2007 Polaris Predator ATV SCENE Magazine – ATV Reviews, News, Racing…

10 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2007 Polaris Predator ATV SCENE Magazine – ATV Reviews, News, Racing…

Machine reviews

Test Riders: Joe Tolle, Chris Earlywine, Bobby Ross, Aaron Meyer

Lurking in the Ocala National Forest, the Predator 500 looks a bit monstrous from the front. Take a ride and you will see how well this carnivore adapts to any environment. A few weeks ago, I placed a call to ATVScene.com test rider Chris Earlywine informing him of our upcoming test on the 2007 Polaris Predator 500. “Oh, OK,” he replied with a less-than-enthusiastic sound in his voice. “You don’t sound very excited, I queried.

Have you ever ridden a Predator 500?” He replied: “Once, but I just rode it around for a second outside the shop.” I informed him that he was about to have the chance to become more familiar with the machine and while he didn’t complain, he really wasn’t excited.

A few years back, we put the Predator 500 head to head against a 2006 Yamaha YFZ450 and a Honda TRX450R. Judging the shootout was a group of riders and racers varying in age from 18 to forty something. While the Predator didn’t win the shootout, it was definitely the surprise of the day.

Before the shootout began, most of the riders seemed to have the same bleak expectations for the machine as Earlywine, but by the end of the day, when they were tired and fatigued, each rider looked forward to his chance to ride the very plush and smooth-running Predator 500.

Sitting at 47.5 inches wide the Predator is narrow enough for most trails, yet wide enough for plenty of stability on the track or dunes. The Predator’s chromoly rear axle is covered by a limited lifetime warranty, saving you $400 on an aftermarket unit.

The Predator’s engine is built by Fuji, a subsidiary of Suzuki. While it is a bit weak off the bottom, it makes up for it with a smooth midrange rush and plenty of top end power. Reliability is another of its strong attributes.

Besides winning a favorable opinion from all of our test riders, the Predator proved to be bullet proof, never requiring maintenance. While it didn’t prove to be the ultimate high-performance machine, the Predator proved to be a strong sport machine with favorable performance and excellent reliability.

With so much to offer, we thought it was time to bring the Predator 500 back for a solo test so we can once again discover what made this machine such a hit in our 2006 12 Hours of ATV America Sport Quad Shootout. Who knows? We may even change a few more opinions before it’s all over.

Mechanical Stuff

The Predator 500’s power plant is built by Japanese manufacturer Fuji, a subsidiary of Suzuki. The water-cooled 499cc four-stroke engine features a four-valve, double-overhead-cam design. While it has proven to be very reliable, it is heavy by modern four-stroke engine standards.

The Predator’s ergonomics are spacious and well laid out. While most test riders felt the machine was extremely comfortable, Pro-Am racer Aaron Meyer thought the seat was hard to move front to back on due to its shape. Larger test riders disagreed. Transferring the Predator’s power from the top end is a five-speed manual shift transmission.

Earlier models were known for sticky shifting, however Polaris updated the transmission in 2004, greatly improving its feel. Polaris further updated the transmssion by adding a much-appreciated reverse gear. Shifting into reverse is super easy thanks to the lever on the right handlebar directly left of the thumb throttle. From first, depress the right thumb lever and shift down.

To take it out of reverse, simply shift back up into first. It’s a well designed no-brainer operation.

Feeding the Predator’s engine is a 42-millimeter Mikuni BSR carburetor, which features a pulse fuel pump to help keep fuel flowing consistently at all RPM levels. On the intake side, the Predator isn’t quite perfect. There’s a massive intake, which runs from the rear-mounted air-box to the carburetor, which is mounted conventionally, directly behind the cylinder. Where the problem lies is in the air box.

Polaris, for whatever reason, uses a paper air filter similar to what you would find on a lawnmower or automobile. After our test ride, we found a light coating of dust on the inside of the air-box. Obviously this filter setup is inadequate and this is something we’ve griped about for years. Before you take your Predator home from the dealer, have them install a different filter and mounting assembly.

These components are available from Rath Racing.

The Predator uses aftermarket quality suspension components on the Predator 500. Seemingly set up for heavier riders, the preload adjustable shocks are nearly flawless. Out back, the rear shock works well on small to medium-size hits, but has a hard time making full use of the travel on big impacts.

The rear end seems a bit too stiff.

The next time you get stuck on a hill and need to back up, you’ll be glad Polaris had the forethought to put their reverse actuator on the handlebars next to the thumb throttle. This allows you to hold the front brake while shifting into reverse; genius. Grease fittings abound on the Predator, which makes lubing all of its major pivot points a snap. In the chassis department, the Predator features a conventional tubular mild-steel frame.

Up front, the Predator’s front end has no rake, meaning the dual A-arms sit parallel to the ground. This is part of the Predator’s anti-squat, anti-dive setup. The anti-dive system is designed to help prevent body roll when steering into a turn, however some people feel this may detract from the front suspension’s ability to react to small frontal impacts.

More on this later in our ride test.

Out back, the Predator features a conventional rear swing arm with a linkage-less rear shock mount. Polaris uses what they call their anti-squat rear suspension geometry, which is designed to reduce transfer of weight to the rear of the machine under acceleration, allowing all of the engine’s power to be used to drive the machine forward.

The Predator’s plastic skid plates do a decent job of protecting the undercarriage of the machine. Notice the narrow front frame rails and the long A-arms which help to reduce bump steer. When it came to shocks, Polaris did not skimp.

The FOX SHOX podium fronts are preload adjustable only, however companies like Rath Racing can add remote reservoirs and compression adjustability to these shocks for a few hundred dollars. On the rear, FOX’s Podium rear shock features preload, compression and rebound adjustability. With 10 inches of suspension travel up front and 11 inches in the rear, the Predator’s suspension travel is impressive by any standard.

The dimensions of the Predator are somewhere between a cross country and motocross setup. With a wheelbase of 50.5 inches and a width of 47.5 inches, the Predator is a bit wider then most cross country race machines, while it’s 2.5 inches narrower then the 50-inch width allowed in competitive motocross racing. This means the Predator is narrow enough for most trails, but still wide enough for some fun on the track.

In our opinion, this makes the Predator the ideal freeride machine.

For nighttime rides, the Polaris comes equipped with dual headlights and an LED taillight. The headlights offer plenty of light for casual nighttime trail riding and, according to Polaris, the new LED tail light makes the rear end more visible. This will come in especially handy in dusty conditions.

More aftermarket goodies: Maxxis Razr rears and Pro fronts mounted on Douglas Ultimate wheels come standard on the Predator. Your friends can buy this setup for their machine for another $500-$600. This setup works great, although we will switch to Razr fronts when the Pros wear out.

Polaris Predator 500
Polaris Predator 500
Polaris Predator 500
Polaris Predator 500
Polaris Predator 500
Polaris Predator 500
Polaris Predator 500
Polaris Predator 500
Polaris Predator 500
Polaris Predator 500

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