ATV advice

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by ptb, Jun 13, 2019.

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  1. Spinner

    Spinner Member

    Mar 12, 2013
    Here is a long winded ATV history story:

    I started with an Arctic Cat 400 in '01. It had a good ride but it was very low on power power. Wound up selling it and going to an '06 to a Suzuki KingQuad 700. It had good power and speed but had handling problems (got squirrely at 20 to 30 mph). Within a month I traced that down to the BACK wheels being out of alignment. (1/2 inch of tow out). The independent rear suspension has no tow out or tow in adjustment. The rear wheels should run parallel. When I went back to the dealership with that problem they looked at me like I just stepped off a space ship from Mars. There is no repair for that. Other new KingQuads at other dealerships all had the same problem.

    Then a salesman tricked me into test driving a Polaris 850 with power steering. I first told him I wasn't interested because it was too big and heavy and expensive. They told him over the intercom that he had a phone call. He tossed me the keys and told me just to try it while he answered the phone. I had not gone half way around the lot when I knew I was a buyer. It was the best feeling ATV I had ever been on.

    So I loaded it up and drove two days to Utah for a group ATV ride. Day one on the trail it quit me after about five miles. Hauled it to a Polaris dealer 35 miles away and got introduced to the "Polaris Wrench" (proprietary computer diagnostic device) which showed an over heat error code among others. They couldn't figure it out and finally got on the phone with the Polaris factory in Minnesota and started replacing parts. That didn't fix it. It turned out that it needed a sensor which they didn't have. They would order one and Polaris would ship it free by UPS (in five days). I ask what about overnight mail? Oh well you would have to pay for that. So I paid for overnight mail and the part came two days later. And in two more days they had it going.

    This was a week long trail ride and I had spent over $9,000 on a new ATV and over $1,000 in travel and lodging expenses. I rented a Honda rancher from another member of the group for $50 so as to not completely lose my trip. My Polaris was ready on the last day.

    When I got home I stopped at the my dealer and demanded an extended warranty (beyond the six month standard warranty) because the bike had overheated. Stepped off another space shop from Mars on that one also.

    The stamped steel factory wheels on the Polaris were badly out of round and the tires were even worse. The bike is a 70 mph bike but at 45 mph it would vibrate and shimmy so bad it would scare you. You will find that all oem ATV tires are badly out of round. Thats what the dealer said. You can see that for your self by putting the bike on blocks and running it.

    I finally found a set of after market tires mounted on aluminum rims on ebay. I took them to the tire shop and had them computer spin balanced. I watched the balancer machine spin and the tires were dead on round. SUCCESS! 70 mph on pavement, smooth as silk.

    I have 5,500 miles on the bike now. I have hauled it all over the US and rode trails from West Virginia to Oregon. I take it to Arizona every January and ride desert trails. I also like to go to Silverton, Colorado and ride the Alpine Loop trail system in the mountains. The belt wore out at 4,100 miles and I replaced that. The back CV axles went bad and started clicking at about the same and I replaced them. Those are normal wear items. Then the power steering started cutting out. A red light would come on on the pod and it would show various error codes. Had to come back early from a trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats because none of the five polaris dealers in Salt Lake City could get it in the shop in less than two weeks. Had it in polaris shops three times, no success fixing it. Finally on the fourth trip to the original dealership (the service manager there does not like me much but he knows his business) he found the problem. The voltage regulator was bad and the voltage to all of the computerized sensors would cut out. New regulator and she is going good.

    In addition to trail rides in other states I use it to deer hunt and farm. I mount a tractor field gps on it and a broadcast spreader spread seed. I bought an Aluma brand aluminum flat bed trailer (model 548) which has an eight by 4 1/2 foot bed. The trailer weighs 310 lbs. and has a fold down ramp tailgate. I haul the ATV on it and it is light enough that I can hook it to the ATV to haul deer stands to the woods and harvested deer out of the woods. I deer hunt the entire deer season in Missouri every fall. I That trailer has been from West Virginia to Oregon too.

    I wanted to the Polaris for a big CanAm 1000 but checking the CanAm forums I discovered they run hot. So hot in fact that they melt the plastic. There is apparantly no cure for that.

    Polaris has good basic design and marketing but you can forget about customer service once you get one.

    To do what you are talking about get a Honda Rancher. It will be less expensive and more dependable. If you decide to go to a bigger bike later you can readily sell it.

    Rhino Hunter and therifleman556 like this.
  2. Rhino Hunter

    Rhino Hunter Well-Known Member

    Jun 16, 2010

    The above is exactly why I could "not" recommend a Polaris. My father has two, and has very similar experiences and frustrations as you. Plus, their belts are known to go out. Yamaha has what most will agree on as the best drive train in the industry.
  3. ml williford

    ml williford Well-Known Member

    Jan 18, 2005
    Stick with Honda, can't go wrong. I've had 3 and in my 4th never any issues.
  4. WildBillG

    WildBillG Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2018
    I hae had Polaris quads now for almost 30 years and would not give them up. In that time I had 1 bad achine the othes have been great. I heard all the belt drive problems and can only say they are wrong. My 2014 850 has 5200 milws on the original belt. I have never had an issue with my dealer yet. The ride can not be matched and as far as locking diffs polaris has always had it and you could steer them with no added effort. There was also no special formula needed to lock the diffs just put it in 4x4. They were also the first push buttom 4x4 on the market no matter what Yamahaha claimed.

