June 03, 2014

More E15 Ethanol News

Triple AAA wants sales suspended

In the November issue of SnoWest Magazine (“E15 Ethanol: How Does It Effect You?” November, 2012, page 46), we detailed some questions surrounding the E15 (15 percent ethanol blend) and the potential harmful effects it could have on snowmobiling.

Well we recently came across a press release from the automotive group Triple AAA that we find very interesting.

Interesting because E15 is supposed to be safe for cars.

Here it is.

Suspend Sale Of E15 Gasoline

By Robert L. Darbelnet, President and CEO of AAA

Published first in The Hill on Dec. 13, 2012

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and gasoline retailers should suspend the sale of E15 gasoline until more is done to protect consumers from the potential for costly auto damage and voided warranties.

Research to date raises serious concerns that E15, a fuel blend consisting of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, could cause accelerated engine wear and failure, fuel system damage and other problems such as false “check engine” lights.

The potential damage could result in costly repairs for unsuspecting consumers. This is especially tough for most motorists given that only about 40 percent of Americans have enough in savings to afford a major auto repair.

In June, the EPA approved the use of E15, and a handful of gas stations in Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas have begun to sell this fuel. There is a strong likelihood that retailers will market E15 in additional states soon unless regulators take immediate action to protect consumers.

Nearly all of the gasoline sold in the United States today is E10, which contains up to ten percent ethanol, primarily produced from corn. The ethanol industry has lobbied hard to increase the amount of ethanol allowed in gasoline as a way to increase sales and help meet the Renewable Fuels Standard.

AAA’s concern with E15 is not about ethanol. In fact, AAA believes that ethanol-blended fuels have the potential to save Americans money and reduce the nation’s dependency on fossil fuels. The problem is that available research, including the EPA’s exhaust emissions tests, is not sufficient evidence that E15 is safe to use in most vehicles.

The ethanol industry’s response to reports of damage caused by E15 is that it is the most tested fuel in the EPA’s history. The caveat to this assertion is that while the agency did test E15, their research focused primarily on exhaust emissions and associated components such as catalytic converters. While this research was consistent with the EPA’s mission, it never fully examined whether E15 might damage engines and fuel systems.

Some of those supporting E15 admit the fuel may cause damage. For example, the Renewable Fuels Association warned retailers that some underground storage tank systems, both new and used, exhibited reduced levels of safety and performance when exposed to E15. In addition, earlier this year the industry testified before Congress in support of legislation that proposed to give fuel producers blanket liability protections, while providing no protections to motorists. If the industry is not confident enough to take responsibility for the risks of E15, is it right that the risks be passed onto consumers?

Automakers advise they may void warranties for anyone using E15. Five manufacturers (BMW, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen) state their warranties will not cover E15 claims. Eight additional automakers (GM, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo) state that E15 does not comply with fuel requirements specified in most owners’ manuals and may void warranties. It is difficult to comprehend why the EPA would choose to ignore all these warnings.

The automakers’ position is understandable given that most cars were never designed for E15. Only about five percent, or 12 million of the more than 240 million light-duty vehicles on U.S. roads today, are approved by manufacturers to use the fuel. These vehicles include flex-fuel models, 2001 and newer Porsches, 2012 and newer GM vehicles and 2013 Fords. So unless you drive a Porsche or a brand new car, you could be out of luck when it comes to E15.

The only responsible action to take now is to suspend the sale of E15 until consumers are better informed and protected at the pump. AAA did not come to this decision lightly. We arrived at this recommendation only after extensively reviewing the existing research, surveying automakers and conducting a national poll finding that only five percent of Americans had heard of E15.

The simple truth is that E15 is a product not yet ready for public consumption, and government regulators have an obligation to suspend sales until these issues are addressed.

AAA recommends the EPA, fuel producers and automakers collectively develop a long-term plan that promotes public education, while implementing improved labeling and warnings at the pump. Additional research also is necessary to better understand the full consequences of using E15 in older and newer vehicles.

AAA urges regulators and the renewable fuels industry to consider the interests of consumers first by immediately suspending the sale of E15 before American motorists are left footing the bill.

Views 440
June 03, 2014

SAE Snowmobile Challenge For 2013

The Snowmobile Challenge for 2013 will be held March 4-9 at the Keweenaw Research Center at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, MI. This year 21 teams have registered for the event, the most ever in the history of the event.

The members of the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (Arctic Cat, BRP, Polaris and Yamaha) are proud gold level sponsors of the event. Staff from all of the manufacturers will be involved in the event and many serve as judges and reviewers of the many activities.

The SAE Challenge includes such activities as:

• an endurance run from Houghton, MI, to Copper Harbor

• technical presentations regarding emissions and design presentations

• a subjective handling event

• an acceleration test

• scientific testing for emissions levels and sound

Further information on the Snowmobile Challenge can be found at

Views 445
June 03, 2014

Advanced Powersports Opens In Burley, Idaho

Advanced Powersports Opens In Burley, Idaho

We first alerted you to the opening of a new snowmobile dealership--indeed a rare event these days--in late November on our webpage. If you missed it, go here:

We visited with Dave Lloret, owner of the new dealership as well as Advanced R.V., an Arctic Cat dealership in West Valley City, UT, about his new venture and asked him for a little more detail than what we were able to include in the web version of the story.

Advanced Powersports opened its doors for business Nov. 26. Lloret said his new dealership will carry Arctic Cat and Polaris snowmobiles, along with ATVs, side-by-sides and a complete line of parts and accessories as well as a service department to handle that end of the business.

The dealership is located at 111 Overland Ave. in Burley, which is on the south bank of the Snake River on the east side of the road. Advanced Powersports is right next to the John Deere dealer on Overland. The phone number is (208) 678-5111. The store will be open Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

We asked Lloret why, with the economy still fragile and the snowmobile industry maybe even more fragile, he would open a dealership and how easy that decision was.

“Any time a large investment needs to be made it takes a lot of thought,” Lloret said. “However, in this case, given the chance to hook up with two manufacturers the likes of Arctic Cat and Polaris, it was a no-brainer. This area needs a good dealer for both of these brands and we are excited to tackle this challenge.”

Some in the industry raised their eyebrows, or were at the very least a bit surprised, when they learned Lloret, a longtime Arctic Cat dealer (since the mid 1990s), was going to take on the Polaris line. We asked him about that as well.

“Earlier this year (2012), at the Salt Lake City 2013 snowmobile sneak peek, it was suggested to me by Russ Stebar, the Polaris DSM, that I apply for a Polaris dealership. I took his advice. Polaris contacted me and said they needed a dealer in southern Idaho. At that time I contact Rob Lewis, the DSM for Arctic Cat, and asked him if Arctic Cat needed a dealer in that area. He confirmed that they did and he would support us if we decided to start a new dealership.

“This opened up a whole new set of problems, from finding a building to finding help, getting inventory and all the stuff that goes along with a new business venture.”

Lloret said having a good crew in his Salt Lake dealership helped him make the decision to open a store nearly 200 miles away in another state. “I have a great crew in Salt Lake; their support means everything,” he said. “I could never do this without their help. Gary Adams and Jerry Cory share the duties of the parts and service managers, along with Justin Lloret, the shop foreman, and a crew of four more technicians who can handle just about anything that comes up.

“The one thing that was missing was someone to replace me so I could leave and start the second dealership. After a long search I was lucky enough to find Dean Feltenbarger, the former general manager of a large and very successful powersports dealership. Dean is now the general manager of the Salt Lake store and along with the rest of the crew will help in the training of our Burley employees.”

