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Fashioned after its big-bore siblings, the Polaris Sportsman 90 truly made off-roading an unforgettable family experience. Not only did kids get their hands on a vehicle that was safe and allowed them to build confidence, but their ride also sported a rugged appeal that resembled their parents’ quads. Best of all, this mini 4×4 came with the trademark front and rear utility racks and a matching helmet too!
The Polaris Sportsman 90 is one of the top mini-ATVs of all time and among the first to introduce utility-themed youth quads to the public. Featuring ETC, a kill switch, dual brake levers, and PVT, this ATV enjoyed a 14-year production run – released in the market from 2001 to 2014.
Sporty styling, safety features, and segment-leading suspension system form part of the Polaris Sportsman 90’s appeal. But these are not all this vehicle has to offer. Continue reading this article and discover what contributed to the success of this small but formidable wheeler.
Polaris Sportsman 90: Parents’ Top Pick
Since its launch, parents have preferred the Polaris Sportsman 90 over competition for their children – and for good reason. The four-wheeler was durable, handsome, and closely resembled the adult-sized Sportsman machines that dominate the woods and hunting grounds. It was automatic and afforded kids the ease of learning how to ride the trails without worrying about manual shifting. Furthermore, it came with a slew of safety features that made the 4×4 perfect for young riders.
This capable machine initially had a two-stroke power mill that eventually became a four-stroke engine in 2004. Other than the heart of this youth ride and the addition of a redesigned silencer, everything else about it remained unchanged throughout its production years.
Package inclusions are the same across all models – an instructional DVD, a safety flag, and a body-matching helmet. The same can be said about its pricing, which started at $2,199 during its inception and went up by a mere $500 until its final run.
2001 Polaris Sportsman 90 Specs
The Polaris 90 Sportsman is brought to life by a two-stroke, fan-cooled single-cylinder engine that is transversely mounted. It has a bore-stroke ratio of 52 x 42 mm (2.05 x 1.65 inches). The engine displacement is 89.2 cm3 (5.44 in3) delivered by a Mikuni AM7 carburetor with automatic choke, and its compression ratio is 5.8:1. Fuel tank capacity is 1.32 US gallons (5 Liters) of unleaded gasoline with a PON rating of 87 (oxygenated).
An automatic Polaris Variable Transmission with an F/N/R gearshift pattern controls the Polaris Sportsman 90. A one-way starter clutch system transfers power from the engine to the wheels and lends to a respectable top speed of 25 mph (on a hard surface).
Maximum torque is 6.5 ft-lb (8.82 Nm) @ 6,000 RPM. The air intake is standard and attached to a plastic water snorkel, preventing water ingestion when crossing shallow streams.
The Sportsman 90 has a DC-CDI (Capacitor Discharge Ignition) electric/kick-starter system with an auxiliary mechanical recoil. Its charging system is an alternator with a rated output of 70 watts @ 4,000 RPM. A 12V, 4 Ah 50-CCA (Cold Cranking Amps) 12N4-3B battery with assembled dimensions of 4.72 x 2.75 x 3.54 inches (120 x 70 x 90 mm – L x W x H) powers the four-wheeler.
Oil injector capacity is 1.1 US quarts/1 Liter. For optimal performance, use Polaris Premium 2 Stroke Oil or equivalent. Make sure to match manufacturer specs and MA JASO T 903 standards. Never substitute or mix oil brands for the best results.
The Sportsman 90’s front steel wheels use 19 x 7-8 tires, while the rear steel wheels with 18 x 9.5-8 tires. Both have a recommended tire pressure of 2 psi/13.79 kPa (0.14 kg-f/cm2). The vehicle wheelbase is 37.8 inches (960 mm). It is best to use the original equipment size and type when replacing tires. Otherwise, the quad’s maneuverability may be adversely affected.
If stock tires are not available, Kenda Scorpion K290 ATV Tires (view on Amazon) may be slightly wider but will be a great fit for your kid’s four-wheeler.
The disc brake system has front and rear sealed mechanical drums and a mechanical-lock parking brake. Front brakes are operated by a right-hand brake lever, while the rear drums by a left-hand brake lever. I recommend adjusting the rear brake setting to spec by turning the rear brake adjuster nut to 2 ½ inches (65 mm).
Enclosed in a steel frame are front A-arms with 5.0 inches (127 mm) of travel and rear springs over shocks with 5.0 inches (127 mm) of travel. The Sportsman 90’s suspension design lends to the overall turning radius of 8.2 feet (2,500 mm), making for more stable handling, which is perfect for youngsters. Wheel travel reduced to 4.25 inches (108 mm) for both front and rear for 2002 Polaris Sportsman 90 and later-year models.
The overall vehicle dimensions are 57.6 x 34.4 x 36.6 inches (1,463 x 874 x 930 mm – L x W x H) with a ground clearance of 5.0 inches. The seat height is 24.5 inches (620 mm). Dry weight is 238.1 lbs (108 Kg); GVWR is approximately 423 lbs (191.9 Kg) – a combination of curb weight, a maximum combined rack capacity of 30 lbs (13.5 Kg), plus cargo and rider weight.
The Sportsman 90’s exterior consists of a steel frame and plastic body material in Fire Red, Sage Green, and yellow. The wheeler comes standard with hand grips, front and rear fenders and utility racks, handlebars, footwells, a CV boot cover, and a brush guard.
Swap the rear racks with drop baskets to maximize cargo space. Replace stock lights with LED lights for improved visibility and light distribution.
