Pros: 2 and 4wd, differential lock, 3 speed subtransmission, utility racks & speedometer!
Cons: Minor. What machine is perfect?
UPDATE: 5/20/06 I still have the King Quad and its still running strong. Thanks to it's three speed subtransmission, the LTF300 King Quad has plenty of power to do work, it can pull anything anywhere. For playtime, I am more than happy with its performance on trails, but two years ago I took it to sand dunes with some friends and their sport quads. I quickly learned that you need lots of power to climb dunes, when it comes to the steep stuff this quad is not up to the task, I had to learn to keep the RPM's high and downshift quickly. I also learned to tell if I was not going to make the top so I could swing a U turn while I still had enough momentum.
This is not to say the machine is no fun in the sand, far from it. If anything, I get a kick out of tackling some of the tough stuff. (You should see the look on people's face when I show up at the top of a dune with a 280cc utility quad.) But you have to attack the dunes in ways high powered machines do not. I keep the subtransmission in the "LOW" range, ultra-low is way too low and high does not have enough power. Ill build up speed, maybe hitting 4th gear at wide open throttle, then quickly downshifting to 3rd as I start up the slope and then quickly going to 2nd as soon as I can do so without it hitting the rev limiter. By doing this and keeping it in four wheel drive, I can stick with my buddies. Sometimes I have to find a less steep part of the dune, but its never failed me. As a matter of fact, I could climb hills that stopped a Hummer! A real hummer, not the H2/H3. :-)
My wife now rides it more than me, my main machine is a 2005 Kawasaki Brute Force 750. But I still take my turn on the King quad, and I enjoy my time in its saddle. Because of its super-hardy drive train its still the better machine for dragging heavy loads.
My father lives on a farm in Michigan and purchased a new Suzuki Quadrunner in 1990. It has over 7,000 miles of hard farm use on it. Based on how reliable my dad's Suzuki had been, I purchased a new 2000 King Quad.
The Suzuki King Quad has features that make it unique. For starters it is one of the few that have selectable 2 or 4 wheel drive. It is the only ATV I have seen that has 4 wheel drive with DIFFERENTIAL LOCK. Why does this matter? Because 4 wheel drive only ATV's scrub the tires and bind up the drivetrain when driven on pavement, even if its only while loading or unloading. I go with 2 wheel drive when on pavement, switch to 4 wheel drive on the slippery stuff. When playing in deep mud or snow, I shift to 4wd differential lock for the best traction possible.
The next unique feature is the THREE SPEED SUBTRANSMISSION. The subtransmission works just like a high / low range transfer case in a 4x4 truck, except it has one more range called SUPER LOW. Coupled with the five speed foot shifter, you now have 15 forward gears and 3 in reverse! Having so many possibilities means I can find a gear with the speed and torque to match any pulling or offroading need! One of my sons is a member of a high school marching band. During performances I tow the "pit" onto the football field; three 8x8 trailers connected together and loaded with kettle drums, tubular bells, a huge bass drum, stands for the drum majors, marimbas, etc. The total is about 2,000 pounds. Hauling the pit requires hooking the first of three trailers to the back of the ATV, then pulling it perhaps 1/2 mile at WALKING SPEED on pavement and on grass. When hauling the band pit, I will use super low range and 2nd or 3rd gear because I can pull heavy loads at walking speed and my clutch is fully engaged. Other ATV's without super-low have to slip their clutch the whole time. Ouch.
Next on the list of innovations is the unique rear drive. The rear end is totally enclosed, sharing oil with the engine and transmission. The rear end has FULLY INDEPENDENT SUSPENSION instead of a solid axle. It rides better, handles better and there is no chain to adjust. Because the engine heats the oil for the transmission, the Suzuki shifts like a dream even in the coldest weather.
Unlike most other ATV's, the Suzuki has a SPEEDOMETER, ODOMETER and TRIP ODOMETER. I like knowing how fast I am going and how far I have travelled. The instrument cluster includes a lamp to let you know when your oil is too hot and you are overheating your engine. I have never had this light go on, even when dragging 10' logs in the summer with 4wd differential lock engaged, using super low range, and wailing on the engine 1st-2nd gear!
Unlike many other ATV's with an automatic clutch, the Suzuki has full engine braking going downhill or when you let off the throttle, a very nice touch.
There is a pull starter under the seat and a compression release. I have tested the pull starter and it does work. I use my ATV and a 120v inverter to run 300 watt halogen flood lamps on occasion, so its nice to know I can pull start it if I ever run the battery dead.
All Suzuki quads I have seen, including this one, have a throttle limiter that can be adjusted by a stop screw behind the throttle. When my kids were first learning to ride it was nice to know they would not be going 50mph the second they were out of my sight.
I live in Oregon, a lot of my friends have ATV's. When I showed up camping with my King Quad I took some ribbing about my "lawn tractor" from friends with Banshees and other such machines. The teasing soon stopped when I launched their boats and jet ski's by backing their trailers across the sand and into the lake, with the water halfway up my gas tank. After a day of riding in the Central Oregon high desert, they were amazed. I could go everywhere they did, do everything they did! Climb the hills, catch air, ride the whoop-d-doo's. Of course they could accellerate faster (600 pound 4x4 280cc 4 stroke against 400 pound 2x4 350cc two stroke) but when it came to the real loose stuff or mud I had far more traction. I used my machine to drag dead trees for firewood, launch the boats and then took it out play. Their toys could just go play. The guy with the souped up banshee that had been ribbing me the most was so impressed he got a Suzuki King Quad of his own.
Downside? The 6 month warrantee is short when you consider what these cost, although in 1 1/2 years nothing at all has gone wrong. A gas gauge instead of a rubber dipstick on the fuel cap would be nice. I wish the tailights also functioned as brakelights. You cant start the engine in gear, after my younger son stalled it trying to climb a steep hill in 5th gear I fixed that. (No, that is not a hazard. The automatic clutch disengages at low engine RPM's *AND* at the slightest foot pressure on the gearshift.) The speedometer reads a bit on the fast side. 30mph indicated is 27 on my GPS. 55 indicated is just over 50mph measured with a GPS. The odometer is dead on. I would like a tachometer, but I dont know of any ATV that includes a tach. There is a rev limiter, I found that out while catching some air and leaving the throttle wide open.
After 18 months I only have just over 300 miles of riding. Its surprising how little miles one actualy puts on the thing, even in a "day" of playing, since most other ATV's dont have an odometer they cant tell you how many miles they ride. After the 100 mile "break in," top speed was only 35mph, over the next 200 miles that increased to just over 50. I expect it will hit 60 once I get more miles on it, as my dad's 10 year old Suzuki 250 Quadrunner hits 50 with no problem.
On a foolish dare, I hooked my King Quad to my 7,200 pound F-350 truck and gave it a short tow in reverse. Uphill, (not steep, but still uphill) with the ATV trailer attached AND a 2,700 pound camper in the truck bed. Any ATV without a subtransmission would have melted the clutch, but I pulled over 10,000 pounds without a hitch.
As Suzuki says of the King Quad, "Technically, it kicks butt."