He continued, “The Burley store will start out small, with just a few employees. I will manage the store.”

And his expectations for the near future for the Burley store? “My expectations our first year is to meet pent-up demand,” he said. “There has not been an Arctic Cat or Polaris dealer in that area for years.”

Views 402
May 14, 2014

Product Review: Scorpion VX-R70

Due to the nature of our business, we get to wear a lot of helmets while doing our job. And to be honest, for the most part, there aren’t many helmets we’ve had a chance to wear that we would consider really crappy. There have been one or two over the years that were worn once and then left on the shelf collecting dust.

One that isn’t collecting dust—at least on a shelf—is our Scorpion VXR70 Off-Road Helmet. We’ve worn our Scorpion helmet on numerous rides since first receiving it about a year ago. The only dust it collects is on the trail as we’ve dialed up a lot of miles wearing this Scorpion helmet.

The VX-R70 has a TCT (Thermodynamic Composite Technology) composite shell that was developed by the California-based company and is a 5-layer blend of interlaced and specially
formulated fiberglass, aramid and organic poly-resin fibers. Without getting too technical, aramid is known for its resistance to high temperatures while having great strength. Scorpion uses anti-microbial Kwik- Wick II liner fabric on the inside of the VX-R70, which is designed to keep the rider cool in the summer and warm in cool weather. The liner can be easily removed and is washable. There are three intake ports across the eyebrow area which allows air in the front of the helmet while four exhaust ports help move the hot air out. There are also five
intake ports on the chin bar for even more air movement.

One unique feature on the VX-R70 is the AirFit Liner Inflation System, which is an inflatable cheek pad system you can adjust to a more personalized fit. More on that feature later.

Another feature Scorpion crows about on this helmet is the shatter-resistant aero-tuned visor. Then there’s the quick-change chin vent and a detachable chin strap cover.


The version of the VX-R70 is the solid black. If you want a little more color in your riding gear, Scorpion offers the VX-R70 in four other versions, varying in color schemes from mild to a bit wild. When we first received our black VX-R70, we wondered if the solid black would attract the summer sun and make the helmet too warm and uncomfortable to wear. One of our first rides with the new helmet was in Moab, UT, at the Rally on the Rocks last year and while it was only mid-May, it was pretty toasty—getting close to 90 degrees F a couple of days.

The all-black helmet wasn’t overly warm and we were glad for all the vent ports the helmet offers. Much of the riding in Moab is fairly slow and there isn’t always a lot of air movement so any way for air to get in and then out is appreciated. The Scorpion helmet did an adequate job of this.

On other rides with the Scorpion helmet where we were carrying plenty of speed, the ventin was ideal. There was one ride late last fall that was a little chilly and we were wishing for fewer ports but that can be easily fixed by wearing a balaclava (which we forgot to take on that trip).

We’ve found we prefer helmets with removable liners (like the cheek pads) for washing. It can get warm riding in the summer and when you sweat while riding your helmet can end up smelling like a gym bag. The VX-R70 has removable liners that we just toss in the washing machine and air dry to keep our helmet smelling fresh.

As for Scorpion’s AirFit Liner Inflation System, one of the Dirt Toys staffers really likes that feature while another didn’t play with it much, preferring to keep the cheek pads in their “stock” position. Regardless, the system does indeed work. A few pushes of the button to inflate the cheek pads quickly increased the size of the pads for a more snug fit if that is what you want. It’s easy to adjust to what feels most comfortable to you.

While all those features are nice, what we most like about the Scorpion VX-R70, aside from its sleek look, is its lightweight feel. It is light and very comfortable to wear. When it comes to a helmet, there aren’t many things more annoying than how your neck feels during and after a ride when wearing a heavy helmet. So the light weight of the Scorpion helmet is most appreciated after a long, jarring ride.

The VX-R70 has an MSRP of $249.95-259.95.

Scorpion helmets are available at many motorsports dealerships or you can visit

Views 21
May 14, 2014

Prepping Your Ride for the Summer

Don't Forget the Insurance

Rick Drewry

Which parts do you recommend inspecting closely before the start of the summer riding season?

Before the start of the summer riding season, riders should closely inspect several parts of their ATV, including:
Carburetor and Air Filter – If your model engine is carbureted, take some time to clean out the bowl and check the linkage. For fuel-injected and carbureted models, you should clean or replace the air filter element before the start of every season.
• Grease Fittings – Make sure to grease the ATV’s fittings, by taking the time to check the owner’s manual for all locations. Depending on the model you own, there could be at least one or two fittings you didn’t see or might have forgotten about.
• Chain - Adjust the tension and lubricate thoroughly.
• Tire Pressure – Although some tires may not seem low, having the right pressure helps keep them seated on the bead. Take the time to check the tire pressure before riding.
Battery Connections – You can check battery connections by un-bolting the battery cables and using a soft wire brush to clean the battery posts, the cables and the bolts. When you are re-assembling, make sure to use electrical contact grease.
• Check Oil – When checking the oil before the season starts make sure to check not only the oil level, but also check for moisture in the oil. If you see water on the dipstick or if the oil is milky, change the oil even if it isn’t due for an oil change.
• Spark Plugs – Once a year, take the time to inspect your spark plugs and evaluate if you should clean or replace them. By doing this, you can get an indication of how your engine is performing. Oil on the plugs could be an indication that you have engine wear or a mechanical problem that needs to be addressed. You can also tell if the ATV is running rich or lean, in which case there are a few things you can do to correct the problem.
• Coolant – Test your antifreeze and replace it, if necessary. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended changing intervals.

What are the major areas that will likely need attention if the ATV sat in storage during the winter?
If your ATV sat in storage over the winter, the top three major areas that will need attention include the oil, carburetor/ air filter and the grease fittings. Ignoring these parts before starting to ride your ATV for the summer season can result in potential costly repairs.

What’s the biggest mistake owners typically make when prepping an ATV for the summer?

The biggest mistake owners typically make when prepping an ATV for the summer is not doing any type of inspection of their ATV and just start riding. This can cause immediate problems and, in the long run, shorten the lifespan of many components of the ATV.

What are the advantages of doing preventive maintenance on an ATV?

By taking the time to do preventive maintenance on an ATV, you’ll save money in the long run. Also, maintenance is a lot easier than fixing costly, unplanned failures. Lastly, by taking these steps, you’ll be able to know the ATV is performing at its best at all times and won’t let you down on the trails.

How often should owners review their ATV insurance policies?

It is most important when you first take out the policy to know what is covered and what is not. Once a year or every other year after that, make sure that the coverage you are paying for fits your ATV and how you use it. For example, some people will drop the collision coverage from their policy when their ATV gets older and less valuable.

What red flags should they look for
when shopping for insurance?

