2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 Specs and Review

2002 saw the highest number of trims produced for the Polaris Sportsman 500, a year after the High Output models launched in the market. It was a brilliant follow-through for the lineup. And boy, did it do a marvelous job at exciting consumers! As if this were not enough, five of the eight trims were limited-edition models – with one built in honor of NASCAR royalty, Richard Petty. How cool is that? Well, you are about to find out more in this guide.

The 2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 was the 7th installment in the Sportsman 500 lineup since 1996. Featuring PVT with EBS transmission, fully-independent rear suspension, and the famous Richard Petty Special Edition trim, this best-seller continues to be a top choice for off-road riders and enthusiasts.

With only seven years into its production, the Polaris Sportsman 500 had come a long way. Polaris’ continued innovation of the Sportsman family and its other product series paid off in leaps and bounds. This manifested in Polaris’ growth in retail sales and market share, clearly establishing the company as a top manufacturer in the ATV industry.

Camo 2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 HO Quad

Paying It Forward

As with any other successful story, there is always a point where the fortune-stricken character pays forward its good luck in some shape or form. That is exactly what happened in 2002 – when Polaris decided to produce five very special trims for consumers and the riding community to enjoy. There are the usual H.O. Remington and Ducks Unlimited editions. But the company added three more. Here is a list of all the trims released in the said year:

TrimModel
2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 H.O. (High Output, base)A02CH50AA/AE
2002 Polaris Worker 500 (International name, base)A02CH50EB
2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 RSE (Remington Special Edition)A02CH50AC
2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 DUSE (Ducks Unlimited Special Edition)A02CH50AD
2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 H.O. DesertA02CH50AF
2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 H.O. FreedomA02CH50AL
2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 Richard Petty Editionunknown

Both base and limited-edition versions have the same class-leading features such as:

  • Robust 499-cm3 four-valve
  • Four-stroke High Output power mill
  • Industry-first Independent Rear Suspension boasts 9.5 inches of rear-wheel travel and 11-inch ground clearance.
  • True On-Demand All-Wheel Drive
  • Award-winning Polaris Variable Transmission (PVT) with EBS transmission
  • In stock form, these machines all rev 41.5 2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 H.O. horsepower.

In Honor of the King

The special-edition quad produced as a tribute to NASCAR’s “King” Richard Petty is, perhaps, the greatest highlight of the 2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 – one that commemorates Polaris’ involvement with NASCAR and partnership with the “King.” It is a custom-made High Output model that sported additional features selected by Richard Petty himself. The said features include:

  • Chrome-plated steel wheels
  • Polaris-exclusive 25-inch Goodyear Rawhide Grip tires
  • Front/rear chrome dual-tube bumpers
  • Chrome rack extenders
  • Red suspension springs
  • Special graphics package that has the number 43 on it
  • Red and sonic blue stripes complement the black-finished plastic body panel.
  • Two-tone black and sonic blue seat (custom-built)
  • Richard Petty’s signature and profile are also on the side of the fuel tank.
Black 2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 H.O. ATV

