How to decide which ATV is best for you.
Mar 25, 2001
The Bottom Line Research, Research Research!
Buying a new ATV is like buying a new car. There are many things you must take into consideration before making your decision on what to buy. The more research you do, the happier you’ll be with your purchase. Price range, intended use, local riding conditions, and riding experience are just a few of the most important things you'll need to think about before deciding on what you want.
For instance, I personally own a 2000 Polaris Scrambler 400 4x4 (see my epinion under General Member Advise). I determined that this ATV was the one that fit my needs best. The price was one that I could stomach paying (some ATV retail for over $7,000 when they first hit the market), the 4x4 feature worked well on the hills and in the mud of Pennsylvania, and the 2-stroke engine gave me the snappy feel that I didn’t want to give up by going to a 4-stroke engine (which is what most, if not all, other 4x4 ATVs have).
Price is probably one of the biggest factors that most of us will have to consider. Most new ATVs that an adult would ride, range in price from $3000 to $7000+, that’s quite a difference in price. Also, don’t completely rule out buying a used ATV, most dealerships carry a few used ATVs that they accepted as trade-ins. You may also be able to find a really good deal on a used ATV in the local paper or community bulletin board.
A few things to keep in mind are: A four wheeler with 4x4 will tend to be more expensive then the same model without 4x4 (2001 Polaris 500 4x4 retails for $6099 Vs 2001 Polaris 500 2x4 retails for $5449). The bigger the engine, the more expensive a particular model will be (2001 Kawasaki Prairie 400 4x4 retails for $6099 Vs 2001 Kawasaki Prairie 300 4x4 retails for $5399). More options means more expensive, ATVs in the 4x4 class that can efficiently push, pull and ride comfortably will cost you more then the ones that don’t do these things as well and on the other hand, in the racing class of ATVs, the faster, lighter machines will cost you a pretty penny as well. These are all things you must consider when deciding on what you want.
Intended use is the next big thing you’ll want to consider. For example, you probably won’t want to buy an Arctic Cat 500 4x4 if you are looking for a machine that is agile enough for racing and light enough for speed and agility in the turns. This machine just wouldn’t serve it’s intended use very well, therefore you wouldn't be happy with your purchase in the long run (which, by the way, would be an expensive one; 2001 Arctic Cat 500 4x4 retails for right around $6000!). On the other hand, you wouldn’t want to buy a Yamaha Blaster to use around the farm to pull hay or push snow (Yamaha Blaster retails for around $3000).
If you plan on towing things around on your property or farm, pushing snow or dirt, or using your machine for hunting/fishing, you may want to consider a 4x4 machine. There are less expensive 4x4s on the market, but you probably won’t find one for less then $5000 new. This is a situation where you may want to consider looking at used machines, you can find 4x4s that are a few years old for around $3500-$4000, depending on mileage and condition.
If you are planning on going dune hopping or strictly racing your machine, you’ll definitely be looking at the major race machine manufacturer’s like Yamaha (Blaster, Warrior, Raptor, Banshee) and Kawasaki (Lakota, Mojave) just to name a few. These companies offer lighter, more nimble ATVs then Arctic Cat, Polaris and Suzuki.
LOCAL RIDING CONDITIONS
The topic of local riding conditions is probably just as important as intended use. Mainly because, you may have the desire to go dune hopping, but if you live in Nova Scotia, hopping from dune to dune will be a pretty tough feat to accomplish! For example, I really missed my old ’85 Suzuki 250 Quadracer, but I knew that I probably wouldn’t be able to enjoy it like I did when I was younger. Now all of my friends have big 4x4 machines and they like to ride them in places that require 4x4, if you know what I mean. They’ll literally go through every and any mud hole they see, and they try to climb just about any hill, no matter how steep it looks, so a high strung 2-stroke just doesn’t fit the bill very well when we go riding on the tight, muddy, hilly trails here in PA.
Even though I gave in to the fact that I probably wouldn’t be able to get the most out of a Banshee or a Warrior here in the northern hills of Pennsylvania, even as much as I would have liked to have one, I still couldn’t shake the desire to have a little bit more snap in my machine then what a 4-stroke offered. The 4-strokes seemed so bland when I test-drove them, they just didn’t seem to have the same “get-up-and-go” as the 2-stroke Polaris 400 4x4 that I drove. So, as you can see the Polaris fit my needs pretty well, it was a 4x4, but it had the 2-stroke engine that I wanted and I really didn’t plan on doing much pushing or pulling with it, so it turned out to be the right machine for me.
Rider experience is listed last here in my epinion, but certainly is not least on the list of things that you should consider when purchasing an ATV, especially if you’ve decided it was time to get one for junior. Kids love to have what their favorite riders are riding on TV, and most racing machines are quite dangerous. If your buying an ATV for your son or daughter make sure you research the topic well and all the machine's specs before you make your decision. Don’t just take the recommendation on what little Timmy or Suzie wants, because what they may want could turn out to be a high powered racing machine that’s made for experienced riders like the ones they watch on TV (Banshee, Warrior, Raptor, Lakota, Mojave, Cannondale, etc).
Above all, no matter which machine you decide to purchase, make sure all parties that will be riding it goes through a certified training course on safety and use of the machine. I believe it is mandatory in most sates now that an onsite safety training course be given and a video on the dangers of ATVing be watched prior to the final sale from a dealership. Believe me, this isn’t even close to being enough preliminary experience for someone that has never ridden an ATV before, I would highly suggest that you look into more extensive training courses on rider safety and ATV use.
This one doesn't even need a long paragraph to explain the reasons why it is so important...........if you want to live, wear a helmet and eye protection at the very least. Chest protectors and riding gloves are highly suggested, and other riding gear like shin and elbow pads, riding boots and outfit wouldn't hurt either. Also, never ride two riders on a machine, this is becoming a law in most states now.
The categories I have previously suggested are just a few of the things that you should consider before deciding on what you would like to purchase. There may be other things that you will need to think about before you make your final decision. The most important thing to remember though is to make the decision that best suits your needs.
A little extra research in the beginning will pay big dividends for years to come, but on the other hand, lack of research could lead to a poor decision that you may regret for years. ATVs are a lot like vehicles, as soon as you haul them off the lot, the retail value begins it’s ever ascending plunge to nothingness. So, make sure the ATV that you’re towing away is the one that you really want.
Here are a few links that you can use to start researching which ATV is best for you (you’re on one of them right now!)…………….. www.polarisindustries.com……….. www.yamaha-motor.com………. www.kawasaki.com……. www.arctic-cat.com…….. www.suzukicycles.com...... www.atving.com
Good luck and I wish you all the safest, happiest ATV riding for years to come!