"I was faced with a stretched...
"I was faced with a stretched budget and a decision as to whether my limited funds should go toward work or play."
Having been born in New York City and raised between there and Miami, farm work hasn't exactly been a staple of my upbringing. If you were to add up all of the grass that covered the yards in the homes in which I was raised, it wouldn't cover the floor of a two-car garage. The utter lack of "all things green" in my childhood is probably responsible for my obsession with the off-road and love for the outdoors. With that said, 20 years after leaving the city life, I somehow ended up in the North Georgia mountains, staring at multiple acres of overgrown weeds on which my wife and I would be building a mountain retreat. Feeling somewhat accomplished and beaming with pride over our new purchase, my wife posed a seemingly simple question: "How do we mow it?" The city boy in me panicked before blurting out, "I'll just mow it with my quad." It sounded reasonable enough, and she seemed to be considering it, which worked for me. "Really? An ATV? Shouldn't we buy a tractor?" The economic repercussion of her question meant the trail quad/play fund I had managed to accrue might go to John Deere instead of Suzuki. "Nope, no need for a tractor, I'll do it with my quad." I'm not sure if she bought it, because I honestly wasn't sure of it myself.
I found myself in the same predicament as most Americans these days; I was faced with a stretched budget and a decision as to whether my limited funds should go toward work or play. I purchased the mountain property (which borders a USFS ORV trail) in order to have a home base from which to launch our riding adventures but found myself needing the allotted play fund for a machine with which I could maintain the home base. I grudgingly looked into various small tractors and even a Bobcat, but the thought of spending my play fund on a purely work machine didn't sit well. The more I stalled, the more the weeds (along with my frustration) grew, and the further I seemed to be from a viable solution.
To clear my head I swung by Xtreme Dirt Toyz and took a seat at the counter while my buddy Jimmy waited on a customer. I flipped through the counter copy of Tucker Rocky's ATV Catalog and stumbled on the "AG & Farming" section; it was at that very moment when I first believed the ATV route might actually pan out. Page after page was filled with possibility, and doubt was replaced with optimism. My play fund was looking like it might actually be used for its intended purpose. Building a machine that could split its time between work and play was the quintessential case of having your cake and eating it too.
Building a machine that could work as hard as it plays would require some effort, as there are literally dozens of utility ATVs on the market. Each manufacturer offered something I thought could work, but one machine seemed to stand out while I was researching prospects: Suzuki's KingQuad 750AXi with Power Steering. The area where the unit would spend most of its time while in work mode could best be described as steep and sketchy, while most play would take place in the tight trails that traverse the mountains. The KingQuad's power steering would allow it to shine in both areas, and make the task of mowing (not to mention turning) while traversing the terrain much easier. The advanced engine-braking system (which reduces freewheeling and downhill speed) would be an asset while the machine was loaded with heavy equipment, and further separated the KingQuad from its competitors. The KingQuad's fuel injection would eliminate the woes of having to rejet the machine for the drastic elevation changes, and the powerful 722cc, four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC engine would provide ample power. The independent front and rear suspension with the five-way preload-adjustable rear shock would mean a plush ride whether literally plowing the land or figuratively plowing through mudholes or flying down trails, and the 10 inches of ground clearance would be plenty for the tasks at hand. The KingQuad also offered a bevy of features that I felt made it the best option which included great ergonomics; front and rear disc brakes; an automatic transmission (with high/low range and reverse); dual 30-watt multi-reflector halogen headlights and a handlebar-mounted auxiliary light; a large (yet low mounted) 4.6-gallon fuel tank which is wisely positioned for a low center of gravity; roomy rack space; a convenient handlebar-mounted push-button 4WD control; and great looks. With the KingQuad 750 secured, it was time to start building upon our solid foundation.
In stock trim the Suzuki is a blast to ride and didn't really need much in the way of performance modifications, yet that didn't keep a Yoshimura RS-2 stainless slip-on exhaust from finding a home here. The Yosh exhaust looks cool, increases performance and gives the workhorse a nice sound without making it obnoxious. Yoshimura also offers a Fuel Injection Controller (PIMM) unit for the KingQuad, but I opted to keep it simple. As crazy as this may read, the RS-2 system was all that was installed for performance (kind of unheard of, right?).