Stay on the lookout for insurance policies that are only for part of the year. You will want coverage year round and don’t want to be limited on when you can take your ATV out

Views 91
May 14, 2014

Timing It Just Right

Ride in the Okanogan was more than OK

Lane Lindstrom

"Looking north and a bit west from the Buck Mountain Lookout you can see the results of the Tripod Complex fire that burned nearly 180,000 acres in 2006.
"This was perhaps the most technical and rocky section of trail we experienced all day. This stretch is on the way up to the Buck Mountain Lookout. Even through the trees you can see the Cascade Range in the distance.
"The views from atop Buck Mountain Lookout are absolutely stunning. This is looking west toward the snow-capped Cascade Range.
"We passedthe former mining town of Ruby on our way from Conconully to Okanogan.
"Heavyspringrunoffacoupleof years ago turned this little feeder creek into a raging stream that washed trees and boulders down the mountain. Cuts have been made in the larger downed trees to allow a trail through the area.
"The trails led us through heavily forested areas as well as more open area swhere the sun streaked down through the trees.
"Depending on the elevation we were riding during the day (between about 800 and 6,000 feet), the leaves were at differentstagesofchangingcolorsasfall was in full swing during our October ride.
"Some sections of the trail leading up to the Buck Mountain Lookout opened up so you could get some amazing views of the surrounding mountains. In the distance are the snow-capped Cascade Mountains.
"Named by the locals as Mother’s Day Trail, this trail used to have numerous switchbacks as it made its way down the hill. However, a bulldozer called in to fight a previous forest fire wiped out the switchbacks, leaving the trail pretty much a straight shot down the mountain.
"The golden-hued Tamarack trees were in full splendor during our ride in Okanogan Country in mid-October.
"Buck Mountain Lookout, elevation 6,135 feet, where you can see for miles in any direction.

There are times when an off-road  ride requires just a little luck when it comes to Mother Nature and her unpredictability— especially in the fall.

But when you hit it just right— like we did on our day-ride in northcentral Washington’s Okanogan Country—it’s more than a good day; it’s a spectacular day.

Spectacular is really the only way to describe our ride through the mountains west of Okanogan and Omak, WA, in mid-October last year.

It was a crisp fall day in northcentral Washington state—not too hot and not too cold. The sun shone brightly during our ride and the trees were changing from their summer green to fall golds and yellows. The Tamaracks were a golden yellow and were a stunning contrast with the mighty pines covering the mountains.

The terrain we covered in our oneday ride was tame by some standards but our ride showed there is enough variety to keep you busy for days.

We started our ride in the town of Okanogan right from the parking lot of Xtreme Powersports (which was nice enough to loan Dirt Toys Magazine a Can-Am Commander for the day’s ride) and headed west on Dry Coulee Road up Windy Hill toward Buzzard Lakes.

A Lot Of Everything

During the course of the day our group, which included several members of the North Central ATV Club, travelled 83.3 miles through water crossings, along wide forest roads as well as narrow two-track sidehills and dense forest canopies, over some rocks but across a lot more downed logs and small stumps.

We crossed more downed trees than rocks and boulders, although there was a fun rock section on the trail up to Buck Mountain. In some of those stretches of trails, the larger logs had been cut to allow ATVs and side-bysides to get through. We didn’t stop and measure but just eye-balling it, it was obvious the Commander we were driving could get through the cut openings, but it appeared they might be too narrow for a large 4-seat side-by-side.

After Buzzard Lakes, we rode along Rock Creek through a very scenic canyon (a stone’s throw from State Highway 20 for a ways) and then along the West Fork of Rock Creek. In some sections the trees were dense and the canopy thick while in other spots it was more wide open and lots of sunshine streamed through the trees.

Our group eventually made it to the Sweat Creek Sportsman Camp where we took a short break before making our way up Buck Mountain. The trail up to Buck Mountain went in and out of the trees, had a fun but not terribly technical rocky section and offered some of the most
spectacular views of the entire day. Buck Mountain runs southwest to northeast and the last part of the trail runs along the ridge before you come to a small turnaround near the base of the fire lookout on top. The lookout sits at 6,135 feet so we made quite a climb from the 840-foot elevation of the town of Okanogan.

Unobstructed Views

The fire lookout offers an unobstructed 360-degree view of northcentral Washington. It was a clear day so we could see for what seemed like a hundred miles. To the west were the snow-capped Cascade Mountains, while to the south the Columbia River was visible. Off to the southwest is the Loup Loup Ski Bowl and to the north and a bit west the effects of the Tripod Complex fire that swept through the area in 2006 burning nearly 180,000 acres are still quite noticeable.

The views alone make Buck Mountain a must-stop on any ride in this part of Okanogan Country. The ride there and back to the main trail make it all
the more fun.

Once down off the mountain and back on the main trail, we headed north to Forest Road 42 and followed it for a ways before jumping off onto a side trail heading west. From there we crossed a feeder creek that goes into Cabin Creek. At the feeder creek is a big log jam created a couple of years ago from a heavy spring runoff that washed trees and rocks (more like boulders) downstream, creating all sorts of fun obstacles. The bigger logs have been cut to allow a vehicle to get through, but just seeing the massive downed trees and boulders in the area shows the power of Mother Nature.

From there it was on to the Mother’s Day Trail, so named by the locals, which was actually wiped out when bulldozers were called in to help fight a forest fire. The trail used to have lots of switchbacks but now it is practically straight up and down with some remaining stumps, logs and roots. It’s a little steep in spots but not too steep. The ATVs and side-by-sides in our group easily navigated down the hill.

Continuing north, we came to another washout spot where the trail crosses Cedar Creek. However, it was recently (summer 2013) repaired by the Forest Service and is back in use for ATVs and smaller side-by-sides.

We then picked up a fairly tight trail bounded by trees on both sides after which we jumped on a paved road that headed into the small town of Conconully (elevation 2,303 feet) where we stopped for lunch.

From Conconully we headed back to Okanogan along Salmon Creek. Eventually the forested sections of trail gave way to high desert and farm and ranch lands and, finally to the city streets of Okanogan. Off-road riding in the Okanogan was way more than OK—it was awesome. The only downside—if there was one—was that our ride lasted just the one day. We could have spent several days exploring farther west as well as farther north. There is a lot of country left to discover.

That just gives us a reason to go back.

Okanogan Country

Elevation 840 feet (Okanogan); 6,135 feet (Buck Mountain)
Full Service Town Okanogan, Omak, Winthro
Nearest Airport Wenatchee (91.6 miles from Okanogan)
Getting Started Okanogan Country (888-431-3080 or
Getting There Okanogan Country trails are spread all across Okanogan County and there are several access points to the trails. As mentioned in the story, we started in the town of Okanogan, which is located on Highway 215, which mirrors U.S. Highway 97/State Highway 20, across the Okanogan River.

Getting Around There are several dealerships in the area. We would again like to give a shout out to Xtreme Powersports in Okanogan ( for loaning us a Commander to use for the day.

Bedding Down There are several lodging options in the area. Camping is also available. The Okanogan Country website has a complete list of all the options available.

Eating Out There are lots of dining options as well in the area. We had lunch at Sit ‘n Bull Bar and Grill on Main Street in Conconully and had an excellent meal. We’ve eaten at Sit ‘n Bull a couple of times before while on a snowmobile trip to Okanogan Country and have always had a good meal there.

Views 92
May 14, 2014

Sportsmand ACE: ATV or Side-by-Side? Combo Of Both

We had a chance to slide into the seat of the new Sportsman ACE, Polaris’ latest entry into the ATV market. Wait a minute, you say. Slide into the seat of an ATV? Well, yea, it’s an ATV with many side-by-side attributes. It’s not as confusing as it might seem, but it is intriguing.

Our chance came in late January near Marble Falls, TX, and it was more than interesting; it really was intriguing. We’ll have a full report in the next issue of Dirt Toys Magazine.

For now, here is part of the official press release from Polaris as well as a few pictures from our Texas ride.

Minneapolis – Polaris Industries announced the company is defining an entirely new type of off-road vehicle with the introduction of the Sportsman ACE. The vehicle’s architecture is completely new to the industry and features a revolutionary, sit-in chassis that is nimble and comfortable to operate. The design of the new Sportsman ACE provides a confidence-inspired ride, all while being trail-capable, offering an all-new off-road experience.

