The Polaris Predator 500 highlights the latest technology in the ATV industry, and its state-of-the-art handling, suspension, and power output make it a hit with riders of all kinds. It is undoubtedly one of the best-rounded ATVs of its time. So much so that Jerrod Kelly, ATV Sports Magazine Editor, regarded it as a quad that “does not alienate the average rider or recreational rider, yet it has the potential to perform in competition formats.”
Featuring rugged axles, knobby tires, and competition-style shocks, the production of the Polaris Predator 500 targeted the racing crowd. It’s lean style, heavy-duty features, and premium performance got Matt Smiley two podiums and top-ten finishes during the GNCC season and the Sport Quad of The Year in 2005.
Do you want to find out how this rugged beauty bagged multiple awards in three years? Keep on reading as this article will cover reviews, specs and features, and answers to your top questions about the Polaris Predator 500.
About Polaris Predator 500
The Polaris Predator 500 is a 41-HP, all-terrain sport quad that offers smooth performance and adequate power for the experienced rider, and was manufactured by Polaris Inc. from 2003 until 2007. Because of its design and functionality, it won an impressive slew of accolades, including the much sought-after Sport ATV of The Year award.
2004 saw the creation of ’04 Polaris Predator 500 that came in two versions – standard and Troy Lee limited edition quads, which continued the year after. In 2006, Polaris transformed its signature Troy Lee Designs (TLD) model from a limited edition to a standard offering in the ’06 Polaris Predator 500 lineup.
The ’05 Polaris Predator 500 – both standard and Troy Lee Designs versions – was more performance-oriented. The 2005 models had close-ratio gears that improved acceleration and handling, front aluminum shocks with remote reservoirs and compression adjustability, and Maxxis® Razr radial tires. The TLD was particularly better aesthetically – the Polaris Predator 500 plastics were metallic black and had custom graphics instead of stock ones. Small handy changes such as the addition of a horn and a chain tensioner kept the chain off the A-arm suspension.
Polaris Predator 500 Specs & Features
- Engine – Power comes from a four-stroke, liquid-cooled DOHC single-cylinder engine. It has a bore of 99.2 millimeters and a stroke of 64.6 millimeters. The engine displacement is 499 cubic centimeters delivered by a 42-millimeter Mikuni BSR carburetor, and its compression ratio is 10:8:1. Fuel tank capacity is 3.3 gallons/12.5 liters.
- Drivetrain – The engine has a five-speed, manual shift transmission inclusive of a reverse gear (2005 models and up) and a 520 O-ring chain drive. The Troy Lee Designs come with tighter gear ratios that make shifting feel effortless.
- Ignition – It has an electronic CDI with an electric start system and auxiliary recoil pull starter for backup. If you want to ensure not to run out of power in the middle of nowhere, you can get a battery tender like NOCO Genius G26000 12V/24V 26 Amp Pro-Series Battery Charger and Maintainer (view on Amazon). Otherwise, you can still jumpstart your ATV.
- Tires – The Polaris Predator 500 rides on Maxxis® Razr PR 21 X 7-10 front tires with aluminum wheels and a Maxxis® Razr PR 20 X 11-9 rear tires. In case of wear and tear, you can replace your tires with Carlisle Trail Wolf ATV Tire (view on Amazon).
- Brakes – It uses dual hydraulic front disc and single hydraulic rear disc braking systems (both with single bore calipers). The 2004 and 2005 TLDs had “racing-type” steel braided brake lines for improved performance.
- Suspension – The front suspension features a dual A-arm with Fox podium shocks and 10 inches of travel, and a non-link Swing-arm with a single-shock, solid-axle rear suspension with 11 inches of travel. Models from 2005 and up have double rear shock absorbers.
- Dimensions – The overall length is 71.52 inches, and the width is 47.5 inches. Its height is 45 inches; ground clearance is 4.5 to 5 inches (depending on model). The vehicle wheelbase is 50.5 inches; seat height is 32 inches. Dry weight is 415 lbs. while GVWR can go up to 645 lbs. The turning radius is 5.6 feet.
- Exterior – It is composed of a steel frame and plastic body material with a metallic finish. It also comes with full floorboards (driver side). Want to protect your quad from the elements? Get a Weatherproof ATV Cover (view on Amazon).
- PRO (Polaris Rider Optimized) Steering System – this feature allows for no bump steering along an innovative anti-dive front and anti-squat rear end.
Polaris Predator 500 Top Speed
The Polaris Predator 500 top speed is 73 mph, a decent baseline reading for a 415-pound ATV. In stock or mod condition, this beast usually puts out ahead of higher-cc machines.
Of course, this will still slightly vary due to several factors like altitude, wind, road condition, and maintenance. Likewise, the rider’s weight may slow the Predator down in getting to max speed since the machine is already heavy as is.
Some owners attested to going beyond 73 mph. Others even hit 76 to 77 mph on the radar in just a little over 1/8th of a mile. Depending on the modifications done, how fast riders reach this top speed would differ – usually by one or two seconds, which would mean a whole lot if you’re doing a quarter-mile race on the trail. But for average riders and racer wannabes, getting to 70 mph and smoking a Blaster or a Z400 already provides a thrilling riding experience.
How to Increase the Predator 500’s Top Speed
Veteran riders and mechanics give tons of great tips in forums on increasing the Predator 500’s top speed without emptying your pockets. There are a lot of tweaks that you can do, but I have gone ahead and picked the suggestions that were the most practical and cost-efficient. However, doing these requires a certain level of skill and may not apply to the novice mechanic. Also, these mods will only gain you 3 to 4 mph more than the declared baseline, considering that the Polaris Predator 500 is a bit heavy for its class.
