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Quad or ATV recommendation?

Post in 'The Gear' started by Trickle, Feb 14, 2013.

  1. hiker88

    hiker88 Burning Hunk

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    Central Maine
    Man, I remember when those came out; must have been around '85 I think. All of us 3 wheeler guys scoffed at them. I had a buddy with the 250 Quad Racer and that really changed our opinions though. The 230 was a fun machine; pretty torquey if I remember. Have fun with it.

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  2. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Random thoughts . . .

    Not much more to add to what Lukem said . . . I find we tend to agree with each other when it comes to quads, features, etc. But I will reiterate . . .

    Selectable 2WD/4WD: It's a nice feature. Technically you could haul out wood with either a 2WD machine or a full time 4WD machine, but it's nice to have the selectable drive as it makes steering a bit easier with a 4WD machine . .. especially if you end up using it for some trail riding. Also don't get hung up on the "true" 4WD hype . . . for most folks who are not serious mud boggers most any 4WD system will work regardless of whether it is true locking 4WD or not.

    Low Range: This is important . . . whether it has a selectable low range setting such as Polaris ATVs or a granny gear like a Honda . . . having some low end power is far, far more important than the size of the engine, the bells and whistles and other features when it comes to hauling out wood.

    Tires: The stock tires will get you by . . . but this is one of your first upgrades that you will want to make. Some manufacturers are getting better with providing stock tires that have a few more plys, but many still are coming through with tires that are only a couple of plys thick . . . and you will get better traction with after market tires.

    Winch: I haven't had a winch for a very long time . . . and honestly I never miss it . . . until I'm out on a ride and get stuck (usually from my own doing . . . in which case I am happy to be with someone who has a winch.) For self rescue a winch is nice . . . but for hauling out wood it would be easier to use a rope or good chain.

    Engine size: Anything over 350 cc will work . . . better yet is something in the 450-600 cc range . . . if you have the money and want to go with the biggest and baddest ATV you can go bigger . . . but honestly it's not often required. Nothing wrong with more power . . . it's just not always or often needed.

    Ride: This is a personal preference and may depend on what machine you start out riding. I started out with an old Honda TRX300 which had a lower center of gravity compared to many ATVs . . . and my Honda Foreman today still has a lower center of gravity ride . . . with the solid axle in the rear (vs. independent rear suspension) it sits lower than many comparable machines and feels more stable to me . . . the trade off however is without the IRS it is not as plushy a ride as some quads and generally it doesn't have the higher ground clearance of some ATVs . . . that said . . . generally an inch or so difference does not make that much of a difference. That said . . . a person who has started out on a Polaris which sits up higher gets used to the ride and height and they feel perfectly fine.

    Brakes: My Foreman has drum brakes . . . they stink. I am constantly having to adjust them . . . I really do prefer disc brakes.

    Independent Rear Suspension vs. Solid Axle: There are pros and cons to both of these. I like the solid axle in the rear for work . . . but when I'm out trail riding I really, really wish I had the IRS for the more comfortable ride. Truth is . . . either will work.

    Automatic vs. semi-automatic: There are a few choices here. Some ATVs are pretty much fully automatic like Polaris and Yamaha and a few Honda models -- you put it in gear, use the thumb throttle and away you go. Some ATVs are semi-automatic where you use either a foot shifter or thumb shifter to manually move up or down through the gears (no clutch is necessary) and it is pretty easy to use with just a bit of practice . . . but it is much easier for the novice to learn on a full automatic ATV.

    Clutch vs. direct drive vs. hydrostatic transmission: Some folks will bad mouth clutch driven ATVs as they say the belt can slip in water and wear and get smoked under heavy loads . . . which is true . . . and I have seen these things happen on more than one occasion . . . but it's not an every day occurence. I would guess direct drive and hydrostatics are a little more reliable . . . but I would not let the drive system be a deciding factor.

    Doo-dads and whistles: Some things are important -- having a receiver hitch of some sort (sport quads and even some utility quads may not have a receiver hitch in the rear believe it or not) is nice . . . having a good rack system to mount a second seat, storage box, etc. is good . . . but don't get caught up in the brochures and hype where one manufacturer brags about this feature or that . . . some of it is just personal preference and selling points.

    Take our advice with a grain of salt . . . just like buying a woodstove . . . we made our purchase and very few of us will say that our purchase -- whether it be a woodstove or ATV -- was a bad choice. Instead we tend to find favor with the stove or ATV we currently own. I like Honda ATVs . . . I find them quite reliable, but not as fast or feature-rich as other manufacturers. In particular I like the Foreman and Rubicon for utility work, but if I was going to get a new ATV today I would be tempted to go with the Rincon as I am ready to move up to some more power and speed . . . although truth be told it is not one of the faster or more powerful ATVs available. By day's end . . . you have to be happy with what works for you. At one time I was a die-hard Honda owner . . . and I still love 'em . . . just for the reliability . . . but the truth is all ATVS eventually will break, a lot depends on how you ride and maintain the machine and most manufacturers have stepped up and are more reliable than they used to be.

