Anyone use the mattracks or prospector track systems? If so, what's your opinion? I'm looking at getting a wheeler next year; using it for plowing and hunting. Was wondering how these systems run on wheelers and if they're worth the extra money?
They are expensive and look very problematic if you are talking about the kits that go onto all four wheels of a 4 wheeler. I never had the opportunity to ride an ATV equipped like this and never seen one in the woods up here.
I think you would be much better off going with a Polaris 6x6 and adding the stock track kit to it.
Info on tracks
Read my post on the thread "4 wheeler of Argo?" It's basiclly a list of things I learned about them on my first real trip with them. I'm running TJD Cat Trax on my Honda Foreman 450. The link below have some pretty video of track systems in action.
Some things to consider when deciding on tracks:
- Type of terrain you plan to be riding on.
- Ease of turning
- Ride roughness (bigger lugs mean rougher ride on hard pack)
- Ability to climb over obstacles (some designs, particularly those where the rear track is not angled up a bit on the leading edge, have a tendency to hang up on obstacles like fallen logs.
- Track systems are heavy. They will typically add about 300 lbs to the weight of your wheeled ATV.
- They typically cut your top speed and gas mileage by 1/3 to a 1/2
Most track systems out there are snow only. As AkCPO already mentioned, atvtracks.net is a great resource for videos, and comparative articles on many types of track systems.
I'll admit up front that I don't have any experience with Mattracks, but when I was researching tracks earlier this year, the comments I found included:
- They're about the only system that works on all-terrains
- They are very expensive (roughly twice what snow-only tracks cost)
- They make the ATVs steering feel very heavy, more so than many other track designs
- In their design to be multi-purpose, they do not perform as well as many systems in the snow.
With tracks, you'll have great stability and the traction of a tank, but not the speed of a snowmachine. As opposed to snowmachines which basically have three points of contact with the snow (two front runners and rear track, and thus can ,more easily rock to one side and lift the opposite side front runner), an ATV with tracks is very cumbersome in a sidehill situation.
If you're thinking of eventually putting tracks on a wheeler, I'd suggest making sure that the wheeler you choose has fuel injection (which automatically compensates for altitude, since you'll likely be visiting higher terrain than you typically would with wheels, particularly in winter), and large displacement (to compensate for the speed reduction you're going to get with tracks). Also, if you plan to ride in winter, a windshield and heated grips are worth their weight in gold! Also have a very good winch--because if you manage to get stuck with tracks, you are REALLY stuck!
Last edited by sr12345; 10-10-2007 at 19:11.
I have personally owned both the Polaris Prospector II tracks and the Mattrax Litefoot XT. This is how I started:
I purchased my first atv a 2005 twin 700 polaris carbureted sportsman. After buying the atv I wanted to find a way to get further out in the snow, I was actively looking to buy a used snowmachine. I ended up running into a set of new tracks that were only used on a display model for a very good discounted price, $2500, I figured I couldn't get a good used snow machine for that price. I had intended on trying to see and use it in mud bogs too. I ended up tearing up the mounts/bolts a few times, because all the torque goes to a plate that is mounted to the a-arm, there is a front stabilizer spring and a rear rubber bushing, but it does not do the job for the torque that was being applied. I was highly impressed with its ability to literally float on top of muskeg without breaking through, you could drive over your same tracks several times without ever tearing up the tundra, also the ability to go through deep water and mud was amazing, but whenever I hit something hard/unexpected in the mud or over rough tundra, it was tearing up the mounts. I was able to test its ability with a friend that had the same machine I did with wheels, and he is a very experienced rider as well, and he could not get into places that I was going. I also took these tracks up into the white mountains up to windy gap cabin, and my partner had a ski-doo scandanavian snow machine. There was not a lot of deep snow and a lot of frozen icy tundra and rough spots. He ended up flipping several times, because most of the trail was sidehilling on very icy/scant snow. I never had a problem and since I had a winch was able to bail him out several times.
After that winter I started to extensively research a different brand/make of tracks that I could use all year round. The prospector tracks are very cumbersome to switch from wheels to tracks, like I said there is a plate and all the anti-torsion/torque is external and requires several bolts and mounting, they are good to put on and leave for a season. I researched TJD, Mattrax, and several other ones as well. A lot of the tracks I did not feel a 100% about because a lot of them seemed to be mounted similar to the polaris tracks and seemed to be intended mostly for snow.
Mattrax was the only one at the time that claimed to be built for all terrain, after contacting them I found out there was a dealer here in Fairbanks (the only one in the state). I went to his house and he had a set mounted on an atv (I think a suzuki). I took them for a ride on the snow and felt they were very comparable to the polaris tracks, as far as ability to go in snow, snow was fairly deep at the time, and the turning ability. I even felt they performed much better in reverse as well. I was somewhat curious about the M3(1 3/4" paddle vs. XT 1" paddle) but they are advertised as snow only and he told me there were people that used them in the summer/spring and ended up tearing/wearing paddles down pretty quickly. Another thing I liked about Mattrax is that it has its own internal suspension system and the only portion that mounted (other than the hub) was one anti-torsion bar, the front mounts to the tie rod and rear to the a-arm/lower portion. So to change, honestly, takes you as fast as it would to change a regular tire, but beware the tracks are heavy and not easy to just lift up, a good atv jack with extensions helps. I decided to splurge and bought them $5200 for the four XT.
