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Thread: New to ATV's and buying one

  1. #1

    Default New to ATV's and buying one

    This is my first year as a resident so an ATV is high on my list for hunting this fall. I hunted all my life in the lower 48 but Alaska is somewhat new to me for the type of hunting we do up here. We never needed ATV's were I came.

    I tried searching this forum for information on a good hunting outfit but didn't have much luck with the search engine. Anyway, I am looking for a good, solid, easy on the back machine to use for hunting. The comfort is important to me due to some lower back issues I have. Other than that I have been told to stay around the 500 since the larger machine can be dangerous? Don't know exactly what that means though.

    Would some of you please post up some of your positive and negative experiences with machines you have used for hunting. How big? What model? (If you want to suggest one I am happy to listen) What addon's should I have like a gun boot which is a must have. What about meat wagons? I know winches are a must..

    I have gotten a lot of good advice on optic's and everything else in the other forums so I know you folks won't let me down

    Oh, since I need to buy two of them they will be used machines so that may make a difference in how you reply. I was thinking nothing older than a certain year?

    One last item, I would like to use it around the house in the winter to plow and such. I assume that certain plows are easier to use than others etc. I know I want sometype of electric lift for the plow but I assume they all have that?

    I don't like talking to salesman so any help you guys can provide would really be appreciated!

  2. #2
    Member rimfirematt's Avatar
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    you would be fine with any make of 4 wheeler as long as you got one with independent suspension all around. Getting one with Power steering would help with your back too. I just got a Yamaha rhino, and that is nice to ride on. I too have back issues but with a Side by side you get to sit in a bucket seat and there is just no matching that with a conventional 4 wheeler.

    As far as add ons, yeah a winch is a must, GUn boot yeah, then maybe upgrade the tires if the tires look weak. If you get one with a thumb throttle Id throw on a twist grip throttle too.

    You dont need to limit yourself to a 500 thats for sure. But not much reason to go over 500 cc. But most of the nicer riding machines are 500cc and larger. I wouldnt buy anything older than a 2000. And you probably have to keep it newer than that to find something with full independent suspension.

    As far as plowing they all use the winch to lift the plow. And for me, I dont like the way an ATV plows. Takes along time and the blade leaves to much on the ground. Get a nice snowblower. I did. it now takes half the time, and the driveway looks great. Besides plowing is pretty hard on them machines.

    When you find one you like just google it and look up whatever reviews and specs you can. Also go to all the big websites like Polaris, Yamaha, Honda, and check out the new models. Usually you are better off buying a new machine up here cause the used market for whatever reason is really strong up here. Often you can buy a brand new machine for just a thousand more than a 5 year old machine with a 1000 miles on it.

  3. #3
    Member oldakcop's Avatar
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    Default ATV Suggestions

    As far as make, model, color, etc. it's all pretty much personal preference. Just make sure you get whichever one you decide on checked out by an ATV mechanic before purchasing. The used ones tend to be pretty abused up here, for some reason.
    As far as engine size, a 500cc is plenty enough for about anything your going to be putting it through or needing it for. Bigger cc's are not necessarily more dangerous, you just have to learn to be a little more aware of throttle control and don't overpower yourself through certain conditions, it'll likely buck you off, turn over, and / or crash you into something like trees or rocks, over a cliff, etc.
    Get something that has independent suspension. All other options ( power steering for example ) are nice, but the trails in AK are rough and you'll be bouncing along for the entire ride, wherever you go ( except maybe Eklutna Lake ).
    Hunting rigs NEED two things: A GOOD winch ( don't go cheap ), and good tires. Everything else ( hot grips, carriers, rack bags, etc. ) are all accessories for your convenience. It depends on how comfortable you want your adventure to be.
    Dependability: I'll list what I consider the the top 5. 1) Can Am 2) Honda 3) Yamaha 4) Suzuki 5)Kawasaki
    There are a lot of others on here with different opinions, I'm sure.

    Consider the weather. Dress appropriately! No matter the air temperature, you'll be adding WIND CHILL to you outing.
    Since you're new to the fun, DON'T go out alone!
    Wear a HELMET!