The revolutionary new design combines the size and nimble handling of the Sportsman All-Terrain Vehicle and the confidence and comfort of the Ranger and RZR side-bysides, in a rider-centric design with a trail-capable and easilytransportable 48-inch width.

A comfortable and confidence-inspiring centralized seating position connects the driver directly with the machine for a new off-road riding experience. Polaris also positioned all the major components, including the driver, centralized between the four wheels for an incredibly responsive ride. The Sportsman ACE boasts 10.25 inches of ground clearance and 9.5 inches of rear travel due to its fully independent rear suspension outfitted with performance, twin tube shocks featuring adjustable preload.

Powering the Sportsman ACE is an all-new 32 horsepower ProStar Electronic Fuel Injected engine featuring an internal counter-balance shaft for smooth, vibration-free power. The dual overhead camshafts and a 4-valve cylinder head work with the advanced engine management system to precisely deliver the fuel charge for impressive power and instant, predictable throttle response; while the lightweight efficient transmission captures every ounce of power to deliver it to the ground.

For a secure and comfortable ride, the Sportsman ACE has a unique ROPS cab frame only previously found on side-by-sides. The secure, high-backed, adjustable bucket seat is paired with an adjustable steering wheel to give the driver unmatched flexibility when it comes to comfort in the side bolsters to keep the operator properly positioned in the center of the machine. The steering wheel offers 3.5 inches of tilt adjustment and the driver’s seat slides back and forth by 4 inches to customize the fit for the rider.

For the utmost confidence on the trail, the Sportsman ACE is equipped with the same legendary On-Demand True All-Wheel Drive system found on all Polaris off-road vehicles. The system eliminates the guesswork by automatically engaging when the rider needs more forward traction and then reverts back to two-wheel drive automatically when the AWD is no longer needed.

Views 10
May 14, 2014

Sportsman ACE: ATV or Side-by-Side? Combo Of Both

We had a chance to slide into the seat of the new Sportsman ACE, Polaris’ latest entry into the ATV market. Wait a minute, you say. Slide into the seat of an ATV? Well, yea, it’s an ATV with many side-by-side attributes. It’s not as confusing as it might seem, but it is intriguing.

Our chance came in late January near Marble Falls, TX, and it was more than interesting; it really was intriguing. We’ll have a full report in the next issue of Dirt Toys Magazine.

For now, here is part of the official press release from Polaris as well as a few pictures from our Texas ride.

Minneapolis – Polaris Industries announced the company is defining an entirely new type of off-road vehicle with the introduction of the Sportsman ACE. The vehicle’s architecture is completely new to the industry and features a revolutionary, sit-in chassis that is nimble and comfortable to operate. The design of the new Sportsman ACE provides a confidence-inspired ride, all while being trail-capable, offering an all-new off-road experience.

The revolutionary new design combines the size and nimble handling of the Sportsman All-Terrain Vehicle and the confidence and comfort of the Ranger and RZR side-bysides, in a rider-centric design with a trail-capable and easilytransportable 48-inch width.

A comfortable and confidence-inspiring centralized seating position connects the driver directly with the machine for a new off-road riding experience. Polaris also positioned all the major components, including the driver, centralized between the four wheels for an incredibly responsive ride. The Sportsman ACE boasts 10.25 inches of ground clearance and 9.5 inches of rear travel due to its fully independent rear suspension outfitted with performance, twin tube shocks featuring adjustable preload.

Powering the Sportsman ACE is an all-new 32 horsepower ProStar Electronic Fuel Injected engine featuring an internal counter-balance shaft for smooth, vibration-free power. The dual overhead camshafts and a 4-valve cylinder head work with the advanced engine management system to precisely deliver the fuel charge for impressive power and instant, predictable throttle response; while the lightweight efficient transmission captures every ounce of power to deliver it to the ground.

For a secure and comfortable ride, the Sportsman ACE has a unique ROPS cab frame only previously found on side-by-sides. The secure, high-backed, adjustable bucket seat is paired with an adjustable steering wheel to give the driver unmatched flexibility when it comes to comfort in the side bolsters to keep the operator properly positioned in the center of the machine. The steering wheel offers 3.5 inches of tilt adjustment and the driver’s seat slides back and forth by 4 inches to customize the fit for the rider.

For the utmost confidence on the trail, the Sportsman ACE is equipped with the same legendary On-Demand True All-Wheel Drive system found on all Polaris off-road vehicles. The system eliminates the guesswork by automatically engaging when the rider needs more forward traction and then reverts back to two-wheel drive automatically when the AWD is no longer needed.

Views 89
May 14, 2014

Product Review: Shockstrap

Straps, or tie-downs, are all the same, right?

Most would agree that that statement is fairly broad and that not all tie-downs are the same. We admit we used to think most tie downs or straps were all basically the same. Really, how many differences can there be?

Then we tried ShockStraps. Revolutionary might be a bit strong in describing the ShockStrap, but we will say it works very well and its design does separate it from the others.

ShockStraps are made of one-inch red polyester webbing, use 3/8-inch steel hooks and a cam buckle with aggressive teeth to bite into the webbing. Then there is what the company calls the “dog bone,” a rubber piece made of a proprietary formula and the one piece of the strap that we think makes the ShockStrap a great way to tie down your ATV or side-by-side.

According to the Utah-based manufacturer of the ShockStrap, the proprietary formula that is used is not affected by most chemicals, sunlight, oil, salt
water, fungus or moisture.

The dog bone portion of the Shock- Strap stretches and flexes when you go over a bump or if there is side pressure put on it. What does that mean? That means you no longer have to compress a vehicle’s suspension to get that extra little restraint so that the vehicle will stay put on your trailer or in the back of your pickup. With the ShockStrap, when you hit a bump, it stretches and flexes and then goes back into shape. Ideally, using the ShockStrap will put less stress on your off-road vehicle’s suspension.

According to the makers of Shock- Strap, polyester webbing stretches less than polypropylene webbing and is more resistant to rot and mildew. The polyester webbing has a 3,800-pound breaking strength and 1,100-pound working load limit. The cam buckle is rated over 1800 lbs. Each ShockStrap has a 500-pound strength rating. We’ve used the ShockStrap in both summer and winter on our side-bysides as well as with a snowmobile. It’s easy for one person to hook up the strap to either vehicle as you don’t have to have someone else compress the suspension so you can cinch the strap tighter. Because of the “dog bone” portion of the ShockStrap, you can cinch up each strap fairly easily, creating a tight strap that, because of the constant tension, is less likely to come loose.

One thing that takes a little getting used to is seeing your off-road vehicle “sway” or “bounce” just a little (and we mean little) when you go over a bump. Because the dog bone is flexible, it gives and then retracts when going over a bump and your off-road vehicle moves. We never felt like our off-road vehicle was going to come off the trailer, it was  just a little different to see it react like that after a bump.

Overall, the ShockStrap is easy to use, does the job and works in both summer and winter. We’ve only used the ShockStrap for a few months now, but the dog bone has stayed flexible and pliable, which is important for longterm use.

The six-foot ShockStrap retails for $19.99 while the 19-foot version goes for $24.99.

