2003 Polaris Predator 500

The Top of the Food Chain

Aug. 05, 2002 By Jarret Gleason
With a great combination of handling, power and suspension, we anticipate the 2003 Polaris Predator 500 will quickly race to the top of the food chain.

On the morning of the second day of the Polaris ATV 2003 Press Introduction, I was sitting half asleep wishing I had gone to bed earlier, when I heard the faint noise of an ATV approaching. As it came through the doors of the exhibition hall, I paused and thought it was a Cannondale, then I noticed it did indeed say "Polaris" on the front!

On first impression I was slightly confused. Then the Mountain Dew kicked in (Breakfast of Champions) and I woke up and looked more closely at the new model. I liked what I saw. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning, waiting for mom and dad to get up so I could see what Santa had brought. Mom and dad didn't wake up for a long time, so I sat there squirming in my seat itching to go for a ride on the new toy...

About the 2003 Predator 500

Polaris engineers outlined the performance goals as three-fold: Power, Suspension and Handling

Goal 1: Superior Handling

To develop a sport quad that could compete against the best - and win - Polaris engineers knew they had to develop a new, superior steering system. They wanted to eliminate some of the short-comings of traditional systems that required riders to compromise and ease off the throttle when cornering hard. They wanted to eliminate the effects of bump steer, which diminish an ATV's handling.

10" of travel...
and no bump steer

The solution they developed is the PRO (Polaris Rider Optimized) Steering system. It utilizes a unique, computer-designed steering linkage that produces a strategic new pivot point for the steering arms. The PRO Steering system virtually eliminates bump steer and provides the rider with an optimized steering ratio.

The Predator rider enjoys an easier steering effort, outstanding control, a tight turning radius, and the ability to brake hard in corners without having the nose dive and disrupt the handling. The Predator handles precisely in corners, on whoops, on dunes, and on race tracks. It handles so well that a rider can utilize the engine's awesome power rather than having to compromise.

A full skid plate is standard
How about the shape of that seat?

The Predator has anti-dive suspension geometry, not like some competitors dive-when-braking feel. When a rider on a competitive quad brakes in a corner, the nose is pulled down, and the inside rear wheel may lift. This forces the rider to back off the throttle. The Predator's unique, patent-pending suspension geometry transfers braking forces through the A-arm, its chassis stays level, and its wheels stay on the ground. The Predator rider gets to stay on the gas - and come off the corner in the lead.

Goal 2: Fast Power

The Predator 500 delivers wickedly quick throttle response and outstanding acceleration, exactly what a rider needs to be the first from Point A to Point B on the racetrack. The power source is a new, liquid-cooled, high-performance Polaris 500 engine. This high-revving, 4-valve 4-stroke engine has a double overhead cam and a pulse fuel pump that delivers consistent fuel flow even on rough terrain. The engine has a 42mm Mikuni carburetor and tuned 2-into-1 header pipes.

How about a matching Predator for the younger member of the family?
Engine placement to provide a low center of gravity

This dry sump engine is positioned deep in the light-yet-strong, computer-designed Predator frame to create and maintain a low center of gravity.

Goal 3: Responsive Suspension

The Predator's suspension design and components provide a rider with outstanding adjustability and a smooth ride, and it complements the PRO Steering system. The twin A-arm front suspension has dual Fox® rebuildable gas shocks with adjustable spring preload and 10" of travel. The non-linkage rear suspension is simpler and lighter than that of competitive quads. The rear Fox® shock is strategically positioned and is the most adjustable shock available in a stock ATV. A Predator rider has the opportunity to adjust the spring preload, rebound, and compression damping. Plus, that rider enjoys 11" of rear travel.

Polished Douglas rims with rolled edges
Maxxis Razr PR tires

Premium Equipment is Standard

There's nothing "standard" about the exceptional Predator's components. Its polished Douglas® aluminum rims have rolled-edge construction for outstanding strength and durability. The rims are fitted with Maxxis Razr PR (Polaris Racing) tires that are designed and built to optimize the handling of the new PRO Steering system.

A thick, durable skid plate made from compression-molded UMHW polyethylene is standard, giving the underside of the Predator outstanding protection against punishing obstacles. For a great custom look, a rider can install a Pure Polaris accessory aluminum plate (sold separately) right over the stock ride plate.

Far superior to the competition is a wide, race-ready chromolloy axle as standard equipment, as are braided stainless steel brake lines. They look great and won't flex like competitive brake lines, so a Predator rider enjoys superior brake feel and response. The radical silver bodywork gives the Predator 500 a futuristic, high-tech look. Polaris ATV dealers can help a rider customize that look with accessories from the Predator collection of Pure Polaris accessories. They are all designed specifically for the predator, and include items such as front and rear grab bars, saddle bags, cargo bags, suspension covers, and more. There's also a special Predator collection of Polaris riding gear and sportswear.

The Ride!

I loved the Predator. Speeding around the trails on the Capitol State Forest (Washington State), it proved to be an excellent trail bike. I even gave it a shot on the MX track, and from what I saw from the other riders who actually race MX, it looked to perform well. All the Handling, Suspension & Power claims were more than sales smoke and mirrors. The power band seemed to allow you to lug the motor within reason with a predictable stall point and then hit it, pulling through with plenty of revs, which is very important on the trails. I went back into the woods, wishing I could get this baby to Sand Lake for a Dune test!

(Now, about that Dune test, that weekend I was also attending a monthly association ride with the NW ATV Association at the Sand Lake Recreation Area on the Oregon Dunes. Coincidently, I ran into some riders doing a publicity run with unmarked Predator 500's. The riders gladly took on the other ATV's there, beating out even a modified Raptor on the flats. They were the fastest 4-stroke on the sand that day, hands down.)

Yes, the Predator can fly
At home on the MX track

I had a hard time finding things I didn't like about the Predator, though a longer test is in order to truly find out what a unit is made of. All in all I loved it! In fact, I am even having thoughts of adding a Predator 500 to my own personal garage. I would prefer the Black Troy Lee Designs special limited edition, available only to Internet customers. Polaris has definitely made the Predator 500 a serious competitor.

Black Troy Lee Design
Available only to Internet customers
Contact Information

Polaris Industries Inc.
2100 Highway 55
Medina, MN 55340
Phone: 1-800-POLARIS

Off-Road.com Newsletter
Join our Weekly Newsletter to get the latest off-road news, reviews, events, and alerts!