    Search this site for a thread about ATV Equipment and you'll find plenty of suggestions about what to bring along.

    Now, GET OUT THERE and HAVE FUN!

  4. #4
    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Great post oldakcop. There is a thread around here somewhere about a wreck I had last season when my son on the back. Without his helmet and my friend along on the trip I might have lost my boy that day. It was a simple ride on a well used trail with no technical riding at all and my whole world nearly changed in the blink of an eye. Luckily the only casualty was my cell phone.

  5. #5
    Member oldakcop's Avatar
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    Default Helmet Safety

    I'm glad to hear the helmet did it's job, Lujon

    PLEASE! Everyone remember how fragile your brain bucket is and protect it! $50.00 - $300. Even the most expensive helmets are cheap compared to the results of not wearing one.

  6. #6

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    First off sorry I haven't replied. I was in the lower 48 for work..


    Quote Originally Posted by rimfirematt View Post
    I too have back issues but with a Side by side you get to sit in a bucket seat and there is just no matching that with a conventional 4 wheeler.
    What is a side by side and what is the difference with a conventional 4 wheeler?

    You dont need to limit yourself to a 500 thats for sure. But not much reason to go over 500 cc. But most of the nicer riding machines are 500cc and larger. I wouldnt buy anything older than a 2000. And you probably have to keep it newer than that to find something with full independent suspension.
    There were a couple of 450's for sale that were somewhat reasonably priced. There shouldn't be that much difference between a 450 and 500 should there?

    As far as plowing they all use the winch to lift the plow. And for me, I dont like the way an ATV plows. Takes along time and the blade leaves to much on the ground. Get a nice snowblower. I did. it now takes half the time, and the driveway looks great. Besides plowing is pretty hard on them machines.
    I have a blower now and my neighbor has a blade on his wheeler. He is much more comfortable, quicker and cleaner than I when removing snow. I think I'll stick with the plow. LOL

    I am actually thinking about just buying new ones after reading posts here and looking at prices and blue book. Some of the used prices on Alaska and Craigslist are according to the book, very high. They add some goodies like winches, plows etc but I don't consider them added value unless blue book has it as an option. I kinda look at it like I do snowmachines. If a guy adds a bunch of extra "stuff" I don't consider that as added value to the machine.
    Is/are wheelers different?

    Appreciate the info and if you think of anything else let me know.

  7. #7

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    As far as engine size, a 500cc is plenty enough for about anything your going to be putting it through or needing it for. Bigger cc's are not necessarily more dangerous, you just have to learn to be a little more aware of throttle control and don't overpower yourself through certain conditions, it'll likely buck you off, turn over, and / or crash you into something like trees or rocks, over a cliff, etc.
    Ouuchhh

    Get something that has independent suspension. All other options ( power steering for example ) are nice, but the trails in AK are rough and you'll be bouncing along for the entire ride, wherever you go ( except maybe Eklutna Lake ).
    That is the second time the independent suspension has been mentioned so I'll make that a requirement.

    Hunting rigs NEED two things: A GOOD winch ( don't go cheap ), and good tires. Everything else ( hot grips, carriers, rack bags, etc. ) are all accessories for your convenience. It depends on how comfortable you want your adventure to be.
    That brings up a good question. I see winches that have varying ratings. What exactly should or how does the winches rating match to the machine? In other words, a 3000lb winch would fit a XXX machine, rider etc?

    Dependability: I'll list what I consider the the top 5. 1) Can Am 2) Honda 3) Yamaha 4) Suzuki 5)Kawasaki
    humm a lot of guys tell me to look at the Polaris Sportsman and you didn't even mention Polaris? Any particular reason?
    There are a lot of others on here with different opinions, I'm sure.


    Consider the weather. Dress appropriately! No matter the air temperature, you'll be adding WIND CHILL to you outing.
    Since you're new to the fun, DON'T go out alone!
    Wear a HELMET!
    Thanks for the reminder and I learned this when I got up here and began snowmaching. What works in the lower-48 might end up getting you killed up here.


