PROJECT PREDATOR: Building a race-ready Polaris
As a race machine, the Polaris Predator is somewhat limited. Its portly 416-pound weight keeps it from being a great motocrosser, and its 500cc displacement keeps it from most production classes. However, that same 500cc engine makes the Predator one of the fastest production quads on the planet in stock trim. Being equipped with Fox reservoir shocks front and rear, the Predator has nearly perfect suspension right out of the box.
From time to time we choose to race the Predator over the more popular 450cc machines. Those instances may be when our 450cc machines are apart for repair, or maybe an engine is getting rebuilt. This usually leaves the Dirt Wheels airplane hanger full of only stock machines. That’s when we break out the Predator, in this case the 2005 Troy Lee Edition.
(Left) We tried to improve the Predator’s traction with a smaller rear sprocket. It didn’t work as well as we wanted. However, we did gain some top speed and feel the new sprocket and chain combo will not fail. (Right) We increased the Predator’s fuel supply to a full four gallons with an IMS gas tank. It will fit under the stock bodywork perfectly. With our Full Bore skin, we had to trim a couple of areas of the body before installation was completed.
PREPPING THE PREDATOR
Up until now we have installed a Full Bore body kit, Roll foot pegs, IMS heel guards and bumper. Other than those items it’s in stock trim.
For this project we will be adding some $55 Power Madd handguards, a larger IMS fuel tank, some decals and a new chain and sprocket kit from Sidewinder.
(Left) This is what happened to our stock sprocket and chain after a trip to Pismo Beach. Pismo is next to the ocean and the moist, salty air will wreak havoc on these parts even if they are well lubed. (Right) The Sidewinder Ti Moly sprocket is nearly indestructible. Along with their gold chain, this combo is way better than stock.
The last time we did any testing with the Predator was at Pismo, and the wet salty air of the seaside ride area wreaked havoc on many of the metal parts. The worst area was the chain. About a day after our trip the chain quickly rusted and now looks like a red racer snake.
Although with some elbow grease and a wire brush we could have salvaged the stock chain, we wanted a new product. Sidewinder has chains and sprockets for every chain-driven quad made. This particular kit consisted of an O-Ring chain, 14-tooth front sprocket and a 38-tooth rear.
The chain had to be cut to length (101 links) but installed quickly just like the sprockets. The sprockets are Sidewinder’s Ti-Moly steel units. Their weight is nearly identical to the stockers but Sidewinder claims they are twice as strong.
Above the front sprocket we installed a set of Pro Aluminum nerf bars after our photo shoot. For racing they are a must and on this machine they will make a great addition to the Roll footpegs and IMS heel guards we installed a few months back. While the nerfs are built to match the stock pegs, we were able to make them fit onto the Roll pegs. We had to drill an extra hole in the peg mounting plate and we attached them using the bolts that secure the heel guards to the peg.
Until now the longest race we have done with the Predator is a 45-minute grand prix. During that race we had plenty of fuel to go the distance but not much left over after the checkered flag. The Pismo event is an hour and a half long on a 100-percent sand track. This will rob fuel big time. To save time by not pitting we installed a larger IMS fuel tank.
The IMS unit is molded to fit the stock bodywork and mounts up easily. Since we have equipped our Predator with a set of Full bore bodywork, we had to do some trimming. With a small grinder, we had to trim a few corners of the new body so it would fit tightly over the new tank. The tank is white yet see-through so you can always keep a close eye on how much fuel you have remaining. At four gallons (stock is 3.25), the IMS tank should give us the extra mileage our test rider needs to finish the race without stopping. The tank sells for $225.
To enhance the bodywork a little we installed two number plate backgrounds ($26) from Rath Racing. Then a modified Polaris/Rath 50th anniversary decal kit ($40) added more color.
For now, the muffler will remain stock. Pismo has a 96db limit for ATVs and we like to follow the rules when possible. We don’t really want to change out the muffler on the Predator until Polaris or any aftermarket company comes up with a better air intake system; one that allows us to remove the airbox lid is a minimum requirement.
IMS: (800) 237-9906
Sidewinder: (630) 513-1000
Rath Racing: (320) 234-7223
Pro Aluminum: (800) 718-2586
Power Madd: (800) 435-6881