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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
{Edit on April 1: I've shifted now from a goal of a used ATV to getting a new one. Read on for more on that decision.}

I know this is mainly a gun forum, but the owners are kind enough to provide this Tavern for more OT things. I just searched the Tavern for ATV related threads. Found two, but no posting in either since 2013 and 2008, respectively. So I thought I'd start a new one.

For the second time in about three years, I'm considering buying an ATV. Not a UTV, but ATV. I'll list my criteria below -- at least what I think I'm looking for (but your advice may change that). But first some background. If you don't care, or don't have the time to read background, skip down to this: "** What I think I want ..."

I live in the dead center of Maine in what's called the highlands. Been here for three years. It is the frontier border; what's north of here would boggle the minds of most people living in the eastern US -- kind of the old west of the east -- just wild and harsh. But in coming months, I'm heading back to the coast in a region of eastern Maine called "Downeast" within 20 mi of the Canadian border. (I'm #2 on a waiting list for an apartment.)

I'm a transplant to this state that arrived in 2010 after living all over the US; I've moved a LOT, mostly for professional reasons, including training. Aside from the depths of winter -- which can be challenging for a southern boy (now 69, and getting no warmer) -- and the black flies in spring (Satan's little blood sucking spawn that swarm by the millions; very fast = little F-16's, and smart), I love it here. Summers and autumn are unbeatable. And there are LOTS of big open, publicly-accessible (even if privately owned) wild places, lots of forests, swamps, lakes, marshes, and amazing coast line, including spectacular rocky shore <-- soon, I will live within 15 mi of that.

One of the greatest challenges for me for ten years has been not owning a motorized vehicle in a state with effectively no mass transit within cities (only four have any bus service at all, and it's mostly a joke) and between towns. That was not my plan, but -- long story appropriate for a tavern made short -- I was thrown under a bus three times in my first few years here (one personal -- a woman :mad: -- and two professional :mad::mad:) and wound up in a financial hole. With the help of friends, I'm slowly climbing out, but still no budget for a car/truck. Even an ATV will be a stretch.

I have a nice bicycle. Luckily the whole state is beautiful and I've lived in some of the most beautiful areas (all over the southern half), so just walking out my door and into the woods, or riding the bike 5 miles gets me to what I'd call a vacation spot (especially on the coast). They don't call it "the vacation state" for nothing.

I've been a backpacker since I was 22, and did some serious expedition stuff in my 30's - 50's, including in the southwest deserts and canyons and in the southern Rockies. I've done a bit up here -- spectacular wilderness starts just 10 mi north of me -- but as I bump 70, my body is starting to say, "Listen up, stupid; I can't do this as well any more, especially with these loads. Why don't you buy some wheels?"

Since there are 3000 mi of ATV/snowmobile trails in this state, including a major one running a few hundred feet from my next apartment (which oddly enough, also runs only a few hundred feet from my current one -- #82, which is closed now for mud season), I'm starting to think about one.

A few years ago, I researched ATV's thoroughly, but my plans didn't work out and I've forgotten much of what I learned then. So I'm a total newbie.

** What I think I want is described by the following, in no particular order:

  • It must be used and of low expense. I don't know what exactly "low expense" is going to be, but lower the better as long as it's not a lemon or abused. {April update: I'm now looking at a new 450 for $7k out the door. I've started fundraising from among supporters of my work and am about $4800 toward that goal.}
  • This is utility only. I want it to carry me and gear. I'm not interested in racing (I like slow), serious mud challenges, steep hills, etc. (This may even get pressed into grocery pick up since the same trail runs just behind a local grocery store in the new town.) I think the topology downeast is a bit flatter than here, but still with some hills. I'll not be putting 100 miles on it on the weekends. My ranging will be much smaller.
  • I suspect I need something in the 450 to 500 size range, but some things I'm reading say maybe 350 is OK. I'm 140 lb fully dressed with boots, and I want to be able to carry a LOT of camping gear. Think the equivalent of an expedition sized backpack (maybe 95L) plus food, and hopefully even a large tent (that will weigh around 50 lb).
Lastly, what should I expect in terms of a price range for a decent, used, even if older (pre-2010 or older?) unit?

I'm familiar with some of the bigger names -- Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Polaris, etc -- but am open to suggestions.

Feel free to ask questions if you need to know more.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions, advice, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Another dull Saturday night, stuck at home (sheltering in place during Covid; still only about 40 cases in this state, none in my county (that have been diagnosed), but staying inside anyway ... as I prefer if I'm not in the woods).

Just for the record, if I had $7k burning a hole, this is the one I'd buy on Monday.

By the way, ATV stories in general are welcome here. If it's about ATV, even UTV, it's not OT to me. I want to learn more about these unique vehicles.

 

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Discussion Starter #4
I totally agree. Already concluded that after reading tonight.

Amazon is full of them. Even there, they're getting abysmal reviews.
 