    Now, GET OUT THERE and HAVE FUN!
    Working on it

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by oldakcop View Post
    I'm glad to hear the helmet did it's job, Lujon

    PLEASE! Everyone remember how fragile your brain bucket is and protect it! $50.00 - $300. Even the most expensive helmets are cheap compared to the results of not wearing one.
    I never get on a machine without a brain bucket!

    I agree ALWAYS ALWAYS wear a bucket!

  9. #9
    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    I agree on the added value to a point. I don't need a lightweight can on a sled, or really any of that other stuff, in fact I prefer a stock sled. On wheelers though you WILL have to buy a winch and you will regret not buying mud tires. To get that on the wheeler is going to save you a grand.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    I agree on the added value to a point. I don't need a lightweight can on a sled, or really any of that other stuff, in fact I prefer a stock sled. On wheelers though you WILL have to buy a winch and you will regret not buying mud tires. To get that on the wheeler is going to save you a grand.
    I am glad I asked that question then and I clearly see your point on that one.

  11. #11
    Member oldakcop's Avatar
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    Default Welcome back!

    Well, let's see...
    As far as winch size, you'll need to consider the size of the machine, your own weight, the equipment you'll be most likely carrying, and what area you'll be in. For instance, a 500cc ( average weight somewhere around 750-800 lbs. ), 200 lb. operator, 100 lbs. of food, water extra fuel, and equipment. figure on around a total weight of a little more than 1000 lbs. A 2500 lb. winch ( the usual size offered on most machines ), and you'll be fine. Of course, you'll have to take into consideration the kind of of mud you're stuck in ( the "suction effect" ) and how deeply buried you've gotten. You may find that a 2500 lb. winch isn't enough. Mine is a 3000 lb. Warn winch and I sometimes find myself wanting a 5000 lb. winch.

    Hmmmm... As far as Polaris is concerned, I had one. Without trying to start a "Brand War", I'll never own another one. Nothing but electrical problems, replaced the starter TWICE ( because of the design flaw of putting the starter in the belly where it was submerged every time I went through a puddle, which turned it's guts into a rust ball . Even had to replace the pull starter, rebuild it once after that, and it still stuck in the fully "out" position ( yes, it was put back together correctly ). The shifter ( which is nothing more than an electrical switch at the end of a stick stuck in a box ) kept jamming and locking up, stuck in 1st, reverse, etc.. Never was able to get that figured out.... Essentially, I had nothing but problems that never seemed to be resolved, even after buying all new parts, and the mechanic could only fix it temporarily, 'til something else failed. In all fairness, that was an old machine ( a '95 ), but I have since been out with riders on other Polaris' and I'm not too impressed with even the brand new ones. I have an '08 Can Am 650 Max XT. I walked away from a brand new '09 800 Sportsman like it was stuck in low, the suspension is way to soft ( bottomed out on almost every bump ) and I spent the majority of one outing pulling it out of mud holes ( which I was dragging my loaded down Pac Rat through without having any problems ). On one of it's first outings, we spent a few hours at the shop before we could do any wheelin', because it had a bad battery ( again with the electrical problems...)
    I guess I just want to know that the machine that get's me into the field, will also get me out!

    Start out by renting / borrowing a machine, then going to some of the local trails and hook up with other riders out for the day. You'll be amazed at how congenial people can be be and how much fun you can have as a group. Learn from other's ( their mistakes as well as successes ), and see what other machines are like in the field. Ask questions of what other rider's experiences have been on different machines and make your decision to buy based on what best suits your needs. You'll probably find that the best info will come from actual "field experience", more than "opinion".

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    I love it when people say they don't want to start a brand war then spend two paragraphs telling why a certain brand sucks, then tell you it was an old wheeler, and end with but try all the brands out.

    Bottom line - Winch. Bigger is better. Usually 3K on atv's and 4K and up on UTV, but a 4K or 4.5K is the same size as a 3K so if you can afford it why not. Mud tires. Of course if you ask which are the best then you'll get those who will not want to start a brand war and it starts all over again. IRS. Minimum 500cc's (good power and fuel economy). I don't wear a helmet, but I would never tell someone not to get one, if that makes sense.