Mile Marker's PE 2.5 electric...
Mile Marker's PE 2.5 electric winch
Changing tires and wheels was almost purely cosmetic, with almost being the key word. Sure, the stock wheels and tires on the KingQuad work fine, but the 25-inch Goldspeed MXU tires mounted on DWT's Diablo wheels add some much needed bling. The MXU tire is Goldspeed's new six-ply utility tire, and the aggressive tread pattern includes high grip knobs and a PPM sidewall. They're geared a bit more toward play than work but looked too cool to pass up for this build. The Diablo wheel looks cool enough that I wish they came in truck sizes; they're just plain mean looking, and the black powdercoat would ensure this KingQuad will never be confused with that of any other dopey farmer (yes, I realize I'm still a city boy at heart). The Diablo is lightweight, yet rated at 1,000 pounds per wheel, which would add strength in addition to just looks.
PowerMadd's Power X hand guards rounded out the "non-work" parts. Despite being designed specifically for MX, the guards' small, lightweight design makes them a must on just about anything I ride. The FlexMount system is a piece of cake to install and allows the hand guards to move as opposed to shatter when hit.
As has become the custom, a clean set of G-4 Graphics were designed and installed on the KingQuad, making it among the best-looking pieces of farm equipment we've seen.
All Rite ATV Products' Rack...
All Rite ATV Products' Rack Rider tool holders and Bucket Binder
Custom aluminum mounting plate...
Custom aluminum mounting plate for QuadBoss' Mowing Deck Control
QuadBoss' 15-gallon spot ...
QuadBoss' 15-gallon spot sprayer
Strong Made's ATV receiver...
Strong Made's ATV receiver hitch
In a nod to my farming needs, since it was the QuadBoss catalog that really inspired this build, it is appropriate that same catalog made it a reality. While QuadBoss makes just about anything and everything one would ever need in a farm/AG setting, our task list for this machine was relatively short and would require only a fraction of the company's available implements.
To reduce the time required in mowing multiple acres, a massive QuadBoss 52-inch Rough Cut Mower was chosen. The 52-inch deck is powered by an 18.5-horsepower Briggs & Stratton motor complete with a 12-volt electric-starting system. The QuadBoss mower has three height settings and can be pulled directly behind the ATV or offset to either side making it fairly versatile and accommodating to the rough conditions we would be attacking. The deck itself is made from 11-gauge steel and is supported by four 10-inch wheels, making it easier to move than the two-wheeled models. The unit is controlled entirely via wired control box, which easily mounts to the ATV's rear rack so operation is safe and easy.
The QuadBoss 15-gallon spot sprayer was installed to handle all weed control and general spraying duties. The tank has a 10-foot hose with an adjustable tipped spray wand, and a one gallon-per-minute SHURflo pump, which operates at an impressive 40 psi. The tank slipped in place easily with the QuadBoss wiring kit and a pair of $7 tiedown straps from Home Depot. The entire spray tank is easily removable allowing for a quick transformation when switching back to play mode.
QuadBoss Carry-All racks and ATV cargo nets are also utilized for various tool-hauling tasks.
Just about the entire line from All Rite ATV Products was loaded on the rear cargo rack of the KingQuad, ensuring that every tool needed would have a specific home. The easily installed Bucket Binder allowed hauling trash, drinks or anything else one might want to transport via bucket. The Binder's high-strength nylon straps are adjustable and can firmly hold standard 4- or 5-gallon buckets, water jugs up to 3 gallons, or 1- to 2-gallon weed/garden sprayers. A Rack Rider Flashlight Holder gave the 4D MagLite a home, while the Rack Rider Striking Tool Holder now houses a full-size pick-axe. The Snap In Go Vertical ATV Tool Holder handled sledgehammer duties, while the Oasis Drink Holder conveniently took on beverage transportation. A Thumbuddy Pro (rubber-coated bolt-on ATV throttle extender) was installed for those with far wimpier thumbs than mine to keep their fat digit from getting too tired. All of the All Rite rack-mounted products use the Master Block mounting system, which makes installation not only simple, but uniform across the board. The entire product line is well made and visually appealing, with bright yellow powdercoat and really nice rubber grommets to keep the tools from bouncing out.
