Have both a quad and side by side. The quad is handy but the side by side is far more useful than the quad. Lots of choices out there from all work to all play. I have a Can Am, enough speed an power to be fun and still able to haul and do what we need.
The honda foremans are very tough and reliable. We have had one for 18 years and have done very little to it and it gets used a lot. It just runs and runs and all we do is change oil on it on a regular basis.
Stay Japanese and you will be happy, they are hard to beet for longevity. I got a trx450r Honda, kx450fi kawi dirt bike and have a timbersled conversion for fun in the mountains, and a Honda rancher. Been dreaming of a side by side, kinda like the Deere 825i ? I think that was the model but I'm not sure on any of them, lots of rangers around here but they seem to spend more time in the shop than anyone spends in the seat and the plastic isn't flexible enough to take some beating without it looking like garbage
So much depends on what you want to do with it as some situations fit a quad better and others a side by side.
I would say if your plans are to haul around items and another person, and the trails are wide enough for a side by side ( they seem to be growing in width ) , a side by side would be the better way to go although the type of unit makes a huge difference in how easy it is to get in and out of repeatedly. That's why one friend went with a Polaris Ranger to have ease of sliding in and out from a basic bench seat ( and the dog can hop right in ). Others like a bucket seat to secure themselves in better ... but some only seat two people.
As to the quad, that's what I've been used to for years and definitely lacking in the ability to pack things around like the side by side with the box setup in the back but as I rely on being able to load it in the back of a pickup often for hauling it to a farther field and to drop a pickup off at the field so I can come back and get a tractor/combine etc. So for me the quad is more useful for those reasons.
Although I would recommend some Honda's as long as you are not looking for a performance machine and one that doesn't ride as well, I would not point you to a Rubicon simply because I have one and its prone to having issues related to sensors and electrical for the hydrostatic system and forget it if one wants to start it in the winter as the oil pumps drag the motor over so much it will never start unless its kept in a heated shop. It is certainly not a performance machine. One I would give thumbs up to is the Yamaha Grizzly as my brother has one that is a few years old now and its been good. Its ride is FAR superior because of the independent rear but also the seat foam is way more cushy and sticking with stock tires helps the ride as well. The Grizzly will run rings around the Rubicon for power and speed down the road to get somewhere but if you are looking for lots of power then some of the V twins are the way to go. So if ride is high on your list, be it a quad or side by side, there are big differences between the brands and models.
I think a side by side would be very useful but I finally bought a quad because of price. I pull a little 4' by 6' trailer with it and find it very handy with fixing fence and things like that. It's a Polaris Sportman. Has treated me pretty good so far but I've only had it a couple years.
If you are checking your fields and having to unload and load your bike from a truck or trailer it would be much easier to do this with a regular 4 wheeler rather than a side by side. I like the footshift on my foremans. They are simple and never give any trouble. With a footshift only one of your hands is tied up for the throttle and the other one can be used to spray, pick up a rock etc as you drive. You do not need your second hand available to shift.
For checking fields I prefer the racing quads or a dirt bike for the simple fact you don't need to haul it in the pickup to get it to the field, you can run 60-70 mph pretty comfortably down the road, they handle well on trails, have a ton of power and I can check all of my fields on 2 gallons of gas but these things are not made for everyone and they are useless when you want to do anything else
As been mentioned already, both types have there place and advantages, guess it comes down to exactly what you intend to use it for most. Myself was always leaning towards a quad for speed and ease of hauling, but the best thing that ever happened in that regard was when I lucked out and picked up a few year old HPX 4X4 Gator with only 450 hours in need of a bit of TLC. Paid $4K and ever since Deerland delivered it, that little bugger has been an almost daily runner except when it's really cold for December and January. I seem to keep finding new things to use it all the time. Even made some special hitches so I can use it to push or pull my smaller grain augers upto and including 50 footer 8 inch Sakundiak to position them over a bin, no pin required. I even have started putting up more square baled hay, as it's nice to be able to sneak around with it with ten bales or so rather than bucking mud and tearing things up to put out round bales. Box fits twelve five gallon pails nicely for feeding grain out on pasture, and the list goes on. Have never regretted buying it and would be seriously in a bind if I had to be without it again
Now I do have cattle and that is mostly what it is used for, but it also is so dam handy for anything simply being able to pack stuff around like my portable compressor, tools, sacks of seed, whatever, stuff you just can't do with a quad. I was looking for a quad when I ended up with the Gator, and can't say enough how for me and what I do, there is no question it was the machine I needed. As for quads, I gotta say go Honda, though sounds like most I know with newer Polaris are liking them a lot too.
Yes it is more cumbersome in tight quarters, found out almost the hard way it don't like water over about 6 inches deep for any great distance, don't have the high speed of a quad. Is also a fair bit heavier as well. Will not fit in a pickup box either. Have two trailers I haul it on, one is an car hauler for which I have two little short ramps made from Marsden matting and once you run it up to the front, have a chain that hooks to the front hitch, lock a boomer and she's tied down in 15 seconds. Second trailer is a old tilting skidoo one, which is handy when you are moving equipment around, as the Gator easily can pull its own wagon behind it when the need arises.
I'm over six feet and well over 200#, no question the side by sides are easier to mount and more comfortable to drive for me. Especially if I am experiencing lower back trouble and pain...not having to lift my leg to swing it over the seat is a physical benefit as well.
Was looking to see if I had a picture I took last spring for a forum member about how many bales it could pack( 13 in this one) and I found a few more of a modification I made to the shifter cable in the console between the seats. The cable was kinked when I bought it, so I straightened it out best I could, it all worked good till got cold last winter, then it started hanging up and wanting to kink again, so I rigged a support at the end of the sheath. Works perfectly now, never an issue since.
had a honda and the gear teeth on it broke so went to a yamaha and it has way more get up and go. the ride it much better compared to a honda. the clutching on the yamaha is very good and is in my opinion much better than the american made quads. we always use a quad for draining the fields. if you realy have to pick up stuff you can just use a pickup truck
I have had an Arctic Cat Prowler 700 for the last five years and it has been great, put in a battery and a spark plug along with regular maintenance. Does 50 MPH down the road so never load it on a trailer when checking fields and if I can't find a tool in the shop it is probably in the box of the Prowler. Will probably buy another one when this one is worn out but that doesn't seem like it will be any time soon.
Have run a lot of 550 Grizzlys. Cracking bike. Comfortable to ride, good sized fuel tank, handles really well at speed.
Best feature - low range diff lock. Pulls like a draught horse.
Worst feature - plastic panels aren't one solid piece. Don't recover well from hard knocks or a roll over.
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