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Polaris-the good, bad and ugly

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  • Polaris-the good, bad and ugly

    I know there are strong feelings either way on Polaris so lets have it. Who rides one and who won't touch won even if it was given to them? And remember, explain why you feel one way or the other.

    Make sure to list what model you currently own for the sake of comparison.

    Personally I ride a 400 sportsman and the old lady and the dog ride the '06 sportsman 500 efi X2.

    Lets have it....


  • #2

    This isn't necessarily a slam on a Polaris, but a problem occured on my buddies brand new Polaris ATV 3 years ago. He was psyched to get his first ATV and got a Polaris (I don't remember what model it was). We took it out the first time to Eureka and 2 miles down the trail he was doing around 20 MPH and the right rear tire came off. No S**t. The lugs weren't on tight and they came off. We never found 'em and the trip was over right there. But that isn't the funny part. We took it back to the shop to have them look at it and tell them what happened. This is verbatim the conversation we had with the dealer.

    My buddy: "I was riding down the trail and my tire fell off!"

    Dealer: "How fast were you going?"

    Me: "What the hell does that matter? Is there a speed at which the tires will fall off?"

    Dealer: "Well, mumble, mumble, er, er"

    The grease monkey from the back had come up behind him to ask him something and heard this and probably got fired beacuse he couldn't contain his laughter. They fixed the problem for free and it was a good laugh. He still has the machine I think (He moved away 2 years ago.) and likes it.

    Just a funny story about a Polaris to share.


    • #3
      I don't own one but since your looking for opinions, here's mine. I think the newer models are ugly as sin and have way to much plastic on them, enough of a reason for me to not buy one. The older models were much better looking machines but I know some people that owned them and had many different issues with them. I have heard that Polaris is the worst of the belt driven machines but I have never owned one so I cannot speak from personal experience.


      • #4

        Gus-Sounds like the guy didn't go through the check list and check the torque on all the lugnuts like they are required by the factory to do. He probably uncrated it and put it out for sale.

        We have owned Polaris since 1991. If I remember correctly they were the first ones to put a half way good tire on a stock machine instead of the standard knobbies. Plus I am tall and the Honda's and Suzuki's at the time were too small and rode rough. Comfortable seats, smooth ride, and a good size wheeler. Prefer the belt drive to a manual in the mud any day.

        '91 350L
        '92 350L
        '95 Xplorer
        '00 Ranger 6x6
        '05 6x6
        '06 6x6

        The '91 & '92 were buggers for getting the belt housing to seal water tight. Lost a few front hub seals also. Since then they have been real good. The biggest thing is the dealer. Find one that will treat you right and will stand behind you when fighting the factory on warranty issues and all is good! This goes for any brand.


        • #5

          I have a 2004 Sportsman 500 6x6. I absolutely love it. I have had zero problems with it so far (just rolled 700 miles). I laid it over on it's side this weekend and it is a bugger to get back upright (900#'s dry). No problems with the belt drive although I did put more aggressive/bigger tires on this summer and I think I will put a clutch kit on it now. The bigger tires sucked up some of the power. The rear chain drives take a little more maintenance, but as long as you keep up on it, it is worry free. The automatic transmisson with EBS is a great combination.

          The porcupine is a peaceful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....


          • #6

            I am glad to see a couple of positives here. I have not had any trouble out of my 400 and the wife's X2 seems to be pretty solid so far.

            I will say I am curious to see how the EFI hold up. I have heard that the mass air flow sensors were shakey at first but have been worked out.

            I am extremely impressed with the power that the X2 has when carrying two people.

            keep the comments coming......

            MT 3006


            • #7
              I got my 95 400 big boss 6x6 to work with it, yeah there is more maintenance involved with the chain drive, 2 stroke etc. but it is an awesome rig, I've hauled some pretty big loads with mine and would guess if any of the other brands could do the same they would need more maint. also. heres a couple of pics worth a thousand words,


              • #8
                Wouldnt have one myself

                Im very pro honda and wouldnt buy one for my hunting rig as Ive had to tow to many. However I did plan on getting one for my 10 year old to ride as a play ATV. My work place ownes two Polaris 6X6 s that were purchased a couple of years ago. I cant speak for the standard ATV's but our machines are JUNK. The boss is a died in the wool Polaris guy and he wont buy another ATV either. There quality is crap. Here is some examples.

                Consider this for a start. The two rigs are stored inside, (heated) year around and both have less than 200 miles on them.(we cant keep them in service) There used for light equipment hauling and snow removal. They have never seen a trail.

                Problem 1. 1 rig had a anti freeze problem from purchase. The anti freeze kept getting low and the polaris mechanic said he cant find out where it goes either so just keep topping it off and dont worry about it. That is from a polaris dealer mech. It over heats alot

                Problem two- They eat drive belts one is down right now with a big dish out of the belt

                Three- The winches are constantly breaking when we need them. Remember under 200 miles on the rigs

                They engines are for crap. When they run, they run good they have gobbs of power. The Polaris guys are right, these rigs have alot of power but both rigs you constantly have to tinker with. Nothing big, just pain in the butt stuff you wouldnt expect from new rigs.
                I know these arnt earth shattering breakdowns but my point is theres always somthing broke on these machines just always some pain in the but little item you have to mess with.
                We as a professional agency, not kids racing. The rigs have a plush life, regular maintenance and still are undependable. There just a poor quality rig in our opinion.