    The one ATV brand to avoid . . . any Chinese brand. The price looks good, but like many Chinese clones you get what you pay for . . . sometimes parts are hard to find, sometimes they just simply will break down more often.

    Final thought . . . getting an ATV just for hauling out wood may not make a lot of sense. However, for me the ATV is a multi use tool . . . I use it for hauling firewood, carting around leaves and brush in the yard, snow plowing, hauling gravel . . . and of course for trail riding once in a blue moon. It's nice to have a tool that is also a toy.
    Badger and Trickle like this.
  3. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Oh, I almost forgot . . . buying new is nice with a warranty and you don't get any surprises . . . but it comes at a cost.

    Buying used can net you a good deal . . . or a lemon. Remember, a bit of Armor All and plastic wax along with a steam cleaning can make a tired and beat up ATV look pretty good. It pays to look around for a bit . . . check out the owner (older folks, hunters, etc. who are only occasional riders are often good bets) . . . and if a deal seems too good to be true . . . it may just be that . . . too good to be true. Timing is also important. Around here come Spring time there will be lots of ATVs for sale . . . but the price is high . . . vs. in the Winter when the snow is on the ground . . . at that time some folks are looking to sell their ATVS for a new sled . . . and in the Spring they're looking at selling their sled for an ATV.
  4. Bocefus78

    Bocefus78 Minister of Fire

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    Just Outside Indy
    One thing that hasnt been covered: the difference between 2 stroke and 4 stroke machines. If your looking at new, this really doesnt matter since I think they are all 4 stroke now. I have a 2000 polaris xplorer 250 4x4 I picked up for $900 off CL. Its a 250cc 2 stroke that has the power of a 500cc 4 stroke machine but uses twice the gas to make that power. Its nothing fancy but it has Hi and lo range, selectable 4wd, and most importantly in my eyes, a backup pull start handle. Nothing worse than a dead battery ruining your weekend. The garden tractor hasnt been started since I got this thing and man does it sure increase production as far as getting stuff out of the woods. The cart I use is the largest one TSC sells ($200) and worth every penny compared to the smaller one they sell. It has much better wheels tires, and larger axle too if I remember correctly.

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  5. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    I think you'd have to look hard to find a 2 stroke....they are probably all ragged out by now. Remember the Banshee.

    My quad has a pull start and so does my dads polaris sportsman. I think it is pretty common...just hidden under the plastics.
  6. Jack Straw

    Jack Straw Minister of Fire

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    I have a Honda Foreman and it has been great considering all of the work I have done with it. My property is swamp like and an ATV is the only way to go. It can go through the wet spots without making huge ruts. If I ever get a new one ( which I doubt I will) I want power steering.
  7. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    Knowing little to NOTHING about ATV/quads, when I checked them out (VERY briefly) recently, I was surprised by three things:

    1. Very few of them are 4x4's. Most a 2wd. I thought they were all 4wd, but apparently most of them are 2wd and still called "Quads". I thought they were "Quads" because of the 4wd.

    2. I'm suprised at how few of the "cart type" ATV's there are. What are these called? The kind that just had a front seat, and the entire rear is a small flatbed. Most of the ATV/quads I see are the one seater type with what seems to me to be alot of wasted space in the back, instead of making it a flatbed for "Stuff".

    3. The new ones in the store while also being EXPENSIVE, are HUGE. I have a Mini Cooper I drive, and there were ATV's in the shop bigger than my Mini. They also seemed to be more complicated/technical, and difficult to work on.
  8. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Then you must have been in a "sport ATV" type dealership. The vast majority of 400cc+ Utility ATV's are 4x4.

    Because those are called side by sides or UTV's. There were a couple ATV's that had a small bed on the back. The John Deere Buck series was one that sticks in my mind.

    ATV's aren't a lot of fun to work on compared to garden tractors for sure. ;)


    There are quite a few Polaris 4x4's with the two-strokes still out there running. My neighbor has one that's in great condition. Banshee was a racers' toy. Meant to be ridden hard, put away wet, and rebuilt in between uses. Repeat as desired. :p


    Former co-worker of mine is a freak for those old two-stroke 'zuki's. Especially the LTZ250 aka. QuadRacer 250. He built the snot out of one 5 or 6 years ago, my KFX400 (stock) couldn't keep up with with it in top gear. Trails were a different story. >>
  9. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

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