    All machines require maintance and if you do not you will have issues and yes even Hondas even though many owners claim differently. If we drove our trucks like we drive our quads our quads would likely out last our trucks. As has been said any of the big name machines will do you right you just need to know what you want the most. Do not forget though after a long day of riding a plush ride is a great option to have. Also I think all of the machines hold their value pretty well except the Chineese ones.
  5. WildRose

    WildRose Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2011
    I've got a 99 model Suzuki that still runs like a top, pulls like a JD tractor and will get me in or out of anything you can imagine that something on four wheels can traverse.

    Kawasaki would be my second choice.
  6. wyogeargeek

    wyogeargeek Member

    Feb 15, 2013
  7. wyogeargeek

    wyogeargeek Member

    Feb 15, 2013
    I have a 96 King Quad. Love the independent rear and all those gear ranges. Super low range and differential lock you can climb a tree, SLOWLY, everything it's slowly on the old King Quads but bullet proof.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
  8. hunter67wa

    hunter67wa Well-Known Member

    Nov 19, 2010
    Honda. Then everything else
    lee31 likes this.
  9. brettman

    brettman Member

    Jul 18, 2017
    All the big names, Honda Yamaha Kawasaki Polaris Suzuki and Can Am, make good machines. If they're taken care of they'll last, if not they won't. Honda and Yamaha are usually the two most friendly for the ride a lot, wrench a little crowd. They all have their own issues though. In the used market at the price range of the op I have to go Honda. Don't get too caught up in year model or mileage, look more at condition and features. Walk away from big mud tires, cut plastic, lifts and snorkels. Pull the air filter out and look for dirt trails into intake. The air filter and box condition will tell you more about how well it was maintained than anything else.
  10. therifleman556

    therifleman556 Well-Known Member

    Jul 9, 2017
    Is there a ride a little, wrench a lot crowd?
  11. Dean2

    Dean2 Well-Known Member

    Jul 31, 2010
    Now that is funny! Guess there are guys like me, ride a lot wrench a reasoanble amount.
  12. lee31

    lee31 Well-Known Member

    Mar 2, 2010
    If you’re looking for a machine that will never let you down. Buy a Honda Rancher. If you’re looking for a machine that has all the bells and whistles and go 70mph but will break down 30 times before the Honda breaks once buy a Polaris sportsman.
    Dean2 likes this.
  13. MudRunner2005

    MudRunner2005 Well-Known Member

    Oct 13, 2008
    Dad still has my old 2000 Yamaha Wolverine 350 4x4, and it still runs like a champ. We got it used (about 6 months old) back in 2001, and I've rode the hell out of it over the years. Ran it so hard, back in early 2007 I had to rebuild the top-end because it was getting tired. Punched it .040" over and put a 10.75:1 Wiseco flat-top in it, a hot cam, jet kit in the carb, HMF pipe, K&N intake kit of the air box, and an Outlaw clutch, and it spins all four 26's like it's nothing. I love that old 4-wheeler. I hope he never sells it, and that I inherit it again someday.

    Back in 2014 I bought a used 2009 Can-Am Outty 800R... Guy sold me a cobbled-together previously-sunk and well-abused 4-wheeler (he did a great job of hiding all the issues), and it ran good, idled good, but then it crapped-out on the 2nd long ride...Fried the ECM and the top-end. It took everything I had not to drive to Pass Christian, MS and whoop his ---. But it's been in the fixing process for a few years (tight on funds, and not a priority) and should finally be up and running before deer season. Put a MrRPM 840 Big Bore kit in it, and now all that's left is replacing & custom-tuning the $1000 ECM. :rolleyes: Should be putting down nearly 100 RWHP when it's done. I don't blame Can-Am for that, as that abuse and damage was all done by the previous owner, not a testament to the machine itself. Every other Can-Am i've ridden, been around, know the owner has been an excellent machine.

    Between me and dad, we've had Hondas, Yamahas, Suzukis, Kawasakis, and a Can-Am, and they were all good. But the power of the Can-Am, the IFS & IRS and ground clearance, and the offroad capabilities are just insane compared to the rest of what we've owned. That little Wolverine is the 2nd best 4-wheeler I've owned. It's light, agile, and with all the upgrades it's pretty powerful for it's size. Back in 2005, It outran a brand new Polaris 700 Twin in a drag race...Before mine had any engine work done to it. :D

    I had a new 2003 Honda Rincon 650, and while it was strong, and really nice for trails and rocks...It was carbureted and cold-natured & ornery. Once it got warm, it was good to go. It was heavy, and it got high-centered all the time. It just had no real mud capability (and in Alabama, it rains ALOT during deer season). It was so heavy it would sink, and even with IRS and 28" 589's on it, it would still just sink to the bottom, frame-out, and dig, and not go anywhere. Break-out the winch... That brand new (at the time) fully-automatic transmission was super-smooth and really nice...Shifted fast, like a dual-clutch supercar. If you stuck to farmland or ranching or property repair and doing actual heavy duty work with it, it would be an awesome machine. The weight and power had no issues pulling my 16' tandem trailer with 2 other quads on it. But for a mud toy or hardcore offroad machine, I wouldn't recommend it.

    Those are just a couple of the ones I've owned, typing the rest would be a whole page. So, I'm not going to do that.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
  14. Creedmoor shooter

    Creedmoor shooter Well-Known Member

    Oct 21, 2013
    I'm kinda suprised Polaris has such a bad rap here. All the ones we've had have been good machines and we ride pretty rough ground. My father has a 01 700 twin and it's been decent. He did do one CV shaft, front wheel bearings, and a U joint. Machine has well over 5,000 miles on it. Its carried alot of deer out of the woods for us and alot of bear bait to our bait sites.