2005 Polaris Predator 500, Hitting the Trail

Now this is a worthy ride

Jul. 01, 2005 By Dean Waters
It has been a couple years since I have spent much time riding the Polaris Predator and what a difference. Polaris has obviously been listening and doing their homework. We have been doing some testing with the 2005 Polaris Predator Troy Lee Edition and have found this bike to be night and day different from the Predator we rode a couple years ago.

For 2005 Polaris added reverse, a ratchet-style shifter, a new seat, and a taller steering stem for improved ergonomics. The Troy Lee Edition also has Maxxis front and rear radial tires, aluminum Fox shocks, front shock reservoirs, and close ratio gears. Not to mention the cool graphics and orange / black color scheme.

The TLD Predator is at home out on the trail.

Trail Riding

We spent a significant amount of time just out playing and trail riding. We figure that is really where this quad fits in the scheme of things. Yes Polaris is backing Matt Smiley in the GNCC circuit this year and he is in fact doing very well. But for most buyers who are looking for a pure race machine I am not sure that the Predator would be at the top of my list. Now for an all around high performance trail machine I believe the 2005 Predator TLD should indeed be on the short list. The whole package combines to make it a pleasure on the trail.

New seat and steering stem greatly improve the comfort for 2005.


The ergonomics are much improved and we found the Predator very comfortable to ride. This was not the case with previous versions of the Predator. The changes to the steering stem and seat for 2005 seemed subtle but make a huge difference in the feel of the Predator. When braking hard into corners the seat design is such that you still tend to slide forward on to the gas tank although it is much improved from older Predators.

The Fox Racing shocks work great but could use some different springs.


We found the suspension to work well for trail riding and really like the aluminum Fox Racing shocks. They provide a nice ride and have alot of adjustment. These shocks are definitely one of the best you can get on a machine from the factory. Our complaints is that we would like to see some different springs on the shocks so as to allow the ride height to be lowered. One test rider absolutely hated how tall the Predator sits. Heavier riders and more casual did not notice the problem as much. We took as much preload as possible out and the Predator sill sits very tall. The shocks allow for more adjustment but then you have no tension on the springs when the suspension unloads. We are sure Alan at Precision Concepts could fix this problem very easily.

The transmission with new ratchet style shifter makes for a huge improvement on the 2005 TLD Predator


Nice smooth shifting and reverse. The new ratchet-style shift mechanism is a huge improvement over previous Predators. We found the transmission to shift very nice and smooth.The reverse is so nice to have when you need it. We don't find that we use it very often but it sure is nice when you need it. The placement of the knob worked well for us.

The Troy Lee gear ratios worked excellent for casual trail riding but were a problem in race conditions. Spacing between 4th and 5th was too far to keep the motor in its power band and sweet spot. Revving all the way to the rev limiter before a 5th gear shift still left the Predator 500 out of it's sweet spot and the rider waiting for it to go.

The Predator handled small jumps nicely. Some suspension adjustment was needed for large jumps.


There is no question that this is the best Predator yet. While there is still improvements that could be made this is a machine that we would into be ashamed to own and have a permanent spot in our garage. While we don't believe it is the best fit for riders looking for a race machine, it is a great fit for riders looking for a performance trail machine. At $6499 the TLD Predator comes in at about $700 more than a Z400 and $300 more than a 2005 Raptor. And as for the Orange color scheme, we love it. the gray was just too blab and dreary. The Orange TLD predators stands out in a crowd.


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