2005 Suzuki Vinson Review - Long Term Test
For almost a year we have brutalized the 2005 Suzuki Vinson, using it in just about every enviroment that an ATV could possibly face. We have ridden on trails all over the West Coast. We have used it on the farm to pull a mower, ATV Wagon and harrow. It has served as a pit bike and hauled photography equipment at races. It was used in a segment for ATV Television on camp trailers. It has crossed barely-standing bridges and pulled fallen trees for trail maintenance. It has been in the desert, up mountain trails, and in the snow.
The verdict - we would confidently recommend the Suzuki Vinson as a truly excellent all-purpose quad.
The Suzuki 500cc powerplant is extremely smooth and refined. It has plenty of get-up-and-go, whether it is for a spirited trail ride or for pulling a trailer loaded down with dirt and gravel. The motor ran flawlessy during our testing and required nothing other than normal maintenance. It did not matter how cold it was outside; the Vinson always started up quickly with the use of the handlebar-mounted choke. You do need to adjust the choke as it warms up, otherwise your idle speed will be too high and it will make it dificult to shift the transmission. It does seem to be pretty sensitive about that.
No, it doesn't have the power of a big-bore, but we are confident it does have the power to keep most riders happy in most all applications.
The transmission always worked without failing but some testers noted that it was slow to respond, ie there was a delay after giving it throttle before it took off. We also felt that the shifter could be more positive between high and low. It is easy to stick it in low gear since that is all the way forward on the shifter, and reverse is easy because that is all the way back. But once in a while we would find it "stuck" between high and low and making a ratcheting sound, again, especially if the choke was on and the Vinson was idling fast.
If this gives a shopper even the slightest pause, keep in mind that Suzuki offers the Vinson in a manual shift model as well. The manual version gives you a little more torque AND it costs $200 less than the Automatic. Even more good news for heavy work applications - it has a special low-range sub-transmission which really gives you some torque. If you don't mind shifting, the manual version may be the way to go.
We found that the Vinson rides extremely well for a non-IRS equipped quad. The ride is not quite as good as some of the newer IRS models, but as a work quad we feel it is better suited. The adjustable preload coil-overs allow you some adjustment also. Put them on the softer side for trail riding then stiffen them up when you want to load it down with hay. It works. The bottom line is we like the versatility of the Vinson to go directly from work on the property to playing on the trails.
The cat's eye headlights have a great look but we don't like how the headlights sit on top of the body work, instead of embedded flush in the plastic. It is a pain to wash this area after playing in the mud. We did like the general placements of all the front lights - handlebar mounted as well as in front of the fenders, so you had lighting tracking where you are going as well as where you are turning too. But we hope Suzuki modifies the front bodywork to be like the new KingQuad.
The dry storage canister in the right front fender is handy for some items, but we found that small things went in, slid around, and disappeared. It is best suited for large, soft items that can be squished in to the molded fender shape - it's a perfect place for a sweatshirt or spare pair or gloves.
The rear rack was perfectly sized, designed and placed on the fenders. Large bulky items never hit you in the back. It was also small enough to NOT encourage a second passenger riding. The front rack is intentionally rather small, so it doesn't block any view of the trail immediately ahead. The styling of the front bumper gets two thumbs up, wrapping and protecting the entire radiator securely. We also like that it's designed for easy installation of a winch.
The floor boards and foot pegs are designed perfectly, with deep molded areas that have sufficient drainage holes and large gripping pegs. Side body panels are large enough and positioned so you don't feel excessive engine heat against your legs, even after long periods of riding. Fenders are sized and shaped to deflect maximum mud and slop. Ergonomics are right on the money, with a very comfortable T-shaped seat. The Vinson is perfectly designed for a recreational trail vehicle.
In the final analysis, while there were some things that lowered it's score slightly, most were items that were certainly not deal-breakers in the purchasing decision. In our experience, Suzuki's are reliable, well-built machines and can take any tough assignment handed them. The 2005 Vinson 500 4x4 carries on the Suzuki tradition proudly, with an emphasis on Versatility.