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2005 Polaris Sportsman 500 Specs and Review

2005 saw the 10th installment of the lineup and the final production run of the carbureted Sportsman 500. In the previous year, Polaris made a quantum leap in the evolution of the 500cc four-wheeler when it introduced the All-Terrain Pickup and Turf mode and began to standardize the camo body panel. The American firm was treading towards the right direction, and things could only get better.

The 2005 Polaris Sportsman 500 was the lineup’s 10th-year release and last model with a carbureted engine. Featuring four trims, more storage, and new and improved suspension components, this 4×4 retained its charm as a reliable machine – always ready to work or play.

Stronger brakes, better wheel travel and handling, and a smarter storage capacity – all these stellar improvements and more can only mean that Polaris is cooking up something even better for the years ahead. Read on and learn how the 2005 Polaris Sportsman 500 prepped the market for future technological advancements.

ATV Riding on the Beach

Going Out with a Bang

No – 2005 was not the final production run of the Polaris Sportsman 500. It was, however, the last year that Polaris was to make carbureted wheelers. Not that carburetors were no good. But with the advent of ECMs, tech developments, and stricter emissions regulations, Sportsman ATVs needed an equally-efficient fuel system that can ride with the times.

To commemorate this eventful exit from carburetion systems, the American manufacturer put in what was, perhaps, the 4×4’s best suspension system, paired with larger 26-inch all-terrain tires, a robust brake system, longer 8.2-inch front-wheel travel, and superb styling. Everything put together resulted in the 2005 Polaris Sportsman 500 model.


Of course, the company was not going to ditch the improvements from the previous year. So, they retained both the H.O. and ATP trims (famous for its “Turf” mode and rear mini dump bed) and released Mossy Oak Camouflage versions for each, ending up with four fascinating trims consumers can enjoy:

  • 2005 Polaris Sportsman 500 H.O. (High Output, base)
  • 2005 Polaris Sportsman 500 H.O. (High Output, Mossy Oak Camouflage)
  • 2005 Polaris Sportsman 500 ATP (All-Terrain Pickup, base)
  • 2005 Polaris Sportsman 500 ATP (All-Terrain Pickup, Mossy Oak Camouflage)

These sport machines are a superior ride to previous models, allowing drivers – new and experienced – to maintain higher speeds without excessive fatigue or discomfort. It not only feeds the need for an adrenaline rush but can also take a good thrashing, regardless of changes to elevation and terrain. This brute handles exceptionally well on miles of dunes, slow-crawling sections, mud bogs, shallow water crossings, and GNCC-style trails beckoning to be ridden.