2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 Specs & Features

  • Engine: A four-stroke, liquid-cooled single-cylinder SOHC engine powers up the quad. Engine displacement is 499 cm3 (30.45 in3), delivered by a 40-mm Mikuni BST carburetor. It has a pressurized dry-sump lubrication system and a single-pipe exhaust. The fuel tank capacity is 5.25 US gallons/19.9 liters. Fuel should not contain more than 10% ethanol or 5% methanol to avoid burns and engine damage.
  • Lubrication: Oil capacity is 1.89 US quarts/2 liters of SAE 10W-40 Polaris Premium 4 Synthetic Lubricant or any API-certified SJ synthetic oil that meets manufacturer specifications/JASO T903 MA standards. Always go for oil without molybdenum additives and refrain from mixing engine oil with different viscosities or oil brands.
  • Drivetrain: An automatic Polaris Variable Transmission with EBS handles power, delivered by a direct rear driveshaft and a Hilliard-type clutch assembly with an E-Z high-low shifter inclusive of reverse. When worn out, CV axles can be replaced with an ECCPP CV Axle Complete Shaft Assembly (view on Amazon). A switch on the right handlebar controls On-Demand AWD/2WD driveline modes. The left handlebar houses the headlight, starter, auxiliary shut-off, and override switches.
  • Ignition: The four-wheeler has a solid-state DC-CDI (Capacitor Discharge Ignition) electric start system with a recoil starter for backup and an ignition timing of 30° BTDC @ 3,500 RPM 2°. It requires an NGK BKR6E spark plug with a gap of 0.036 inches (0.9 mm) and has a triple-phase alternator with a rated output of 250 watts. Current YTX14AH-BS battery formats would work on the Sportsman 500.
  • Tires & Brakes: The steel wheels equip tubeless, low-pressure 25 x 8-12 front and 22 x 11-10 rear tires with a recommended tire pressure of 5 psi (34.47 kPa/0.35 kg-f/cm2). Brakes consist of a hydraulic all-wheel lock, a foot brake, and a hydraulic opposed piston caliper brake at the rear, accompanied by a parking brake. Use only DOT 3 brake fluid when assembling or servicing brakes to prevent brake system contamination and rubber components swelling.
  • Suspension: An independent MacPherson strut front suspension with 6.25 inches (158.8 mm) of travel and an anti-roll bar, dual shocks, and 9.5 inches (241.3 mm) of travel lends to the superior handling of the 4×4. An overall turning radius of 5.42 ft (165.1 cm) allows for tight cornering angles.
  • Dimensions: The overall vehicle dimensions are 81 x 46 x 48 inches (2,057 x 1,168 x 1,219 mm – L x W x H). The minimum ground clearance (unloaded) is 11 inches (279.4 mm), and the wheelbase is 50.5 inches (1,285 mm). The dry weight is 697 lbs (316.1 Kg). Hitch tow capacity is 1,225 lbs (556 Kg) – 1,786 lbs (810 Kg) if using a brakeless trailer. GVWR is 1,200 lbs (544 Kg) – a combination of the 740.8-lb (336-Kg) curb weight, 270-lb (122.4-Kg) total rack capacity, plus passengers and accessories.
  •  Exterior: The four-wheeler has a Gen IV steel frame finish in medium gloss black and plastic body material in Sonic Blue, Sportsman Green, red, yellow, and Mossy Oak Break-Up brand camo for the RSE trim. Basic features include a full-length skid plate, fenders, hand grips and handlebars, full floorboards, and front and rear composite utility racks. Protect your quad from the elements with a Weatherproof ATV Cover (view on Amazon).
  • Lighting: Dual 27-watt grille-mounted lights located on the front fenders and a 60-watt Halogen pod headlight allow for visibility while driving. Lighting also includes an 8.26-watt taillight, 6.9-watt brake light, and single-watt indicator lights. Nilight 18W 4″ 1260lm Spot Driving Fog Lights (view on Amazon) are great additions to stock lights when you are into late-night wheeling!
  •  On-Demand AWD/2WD Drive System: A thumb switch found on the right handlebar activates either the 4WD or 2WD. When rear wheels lose traction, front axles automatically engage. Similarly, they disengage when the reverse happens.

What Is a 2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 Worth?

The MSRP of the 2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 ranges from $6,999 to $7,599, the H.O. base model as the cheapest, and the DUSE/RSE special-edition trims the most expensive – largely due to their Mossy Oak Break-Up brand camo trims. Getting package inclusions such as performance exhaust, recovery winch, and AM/FM radio with speakers can make the list price go up to $9,099. Aftermarket 2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 parts and custom rebuilds will further add to your expenses for the quad.

In terms of retail pricing, the 2002 Sportsman averages between $1,195 and $1,770. This is half its average worth in auction listings and online trader sites, starting from $1,850 to $3,300. The rare 2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 Richard Petty Edition holds its value really well and is often sold for $3,000-$4,000 – more than 50% of its original list price of $7,399.

Secondhand 2002 models in near-mint condition are found in Australia, Canada, and the U.S. However, do not expect to find special-edition models that easily. Richard Petty editions are very scarce, while the probability of finding the Desert or Freedom trims is close to zero. On the bright side, H.O. base models are in abundance. But because of its age, you may find some resale units to have a broken speedometer unit or torn seat covers.