                When they run, there quiet and comfortable to ride. They look nice. But ee cant take one out without the other so at least one of our guys can tow the other home.
                I have a friend who has two sportsmans, he is a hard butt polaris fan. He loves his to death, even though there constantly broke. His two kids use them as groomed ATV trail machines.
                On the other side of the coin the Eilson AFB Fire Dept had an 89 honda foreman that I assume is still going strong, I ran an 88 Foreman till last year when I bought another one new. How many Polaris machines are on the road at half that age?, even 1/4 that age? Theres an ass of hondas out there that age. That fact alone can settle all arguements Just depends on what your using it for and how much you like walking.


                • #9
                  I rode a 96 Polaris 300 (2-stroke) 4x4 from 96-00, it was my dads, and I wasn't very easy on it, I was the typical kid. Rode hard and put away wet. The only problems I had was taking it over a jump, and landed with the tires spinning, busted part of the gearcase. And plowing snow too fast and having it blow back directly onto the cylinder at -20, seized it up, but it would start back up. Ended up putting in a piston and honing out the cylinder.

                  I hauled out a whole moose on it two differnt times. Pulled in lots of firewood.

                  Had it burried to the racks in bogs countless times.

                  The new machines are totaly differnt now. This one was all chain drive. I did keep the chains lubed and adjusted after having issuses with the rear one comming off in a bog, that wasn't fun.

                  Overall I think it was a very tough machine to stand up to what I did to it. Dad still uses it to push snow around.


                  • #10
                    I won't own one, just for the fact that there is better four-wheelers on the market.

                    Sportsman 800? Give me a break. Try a 760cc!


                    • #11
                      Matt hit the nail on the head, there are better machines out there.
                      If the Polaris cost as much as a Honda, Yamaha etc, they would be out of business. Lets face it, Polaris is on the cheap end both technically and quality wise. Personally, I don't want to tinker with my machines, I want reliability above all. Performance?, you don't need a rice rocket for hunting, so I don't care who has the biggest and baddest engine.



                      • #12
                        Polaris, good bad and ugly

                        First, I am fairly new to this forum. I think this is my second post in a year. In any case here is my input. The group of guys I hunt with hunt with use Honda's (foreman 450's and rubicons). I hunt with a '97 Suzuki King Qaud. I think the hondas are a little better than my king quad in way of ballance and pulling up long steep hills --but no more reliable. I am always impressed with the hondas. But I still like my king quad ( a lot). That thing has always amazed me with the loads of moose meat and gear I have pulled out of the woods.

                        This year I had the opportuntiy to hunt with one of my buddies that bouth a new new polaris 500. I did good. The only thing I noticed that I did not like was it was 1.) heavy when stuck in a mud hole. 2.) not many purchase points to grab on to when two guys were trying to pull it out of mud hole --too much plastic, sort of like grabing onto the bottom edge of a rigid tupperware lid. There were two plastic loops on the back rack that i thought I might rip off if I pulled too hard. I perfer a steel racks muuuuuch better. 3.) the engine did not idle as quietly or smoothly as my old suzuki.

                        I do suspect it will pull more weight than my old suzuki and will take long steep hills better with it's belt drive and continuous momentum. But this is the only advantage I see. All in all I thought is was a good machine.


                        • #13
                          Polaris-the ugly.

                          Once you the smell the belt burning on one these these things, you never forget it. Fortunately, I've never owned one.
                          Polaris really gave other quality belt driven machines a bad wrap.

                          Its funny, I love the Polaris sleds, but loathe their quad offerings.
                          Proud to be an American!


                          • #14
                            I own a '94 Sportsman 400 it has great power and good clearance. But that is the problem with it, the thing is to top heavy for any type of side hilling. (It might help if it was independent rear suspension but mine is the straight shaft.) Hauling camp or an animal sure makes it scary, even trying to set the load to one side or the other does not help.


                            • #15
                              I have 2 500 H/O machines.

                              My 2002 has been a great machine with nearly 2000 miles on it. Hard riding, lots of climbing and even some deep mud. Never broke a belt. Only problems were poor PDI from the dealer. Fluid servicing and shifter adjustment. Never let me down.

                              My 2004.5 only let me down once. No spark. I found out that there was a tech bulletin for a smashed coil wire between the tank and frame. I SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN A LETTER FROM POLARIS (or from my dealer) BEFORE IT DIED ON A 3 DAY WEEKEND 6 MILES OFF THE ROAD DUE TO A KNOWN PROBLEM!!!!

                              I suggest getting a dealer that has a shop that can actually PDI and repair a machine. Issuing a "store credit" for parts returned when their dept picked them is a piss poor business practice if you ask me. They are holding my money ransom for their error. How can they not STOCK a CV boot for a 500 H/O is another wonder.

                              Here is my ratings (1-10):
                              Ride - 9
                              Reliability - 7
                              Dealer - 2
                              I don't mean to sound bitter, cold, or cruel, but I am, so that's how it comes out.
                              Bill Hicks


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