For more information, visit

Views 94
May 14, 2014

Polaris RZR XP1000

This is no's the real deal

Lane Lindstrom

"With a landscape that resembles the moonand terrain that can bring most stock side-by-sides to their knees, Parker, AZ, was the ideal place to put the RZR XP 1000 through its paces.
"With a claimed 107 horsepower, the RZR XP 1000 is king of the dunes and desert when it comes to power in the high performance sport side-by-side segment.
"The RZR XP 1000 doesn’t get bogged down in sand thanks to its beefy 29-inch Maxxis Bighorn tires and plenty of horsepower.
"If you have the mettle to jump, the RZR XP 1000 has the metal to withstand it. Climbing a dune and launching the vehicle into the hot Arizona air was no problem for the XP 1000.
"Adjusting the rear Walker Evans shocksdoesn’tgetanyeasierthanonthe RZR XP 1000, where the clickers are located in the rear cargo bed.
"A newly redesigned seat makes the run that much more enjoyable on the RZR XP 1000.

Was the location Polaris chose for the introduction of its all-new RZR XP 1000 a subliminal message of sorts?

Was Polaris’ choice of the Arizona desert near Parker in mid-August a way of saying, “We’re going to the desert Southwest in the heat of summer to show off the hottest new high performance side-by-side on planet earth?”

Or are we overthinking this or still suffering from heat stroke?

No matter how you look at it, we knew sitting in the seat of the RZR XP 1000 in the Arizona desert under a searing sun and near 120-degree F temps that we were in perhaps the hottest new high performance side-by-side the industry has to offer.

This was no mirage. It was the real deal. Polaris didn’t just choose any ol’ spot to show off the XP 1000; it chose the same area where the Best in The Desert Parker race is held. A rough and tumble desert setting for a vehicle very capable of handling whatever you have the nerve to throw at it.

We came away from that Arizona ride with three distinct impressions.

Power, Power, Power

Those in the real estate market will tell you it’s location, location, location. In the high performance or sport side-byside segment, it’s power, power, power and the RZR XP 1000 may have a corner on the market. The RZR XP 1000 has gobs of power that comes on strong with the slightest press of the gas pedal and stays strong throughout the powerband. What’s fun about this RZR is that you can feel every last ounce of power coming from the claimed 107-horsepower engine, which offers up a double-digit increase of horsepower compared to the XP 900.

No doubt Polaris has raised the bar in the high performance side-by-side horsepower department with the new ProStar engine.

The ProStar four-stroke DOHC 999cc engine features dual 48mm throttle bodies (which deliver the instant giddy up and go power) with new long-tip fuel injectors and four valves per cylinder. Maybe to help ease your fears about the nearly $20,000 price tag, this engine will run efficiently on 87 octane, meaning you won’t have to pony up for the more expensive premium gas.

Along with the claimed 107 hp, Polaris has clocked the XP 1000 as going from 0-50 in 5.33 seconds. We can’t really substantiate that claim—yet. We weren’t looking at our watch when we were flying down the boulder-strewn wash or along the whoops through the desert. It probably had something to do with wanting to keep our eyes on the trail and managing all that power. We’ll take Polaris’ word for it though.

Make no mistake, the RZR XP 1000 is made for high speed desert running—the rougher the better—and dune riding. You might just run out of dune before you run out of horsepower.

The Rougher The Better

Next, it was obvious the RZR XP 1000 likes it rough. If you go slow through the chatter bumps or even the big whoops, you’ll be saying to yourself, “I paid what for this RZR and it rides like this?” You need to stomp on the gas pedal and hit those bumps hard. Trust us, the faster and harder you ride, the more the XP 1000 is in its element and the nicer the ride becomes. We probably don’t need to qualify that statement but maybe a small disclaimer: Hit a big rock or monster hole and you might break something or, at the very least, lose control. As good as the XP 1000 is, it’s not going to cover all your driving mistakes.

Give credit for the ride to the industry-exclusive Walker Evans Position Sensitive Anti-Bottoming Needle Shocks on all four corners. The front WE shocks are 2 inches in diameter and even beefier on the rear at 2.5 inches. As Polaris explained, here’s how these shocks work: the internal needles interact with specifically-positioned chambers allowing progressively more damping deep into shock travel, which improves ride performance and increases the bottoming resistance. The shocks are paired with dual rate/dual spring coil overs, which give 18 inches of rear travel and 16 inches of front travel.

The dual A-arm front suspension is nothing short of amazing. We found the gnarliest, nastiest holes along the wash and desert and the front end just ate them up. Feeling more confident with the ability of the vehicle to handle the rough and tumble terrain, we pressed the gas pedal more and the results were the same—a relatively smooth ride over ground that would leave a lesser vehicle begging for mercy.

Out back is a 3-link trailing arm suspension with new geometry with the new geometry resulting in 25 percent more ground clearance at 13.5 inches at the trailing arm. While the front end was darn near spot on for our ride that day in the Arizona desert, we did adjust the rear shocks two clicks softer, which settled the rear end down a bit. And it was so easy to adjust the rear WE shocks. You don’t even have to bend over and reach under the chassis. The clicker is right there in the rear bed of the vehicle. And there is a fairly big range of adjustment with the 16-position adjustable clickers.


Helping maneuver through the obstacles is electronic power steering. We are definitely a broken record on EPS but we were most appreciative of the feature during our desert ride. Not anything really new in this area except to say that the EPS works well in the XP 1000. In addition to the EPS, there is 10 inches of tilt adjustability with the steering wheel. Those three standouts are just that—standouts. There are, however, other features worth noting.

One would be the big 29-inch tires, a first for any OEM on a stock vehicle. The 29-inch Maxxis Bighorn Tires are 6-ply rated with a hefty sidewall that resists flats and they are mounted on cast aluminum wheels. The 29-inchers are one reason for the 13.5 inches of ground clearance and 25 percent more clearance at the trailing arms. These tires definitely held their ground in the varying surfaces we drove over in Arizona, which included rocks, sand, debris of different kinds and sizes and sunbaked hardpack.

Next is Polaris’ On-Demand All-Wheel-Drive system. For the XP 1000, Polaris revamped the system for an 80 percent improvement in strength, resulting in a more durable front drive system—the most durable every found on a RZR, according to Polaris.

We also like that this Polaris RZR offers an adjustable driver’s seat, although the adjustment lever sticks out a bit too far for our liking. One more: The feel and comfort of the newly designed seats, which have 100 percent more hip cushioning (that you’re going to need for the ride in the monster side-by-side), are a great addition to the XP 1000. The seats, while
not exactly a wrap-around, do provide a nice ride in the RZR

The RZR XP 1000 is the real deal. We lived it and loved it. It might just be the best sport side-by-side package Polaris has ever put together. And that’s saying something because the company’s RZR lineup has dominated the side-by-side segment for years.

Views 24
May 14, 2014

Kawaski TeryX4

T4 Backseats Don't Take Backseat to Anyone

If you were to put together a grid showing all 800cc side-by-sides with seating for four, that grid would be pretty small.

Our grid shows the Polaris RZR 4 800 and Kawasaki Teryx4. Those are two great vehicles, comparably priced (T4 $15,799 vs. RZR 4 8 $15,999) and each with its own strengths.

However, with the changes Kawasaki has made to the Teryx4 for 2014, the line separating the two vehicles is very thin. In fact, we think the T4 holds the edge in some areas, most notably in rider and passenger comfort.

We argued when we wrote about the first T4 back in the spring of 2012 that Kawasaki, in order to get off-road consumers to look the Teryx4’s way, would have to do things to set it apart. Kawasaki is obviously working hard to continue to make this happen.