Customer Reviews

Around 2002, the riding community believed Polaris had broken the Japanese monopoly of the ATV landscape – by coming out with the most reliable all-terrain vehicles the market has seen in a while. And although the Sportsman 500 lineup started as early as 1996, it was not until seven years after that this four-wheeler truly made a mark with both the public and off-road enthusiasts.

Patrons find these brutes insanely tough and reliable, so much so that some of the Polaris owners were former Honda/Yamaha fanatics who have been won over. The vehicle’s high vent and water-resistant wiring are among its most-loved qualities. Riders do recognize that the Sportsman 500 may not have the best power output in its class. But it has plenty of grunt sufficient for the mud-digger, superb handling, and terrainability that is truly remarkable.

Camo 2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 ATV

Going Tactical

Because special-edition Desert and Freedom trims are extremely difficult to come by, many Sportsman owners choose to build one themselves. All you need to have is a base model (H.O.), 2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 parts (aftermarket or OEM), funds, and mechanical skills, and you are all set! If you are planning on doing a similar project, here are a few suggestions that are worth considering:

  • Full-custom performance exhaust
  • 28″/29″ tires, like High Lifter Outlaw ATV Mud Tires OL-9100 (view on Amazon)
  • Dalton Industries Clutch Kit (view on Amazon)
  • Front 2,500-lb WARN winch and tube bumper
  • Chromoly tie rods and beefier control arms
  • LED headlights, taillights, and backups
  • Upgraded battery (YTX14AH-BS gel variants are good options)
  • Black or dark gray seat cover
  • Tool mounts or gun scabbards
  • Saddlebags or Kolpin Matrix Seat Bag (view on Amazon) in Mossy Oak Break-Up brand camo
  • Mini traction boards
  • Extra fuel (for long trips)
  • Handguards and new grips
  • ELKA Suspension Stage 2 Rear Shocks (view on Amazon) and corresponding performance spring kit
  • 2″ lift, depending on how oversized your tires are
  • Bluetooth sound system
  • Better-flowing air filter and snorkel
  • GPS and CB radios (if you do not have one yet)
  • New bushings
  • Raptor-lined Desert Tan body and paint job

While you’re at it, go through every system on the quad – tires and wheels, suspension, body, lighting. Doing a full electrical revamp and waterproofing will pay off in the long run. Just make sure to account for the vehicle’s GVWR when adding all these mods. In that way, the added weight does not take away from the power output of your four-wheeler.

About Polaris

Polaris Inc. is an American firm widely-known for its side-by-sides, snowmobiles, and all-terrain vehicles. The maker of the 2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 single-handedly spawned the snowmobile industry in 1954. And by 1956, it created all the buzz with its famed Sno Traveler. No one would have thought that it started as a farm equipment manufacturer. Polaris was steadily gaining ground in the ATV scene before the Textron, Inc. acquisition in 1968. But after being acquired, the company almost catapulted to the top of the industry. Today, Polaris is a well-established key player recognized for product innovations such as automatic transmission, Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI), and Independent Rear Suspension (IRS).

Conclusion – 2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 Review

In a way, 2002 was a golden year for the Sportsman 500 lineup. Not because of the number of special-edition models that the company was able to produce, but due to the American firm finally seeing the fruits of its labor. Since 1985, Polaris has been tirelessly making a name for itself by revolutionizing the ATV market through market-transforming improvements like automatic transmissions, long-travel Independent Rear Suspensions, single-lever hydraulic braking, and On-Demand AWD (True 4-Wheel Drive).

With the advent of the Sportsman family, together with other great vehicles such as the Predator and Ranger series, Polaris established a loyal following as rock-solid as its four-wheeled machines. The culmination of the manufacturer’s pains and gains is aptly embodied in the reliable and praise-worthy 2002 Polaris Sportsman 500 models. That said, many would agree that 2002’s production releases are truly a cause for celebration.

Kris Peter

Adventure seeker and off-road enthusiast. I love the thrill of going off-road and taking on the elements.

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