Next I decided to buy an 800 EFI, first because I wanted a little more power, and mostly because I wanted an EFI, found out in the white mountains when we got really high the carb was having a hard time, and I didn't want to have to change jets in -20F. I was able to sell my 700 with the tracks and that money paid off (in full) my new 2006 800 with a 3.0 warn winch. I had a windshield and installed hand and thumb warmers on the new machine (had these on the 700 as well). I sold the 700 to a couple in Homer who wanted to use it to go through a very muddy/boggy road to get their cabin. They love the machine with the tracks and have told me using the tracks actually made the trail better over time and they were able to use their trucks later on, fixing the trail occasionally with the tracks.
I really do like my tracks. I bought an atv so I can get back into remote places. I work my machines hard, because that is what I believe they are designed for, I didn't buy mine to drive around the farm (just a little soap box). It is really nice to have the ability to not have to go far from home, but get back into remote places, where no one else has been. With the tracks a good brush guard and re-inforced radiator guard, I can blaze my own trails through tundra/muskeg with trees. It literally runs over big trees that would flip wheels, or if it is a very strong tree it will just climb until you are almost 90 degrees, then you just put it in reverse and find/make a new route.
I think the problem I have found and seems to be a consensus with a lot of Alaskans is that we want to have one thing that will get us through everything. Reality is in Alaska that is not possible; you need to have multiple machines, each for a particular use. With the tracks you are literally creating two different machines, one with tracks and one with wheels. The reason I say this is because the tracks are not going to work for every situation, believe me I have found out the hard way. The tracks are excellent in muskeg, tundra (dry or wet), low land sparse forests, snow both deep and scant, and mostly anywhere where you have a lot of open space. The reason you want open space is because the tracks are very hard to steer, although I have found by fluttering the throttle gets them to turn better. Steering is very easy though at higher RPMs, just like turning wheels, so having open spaces allows you to turn easier.
The tracks do not perform well in dense forested areas, tight corners/trails, with steep ascend and descends. The reason is because you don't have places to turn as wide and when you end up turning the tracks and coming down at a steep angle and if you hit a root/tree you can throw a track. It takes on an average around 2 hours to put a track back on, if things go as plan you can do it much quicker (I have done it in 30 min). I found this out by taking up a narrow mountain trail. I did this because the trail went to the top of a ridge line, I figured if I could get through the trail to the top, I would be much better off on the top of the mountain sine it is an open area and I would not have to worry about going up steep (open area) inclines, thus getting further up to the top. But I found out the hard way that going through the dense forested narrow trails with the tracks was not a good idea and ended up throwing several tracks, spending most of my time fixing tracks and by the time I got above tree line I had run out of time and had to turn around.
I like having the tracks on a Polaris because it has AWD, meaning each wheel is independent of itself, and you can turn it off. Also in general Polaris machines like low gear, as well the tracks. I kind of snicker when people ask how fast you go on the tracks, believe me you are not buying the tracks for speed; you are getting them for other reasons as described. If you try to go too fast on the tracks and you end up hitting something unexpected at high speeds, be prepared, you could throw a track or since these (Mattrax) are built very tough, something's got to give, and you can end up cracking wheel hubs and ripping CV joint bearings (believe me). Places where wheels need momentum most likely you don't, just creep and the machine will crawl over obstacles. A perfect example is when I went to Chitna this year. I had heard how bad the trail was. I have my spot that I like every year past the bridge. I had absolutely no problem going through the trail, let the machine crawl over the steep side hills, that were also wet, and felt stable the entire time. I did not have to shift weight on the machine etc. Pretty much was an easy in and out drive.
If you buy the tracks, consider your machine more like a truck than an atv at that point. I highly recommend nothing smaller than a 700, an 800 does excellent (I have noticed a big difference) and as stated before an EFI. Also at least a 2.5 winch and 3.0 if you can on the front. Also invest in a removable rear winch (I bought one at Sam's, 2.5 with the plate for $96.00) It is a Champion, which is not a high end winch, but I put it away keep it clean and bust it out for the occasions I need it. The places you are going to need it, is because you will find yourself in remote places and if you fall through very very deep snow or a mud hole (most times head/front first) and end up at a literally vertical position with your your tracks in the air, you will need that rear winch. Trying to work through it makes it much worse and tears up tracks and CV joints, leave it as is pull the rear winch. Also a high lift, shovels, and crow bar, like I said just like 4 wheel drive trucks carry gear to get themselves unstuck, you will need also, that is if you are going back into very remote places. Also I don't even look at my speedometer, because the tracks throw the accuracy of it off, so look at your RPM's, just like a snow machine, when you get into really deep stuff, keep on the throttle around 4000-5000 RPM in low gear. You can use high gear, and I do at times 2WD on open trails/4WD/roads, and at high gear I feel the machine goes plenty fast for me, if I wanted speed I would buy a tiny quad or crotch rocket.
I think I rattled on enough, but if you want more info just submit it on this forum or PM me. Hope this info helps. Good luck
I to have mattrack m3's on my polaris mv7. A 1000lb atv needs all the support it can get. As you stated they are hard to turn in brush, after all they arent tires and have a large footprint. Also in my experience they are a hassel on the beach where small rocks are concerned. Ran my from Capt. Cook north and picked rocks for days later. Clean sand was a pleasure. A more stable ride i couldnt find compared to tires.
Expensive? yes Easy to mount? yes Get you into places tires wont? yes
Get you out of trouble? depends on how close a tree is or if you have a land achor with you.
Great write-up on the tracks. Did you look at an Argo or Max with tracks? It sounds like you have similar capabilities as them, except being amphibious. But you also have the ability to go back to tires for areas you don't need the tracks. You probably have better ride quality than one too.