2005 Polaris Sportsman 500 Specs & Features

  • Engine: A Fuji four-stroke, liquid-cooled single-cylinder SOHC engine brings the quad to life. It has a 92 x 75 mm bore-stroke ratio and a 10:2 compression ratio. A Mikuni BST40 carburetor delivers engine displacement (499 cm3). It has a pressurized dry-sump lubrication system and a single-pipe exhaust. Fuel tank capacity is reduced further to 4.25 US gallons/16.09 liters from previous years. It requires either a regular leaded or unleaded gasoline with a minimum PON rating of 87 (oxygenated) or 89 (non-oxygenated).
  • Lubrication: Oil capacity is 2.25 US quarts/2.1 liters of SAE 0W-40 Polaris Premium 4 Synthetic Lubricant or its equivalent. Using any API-certified SJ synthetic oil that meets manufacturer specifications and JASO T903 MA standards allows for optimum engine performance. However, not using Premium 4 Synthetic Lubricant may require you to do oil change more frequently. Just make sure to always go for oil without molybdenum additives when using other variants.
  • Drivetrain: An automatic Polaris Variable Transmission with compound EBS clutch system handles power, delivered by a direct rear driveshaft and a Hilliard-type assembly. A drum shift (with a H/L/N/R/P gearshift pattern) controls wheel spin. ATP models retained the “Turf” mode while H.O. versions still had dual driveline modes (AWD, 2WD) controlled via a thumb switch found on the right handlebar. Depending on ambient temperature, adjusting main jetting to either 152.5 or 147.5 is still needed when riding on terrain at altitudes above 6,000 feet.
  • Ignition: The four-wheeler has a solid-state DC-CDI (Capacitor Discharge Ignition) electric start system with a recoil starter for backup. Its charging system is a triple-phase alternator with a rated output of 240 watts @ 3,000 RPM. Current 14AH-BS battery (view on Amazon) formats will work with a ’05 Sportsman 500.
  • Tires & Brakes: The steel wheels equip Carlisle/Polaris PXT 25 x 8-12/4-156 and 25 x 8-12/4-156 tires (some U.S. releases had 26-inch knobbies of the same tire brand) – both with a 5 psi tire pressure recommendation. Front brakes are dual hydraulic discs with rear ones being single, hydraulic discs. As a precaution, use only DOT 3 brake fluid when assembling or servicing brakes to prevent contamination. Using any other kind of lubricant will cause rubber components of your brake system to swell.
  • Suspension: A MacPherson strut front suspension with 8.2 inches (208 mm) of travel, adjustable spring tension shocks, and 9.5 inches (241.3 mm) of travel lends to the vehicle’s superior maneuverability and plush suspension. There is no adjustable rebound damping at the rear end, so replacing stock 2005 Polaris Sportsman 500 parts with ELKA Suspension STAGE 2 REAR Shocks (view on Amazon) would be a great idea. Overall turning radius increased from 5.42 ft (165.1 cm) to 6.75 ft (205.7 cm), making for tighter turning and a smoother ride.
  • Dimensions: The 2005 Polaris Sportsman 500 HO dimensions are 83 x 48 x 48 inches (although some sources show 81 x 46 x 47 inches – L x W x H). The unloaded minimum ground clearance is 11.25 inches (286 mm), and the wheelbase is 51 inches (1,295 mm). The seat height is kept at 34 inches (863.6 mm), but the dry weight slightly increased to 715 lbs (324 Kg). Hitch tow capacity is 1,225 lbs (556 Kg) – 1,786 lbs (810 Kg) with a brakeless trailer. Tongue weight capacity is 120 lbs (54.4 Kg) and, when combined with rear rack weight, should not surpass 180 lbs (81.6 Kg). GVWR is 1,200 lbs (544 Kg) – a combination of the 755-lb (342.3-Kg) curb weight, 270-lb (122.4-Kg) total rack capacity, plus passengers.
  • Exterior: The SPIRIT-body-style steel frame is a Gen IV type and has a medium gloss black finish, with a plastic body material in Sonic blue/black, Sportsman green/black, red/black, and Mossy Oak Break-Up brand camo. The four-wheeler is equipped with the same basic features, such as fenders, brush guards, hand grips and handlebars, full floorboards, a full-length skid plate, and front and rear composite utility racks. A MotoAlliance Impact ATV/UTV Heavy Duty Utility Cart Cargo Trailer (view on Amazon) would be a perfect addition to your quad for your hauling needs.
  • Lighting: Dual 37-watt grille-mounted low-beam lights located on the front fenders and a 50-watt Halogen pod headlight provide superior light distribution. Lighting also includes an 8.26-watt taillight, 26.9-watt brake light, and a 12-watt work light. Replace stock lights with LED ones for improved visibility at night.
  •  On-Demand AWD/2WD Drive System: Depending on trim, this Polaris-exclusive feature activates via a two-position or three-position switch found on the right handlebar. It allows the front axles to automatically engage whenever the rear wheels lose traction and disengage when the reverse happens. ATP models continue to have the “Turf” mode, while H.O. base models remain unchanged with dual driveline modes.
  • Lock & Ride Cargo System: Since 2004, this rack technology with no-tool installation has been improved in look and functionality, allowing Sportsman owners to quickly attach or detach rear cargo boxes and other accessories when they need access to the composite utility racks. It increases luggage capacity, making the vehicle a worthy transport for all-day adventures.

Cost of a 2005 Polaris Sportsman 500 HO

The 2005 Polaris Sportsman 500 HO retained its list price from the previous year, while the ATP base model got cheaper by $300 – both sold for $6,699. Their respective Mossy Oak Break-Up brand camo trims were more expensive by $300. Depending on trim and package inclusions, this resale amount can go up to $8,899. Performance parts like an FMF Factory 4.1 RCT Slip-On Exhaust (view on Amazon) and a full carb rebuild will increase your expenses up to at least $2,000.

Retail pricing for the quad can be between $1,540 and $2,580, while auction listings and online resellers list these units from $1,200 to $2,300. Secondhand wheelers typically are in good running condition with utility accessories and new parts. However, seats are often damaged (mostly for units kept stored for a long time) and may require minor repairs. Trade-in values are at $2,090, while Blue Book values are at $3,080. Noticeably, not too many 2005 Polaris Sportsman 500s are up for resale – perhaps, due to its improved front-wheel travel and suspension.

2005 Polaris Sportsman 500 HO Problems

Speedometer Issues

It is relatively easy to fix, but it can be taxing if you figure out that either the AWD function or speed sensors are affected. You would get one of two things – either your speedo is not displaying anything, or it is not reading correctly or not at all.