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Almost 10 years now with my Yamaha Grizzly 700. Still puts that stoopid grin on my face. As with gun suggestions on any forum, buy what you want, that fits your needs. Good luck with your “ new” atv:D Ron
 

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Discussion Starter #6
As with gun suggestions on any forum, buy what you want, that fits your needs.
:) You offer good advice. I always read and consider the advice I get on forums, then do what seems reasonable and right for me. Good to know at least one here will support that decision. :cool:
 

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I've had Honda's and Suzuki's and both did anything reasonable and a few things that weren't.
My current is a 750 king quad only because they didn't have a 450 on hand. I've learned not to let anyone who's reckless even get close to it.
It's Scary fast and it skids firewood like you wouldn't believe but I'd get a 450 if I had it to do over.
 

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Check out your local dealers and buy whatever brands they service and sell. My nearest atv dealer is 25 miles from my farm and he carries Honda and Polaris so that's what I buy so I know I can get parts and service when needed.
 

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Check out your local dealers and buy whatever brands they service and sell. My nearest atv dealer is 25 miles from my farm and he carries Honda and Polaris so that's what I buy so I know I can get parts and service when needed.
Ditto this we have Polaris,Argo and Suzuki in various styles.The Polaris and the Argo while as the crow flies is not far its a pain in the neck trip through the hills to get to the "local" dealers for them and wastes what seems like half a day. While Suzuki is 20 minutes away. It wont seem like much till you need parts or service.
 

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I love my 07 Polaris 700, it is a utility ATV 4x4 with fuel injection.
Don't get one so old it is carburated, the FI is so nice and reliable.
Greg
 

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I've had a Kawasaki Mule 610 since the spring of 2005. It is a 4WD UTV which - as one ages - gets to be more and more attractive in terms of getting in and out of. It has a decent cargo box that can hold four bales of hay without stacking. Can seat three on its bench seat (two adults and a kid is best, but have done three adults). It will also fit in the 8' bed or a full-sized pickup truck.

Ours is carburated and agree with Greg the FI is the way to go now. The latest iterations of the 610 are indeed FI now. I'm on my third carb (one re-build, and one new). But a new carb every five years is a lot cheaper than getting a newer 610.

We modded ours over the years: I put on a roof made of plywood and covered with some vinyl I had laying around, got a 4' X 2' sheet of plexiglass from Home depot to make a 3/4 windshield to keep the rain out of our faces, and attached some 1½" and 2" piping to the roof to carry around shovels and rakes and stuff. With all of that, it still fits in my standard house garage (height was the concern). It is reasonably zippy (although our Great Dane could out-run it in her better days), and one can add a small trailer hitch to it with a towing capacity of 1,000# (we have some small utility trailers we use with it, depending on the utility).

All this is to say don't discount a UTV. New, decent ATVs come close to (or exceed) some UTVs and I would suspect the same holds true for used ones. Having sat in a number of newer UTVs at the showroom, the 610 is by far the easiest to get into/out of: like a gas-powered golf cart on steroids.

Good luck in your quest!

Here a pic of it before my mods.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
More good, useful ideas and advice posted here overnight. Thanks to all! Very helpful to me (and hopefully others).

I have some reading to do and may have some more comments and questions later, but for now, just three.

One, RJF, good point about not ruling out a UTV, especially since I'm pushing the aging pedal pretty hard now. And honestly hauling my camping gear would probably (?) be easier in a "bed" than on a couple of racks (but see trailer). The issue for me right now is $. Looking at prices for new ones, at least, they are substantially more expensive by thousands than ATV's. Still, I won't rule one out.

Two, does anyone have any opinions about the company Can Am? The closest dealer to me now -- and I suspect in the new town after I move -- is in Bangor (much closer to me now than later). They handle several brands, including Polaris, Honda, Kawasaki and Can Am, and the new units by the latter maker appear to be on the lower end of the price range (though marginally: example, $6800 vs $7900, etc). Here's a new one at the Bangor dealer that is the right size for me (I think) and a reasonable price for a new one. Edited: this Can Am is hundreds less ($6200), but with many of the same features, including rack capacity.

I have not yet read any reviews of Can Am, but their features look nice, including weight capacity of front and rear racks seems to be substantively more than some other units.

I have also become more aware of a possibility of towing a small trailer to make hauling my camp equipment easier. And they appear to be relatively inexpensive (hundreds).

Finally, for now, three, I have some friends who have been very supportive of my work (that I hope to build a small company around later this year) in the past years during my times of financial hardship. They know I've struggled without a car/truck. There was even an effort to raise funds to buy me a used car at one point, but I let it go for reasons that need not concern us here. I may enlist some of them in this effort and see if I can raise funds for this, at least a later model if not new. Given that the ATV trail runs right through "downtown" of the new town, plus far west and east (all the way to the Canadian border through some really nice areas), it may be the way to go now.
 

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I have a 4+ year old Honda rancher 400. It has been great. Only thing I’ve done is replace battery. Use it to haul firewood and stone in a cart (4 -5 big wheel barrel loads worth), and a blade for snow. EFI seems very reliable, even on cold mornings, when you really need it to start. 5 speed but don’t think I’ve had it past 3rd gear (?). Fiancé rode on the rack once (said it was a blast even at old man speed) so something in the 350-400 cc range would seem to fit your needs. Would recommend 4-wheel drive and power steering is a plus. I would agree to stick with a well known manufacturer and well-maintained a plus. I would think you could find an ATV this size as a certain number of folks who may have bought this size feel they would like or need something larger after a few years. Best of luck on your search and moving forward.
 

