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Getting Ready for the Mud

Published in the May 2014 Issue Published online: May 14, 2014 White Out & Wide Open—The Blog
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It seems the thrill of riding for some folks is the challenge of getting into and out of any sticky situation. If you are one of those types who love mud riding you may want to listen up and take some notes as we discuss just a few things to help your ATV or SxS live longer in the nasty mud.

Some things can be changed right from the garage and others may need professional help. Let’s focus on the items that can be done with common home-based tools. Just keep in mind that some of these modifications are not for everyone, so really ask yourself how serious you are before going all out on your mudder build.

Bigger Tires

Something you may not realize is that ground clearance is your friend in the deeper mud. Most stock tires can be upgraded to at least one inch taller and some could go two. This will give you more ground clearance and get you out of deeper holes quicker.

The problem most will encounter is the steer wheels will tend to rub on the plastics at the very back of the front tire, especially when the suspension compresses if the tire is too large. This will be noticeable when turning the bars in one direction or the other as well.

When looking for a more mudfriendly tire be sure to also be realistic. If you ride all mud get a mud tire; if you get into occasional mud get an all terrain mud tire. If you ride hard pack trails and mud you will thank yourself for this. Also understand that the more weight and diameter of tire you add will increase the load on the engine so be wise in your choices.

There might be some question about going with a bigger tire and changes to the vehicle’s clutch setup. The bigger the tire, the closer you come to needing a clutch mod. If you go up one size and sometimes even two, you can avoid the clutching situation, but go much bigger and a clutch change is a must-have. Not making a clutching change affects the machine’s performance rather than really hurting anything. The clutching helps level the playing field with larger tires.

As an example, if the vehicle comes stock with 25-inch tires, then going up to a 27-inch would be the maximum (as long as it fits in the fender) without having to make any clutching changes.

Air Vents


Dropping your machine off into a deep watery grave is exactly what you will be doing if you do not properly vent the moving parts that can ingest water. Some items to consider are the air intake for the motor, the clutch box intake and in some cases, the exhaust as well as the front and rear differential. These parts will need to breathe just like you would if you were stuck under the muck and mire. Simply running extended tubes from the front and rear
differentials up into the highest possible spot on the ATV or UTV will be an easy start for those.

Some will also add small inline fuel filters to the ends of the hoses to keep any unexpected flooding from allowing mud or sand in.

For the air intake on your SxS or ATV’s engine you will want to snorkel the beast for the deeper water. Running PVC piping from the factory air venting on the air box up to a higher point gets the machine in deeper without subjecting the air filter and intake
to the engine to any unwanted water damage. There are many companies which offer snorkel kits for almost every machine out there, but be sure to shop around and try to talk with folks who have used the products before committing to buy.

For the ATV side of things the “crash plate” style seems most attractive because in the event of an accidental roll over the pipes simply break away, leaving the metal plate intact on the front rack.

This way you can just replace the pipes coming off of the crash plate and not the entire system.

Some ATVs will allow this system but some may not. The SxS snorkels will most often be protected inside the parameters of the roll cage on the machine. These systems can be reversed but it may require replacement of stock components that were hacked up during install.

The belt driven transmission will also need to be vented to keep out the ugly mud and water. Your belt is like most cats and does not like water. Some CVT belt drives have both an intake for cool air and an exhaust to release the heat. These will both need to be added to the list of snorkels. Most companies selling snorkel kits do combine the two or three ports as a kit.

Gripping

The stock waffle grips on most ATVs will not shed the mud well enough to provide great control. There are some cases where a manufacturer has installed a good pattern of gripping surface, but for the most part they are generic in use and you’ll need to change these out.

There are many companies that provide lock-on grips that require no glue but it really isn’t that hard to install a set of grips. Look for a grip that has a raised pattern with small crevices of
at least a quarter inch so the mud and water have somewhere to go instead of creating a slick surface. There is a company called Spider Grips (www.spidergrips.com) which makes specific rubber glue-on grips.

These are really popular and seem to work very well.

Foot pegs and floorboards seem to be another subject on gripping control. The pegs on an ATV can pack up with mud and leave them virtually useless if not cleaned out during the ride.

Adding an aluminum bolt-on peg extender can allow for better foot control in the really bad stuff. The pegs with “kick ups” on the outside edge can keep your feet from slipping off as well.

If you are in an SxS be sure the drain holes in the floorboards stay passable so the water and other small debris can escape. I have spotted a few steering wheels with some form of grip tape wrapped in one-inch sections and spread apart by about four inches that would potentially provide more steering control in really muddy situations.

Stuck

If you ride in the mud long enough—usually a few hours—chances are you will find your talent will outrun the ability of the machine you are riding. This is where a good old winch will come into play.

I would say if you can afford an ATV of moderate to larger size or an SxS you will eventually need a winch. Winches come in all colors and sizes but let’s be clear that they are not all equal.

Be sure to get a winch that has a waterproof motor assembly as well as solenoid. These two things may save your brain when you get the machine wet.

If you are worried about the weight of the machine, the general rule is to get a winch that has a rating of near or over double the weight of the machine your piloting. This leaves no doubt that it can pull you out.

Also consider the synthetic rope as it will float on the surface of the water
and will not fray apart and stick to your fingers when you use it. These few suggestions should get you on the road to a successful mud ride without breaking the bank and most all of this stuff is really simple to install on any machine. Be sure to shop around and do not be afraid to ask questions especially in the snorkel part of the mud. We are here to help if you have any questions, so go have fun playing in the dirt again.