1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

4 wheelers

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by DianeB, Aug 13, 2012.

  1. DianeB

    DianeB Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    397
    Loc:
    Foot Hills of the Berkshires
    know nothing about them. we used to keep horses and would ride the dirt roads around here. now that the kids are gone, we are getting used to having our freedom and don't want to be tied down any longer. Would still like to get out to our back country and though 4 wheeler would be good idea. I see from many of your signatures, you have these and I am looking for some recommendations - also what to these things cost and are they hard to maintain . thanks guys

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    Messages:
    3,687
    Loc:
    Indiana
    There are many, many different options out there. Stick with brands you've heard of before and run, don't walk, away from any of the ones you haven't.

    Polaris
    Kawasaki
    Yamaha
    Suzuki
    Honda
    Can-Am

    These are your good brands, some will argue indefinitely on which is better, but truth be told they are all pretty good anymore.

    Here's a checklist of things you should consider that will help you determine brand, engine size, and drivetrain:

    Do you mind shifting gears? - Manual versus automatic transmission.
    Do you drive in a lot of snow? - 4WD makes life a LOT easier in snow. Sounds like you probably won't be racing through the swamps, so mud won't be an issue. If you need 4x4 in mud on an ATV, chances are you shouldn't drive there anyway.
    Do you plan on towing heavy loads, tilling up food plots, or pushing a lot of snow? - If yes, 450+ CC (engine size) is going to be your friend. If no, you could get by with less. 4x4 makes these chores a lot easier too.
    What dealers do you have within a "reasonable" driving distance? - That should help you shorten the brand list.
    How physically capable are you? - The new power steering models are great for people who have limited endurance or upper body strength, especially on the larger 4WD models.
    How important is ride quality (softness or stress on the body)? - Independent rear suspension provides a comfy ride, solid rear axle is good for a work machine.

    Hope this helps your decision.
  3. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    15,065
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    I think Lukem's post covers a lot of the questions.

    How much money you want to put into this . . . and what you plan to do with it (i.e. is this just for riding or do you think you may plow snow with it) will help narrow down some of your choices. For example, I like the traditional ATV for riding and if I was to go this route and was just planning on riding trails I would lean towards an ATV with independent rear suspension and features that would allow me to travel in comfort or with better fuel economy (i.e. storage compartments, fuel injection, etc. . . . or I could go with a sporty side by side if I preferred more of a go-cart like seating or if (like a friend who has bad carpal tunnel) a foot-pedal accelerator would be more comfortable to use on a long ride vs. a thumb throttle. If I was looking at more of a work machine my needs and wants would be different.

    Perhaps one of your first choices may be if you are looking at the traditional ATV or a side by side ATV . . . and of course deciding at that point if you are looking for more of an utilitarian machine to do work or a combination of work and pleasure or something for all pleasure.

    I think one of the best things you can do is to see what you have in the area for local dealers . . . talk to them, try riding a few machines on test drives . . . and then once you have an idea of what you want to do and what you want to spend we could perhaps give you some pros- and cons- to a particular brand, type of ATV, etc.
  4. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    15,065
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    Oh yeah . . . just to echo one very important point made by Lukem . . . avoid the temptation to buy an off-brand. Some may look fine and even seem to be a carbon copy of a more well known brand . . . but in the long term they just don't hold up as well and even in the short term lead to heartbreak . . . or at least costly break downs.
  5. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    Messages:
    3,687
    Loc:
    Indiana
    I should also mention you REALLY need to know what you are doing if shopping the used market for ATVs. Some are cream puffs riden by gramps deer hunting on the weekends and are a great deal. Others have had the #$%=& run out of them. Buyer beware.
    firefighterjake likes this.
  6. DianeB

    DianeB Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    397
    Loc:
    Foot Hills of the Berkshires
    had not thought of plowing snow with it - I think this is a good idea. We have 2 dealers within perhaps 15 miles and maybe a couple more within 30. will have to check them out and come back with what we are seeing. we could perhaps also use it to pull wood using a trailer, but main purpose would be for us to use for recreation to get out to the woods. Some steep hilly dirt roads so would want something that could climb, but believe me, we are not dare devils.
  7. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    15,065
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    For a small to medium sized driveway . . . pulling around a trailer with firewood . . . trail riding . . . most any ATV over 350 cc should do the trick . . . personally I would suggest one closer to 450-500 cc.

    Let us know what you see at the dealerships for makes/models and if folks have any experience with those brands they'll let you know their good or bad experiences.
  8. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    Messages:
    3,687
    Loc:
    Indiana
    My ATV with balding stock tires, will climb just about anything in 2WD, 4WD it will go anywhere I'm brave enough to drive it...on dirt. Add snow and you need 4WD. If you even think you may want to haul wood or push snow get 4WD...selectable 4WD offers the best of both worlds (lighter steering in 2 and go anywhere capability in 4).
  9. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    Messages:
    3,687
    Loc:
    Indiana
    Also, don't believe them if they tell you that you NEED a bigger ATV than 500CC. There are models all the way up to 1000CC now. You don't NEED one that big for anything, but there's nothing wrong with WANTING a little extra HP :cool:.