It’s not one thing that really stands out about the T4—it’s a combination of things that really make this a solid, fun side-by-side. That combo includes a spunky powerplant, excellent electronic power steering (EPS), a very decent ride, great suspension (with its four Fox Podium shocks), roomy interior and lighter chassis, plus a truckload of smaller refinements and returning features that make the T4 a side-by-side to be reckoned with.

Paiute Perfect Test For T4

Choosing the Paiute Trail in central Utah to show off the capabilities of the Teryx4 was a smart move on Kawi’s part. Not only is the Teryx4 ideal for the variety of trails and conditions found on the Paiute Trail, but that trail system accentuated all the best features of this four-seater.

What do we mean when we say “accentuated all the best features?” As one Kawasaki official pointed out during the technical presentation before our two-day ride on the Paiute Trail, “We’re not going after the guy who wants to go 90 mph over the whoops or in the sand.” Point well made. The T4 is not a hard core desert thrasher, nor would you probably want to use it to meander around on the farm.

The T4 is a full-blooded off-road vehicle designed for play and trail riding—with three of your family and/or friends. And it fills that role very well.

Although the vehicle is in its third model year, we consider the 2014 Teryx4 a “second generation” vehicle. First introduced for model year 2012, the T4 basically got a little makeover
(read: new coloration) for 2013. Then for 2014, Kawi cranked things up with a larger engine (34 additional ccs) and better ride, thanks to high performance Fox shocks. Just those two things alone are enough to make this a very competitive vehicle in the four-seat 800cc segment.

So what about that 34 additional ccs? Those help account for an 8 percent increase in horsepower and 10 percent bump in torque compared to the 2013 engine. While those are something to crow about, Kawi is just as pumped about the 20 percent increase in fuel economy/mpg, which obviously increases the range of the T4.

Changes to the engine to get those numbers include a revised crown that raises the compression ratio from 9.3:1 to 10.7:1. Kawasaki engineers also increased the crank mass to enhance idle stability and revised the cam profiles for better combustion efficiency. Also, a larger 35mm diameter (compared to the previous 31.88mm) exhaust collector is tuned to optimize the power delivery of the engine.

Very Impressive

So how do all those changes translate to power on the trail? Very impressively. We like the smooth power delivery of the engine and especially like how it responds when you press the throttle. There is little to no hesitation at all. We readily admit that when riding at elevation—we were above 11,000 feet at the highest points on the trail—the engine wasn’t exactly “snappy.” But then, no engine would be at that elevation, especially when you keep in mind that you lose about 3 percent horsepower every 1,000 feet you gain. That’s what elevation will do to horsepower. Drop off the mountain though, and the T4 has plenty of power for the conditions and terrain we were riding in. Kawasaki still uses a V-twin design for this liquid-cooled four-stroke with its four valves per cylinder and 783cc displacement. That’s a touch more than the 760cc RZR 4 800.

The front and rear suspension now with Fox Podium Shocks on all four corners is a nice improvement for the T4. With adjustable compression damping and spring preload for varied riding conditions, these piggyback shocks are a step up from the Showa shocks and then Kayabas on the previous T4s. There’s a bit more travel on the front (8.0 vs. 2013’s 7.8 inches), while the rear travel stays the same at 8.3 inches.

The suspension performed well and there were stretches of different trails where the front and rear suspensions had to work (including an impressive whoop section) over rocks and ruts and a few downed trees so we did get a good feel for what the vehicle can handle. When the trail got rougher, a few clicks on the shocks and all was well. In all, the Fox Podiums offer 24-way compression damping.

Purpose-Built For T4

In explaining the move to the Fox Podium Shocks, Kawasaki suspension engineer Brian Butler said, “We didn’t think it was bad what we had but we wanted to focus on the ride and improve the ride of the vehicle while still keeping the sporty feel. We worked with Fox directly to design a shock specifically for this vehicle.”

Let’s talk wheelbase a little. When the T4 was first introduced a couple of years ago, it had an 86.1-inch wheel base, which stayed the same for model year 2013. In 2014, the wheelbase was shortened to 85.7 inches— that compared to the RZR 4 800’s 107.4-inch wheelbase.

When first reporting on the 2012 T4, we wrote, “Some riders like a longer wheelbase for that feeling of added stability, a larger footprint if you will. Kawasaki is sticking with its claim that a shorter wheelbase gives its vehicle a shorter turning radius.”

The T4 does have a nice, tight turning radius and is agile and very responsive on tight trails (thanks, in part, to EPS), which was proven over and over on the Paiute Trail.

We can’t say enough good about Kawi’s EPS, which is standard now on all T4 models. There were some tight turns on the Paiute where the power steering was handy but it was over the rocks and through the ruts where it took out any “jarring” and reinforced the value of EPS.

We couldn’t write about the T4 without talking about the roomy cockpit. From its high-back bucket seats, both front and rear, to its “stadium” seating for the rear passengers (the seats are a little higher and off-set from the front seats), to the adjustable driver’s seat to standard doors (as opposed to nets), the T4 has one of the best cockpit setups in the industry. You do have to remove the driver’s seat and have a few hand tools to adjust the seat, but it is adjustable, and that’s a bonus. We adjusted ours by moving it back and once we did that we were very comfortable in the driver’s seat and had plenty of room to move around.

Other changes to the T4 for 2014 include new highintensity LED headlights, refinements to the transmission ratios for an improved feel and better engine braking and strong thermoplastic olefin bodywork. The T4 (Sunrise Yellow) has an MSRP of $15,799 while the Camo version is $16,299 and the LE (Candy  Lime Green or Candy Burnt Orange) is $16,999. One “feature” that  tends to get overlooked is Kawasaki Strong 3-year limited warranty, available for all T4s.

Views 27
May 14, 2014

Getting Ready for the Mud

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.


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 ( 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.


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.

Views 21
May 14, 2014

How Can-Am Dresses for the Mud

During the media event introducing its 2014 ATVs and side-by-sides, Can-Am brought along a handful of decked-out vehicles with all sorts of accessories.

Two of our favorites were a Can-Am Outlander 800R set up for mud riding and Commander 1000 XT, complete with, among a plethora of accessories, a track kit, which we also headed straight for the closest mud hole with.

Hey, we like to play in the mud. The Commander 1000 XT definitely went through even the deepest of mud holes we could find on the Hilltown Riders OHV Club trails near Albany, NY.

Along with the track kit, this Commander was decked out with a sport roof, glass windshield, extreme front bumper, light rack, HID Lights (by Hella) and tonneau cover, among other accessories.

It was quite impressive not only how the Commander 1000 XT looked draped in all those accessories, but how it traversed the trails and mud. We’ve shown pictures of that decked-out Commander on the Dirt Toys Facebook page as well as on www.dirttoysmag. com. With the number of hits and likes the pictures got, it appears lots of other off-roaders were impressed—or at least curious—as well.

We spent more time on the Can-Am Outlander 800, which was accessorized with four main products: a snorkel kit, radiator relocator kit, Zilla tires by Maxxis and lockout rims by Vision.
Combined, those accessories make a nice mud package. Of course, many of you probably know Can-Am offers a stock mudder, the Outlander X mr, available with either a 650cc engine ($10,399) or 1000cc engine ($14,399).

The Outlander 800R has an MSRP of $6,799. The snorkel kit is $359.99, the radiator relocator kit also $359.99, front Zilla tires $174.99 (each), rear Zilla tires $189.99 (each) and lockout rims by Vision $94.99 (each). Do the math and that totals $8,628.90. As we found out, the mud-accessorized Outlander 800R was very capable of mudding.

Here are a few details on those accessories: Snorkel Kit – The kit includes an extended air intake and new extended CVT inlet and outlet exhaust that are integrated into the upper gauge pod cover.