In order to house smaller hand tools and miscellaneous small parts, a 17-inch Husky brand tool tote was picked up at Home Depot and subsequently modified to make it securable, yet easily removable from the ATV. A 1/2-inch clevis pin was welded to the Suzuki's rear cargo rack, while a matching 1/2-inch hole was drilled through the bottom of the tool tote, large fender washers were hot glued to either side of the hole, and a hitch pin is used to lock the tote in place on the rack. The end result is functional, convenient and inexpensive.
PowerMadd's Power X hand ...
PowerMadd's Power X hand guard
Speaking of functional and convenient brings to mind the Mile Marker's PE2.5 electric winch gracing the front of the KingQuad. The 2-horsepower, 2,500-pound-capacity winch is designed to handle just about anything we foresee using the KingQuad for. The Mile Marker unit installs with no problems and comes complete with both handlebar and remote handheld controls. The 241:1 gear ratio, rugged planetary gear sets and 300-amp-rated solenoid combine for ultra-fast line speeds and flawless operation.
Mile Marker's PE 2.5 electric...
Mile Marker's PE 2.5 electric winch
Towing duties are handled by Strong Made's RH Series 2-inch receiver hitch. The versatility of having a removable hitch accommodates easy ball changes and will keep the KingQuad from dragging or bottoming when traversing rutted or muddy terrain during play time. The Strong Made receiver installs easily and looks clean thanks to the glossy black powdercoat finish.
With all of the KingQuad's rack space accounted for, a trailer would have to be used when moving heavy or cumbersome materials. The mountainous topography where the machine will be working creates a challenge when towing heavy loads, as gravity and momentum tend to trump regular braking abilities. A Bosski 1600 UT ATV Wagon was selected for various reasons, starting with the wagon's ability to remedy the aforementioned braking issue thanks to its electric brakes. Next was sheer capacity; the 1600 UT ATV Wagon can handle nearly 1,100 pounds of cargo, and dump it hydraulically with the push of either a handlebar-mounted button or a handheld wireless remote. The 1600 is no wimpy poly trailer; it's actually a heavy-duty 14-gauge steel unit complete with heavy-duty axles, independent suspension, a double hinged tailgate and 25-inch tires. The ATV Wagon weighs a whopping 539 pounds and measures in at 47 inches wide, 109 inches long and 37 inches high, yet it's easily movable by hand.
Assembly and wiring for the various parts was a piece of cake, and outside of manufacturing a mounting plate for the mowing deck control box, no modifications were necessary. Everything really did come together easier than expected.
Putting It To The Test
To test the true work potential and readiness of my KingQuad, we took it to the exact location it was built for: the severely overgrown, mountaintop/future home site. Hauling the machine and its various implements required every inch of a standard-bed F-250 and a 6-foot/12-foot trailer. Unsure of how it would perform, we loaded the Suzuki with all of the tools, hooked up the mower and set off to clear-cut the dense growth. The KingQuad itself was a pure joy to ride and delivered more than hoped for in the power department while confirming the importance of power steering as the day wore on and our arms wore out. The foundation of our build was certainly as solid as was hoped for, and every aspect of the mighty Suzuki KingQuad 750AXi passed with flying colors.
Implement-wise, the QuadBoss 52-inch mower is an amazing piece of machinery, as nothing ever seemed to present too much of a challenge for it. The steeper the terrain and thicker the underbrush, the happier the mower seemed to be. As a pure mower, the combination of QuadBoss and KingQuad is unmatched and easily conquered terrain that would keep most tractors at bay. The plethora of tools we loaded never shifted, and the sprayer pumped out gallon after gallon of Round-Up without so much as a hiccup. The Mile Marker winch was honestly only used once, and that was just to make sure it worked as opposed to any real necessity. The PE2.5 easily pulled the KingQuad and mower up the steep mountainside without ever slowing or feeling overwhelmed. Once the worthiness of the mower was established, we loaded and hooked up the Bosski 1600 UT ATV Wagon and put it through its paces. The wagon performed as excitingly as can be expected from a trailer and received the ATVR stamp of approval. As a work tool, the 1600 is solid, never felt tippy nor presented any problems to speak of. While we never had the occasion to load it with a full 1,100 pounds, it gave us no reason to doubt it might handle the added payload any differently. The biggest letdown under work conditions was honestly the tires. The sporty nature of the MXU could have used a bit more traction when things got slick; with that said, the full day of work led to a long evening of play and redemption opportunities for the Goldspeed MXUs.
