeler may not be to everyone’s taste. Many riders consider it preposterous and in dire need of an update.
  • Cornering Performance and Weight Sensitivity. Cornering (especially in tight turns) is among the quad’s weakest points since it tends to dive and roll excessively. This can be exacerbated by rider weight, which makes handling challenges more pronounced.
  • Limited Aftermarket Support. These quads lack extensive aftermarket support, particularly when trying to make the clutch more efficient. Components from similar brands may work on the machine. However, going this route isn’t 100% foolproof and may entail performance risks.

As for Nerf bars, only Can-Am offers them. The sad news about these OEM-provided options is that they’re less adjustable and aesthetically pleasing (not to mention more expensive) than Nerf bars like Motoworks EZ-Fit Nerf Bars (view on Amazon).

Although it can spin its tires effortlessly — thanks to its CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) — experienced riders advise against doing wheelies on the DS 250. It isn’t exactly a good (not to mention safe) idea to attempt this move by making the belt slip and causing a virtual delayed CVT engagement.

You may come across some folks who swear by holding the rear brake and giving the ATV some throttle. However, do not be tempted, for your own sake.

Conclusion — Can-Am DS 250 Review

With a history of excellence in ATV manufacturing, BRP continues to innovate and deliver outstanding products. Relative to this, the Can-Am DS 250 is a testament to the firm’s commitment to quality and performance. If you’re searching for an ATV that can handle the curiosities of the nouveau rider and the demands of off-road exploration, this entry-level machine is a strong contender that won’t disappoint.