    I ride polaris and not wanting to start a brand war, pm me and I'll tell you why they are the best.

  13. #13
    Member BAR300's Avatar
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    Polaris snowmachines are the best, and their Ranger line is great, even the 6x6 sportsman because of what it can do is awesome, but when talking pure ATV, there are a lot of better choices out there that are lighter, and more dependable. Polaris has redesigned their line in the last two years a great deal, and are finally coming around, but unless you are buying brand new, stick with a foreign job for the best overall ATV.

    someone asked about the 450's on here and if they are any good, yes the new ones are, they have the power that a lot of the 500's on up have, the old 450's and really it's the Yamaha Kodiak that falls in that category because all the rest are imitators, don't have the same power as the new 450's.

    I had two ATV's break on me this weekend, not game stoppers, but none the less issues that you don't want on a trail, so I'm once again thinking that Suzuki is the King of the Quads. Thats my two cents.

  14. #14
    Member rimfirematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dvarmit View Post
    First off sorry I haven't replied. I was in the lower 48 for work..




    What is a side by side and what is the difference with a conventional 4 wheeler?



    There were a couple of 450's for sale that were somewhat reasonably priced. There shouldn't be that much difference between a 450 and 500 should there?



    I have a blower now and my neighbor has a blade on his wheeler. He is much more comfortable, quicker and cleaner than I when removing snow. I think I'll stick with the plow. LOL

    I am actually thinking about just buying new ones after reading posts here and looking at prices and blue book. Some of the used prices on Alaska and Craigslist are according to the book, very high. They add some goodies like winches, plows etc but I don't consider them added value unless blue book has it as an option. I kinda look at it like I do snowmachines. If a guy adds a bunch of extra "stuff" I don't consider that as added value to the machine.
    Is/are wheelers different?


    Appreciate the info and if you think of anything else let me know.
    A side by side is a Yamaha Rhino, Polaris ranger, Kawasaki terex. Google them up. They are basiclly fourwheelers with two seats sidebyside and car like controls. There are some good deals on rhinos on craigslist right now. IMO the rhino is top notch.

    Well that depends on the motor. Some 500's will make 35 HP while some 700's make 26 HP. I wouldnt worry much about motor size if I were you. Anything over a 350 will be just fine. I would worry more about suspension and ground clearance.

    Well yeah prices for used up here are on the high side, but when you look at most machines they have under 500 miles on them and are in excellent shape. THe book assumes a 2 year old machine has 12K miles on it. The extras are worth something I think and should be considered in the price.


    If I were looking for a used wheeler I would look at a polaris sportsman 500, Yamaha grizzly 450, 660, 700, can am outlanders. The suzukis and arctic cats are good machines too, I just dont know enough about them to reccomend a model.

    I like yamahas and polaris mostly because I like the dealerships. I like can ams alot but its hard to spend that much money in a place that i dont have alot of warm feelings for.


    sorry if this is hard for ya to read. I messed the quote stuff up and I gotta go.

  15. #15

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    Good for you getting interested in buying a wheeler and getting out to some neat places! I really am not overly brand stuck as I have owned a Polaris in the past (95 and 96 300 two stroke) and now have a Yamaha (99 Big Bear 350). I had good experiences for the most part with the Polaris although I did have a few electrical gremlins that plagued me. The two stroke was noisy and the suspension (solid axle) was a little rough at times. I never had problems with the belt drive and used to skid green logs over thirty feet long with no problems.

    I now have a Yamaha and it is a pretty good maching (I picked it up for a really good price and it hasn't been used much). As I said it is older, solid rear axle, and kick shift. Most of the new utility machines are belt drive and I think when I buy another one for my wife it will definitely be an automatic. Shifting gets old after a long ride and it really bites to have to drop a gear when working through a mud hole or climbing a steep hill.

    As I have said, most of my experience is with older machines so I am not too up on the new ones. I am really pleased with my Yamaha and it is very reliable and holds up well to some pretty rugged riding.

