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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’m looking to get an ATV but don’t know the first thing about them other than popular big name brands…

I do a lot of hunting and have to cover a lot of ground consisting of mud/clay. After getting my truck and my buddies truck stuck, we found a local rancher who tried to help with his tractor….he got stuck. 2nd tractor came to pull out the first tractor also got stuck. Third tractor finally got everyone out. It was hard pack on top, then solid mud/clay underneath.
Some areas are slick clay/mud at the surface. I’d rather not get stuck again, which leads me to wanting an ATV.

I’m looking for a 4x4 ATV to transport myself and some gear from the trucks to where we hunt. This could be anywhere between 0.5 miles to 2 miles.

I don’t need anything new, fancy, or top of the line. I just want something affordable and reliable to get from point A to point B and back. The rancher style/utility atv seems to fit the bill.

my Questions…

1) buying used, what brands/models should I be looking in to? Brands to stay away from?

2) how old/how many hours/miles would be a “that’s too old, too many miles” type of atv?

3) what size motor should I be looking for?

4) is $3K for a quality/reliable used atv unrealistic or should I expect to pay more?

I’m assuming as with trucks, tire tread has a lot to do with it. I’ll worry about that when I figure out the basics first.

thanks!
 

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Most quads will probably get through the mud easily with their big soft tyres, but if you do get stuck you really don't want a belt drive model, you need the five speed gearbox and mechanical/centrifugal clutch. If you are going to be doing a lot of slow speed maneuvering on hard steep ground, getting over boulders or logs, you also don't want the belt drive.

Polaris and some others use front hub selction for engaging the front wheels using a system similar to auto hubs on trucks/utes. Those are dangerous on steep country, especially for a novice. The hubs engage to drag you up the hill, but if it proves to be too steep and you start to roll back dawn again the hubs disengage and then the front brakes will lock up and the bike will go out of control real easily. The auto hub works fine in sand and mud on the level and for most riding, but if it's steep, I'd recommend you keep right away from any bike with that auto hub feature.
I like hondas and suzukis. If the trail is open and not too steep the hondas would do fine, but if the trail is steep, narrow and winding, it's hard to beat an old suzuki with fifteen speeds and a locking front diff, they are the tractor version of quad bike. The honda has a very low first gear for crawling, but the rest of the gears are standard sort of gearing and so if you need to reverse or get out of some really tight spot, you're in a predicament. The suzukis have three ranges and five speeds and reverse. In low low ration the first and reverse are absolute crawlers, you could crawl faster than a suzuki in low low first or reverse, literally.. crawl. The low ration works the same way it does in a truck, you can use a higher gear and have shifts to spare, the gearbox becomes a close ration, just like using low in the truck.. There is no substitute for the torque and the close ratios when the going gets tough. The honda has a limited slip front diff, but it doesn't lock as solid as the suzukis mechanical lock, so the honda works fine in sand and mud, but if you have the front end jammed up against a log or rocks the suzuki will haul you over it better.

The other thing is suspensions, especially if you are going to load it up with gear and kill. On hills the suspensions with only one swing arm each side on the back tend to tuck under if you go around the side of a hill, where the two swing arm models don't tuck in, they stay slightly wider on the ground. They are a bit more stable. The solid axle models don't have that problem.

I think any bike of 300cc to 500cc will do what you want, and I'd recommend keeping away from the bigger sizes. A 300 is relatively light.. The power is very manageable in tight situations. Big powerful bikes, two or four wheeled, become a handful in tight situations..

There are probably lots of other considerations, but I think the choice should be dictated by the terrain and work intended. Hope that helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Most quads will probably get through the mud easily with their big soft tyres, but if you do get stuck you really don't want a belt drive model, you need the five speed gearbox and mechanical/centrifugal clutch. If you are going to be doing a lot of slow speed maneuvering on hard steep ground, getting over boulders or logs, you also don't want the belt drive.

Polaris and some others use front hub selction for engaging the front wheels using a system similar to auto hubs on trucks/utes. Those are dangerous on steep country, especially for a novice. The hubs engage to drag you up the hill, but if it proves to be too steep and you start to roll back dawn again the hubs disengage and then the front brakes will lock up and the bike will go out of control real easily. The auto hub works fine in sand and mud on the level and for most riding, but if it's steep, I'd recommend you keep right away from any bike with that auto hub feature.
I like hondas and suzukis. If the trail is open and not too steep the hondas would do fine, but if the trail is steep, narrow and winding, it's hard to beat an old suzuki with fifteen speeds and a locking front diff, they are the tractor version of quad bike. The honda has a very low first gear for crawling, but the rest of the gears are standard sort of gearing and so if you need to reverse or get out of some really tight spot, you're in a predicament. The suzukis have three ranges and five speeds and reverse. In low low ration the first and reverse are absolute crawlers, you could crawl faster than a suzuki in low low first or reverse, literally.. crawl. The low ration works the same way it does in a truck, you can use a higher gear and have shifts to spare, the gearbox becomes a close ration, just like using low in the truck.. There is no substitute for the torque and the close ratios when the going gets tough. The honda has a limited slip front diff, but it doesn't lock as solid as the suzukis mechanical lock, so the honda works fine in sand and mud, but if you have the front end jammed up against a log or rocks the suzuki will haul you over it better.