Polaris Sportsman 90 Cost
The list price of a Polaris Sportsman 90 ranges from $2,199 to $2,699, depending on the model year purchased. Across its 14-year production run, the MSRP of the four-wheeler has only increased by $500.
At present, this vehicle resells between $200 and $2,700 (per auction listings and trader sites). Most of the resale units you will see online are 2008-2009 models, with very few remote- or recent-year Sportsman 90s. If you would like to know the trade-in values and average retail price of all models, the table below is a great reference:
|Model Year||List Price||Retail & Trade-in Values|
|2001 Polaris Sportsman 90||$2,199||$1,005 / $605|
|2002 Polaris Sportsman 90||$2,299||$1,070 / $650|
|2003 Polaris Sportsman 90||$2,299||$1,140 / $705|
|2004 Polaris Sportsman 90||$2,299||$1,215 / $760|
|2005 Polaris Sportsman 90||$2,299||$1,290 / $810|
|2006 Polaris Sportsman 90||$2,399||$1,375 / $875|
|2007 Polaris Sportsman 90||$2,499||$1,435 / $920|
|2008 Polaris Sportsman 90||$2,499||$1,500 / $965|
|2009 Polaris Sportsman 90||$2,499||$1,560 / $1,010|
|2010 Polaris Sportsman 90||$2,499||$1,590 / $1,030|
|2011 Polaris Sportsman 90||$2,699||$1,615 / $1,045|
|2012 Polaris Sportsman 90||$2,699||$1,650 / $1,075|
|2013 Polaris Sportsman 90||$2,699||$1,715 / $1,120|
|2014 Polaris Sportsman 90||$2,699||$1,895 / $1,245|
Expect secondhand units valued below $1,000 to have battery and starter system issues or to require tire replacement. Some may even have missing Polaris Sportsman 90 parts. These quads may or may not have many miles or hours on them and are typically in fair working condition. A select few may come with front and rear storage bins and slightly taller tires.
Polaris Sportsman 90 Problems
Challenges with starting the engine are, perhaps, among the most common problems with the Polaris 90 Sportsman. And just like its bigger-displacement siblings, this dilemma can be traced back to issues with the fuel level, battery, or ignition system.
It is quite common with two-stroke machines like the Polaris Sportsman 90 to have issues when going on full throttle. Part of the cause is the four-wheeler’s built-in safety features that make it kid-friendly, such as the rev limiter. But in most cases, the problem traces back to the transmission.
Doing a compression test or a leak-down test – or both – can help narrow it down. The test outcomes consequently point to potential issues with the air-fuel mixture, carb vents (usually pinched in this scenario), spark plug, or the entire top end.
If your engine cranks but fails to start, it could be due to any of the following – the lack of fuel, clogged fuel lines or filter, plugged drain system, fuel contamination, no spark, or a fouled spark plug.
The solution to this problem would involve using the correct type or adding the appropriate fuel amount for cleaning clogged vents, lines, and filters. Likewise, see if the components of your carburetor or ignition system need to be repaired or replaced. Regular inspection and cleanup of these systems help prevent the occurrence of this problem.
Another symptom you may encounter with a pre-loved Sportsman 90 is that the engine stops or loses power. Some of its probable causes overlap with a no-start issue, while others are exclusive and have to do with air intake or ETC malfunctions. Immediately contact your dealer if you have verified that the culprit is your quad’s Electronic Throttle Control.
Sportsman 90 Frequently Asked Questions
How do you tighten the chain on a Polaris Sportsman 90? When adjusting the rear-drive chain tension, remember that the standard chain slack should be between 0.40-0.80 inches (10-20 mm). You should also never operate the vehicle when the rear-drive chain is too loose or too tight, as this may lead to severe damage to the transmission and drive components. With these in mind, do the following steps:
- Loosen all four rear housing mount bolts.
- Next, tighten the chain adjuster to reduce slack according to the specified setting – 0.4-0.8 inches (10-20 mm).
- Tighten the chain adjuster jam nuts.
- Finally, tighten all four rear housing mount bolts.
IN addition to the abovementioned steps, veteran mechanics recommend using a tie strap (if you have one from your trailer) and compress your vehicle’s rear suspension approximately 1/2 to 3/4 inches down. After tightening up the four housing mount bolts, bounce up and down on the rear to guarantee the chain tension is in its sweet spot during its entire compression movement.
Where is the serial number on a Polaris Sportsman 90? The engine model number and machine serial number are stamped on the transmission section located by the transmission oil fill plug and on the front of the frame tube, respectively.
The American manufacturer was founded in 1954 and is known for spawning the snowmobile industry. From the production of snowmobiles, the maker of the Polaris Sportsman 90 has carried over its quality manufacturing practices to producing all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles, and other electric vehicles.
The firm’s contributions to the ATV scene include automatic transmission, Independent Rear Suspension, and Electronic Fuel Injection. Today, Polaris continues to introduce industry-leading technology to the market through its highly-successful off-road vehicles and product offerings.
Conclusion – Polaris Sportsman 90 Review
With its easy-to-use electric start system, automatic transmission with reverse, and push-button controls, the Sportsman 90 is every kid’s dream ride. This nifty four-wheeler is capable of traversing rough terrain as well as wooded trails. Its embedded safety precautions give parents peace of mind while boosting young rider confidence, making the vehicle’s operation as easy as throttle and go.
If you are in search of a remarkable first-time off-road vehicle for your kiddo that delivers high on the fun factor, look no further than the Polaris Sportsman 90!