P500 For those on the fence regarding the P500


Active Member
Feb 15, 2021
Boise, Idaho

  1. 500
I have a 2009 Grizzly 700 which I love, but started looking at side by sides due to a bad back and neck. I also wanted something that could be used for maintenance of my land up in the mountains. Saw a couple Pioneer 500s at a campground and knew I had to find out more about them. In the area I live there was not one to be found - a casualty of the Covid Cooties. So I had to travel an hour away to Ontario, Oregon where I test drove one of the two remaining P500s the dealership had in stock.

My first impression test driving the P500 in the back lot behind the dealership was not great. I thought it rode hard, was rather noisy, and was not as "cushy" as my Yamaha Grizzly 700. However, it did have a fairly comfortable seat, and it enabled my wife and I to ride together safely. So I purchased it that day.

Half windshield, bimini top, winch, winch and rotopax were purchased at the dealership. In my opinion these were required items. I soon went on and purchased mirrors.

My first trail ride was only a few miles long as I traveled with some atv riders out to a spot in the desert where we hone our shooting skills with some target practice. My appreciation of the machine grew a bit, since the little Pioneer went everywhere the atvs could travel. Hills, ruts, and sharp corners were no problem. However, it felt a bit tippy and still rode hard, especially when I began increasing my speed. Top speed returning to the truck on the gravel roads was only around 40 mph. It's certainly not a sporty machine.

Searching through the internet, I was pleased to find the Honda SxS Forum. Finding the Forum was both a good and bad discovery. Good - because it contained a wealth of information from many helpful and knowledgeable people in regard to the P500, as well as other machines. Bad, because you helpful and knowledgeable people are costing me serious money! ;)

Went to the Honda Forum for answers about tires - Result - I purchased the 26" x 9" x 12" and the 26" x 11" x 12" Bighorn 2.0 radial tires. It improved the ride greatly. Good tires make a difference out on the trail, and radials are worth the cost in my humble opinion. I experimented with the air pressure, and for me nine pounds of air in each tire is about right. It did better on trails but was very tippy to the point of almost flipping on its side on some trails which I probably should not have been on. Heed the advice of the Forum wise-men (or are they wise- guys) - if you go up in height you need to go out!

Went to the Honda Forum for answers about "tippyness" - Result - Purchased 1 1/2' wheel spacers for the front - it helped the stability a lot, but was still a little unsteady. Purchased back spacers in the same size - vast improvement. I began enjoying riding the trails again, although riding at speed I still noticed some bouncing almost uncontrollably on bumps, ruts, and rough trails.

Went to the Honda Forum for answers about the rough ride - Result - Purchased front Walker Evans shocks. They were just making the P500 shocks so it only took me two weeks for them to arrive. I installed them and they made a vast improvement in the ride. So much so that my wife urged me to buy the rear ones, which unfortunately took three months to arrive. After installing the rear shocks, I had a great little trail machine. If you are considering upgrading shocks just pull off the $ band-aid quickly and buy all four.

I took the P500 up into the mountains on some very sketchy trails for an extended ride and OH MY GOSH I had soooooo much fun! It performed flawlessly. It took tight corners like a champ, climbed steep rocky hills with hardly any effort, and soaked up bumps and rough spots on the trail. I love holding the gears by using the manual mode of shifting and love the auto mode for cruising to the trails on gravel forest service roads. On trails and roads with some gravel on them I can still do power slides with no loss of control.

Don't really need power steering but may install it someday. Likewise for a front locker. I don't travel through mud much and have not needed it for rocky trails. Purchased a Trigger Shield recently and look forward to installing it to cut down on the noise. It is a noisy little guy. I don't really notice the heat issue some folks have mentioned. I have had no mechanical issues at all. All I have done is it's first service.

I actually like the rack instead of the dump bed of the P520. It gives me some cargo carrying options. The P500 lacks storage space so I installed a glove box in the cab, and a box and basket on the rack.

The initial purchase price of $8,600 plus the accessories total right around $12,000. Not bad for a fun, capable, and almost bulletproof small UTV. It's not the fastest or smoothest or most refined machine. But traveling technical, tight trails and going up steep hills with the option of carrying a companion makes the P500 worth considering for a small UTV. I am glad I have it.

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