Mile Marker and Bosski's handlebar...
Mile Marker and Bosski's handlebar controls
The Husky 17-inch open tool...
The Husky 17-inch open tool tote
Yoshimura R&D's RS-2 stainless...
Yoshimura R&D's RS-2 stainless slip-on exhaust
Once we determined that the KingQuad was indeed unstoppable as a workhorse, we spent all of five minutes removing tools and headed to the trails for some play. The Suzuki honestly shocked me after seeing what it was capable of in the purely utilitarian setting, but what it could do while playing was nothing short of amazing.
The Yoshimura exhaust brought the KingQuad to life and helped confirm what I was already kind of suspecting: The KingQuad is a 722cc sport quad hidden under big racks and fancy controls. To say the machine was equally up to the task of play as it was work would be an understatement. The Yoshimura-equipped Suzuki absolutely rips, and any doubts I may have had about the MXU tire went out the window as soon as we hit the trails. The Goldspeed MXU has enough traction to make high-speed trail navigation a blast, and the sidewalls allow you to pitch the big Suzuki sideways at will, without fear of the tire rolling over. Suzuki's stock shocks are plusher than I hoped for and from a performance standpoint leave nothing to be desired. As a whole, my QuadBoss KingQuad is surprisingly comfortable at fast-paced trail riding and feels right at home while at play. It was honestly hard to believe this machine that was jumping and sliding like a sport quad was the same machine that was mowing a complete mountainside just hours earlier.
As a complete package, this QuadBoss Suzuki KingQuad 750AXi is the perfect option for anyone searching for a way to have their cake while eating it too. Work and play no longer require two separate machines.
DWT: www.dwtracing.com, 760/758-5560
Diablo 12x7 wheels, black: $88 ea.; Goldspeed MX Utility ATV tire, 25x8-12 front: $129.99 ea.; 25x10-12 rear: $142.99 ea.
Mile Marker: www.milemarker.com, 800/886-8647
PE2.5 electric winch: $239.99
Strong Made: www.strongmade.com, 800/960-5926
ATV receiver hitch, part No. RH109: $67.68
PowerMadd: www.powermadd.com, 800/435-6881
Power X hand guard, white: $19.95 per pair; FlexMount Kit: $19.95
Yoshimura R&D: www.yoshimura-rd.com, 909/628-4722
RS-2 stainless steel slip-on exhaust: $395
All Rite ATV Products: www.allriteproducts.com, 800/771-8471
Bucket Binder: $29.95; Rack Rider Flashlight Holder: $24.95; Rack Rider Striking Tool Holder: $24.95; Snap In Go Vertical ATV Tool Holder: $19.95; Thumbuddy Pro: $24.95; Oasis Drink Holder: $29.95
QuadBoss: www.quadboss.com, see your local authorized Tucker Rocky dealer
52-in. Rough Cut Mower, 18.5-hp Briggs & Stratton, 12-volt electric-start: $2,589.99; 15-gal. spot sprayer: $169.99; spot sprayer wiring kit: $32.99; Carry-All rack: $29.99; Carry-All rack straps: $4.99; ATV cargo net: $6.99
Suzuki: www.suzukicycles.com, see your local dealer
KingQuad 750AXi Power Steering: $9,049
Husky: www.homedepot.com, see your local Home Depot
17-in. open tool tote: $24.97
Bosski: www.atvwagon.com, 208/455-8433
1600 UT: $1,699
G-4 Graphics: www.goforitgraphics.com, 866/884-2207
Custom graphics kit: $109; fender upgrade: $40