Radiator Relocator Kit – This kit does just as its name implies—relocates the stock radiator. It relocates to a top mount position, getting it up and out of the mud to prevent any cooling performance loss while playing in the mud. The kit not only reuses the radiator but includes a support, necessary hardware and hoses. Zilla Tires by Maxxis – Both the front and rear Zilla tires are for 14-inch rims (in this case, the lockout rims by Vision).

The front tire is a 27x10 while the rear is a 27x12. The Vision rims include a matching cap and matching nuts. It was a bit of a trek to get to the best mud holes on the Hilltown Riders OHV Club trails with some tight, twisty sections of trail. We’re not going to claim the mudder-ized Outlander could rail on the trails but it was manageable. Where it really shines—especially with those Zilla Tires—is in the mud holes.

Adding those accessories is a fairly easy task even if you have moderate wrenching skills. You’ll want to be sure you check out Rick Sosebee’s in-depth article in this issue on how to set your own vehicle up for mudding.

Views 42
May 14, 2014

Honda Rancher: All Work and All Play

New Chassis for 2014
"There is just about a Rancher model for everyone. There are seven models available, each with various options, including 2WD/4WD, electronic power steering, automatic DCT transmission, manual transmission, EFI and more.
Honda can rightfully crow about the price point of its Rancher lineup. Base models have a starting MSRP of $5,199.
"An all-new swingarm helps give added strength and rigidity to the new Rancher chassis.
"With more than 1.5 million units sold, the Honda Rancher has become a staple on many farms and ranches as well as among off-road enthusiasts.
"The biggest change for the 2014 Rancher is a new double-cradle steel frame that is 20 percent stiffer compared to previous Rancher models.

Honda's Rancher name is a bit misleading. The name “Rancher” implies all work. As we experienced firsthand, the Rancher ATV can get the work done and is a reliable workhorse, but there’s plenty of frisky fun in that new chassis as well.

While all that is probably obvious to the thousands of riders who have owned a Rancher in
years past, an argument could be made that the Rancher is equally at home on a trail in the woods.

The Rancher is that versatile. It can pull its own weight on the farm or ranch and also plays just as hard as it works—all in the same day.
While it’s been a season or two since Honda has made any serious changes to the Rancher, it
didn’t seem like it was necessarily in need of an overhaul. We asked Honda’s Eric Stevens, Principal Engineer –Rancher Large Project Leader, Since the Rancher had not received negative feedback from consumers, why all the changes?

“We would like to see more Ranchers on the trail,” he said, estimating Honda hopes the
ATV becomes a 50/50 work/recreation vehicle. “We view the Rancher as a do-it-all machine.
We wanted to keep all the great utility features and enhance the comfort.”

Redesigned, Refined, Fine-Tuned

Honda officials explained: “The previous-generation Rancher is very good for utility, but
we felt that we could make big improvements in the recreation area: specifically, items related
to handling and ride comfort.”

That meant changes had to be made. Redesigned, refined and fine-tuned for 2014, the
Rancher continues its tradition of reliability and reputation as an excellent value for the money.
Perhaps the biggest change for 2014 is the Rancher’s new double-cradle steel frame, which
gives the ATV increased stiffness (20 percent stiffer compared to previous Rancher models),
resulting in more precise handling, a feature riders will appreciate, especially when riding on
tight trails in the woods.

Is the “all-new” chassis really all-new?

According to Honda engineers, no parts in the 2014 Rancher’s frame come from the previous

One of the goals in designing a new chassis, say Honda engineers, is to provide a smoother
ride. Granted, farmers and ranchers might not be too concerned about a plush ride, but that’s
where Honda is appealing to off-roaders who want a nicer ride on the trail. One aspect of the
new chassis we think is important is not only does it have a high strength-to-weight ratio, but
the stronger frame doesn’t add any weight to the vehicle.

All-New Swingarm

Helping add strength and rigidity to the new chassis is an all-new swingarm with an enclosed rear axle. The design allows the swingarm rather than the rear final gear bearings to support rear-wheel loads, adding to the durability of the driveline. Instead of using bearings, the new swingarm features rubber bushings that help absorb input loads (read: improved comfort) at the junction of the swingarm and frame. Additionally, these rubber bushings are bonded to the inner and outer swingarm collars, preventing dirt from entering the swingarm pivot area.

Another upgrade aimed at pleasing trail riders (we’re not forgetting farmers and ranchers, but trail riders tend to be a bit more finicky) is a new suspension front and rear. The shocks have new damping characteristics and are preload adjustable and offer up 6.7 inches of travel both front and rear. That’s a bump in travel of .4 inches vs. the 2013 Rancher. Ground clearance has also been increased, from 6.5 inches to 7.2 inches. All those little increases have made a difference in the comfort and ride of the Rancher. We experienced that increased comfort during our test ride last fall in Ohio as we rode over rocks, downed trees, roots and creek beds that littered the trails. We were impressed with the Rancher’s ability to soak up the bumps and other trail hazards. It really did offer a nice ride across the board on all the Ranchers (and there are a bunch, but more on that later) we test rode.

Along with the improved ride of the Rancher is the ATV’s impressive transmission, both in the options offered and the performance. Options include a manual-shift five-speed (foot-operated), Honda’s Electric Shift Program (ESP), an alternative to the manual gearbox that makes gear shifts as easy as pressing the upshift or downshift button located on the left handlebar and, for those who don’t want to worry about shifting at all, the fully automatic DCT or Dual Clutch Transmission. Both the ESP and DCT are pretty slick and surprisingly smooth.

The electric shift transmission uses an onboard Electronic Control Module (ECM) that monitors engine rpm, countershaft speed, shift drum angle and shift spindle angle to help control the speed of the electric shift motor’s gear and clutch engagement. ESP is not dependent on battery power, as it operates whenever the engine is running.

ESP, DCT Our Favs

We rode Ranchers with all three types of transmissions and found we really had the most fun with the ESP, especially in the conditions we experienced in Ohio. It’s so easy to shift with your  left hand.

We did like the DCT-equipped Ranchers, too, and the DCT deserves a little more explanation. The DCT is a new generation DCT with new updated dual-zone shift logic for improved adaptation to all riding conditions based on rider and vehicle inputs. The new shift logic automatically adjusts shift points, reducing “gear hunting,” thus improving the efficiency of the transmission while providing increased response and reduced engine lugging. Honda explained that the key to the DCT design is a dual-clutch configuration coupled with a two-piece mainshaft. The first mainshaft has first, third and fifth gears all driven by the first clutch. The second mainshaft is sleeved  over the first shaft. It carries second, fourth and reverse gears and it’s driven by the second clutch. This design allows two gears to be engaged at the same time, and each gear is pre-shifted before power is applied. Shifting is then accomplished by disengaging one clutch and engaging the other. The result of this design is extremely quick shifts for less driveline lurching between shifts, especially under load, which means the chassis attitude remains more consistent during gear changes.

Still another feature on the Rancher 4x4 models is TraxLok selectable 2WD/4WD capabilities that enable the rider to quickly shift between 2WD and 4WD. TraxLok incorporates a two-way mechanical roller clutch with a series of hardened-steel rollers that lock up in a mere six degrees of rotation for a smooth, virtually instantaneous response while either accelerating or decelerating on flat ground or an incline. The TraxLok system only engages when the speed differential between the front and rear wheels is less than 6 mph. Once engaged, the system remains engaged on downhills for true 4WD braking.