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Can get on "https://www.atvtrader.com/ and see what is available around you, stick to the better known brands. I personally have been a Polaris owner since 98. Just recently upgraded to a Polaris General from my 05 sportsman, sold the sportsman to a friend for 3k, he got a good deal.
 

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I've used ATVs and UTV for land surveying for the past 20 years and here's a few things I've noticed. We've used Polaris, Can-Am, Honda and Suzuki. All have been dependable.

1) we run them on pavement as much as dirt and the tires will only last about 5,000 miles. Tires are about 50/80 bucks per (local).
2) after my stroke getting off and on all day takes it's toll. That's why I started using a Polaris Ranger 800 and 900.
3) at road speed (50-60 mph) the UTV doesn't do much better on gasoline than the F-150.
4) a lot of people are scared of the Polaris because it uses a drive belt and they're worried it'll slip when wet. We run them through swamps, creeks, standing water in field, etc. and have never had a problem in 15 years of use.
5) I wouldn't by an ATV that doesn't have a pull start back up for the battery. With a petcock I can even use my bad arm to get them running. You don't want to be in the middle of nowhere with a bad battery.
6) we can carry about 150lbs w/200 lb. people using 400/500 ATVs no problem.
7) the UTVs will carry 500lbs w/ 2 200lb people with ease.
8) we've never used the electronic power steering but never felt the need even with my weak arm.

My favorite is the 2006 Polaris 500 Sportsman ATV. It has plenty of ground clearance and independent suspension which makes for a smooth ride. The push button 4 wheel drive is nice. We put about 5,000 miles a year, perform regular maintenance and the only problem we've had is replacing batteries, mufflers and had the transmission go out in a 400 Honda Foreman. Haven't looked at any used ones in a while but the last one we sold 10 yrs ago was a 2002 Polaris 400 Polaris Sportsman with 9000 miles for $2,500. I've heard prices are still about the same for the same models but for units with a lot less miles.
 

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Yamaha kodiak, honda rincon are good bikes. Very reliable. You don’t need gobs of hp or displacement either. The smaller engine bikes are geared lower for better torque.
 

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Agree with sr40ohio that power steering isn’t necessary but mine came with it and steering effort is extremely easy. Mine doesn’t have pull start but agree it would be better, especially for your projected use and living in Maine.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Thanks very much for continued suggestions. It's really very helpful. I'm learning a lot.

I'm studying all this very carefully since I'm going to need to raise funds from supporters to fund this (if I can) and want to be able to explain "why this one?". Part of what I do -- or am trying to do -- professionally involves outdoor videos focusing on the biology, ecology, natural history, geography and geology of this region ... with a few other topics woven in. I see this vehicle as an important component of that work ... plus my ticket to getting to some nice places away from base camp (what I call my studio/apartment).

Thanks to SR9c for that link. I've checked it out. I also checked Craigslist Maine and found a few interesting ones, including a 2018 Polaris Sportsman 450 for <$5k from a guy down near Augusta; he appears to be a smaller dealer of sorts, has several postings. Think I'll give him a call.

I've spent most of this beautiful blue sky spring afternoon watching videos and reading reviews. (I wanted to go out for a walk in the woods, but the temps are in the high 20'sF with a stiff breeze, and my homeostasis has already shifted to SPRING, so I watched videos instead.)

After watching several vids on the Can Am units, both 450 and 570, I'm a bit less interested for now, mainly for one reason: both reviewers said they are loud, in particular making a whirring sound (my spell checker tried to make that "whoring") that they found obnoxious -- some belt drive (?). I'm a stickler for as quiet as I can get.

Looking at the new units (and presumably used ones similar to it), the Polaris Sportsman 450 has my attention right now. MSRP: $6250; that's good for a new unit. It's reportedly actually a 500, gets good reviews, and has good weight capacity on the front/rear "racks" (metal racks optional).

 

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Hello from mid-coast Maine. I have just a couple of years on you in age (well, 3 to be exact), and have lived in Maine my entire life. FWIW, back in 2007, we (my wife and I) bought a used 2001 Arctic Cat 250 2wd as a second machine for practically nothing. I think we paid $800. It was primarily her ride; we also had a Polaris 450 Explorer. We ran those machines for a couple of years, then sold them and bought a Yamaha Rhino side by side, which we sold three years ago and bought a Polaris Sportsman 750 Touring (2-up), which we are happy with. I have to say that the little Arctic Cat 4x2 was extremely reliable and always went everywhere we wanted to take it, and was the best bang for the buck we've ever owned. Wish I had kept it.
 

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Op, as you are looking used, I would go for the best deal you can find from any of the big brands, Honda, Yamaha, can am, Polaris, etc. You know the brands.

That said, I am a big fan of the Yamaha kodiak 450’s. Plenty of power for all you should ask of an atv, while still small enough to be maneuverable and nimble off trail.

But something in the 400-500 cc range should fit your needs very well.


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