Suzuki ATVs that changed the world!

ATVing is a new sport for many enthusiasts, so it may seem hard to believe that Suzuki is celebrating its 30th anniversary making four-wheelers and its 50th year in America. Suzuki made three-wheelers more than 30 years ago and was the first of today’s major manufacturers to offer quads. Suzuki didn’t just lead the ATV industry with the first four-wheeler, they made many trendsetting machines along the way. Let’s look at the milestone Suzuki models that changed the sport and the world!

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1983 LT125 QuadRunner
In 1982, Suzuki shifted the entire ATVing world from three-wheelers to four-wheelers with the innovative Suzuki LT125 QuadRunner, which was released as a 1983 model. It had an air-cooled, 125cc, singleoverhead- cam, two-valve engine and a foot-shift, five-speed transmission with a convenient automatic clutch. The tires and thick, soft seat provided the suspension, but the LT125 had electric starting and reverse, rare luxuries on ATVs in the early ’80s.

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1985 LT250R QuadRacer
Until 1985, high-performance, twostroke three-wheelers dominated ATV racing. The liquid-cooled, two-stroke QuadRacer 250 changed ATV racing and high-performance ATVs forever. The LT250R was a pure performance machine, with a manual clutch, five-speed transmission, no reverse and kickstarting for maximum performance with minimum weight, just 325 pounds! Honda followed Suzuki’s lead in 1986 with the legendary TRX250R high-performance quad.

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1986 LT500R QuadRacer
As if the shock wave the LT250R created in the high-performance sport ATV class wasn’t enough, Suzuki released the amazing 500cc, two-stroke LT500R just a year later, rewriting the rules for the big-bore sport ATV class and paving the way for outlandish open-class sport machines like the Raptor 700. The mighty 500’s liquid-cooled engine featured a variable exhaust port, just like state-of-the-art motocross bikes of the day. A pure sport machine, this kickstartonly beast had no reverse and a manual-clutch, five-speed transmission. The 500’s monsterous power earned it a cult following that continues today—and the nickname “Quadzilla.”

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1991 LT280 KingQuad
It may be hard to believe that an air-cooled, 280cc, single-cylinder machine could rock the 4×4 ATV world, but in 1991, a 280 was big, and the first KingQuad’s impact can still be felt today. This was the first four-wheeler to come loaded with features that are considered must-haves on modern 4WD machines. It had independent rear suspension when solid-axle rear ends were the norm, selectable 2WD/4WD when 4WD was rare, and selectable 2WD/4WD was almost unheard of. The KingQuad also featured a lockable front differential, a key feature found only on today’s best-equipped 4WDs. The first KingQuad’s foot-shift, automatic-clutch transmission had high and low ranges for its five speeds, giving the 280 impressive pulling power, speed and versatility.

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2002 LTZ400 QuadSport
In 2002, Suzuki reenergized the midsize sport segment with the LTZ400, one of the best-performing, most versatile sport quads ever released. Rugged, nimble and easy to ride with enough performance potential for serious racing, the liquidcooled, double-overhead-cam machine worked great for a huge range of riders. Electric starting and reverse made it an instant hit with trail riders and woods racers. Modified, it won national motocross championships. A winner since its introduction, the Suzuki Z400 steadily improved and was seriously upgraded in 2009 with fresh styling, fuel injection and adjustable piggyback-reservoir front shocks to go with its piggyback-reservoir rear shock. It’s still one of the best allaround sport ATVs available.

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2006 LT-R450 QuadRacer
Suzuki took the high-performance ATV concept to another level with the LT-R450, the first production motocross-width competition quad. Its popularity spawned similarly equipped race machines from Yamaha, Can-Am and KTM. The 450’s highly tuned, radically over-square, fuel-injected, doubleoverhead- cam engine was set in a chassis with 50-inch-wide A-arms and axles—motocross-spec parts racers had to buy and add to other high-performance quads. Excellent ergonomics and handling and raceready ruggedness make the LT-R450 a prized race machine today, even though Suzuki discontinued the model in 2009.

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