If there is no display, see if the problem clears by turning off the speedo for 10 seconds and then on. If it does not, then there will only be two outcomes – the speedo unit is defective and may need replacement, or it is a wiring problem.

If there is a display, then the probable cause can be any of the things already mentioned (bad wheel speed/hall effect sensors or AWD dysfunction), which will require you to tinker with the 16 PIN connectors to get things fixed. Your owner’s manual shows a troubleshooting flow chart for this issue that is easy to follow.

Blown Fusible Link

A fusible link is one of the more delicate parts of your machine that can be blown by a cracked shrink tube or corroded wires. Old-time Sportsman owners recommend replacing this fusible link with one from NAPA. Make sure that you get an 18-gauge fusible link and a few for spares. The wire gauge determines the amp rating, so anything beyond 18 can melt the harness, and anything below it will not do the job.

Brake Noise

The most common cause of brake noise or squealing is dirt or dust buildup on the brake pads and hydraulic discs. Therefore, regular cleaning of your quad and brake components is crucial. Apply Permatext Disc Brake Quiet (PN 2872113) to the back of the brake pads to keep them in contact with caliper pistons. Spraying CRC Brake Kleent or other similar non-flammable aerosol brake cleaner on pads and disc hub also helps remove embedded material in these areas.

If cleaning does not reduce the noise, then you may want to check on premature pad wear, warped/misaligned brake discs, loose discs, wheel hub, or bearings, and inspect brake adjustment, lever/pedal clearance, and master cylinder ports.

Flooded Clutch/Belt Housing

Hard-ridden quads usually get water in the clutch or belt housing. This issue may even manifest on some ATVs at an earlier stage than others, depending on the level of abuse and, say, physical trauma the vehicle has endured. Removing the entire housing and replacing old or worn-out seals is guaranteed to solve this problem.

Nearly all four-wheelers during the early 2000s have ball joints, wheel bearings, and greaseless suspension bushings that eventually wear out. Similarly, tie rod ends get sloppy and wear out with age. Axle CV joint lubrication dries up too and normally begins to make a clicking sound before failing. A rebuild would be costly but, by this time, would be highly needed. After all, your Polaris Sportsman is over a decade old!

TIP: Every week or so, remove the body panels and apply dielectric grease on every plug (spark plug included), connection, and bolt. Look for loose bolts and tighten them according to spec if there are any. Do not be daunted if you are a new Sportsman owner. You will find that it is fairly straightforward to grease fittings on suspension when plastics and wheels are off. Be religious in doing proper maintenance on your quad, and you will be an expert in no time.

Praise-worthy Attributes of the Sportsman

The Sportsman lineup has undergone several enhancements in the past decade. Here are a few more positives that make the 2005 Polaris Sportsman 500 tower over its competition:

  • Rugged, handsome aesthetics, and a robust build make the Sportsman a perfect fit for the outdoors.
  • Its tremendous aftermarket support makes the 4×4 easy to repair and customize.
  • The 2005 Polaris Sportsman 500 top speed is 55-60 mph.
  • Lock & Ride rack system supports a myriad of accessories and options, including a passenger seat with even more storage, instantly converting your quad into a two-up.
  • Riders prefer the On-Demand AWD slide-type selector over other ATV’s push-button type due to ease of operation and safety when determining which driveline mode they are in without taking their eyes off the trail.
  • The Sportsman 500 has been pre-wired for Warn 2,500-lb winches, making winch installation a breeze.

About Polaris

Polaris Inc. is an American firm known for spawning the snowmobile industry and making the 2005 Polaris Sportsman 500. Before the Textron, Inc. acquisition in 1968, the American firm began producing farm equipment before venturing into snowmobiles. The 1956 Sno Traveler was only the beginning of the company’s efforts to continuously improve its product line.

Eventually, Polaris became a key player in the ATV landscape, widely-known for successfully bringing the first-ever U.S.-made ATV in 1985 and for more-recent innovations such as automatic transmission, Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI), and Independent Rear Suspension (IRS).

Conclusion – 2005 Polaris Sportsman 500 Review

Even today, the 2005 Polaris Sportsman 500 is considered by riders and enthusiasts as one of the top all-terrain vehicles and Polaris’ best pre-EFI quad. This model was the perfect close to a decade of powerful mid-sized behemoths that ran on carburetors. The scarcity of secondhand ’05 Sportsman 500s in the market is proof that Polaris did right with this vehicle. And the transition to fuel injection only makes future options more promising for consumers.