- Change the Gear Ratio – Doing a gear ratio change will do wonders on your Predator, especially if you own a TLD. Dropping one tooth from a 14T on the front and going three teeth up from a 38T on the rear will make your quad quicker. But if you’re more concerned with top speed versus acceleration, then do the reverse. Try and stretch the gears out by going up to a 15T in the front. You can also go down a couple of teeth in the rear.
- Replace the Carburetor – There are also discussions on how to replace a Polaris Predator 500 carburetor or if you should replace it at all to reach optimal speed. Some drivers opt for a Yamie (their nickname for Yamaha) carb – one from a 450R or YFZ450 – as their first option. Others go for a Honda 450 carb. And some purchase Polaris Predator 500 parts from online retailers. The bottom line is any of these carbs will give you more fuel delivery, which would increase power and improve throttle response. Bonus tip – never cut springs on the carb as this will only make the responsiveness and feel of it better, not the actual speed.
- Check the Carb Needle – Lastly, don’t forget to check whether your carb needle is lifting or not. If not, clean the carb out thoroughly to make the needle lift. Re-jetting is also needed to match the intake of your Predator 500. Otherwise, mods on your exhaust and baffles will probably hurt your quad’s performance. Doing these simple steps is sometimes all you need to help your quad hit top speed.
- Add Bog Bore Kits – Add bog bore kits, a 12.5:1 compression with stage 2 intake and exhaust of hot cams (designed for high RPM torque), and your brute can smoke Yamaha YFZ450’s any day.
It’s also worth mentioning that a stock Polaris Predator 90cc with CDI jumper runs 15mph and 30mph without it. Add a proper pipe, clutch kit, and say, a Scrambler 90 CDI, and it will go up to 45mph.
Polaris Predator 500 – Pros and Cons
- Handling – Many Predator owners love their machines, which is nothing new from a quad that has won several awards. It is not only tough on trails, but it can tear up any part of a dune faster than most of its counterparts and is ideal for hill climbing. It is a trail beast (due to its hook-up and acceleration factors) and handles excellently on twisty and straight stretches. Its adjustable suspension makes it perfect for motocross tracks and popping wheelies once you get the hang of it, thanks to its 415-pound weight and some minor mods.
- Steering system – Its unique PRO (Polaris Rider Optimized) steering system allows for the Predator to be thrown into turns and the driver to save his braking until the last possible second. The PRO, along with anti-dive and anti-squat suspension systems, gives the Preddy its distinct handling characteristic and tailor-fits to the owner’s riding style and choice of terrain. The fox shocks and the Polaris Predator 500 tires also add a nice touch of aftermarket flare to the quad.
- Easy to find Part – Polaris Predator 500 aftermarket parts are also easy to score. Many online retailers and dealers offer amazing selections of Polaris Predator 500 parts hassle-free. There are even good ones out there that provide online schematics and diagrams for you to follow – making garage modifications convenient and eliminating the need to pay extra for a mechanic to put everything together.
- Stock carb – Naturally, the Polaris Predator 500 is not without its flaws. For one, many enthusiasts find the stock carb horrible and detrimental to the quad reaching top speed. A quick fix would be to change the sprockets. However, finding sprockets for a 2005 model has proven difficult for people because of changes made with the guard.
- The seats – Seats also take some time to familiarize in. For aggressive riders who find themselves standing most of the time, this is not much of an issue. But for longer trail rides, it can be quite uncomfortable. Not to mention that the seat makes it hard to shift and control the quad in rougher terrain.
- Power shifting limitation – Another complaint about the Predator is its power shifting limitation. Models from 2003 and 2004 did not allow full-throttle shifts between gears, which translate into lost momentum, and it had no reverse.
- Wheelies – It also wheelies when you shift into second or third gear, even with full weight on the front of the seat. The excessive rear tire spin also proved to be unnerving, even dangerous, approaching a full-throttle jump as the back end might suddenly break loose.
Polaris Predator 500 vs. Yamaha Raptor 660
Numerous “comparison” test drives have already between done between the Raptor and the Predator by several magazines and ATV enthusiasts. While the Raptor horsepower is king, it falls second to the Predator in terms of handling and suspension on trails and race tracks. On the contrary, the Predator is not as torquey as the Raptor in the lower RPMs. There is no better way to explain these differences than through these videos by ATVTV and Pete Hager.
Being in the Know
- What oil does a Polaris Predator 500 take? Experts recommend using PS-4 oil when performing maintenance oil changes on your Predator 500 ATV. You can also go for AmSoil (for Polaris Predator 90cc) or any synthetic 10W-40 oil type.
- How much is a Polaris Predator 500 worth? A used Polaris Predator 500 in good working condition ranges from $1600 to $2800. TLD edition quads cost more and can go up to $5400 (with mods). A Polaris Predator 90cc costs between $750 to $2,399.
- How do I get more power to my Polaris Predator 500 without cracking the engine open? Adding a direct mounted K&N filter and a rev box is something that you can do. Upgrade to a Dynatek CDI box or Big Gun Rev Limiter Box if you have the extra cash. Veterans do not recommend going for an inexpensive rev box, as this can do more harm than good. Just make sure you have a fresh battery too, or you will run into problems.
Polaris Inc. is an American manufacturer based in Minnesota and is the maker of Polaris Predator 500. This company is better known in the ATV world for its utility vehicles but has also been a dominant force in snowmobile racing for the past decade. They have more than 7,800 dedicated global employees working tremendously to uphold the company’s core values and continue to provide value for their customers.
Conclusion – Polaris Predator 500
Not just your usual sport quad, the Polaris Predator 500 is a multi-awarded performance machine that can throw gnarly roosts in the dunes and soak up landings in top fashion. This toughie can easily smoke Z400s and beat stock Raptors in a heartbeat. Want a sweet ride? Okay, enough looking.