    I like to play in the mud so a winch is an ABSOLUTE MUST! Also, if you are going out, go with another wheeler. If you get burried (just ask Rimfire....his Rhino had to pull the Big Bear out a couple times last weekend) you will be in dire straights without one. Murphy's law states that nine times out of ten a wheeler will become helplessly stuck in a precise location where there is nothing to winch to within a 2 mile radius. I have tried other brands but I would not touch anything other than a Warn. They are the winch masters, been in the business for a long time, and are hands down the best, IMO.

    I would not be too paranoid about the used market. You have to know what you are getting, but really good deals do come around. Be patient and watch for one that someone is trying to sell if they are leaving state or hard up for cash. Look for ones that have mostly sat around the garage or been used to haul grass clippings around the yard. If it is really beat up and has brocken plastic, torn cv boots, etc, dont get it.

    Good luck and get that wheeler so you can go exploring!

  16. #16

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    In our group we have 3 polaris machines (2005 and newer 90, 400 and 500) a yamaha, kawasaki brute force, 300 suzuki king quad, arctic cat and a can am. All have their good points and bad. The polaris machines are heavier, however that seems to give them the best ride... the 05 400 sportsman is the most favored for easiest and smoothest ride with everyone we go with also they have one of the best all wheel drive systems... the brute force have great power, easier to put larger tires, but at least one goes through belts quickly (compared to the others)..the other brute force is too new to know...

    The arctic cat is a 400 (366 cc) and does well... the shift linkage seems to need adjustment but its realy new as well and might have been an assembly issue...

    I havent riden the yamaha myself but its the 350 wolverine and keeps up with all the others except for high centering on the rear diff (solid axle).

    The 2000 king quad is small but has a lot of gearing options, and manual shifting.. rides rough, starts the easiest and ive heard is one of the prefered machines of a lot of hunters.

    The can am has yet to break 2 miles but its a new off the floor 09 500 with itps... it seems to be really light and have really good power.. if it works out.. my next one might be the 800 xt

  17. #17
    Member Roger45's Avatar
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    I am from the old school...prior to my Arctic Cat 500 I had only had a 3 wheeler...really old school. Compared to my neighbors older Susuki King Quads, this is one fantastic machine! Off road and snow plowing are great. High ground clearance and great stability. One thing not mentioned that I have seen is that I wish I had EFI and not a carb. Second, these silly LCD speedo's will drain your battery, when off, so plan on making a cut off switch if you don't ride at least once a week year round. Ak Mining and Diving have the CanAm stuff that appears to be the "best" stuff on the market, but I could not justify the extra 2-3K for my needs...but they are really sweet machines. I think Polaris has the most number of machines and are Alaskan tried and true. In short, I don't think any specific brand is "bad", they all have pluses and minuses. Check Craigslist regularly. Also, at the end of the season, when folks are getting into snowmobiles tends to be the "best" time to get a good deal on last year's model...worth waiting for to me :-)
    "...and then Jack chopped down the beanstock, adding murder and ecological vandalism to the theft, enticement and vandalism charges already mentioned, but he got away with it and lived happily ever after without so much as a guilty twinge about what he had done. Which proves that you can be excused just about anything if you're a hero, because no one asks the inconvenient questions." Terry Pratchett's The Hogfather

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    Well I'm loyal to one brand and you don't have to PM me so I can tell you I like polaris. Ihave a 08 700X2 and the wife has a 09 Polaris Ranger. The 08 has never given me any problems just a bad half shaft but an easy fix thanks to Mod-Elan ie Richard out in GlennAllen. I do have a buddy with Artic cats and he loves them... But I will stick with Polaris, we are lookign at gettign another wheeler so we can mix it up cause I think my wife is getting tired of riding shotgun in her ranger LOL...

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    I am not sure where you are living but the best advice that was given to me was not on what machine is the best but who is your closest mechanic? If your in the valley or Anchorage then it is no big deal. If your not from town, start looking for a place that would do work on your machine. If you ride it up here it will break.

  20. #20

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    Lot's of good advice guys! thanks..

    What I am trying to figure out now is how do I tell if a machine has an independent suspension. I looked at a couple of older Polaris Sportsmans specifically the 04 and 05's and no where online could I find anything specification wise that says they have an independent suspension..

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