The other thing is suspensions, especially if you are going to load it up with gear and kill. On hills the suspensions with only one swing arm each side on the back tend to tuck under if you go around the side of a hill, where the two swing arm models don't tuck in, they stay slightly wider on the ground. They are a bit more stable. The solid axle models don't have that problem.

I think any bike of 300cc to 500cc will do what you want, and I'd recommend keeping away from the bigger sizes. A 300 is relatively light.. The power is very manageable in tight situations. Big powerful bikes, two or four wheeled, become a handful in tight situations..

There are probably lots of other considerations, but I think the choice should be dictated by the terrain and work intended. Hope that helps.
thank you for the response.For my intended use,I plan to use it on relatively flat ground, basically mud flats, and busting through brush to get to different areas for duck hunting. Unless I use the quad for other activities, everything is flat.

The hunting load I’d be carrying would be light. Gun, shells, gear bag and decoys. I have a jet sled I’d pull behind the atv full of decoys and other random gear. Maybe 100lbs total in gear, plus me at 200Lbs.

How old (model year) is too old for an atv? Or do you go by hours or miles?
I’ve noticed on Hondas website their rancher starts around $5,000 new? Yet I see model year 2005(ish) that are still selling for $5K. What’s the deal?

what red flags should I look for that tell me I should pass on the quad and keep looking?
 

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Ok. Then almost any make or model will do. I'd still favour the non-belt drive.

And whenever I've been helping anybody to buy a car I always explain that everything is going to need some work and that we shouldn't get put off by a problem/fault we may find. I always get them to choose a model they think is the most suitable for them, then we go and look at several, as many as we can, then we choose the one in the best overall condition.. I fix whatever needs fixing once they have got it, and generally they are happy with what they've got.
People that end up with regrets after they've bought a car or bike, are the ones that didn't look at several but bought the first or second one they saw because it looked good. Then, when they find a problem that are disappointing and full of doubts. If we've looked at several and checked all their faults and bought the best one for the money, knowing we are going to repair some things to get it up to scratch, even if we find some fault later, they are sort of happy that it was still the best one for the money.
Mostly these days, if the motor's running good, not smoking or leaking oil, it will keep going for years. What does take maintaining is the drive shafts, brakes, and steering and suspension. Those are the things I look at mainly on quads, because it's where the lack of maintenance show up, and where repairs are likely to be needed..
Take a mechanic, look at several, ride them all, look at the overall condition, list and price the faults they have, choose the one that's going to come good at the best overall price. Do the repairs and service to get it all good, and hopefully it will do you for years..
 

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I have a 2001 Yamaha Big Bear 400. Auto clutch and no belts. It's very sturdy, mine sat in a snow covered field for10 years but is back in action. The only thing I don't like is shifting in or out of reverse. Kinda clunky and fussy process. Otherwise it's been trouble free and good for plowing the driveway.

Mad
 

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I wholeheartedly agree with Mech! I started years ago with a 2wd Kawasaki Bayou 300. I could go an amazing range of places with that bike. I added a winch to the front and then I could get it unstuck. It was a geared machine. I wouldn't recommend 2wd for you though.
My next bike was a Kawasaki Prarie 360 4wd. It was a belt driven machine but even dunking it in mud and water didn't seem to bother it. What I didn't like was the fussy maintenance prone front differential locking mechanism.
I'm in the process of bringing a couple of machines back from the field of lost dreams now. One each Suzuki King Quad 300, and a Suzuki Quadrunner 250. Both of those machines feature the distinction of being the only quads ever made with the three range system Mech mentioned. High, low, and super low, with a locking front differential in super low, and a five speed transmission.
Machine number one was I think a 93, paid $100 for it and took it completely apart, rebuilt the top end of the motor sand blasted and painted everything. Replaces as many fasteners as I could with stainless steel bits from work. It turned out nice.
2nd was a 2003, paid 600. Rebuilt the top end, did some clutch maintenance and a winch addition and drove it all over.
Now I'm really excited about the Suzukies. I live on a farm in the West Virginia mountains. The pictures of the view from my front yard. It'll be used to go down to the river to fish, drag deer out and dragging trailers of firewood and such. In my opinion it'd be an ideal machine for you. If you take your time you can find a low mileage one for less than or maybe a bit more than your $3000.00 target. I actually know of one that's in like new shape, although the lady who owns it won't sell. Dang it. The two Suzukis I mentioned are almost identical designs. Engine size and the addition of an oil cooler being the main difference. The models were made from 87 to 03 I think. From 2000 they added front disk brakes on the King. Whatever you wind up with I recommend a set of Kenda Bearclaw tires for your terrain.
Good luck and happy searching. And I in my opinion stay away from any off brand Chinese machine.
Sky Plant community Mountain Natural landscape Slope
 
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