Polaris ’05: redesigned Predators and all-new Phoenix

It happens in the automotive industry and we see it on the athletic fields every year, too. Refinement is a part of every competitive field. Auto makers reinvent their fleet of cars every three to five years and athletes, who want to be the best, rebuilt their body or recommit to the game.
In order to stay competitive and boost interest in products, an ATV manufacturer — like an automotive builder — can redesign existing models. Sometimes this honing of a product takes more than a single year, as in the case of the Polaris Predator 500. Other times, this refinement may be the introduction of an all-new quad, like the Polaris Phoenix 200. Sometimes change comes in the form of new colors and graphics, like the Scrambler 500 and Trail Blazer 250.
We recently got to test the latest edition of the Polaris Predators, including the revamped Troy Lee Designs Predator and get a close look at the other 2005 Polaris sport models.
Polaris doesn’t put its two Predator machines in the same category as its other three sport models and for good reason. It’s by far a different breed than the other ATVs that use automatic transmissions and have the mentality of trail cruisers. The Predator brand is built to perform on the track and trail, says Polaris. To help the Predators live up to this label, Polaris engineers added significant upgrades.
For 2005, both Predators now come standard with reverse. This convenience feature, though not typically found a true race quad, gives a versatile machine even that much more abilities and was the No. 1 change request made by Polaris customers. Reverse also gives the Predators equal ground for the Yamaha 660R Raptor and Suzuki Z400, which both have this rider-friendly feature.
Each Predator also received a significant ergonomics redo. Polaris engineers redesigned the riding position by altering the handlebars, and changing the seat configuration. A 1-inch taller steering stem raises the handlebars for more comfortable operation and position. Additional foam in the seat helps riders stay off the fuel tank, but simplify the transition from the rear of the seat to the front during aggressive situations.
By raising the rev limiter on both quads, Polaris engineers said the Predator can now be revved higher before riders will need to shift. This change will also make the quads’ top-end power and acceleration more noticeable, according to Polaris.
On the normal Predator 500, which is available in red with black and silver highlights, Polaris recalibrated the front shocks to improve its ride and create more resistance to bottoming, especially in rough terrain.
The special-edition Troy Lee Designs Predator 500 has its own zesty orange plastic and TLD graphic package as well as other exclusive, premium performance parts. The TLD Predator thoroughly impressed us in our initial testing. One of the key upgrades for the TLD version is a new close-ratio gearbox. The new gearing gives the TLD model quicker roll-on acceleration in the mid-range and lets a rider easily stay in the meat of the powerband. More frequent shifting is also evident on this quad.
High-performance FOX aluminum shocks with compression adjustable reservoirs also were added to the Troy Lee edition. Along with more adjustability, weight reduction and improved heat dissipation, the shocks offer less fade. Along the suspension lines, new custom Maxxis Razr radial tires, front and rear, improve the TLD’s traction, handling and overall ride.
An LED taillight and ratchet-style shift mechanism were also added to both Predator models. A complete list of aftermarket accessories also will be available for the Predators. This includes Ohlins shocks, GPR steering stabilizers and more.
Through an agreement with Aeon, also a provider of small displacement ATVs, the all-new Phoenix adult sport quad will be produced in Taiwan according to Polaris design and specifications. Polaris will then import the units to be sold in the U.S. The Phoenix is designed for rider 16 years of age and older who are looking for their first ATV. Polaris also hopes it appeals to women riders and families in need of a second sport ATV.
In order to meet Polaris specifications, each Phoenix frame must pass the Finite Elemental Analysis process. This computer software creates stress loads on the frame to determines how and wear to add built-in durability. The result is a more reliable chassis.
The Phoenix, like the Scrambler and Trail Blazer, is loaded with convenience features. Items like electric start, a PVT automatic transmission, automotive-style shifter design and operation, shaft drive and a long-travel suspension. A 196cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine provides power
Other significant features include a rubber-mounted engine to reduce vibration, replaceable air oil filter, hydraulic disc brakes up front, 20-inch rear Ohtsu tires and a back-up kick start.
The biggest selling point for the Phoenix is its price, at $2,999, it ranks as the most affordable adult-sized ATV, according to Polaris.
Scrambler 500 4×4/TRail Blazer 250
The Scrambler 500 4×4 is still the only all-wheel drive sport ATV in the market and Polaris maintains its stronghold in this niche. For 2005, Polaris updated the Scrambler’s graphics. The quad now wears black plastic with gold flames and silver accents.
Like the Scrambler 500, the two-stroke powered Trail Blazer 250 is unchanged minus the new graphics. It now has red plastic with black, silver and gold undertones.
Polaris engineers significantly redesigned the Predator youth quads to improve handling, safety and convenience. The Predator 90 received a new gearbox that includes reverse. This quad underwent the most changes as it also has a reconfigured steering geometry to create a tighter turning radius and improved operation. Additional seat foam and a better rear suspension travel should make the ride more comfortable, too. The 90 now has five inches of rear travel. To reduce decibel levels, Polaris engineers redesigned the silencer. This change also results in an improved throttle response and better low-rpm grunt, according to Polaris.
Adjustable floorboards (footwells) are now standard on every Polaris youth model and allow the models to be custom fitted to growing children or improve comfort and operation. Aside from new graphics, the Predator 50’s gets a safety modification, too. A new parental tether lets adults follow youth riders and pull the tether to kill the engine if necessary. psb

—Jerrod Kelley

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