    My FIL has a 350CC Honda Rancher and I have a 500CC Honda Rubicon. The Rancher will do just about anything the Rubicon can, but the Rubicon just does it so much easier (easy enough I don't see the need for bigger than 500).

    Hope I'm not overwhelming you with info...
  10. DianeB

    DianeB Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    397
    Loc:
    Foot Hills of the Berkshires
    not overwhelming - this is great. There is a honda atv dealer not too far from us, will check it out.
  11. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    15,065
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    Big fan of Hondas . . . mostly due to their stellar reliability . . . but when it comes to creature comforts and bang for the buck when it comes to features they are not the best. I really think Hondas best selling attribute is that they hold up well in the long term and as such there are a lot of them still out there (heck, I still see folks riding Honda 3 Wheelers from the 1980s). However, when stacked up against other makes they are lacking some of the nice features or you end up paying more for those "extras" (although one could argue that "extras" like disc brakes which are now on most every make and model out there aren't really "extras" any longer . . . and Honda should pay notice.)

    In any case I have owned two Hondas. A TRX300 which is the fore-runner to the Rancher which even with only 300 cc of power did a fine job of hauling stuff, plowing and trail riding. It had a hard life as I bought it second hand from my brother. When I sold it the engine still purred, but the rest of it was in pretty tough shape with ripped plastic, shot brakes, the electrical system was shot, etc. . . . then again I know for a fact my brother had submerged it in mud so deep that only the seat, racks and handlebars were still above the mud, he had it floating down a stream a few times, etc.

    My "new" ATV is a 2000 Foreman . . . or maybe it's a 2002 . . . I can never remember. In any case, it's the work-horse of the Honda line up along with the Rubicon. It's very much a no-frills machine with straight axle, traditional transmission and a low center of gravity. I use this for hauling wood, trail work, plowing snow, etc. I love this machine . . . but that said, it's not the most powerful, does not have a lot of nice features and is probably one of the worse ATVs for trail riding if you value comfort.

    If you really are looking at the Honda line up (and I like 'em, but I would suggest you also compare other makes and models as there are many others out there that are also very good) . . . I would suggest you stick with one of two ATVs if you are predominantly looking at trail riding with some "light" work (i.e. plowing, hauling firewood, etc) -- the Rincon or Rnacher AT.

    Only two ATVs now offer independent rear suspension which is the cat's meow when it comes to trail riding -- the Rincon (largest ATV) and the Rancher AT. The Rincon has a 675 cc engine and is the top dog of the Honda line up with some of the nice features that have long been found on less expensive and smaller (or larger) engined competitor ATVs . . . price tag is $9,200 MSRP. Yikes.

    Again . . . focusing only on the Honda line up if you go this route (and again, I would personally check other dealerships too) . . . I might suggest the Rancher AT for you as a good trail riding machine. It offers a truly automatic transmission (most Hondas either use a push button (ES) method to shift up or down or a foot shifter -- this is not hard to use, but most other ATVs are truly automatic where you simply use the thumb throttle to go faster or slower so there is a bit of a learning curve to knowing when to shift. It's not hard, but it isn't as simple as other makes/models whereas the Rancher ATV does have a true automatic transmission where you give it gas to go without shifting.

    The base line Rancher with 4WD is $6,150 . . . but you're not getting the plusher suspension, power steering and other goodies that make it nice for trail riding. For all this you would need to step up to the Rancher AT at $7,800 . . . $7,100 if you could do without the power steering.

    As a comparison . . . a Yamaha Grizzly 450 with similar features as the AT would go for $7,500 . . . if you went without the power steering it would be $6,900 . . . and if you dropped down to the smaller sized Big Bear 400 (386 cc engine), but still wanted the nice ride, automatic transmission and selectable 2WD/4WD it would be $6,600. A Polaris Sportsman 400 (455 cc engine) with everything but power steering is $6,500.
  12. SKIN052

    SKIN052 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2008
    Messages:
    713
    Loc:
    Appleton, Newfoundland
    I have to put in a plug for the Can Am. It is by far the best ATV I have ever driven. I like the Honda however and have even owned one. I am very impressed with the ride and torque of my machine. One more thing to think of, do you plan to buy 2 machines, one for you and one for her? If not then I strongly suggest getting a true 2 up machine, a little longer and a little wider but much safer for 2 people and legal. Unfortunately Honda does not make a 2 up ATV but they do make a side by side.
  13. JDC1

    JDC1 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2010
    Messages:
    251
    Loc:
    NE Ohio
    If there are two of you a side by side might be worth checking into. They are more expensive than an atv but look to be more useful. Polaris makes a smaller sized ranger 500 that looks like a capable mid priced machine.
  14. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,490
    Loc:
    SE MI
    Anybody have an Arctic Cat? My uncle has one, I think a 400cc 4x4. I rode it about 20 miles one day and really liked it. Really comfortable, automatic, easy to steer and handle. He doesn't work it, but he puts quite a few trail miles on it, and it has been trouble free. It's around 10 years old.

    My current ride is a 1987 Yamaha Big Bear. It runs great, pushes snow surprisingly well, and has 320ish miles on the odo. I would love the comfort of a new one, but I can't justify the expense. I suspect I'll be using this one for another 10 years, at the least.
    DianeB likes this.

Share This Page