Lots Of Options

We’re not sure if you’re keeping track at home, but with all the transmission and 2WD/4WD options, there are several different Rancher models available. Of course, the offerings include Electric Power Steering on select models. Ranchers available in 2014 include: the two-wheel-drive FourTrax Rancher with manual gearbox or in ES configuration, the FourTrax Rancher 4x4 adds TraxLok 4WD capabilities; the FourTrax Rancher 4x4 ES adds ESP push-button shifting to that 4WD equation; and the Rancher 4x4 Automatic DCT features Honda’s Automatic Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT). Two models, the Rancher 4x4 and Rancher Automatic DCT, are offered with power steering.

On Ranchers with power steering, a new attachment layout using a threepoint mount for the EPS mechanism makes the entire unit more rigid in its placement, and that makes for even more precise steering. That was evident on the tight trails we rode in Ohio. There was no “slop” in the steering and steering response was spot-on. Jumping back and forth between the EPS-equipped models and non-EPS Ranchers once again showed us that we prefer power steering models, especially when 4WD is engaged. And Honda’s EPS doesn’t “over-steer” like you find on some models. We like it when we can “feel” the trail and Honda’s power steering allows that.

The OHV liquid-cooled, fuel-injected 420cc engine returns essentially the same. There is new mapping for the Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) system as well as a new oxygen sensor that helps improve power delivery and throttle response, while also improving emissions and fuel efficiency. The 420cc engine won’t set any land speed records—we hit the rev limiter at 49-50 mph—but it wasn’t designed to. There’s plenty of power for work and play. Another feature that is hard to miss is the new meter display—found on all models (excluding the manual-shift 2WD Rancher)—that features added functions such as electronic fuel gauge, clock, coolant temperature gauge and a “maintenance minder” system that tracks both hours of run time plus miles driven.

Even with all those new features and improvements, it’s almost as if Honda is most proud that the new Rancher was designed (in California and Ohio) and is being built in the United States (South Carolina). Even though the Rancher is American-made and competitively priced (starting at $5,199), Honda’s biggest challenge may be to get the ATV crowd to accept that the Rancher is no longer a work-only vehicle. Let us get the ball rolling by saying the Rancher is an exceptional all-around ATV that can provide equal portions of fun and work.

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May 14, 2014

I'm Ready to Make Some Dust

As summer approaches and the snow retreats from the valleys I can’t help but get excited about being able to spend more time riding four-wheelers and side-by-sides. I actually had a good winter riding snowmobiles but I’m ready for some four-wheel action.

My dirt riding in the winter is pretty spotty—a new model release here and/or a ride down south there is about all I can find time for. I get a lot of seat time on snowmobiles but not so much on dirt toys.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy summer and fall is attending as many rallies as I can. I admit I don’t get to near as many off-road rallies as I’d like and there are plenty of them—enough to occupy several summer and fall weeks. I have heard some grumbling that there are too many rallies but I’ve always thought that just means you have more to choose from. And it’s not like anyone has to go to a rally. Rallies are just another riding option.

Of course, one of my most favorite rallies is the Rally on the Rocks. There’s just something about being in Moab in May and clinging (well, not literally, but sometimes it feels like it) to the side of a cliff as you negotiate the slickrock trails. Moab is technical, fun and the weather is usually just about perfect. Yes, sometimes the rides can be a big cluster but the event organizers do a pretty good job of trying to minimize this.

I’ve added one more rally to my must-attend list for the summer, the new The Lost River - Rally In The Pines, which will take place this summer in Mackay, ID. You can read more about this in the Industry Dirt section of this issue. You might remember we did a travel/destination feature on Mackay a year or so ago and found that area of central Idaho to be a lot of fun for riding. I look forward to returning.

The Rally In The Pines in Island Park, ID, is another favorite. We spend a lot of time riding snowmobiles and dirt vehicles in Island Park and so to us, it was a natural for Blake and Meg Allen (hosts of PowerSports Adventures and also organizers of the rally in Mackay) to choose that area for a rally.

The Allens asked me to guide one of the rides last year at the rally in Island Park and that was an interesting adventure for me. I’m so used to following a guide when I go to a rally that the thought of leading a group of riders was, well, almost intimidating. While it’s natural for any rider to watch out for others while enjoying the outdoors on an ATV or side-by-side, I’m pretty used to being responsible for just myself when I go on a ride. So when asked to guide a group of others, all those things I’m not used to worrying about bubbled to the top.

Aside from the dust, our rides both days from the rally camp to the top of Sawtell Peak and back went well and were fairly problem-free. It was a great time and many in our group (on both days) had never been to the top of Sawtell so it was fun to explain various points of interest out to the group once we were on top. On the second day of our ride to Sawtell, there was a little smoke hanging in the air from nearby forest fires but you could still see many of the surrounding mountains and lakes. The view from the top of Sawtell is awesome.

Included in this issue is a list of rallies. We hope you get to attend one or more. It’s a great opportunity to meet old friends, make new ones and ride and see some territory you might not have had a chance to before.

Who knows? Maybe we’ll see you on the trail somewhere.

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May 14, 2014

New Tactical Black Viking EPS 4x4

We wrote about our ride experience in Yamaha’s Viking in the last issue of Dirt Toys (“Hard-Working Viking Gets Job Done,” March, 2014, page 28) but for some reason forgot to mention the new Tactical Black version of this vehicle.

Here is the official release from Yamaha about the Tactical Black model.

Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A., introduced the latest version of the new Viking EPS Side-by-Side (SxS) vehicle, the Special Edition (SE) Tactical Black Viking. Assembled in the U.S.A. and announced at the annual SHOT Show in Las Vegas, the new SE Viking combines an aggressive flat black painted appearance and popular accessories with classic Yamaha durability and off-road capabilities.

The new Tactical Black Viking EPS 4x4 boasts all of the category-leading features of Yamaha’s standard Viking SxS plus molded sun top, overfenders, mud flaps, an under-seat storage box, bed rail accessory mounts and exclusive black cast aluminum wheels.

The Yamaha Viking was first introduced last June when it set a new standard in the three-person multi-purpose SxS segment. Designed and engineered as a robust and highcapacity utility vehicle, the Viking combines Yamaha’s most powerful four-wheel drive engine to date with a comfortable and confidence-inspiring three-person cab, precision steering and class-leading handling.


The vehicle’s distinctive features make it the most off-road capable vehicle in its class and the only one with true threeperson seating capacity.

The Viking’s exclusive pass-through bucket seating features a unique off-set center position (set 5 degrees back) that improves comfort with maximum shoulder room for all three occupants. This is the only vehicle in its class with three-point seat belts for everyone, plus headrests all around, adjustable handhold for both passengers and a textured floorboard with dedicated foot wells. Its seating position even provides for more head room than competitive models without sacrificing critical ground clearance. All told, the Viking boasts the most comfortable and secure seating in its class.


While the Viking’s 700cc-class engine makes more power than some larger 800cc-class machines, the vehicle’s handling and off-road capabilities truly set it apart.

Yamaha’s three-way On-Command system, featuring 2WD, 4WD and 4WD with differential lock, is a driver-controlled system with an automotive-type rotary dial selector. This drivercontrolled system gives the driver the control and confidence to lock in all four wheels based on the terrain—a significant benefit over other automated systems on competitive models.

Yamaha’s Ultramatic transmission with high, low and reverse has proven to be the industry’s most durable CVT system with dual speed gearing and an automatic centrifugal clutch that maintains constant belt tension for reduced wear and the industry’s most natural-feeling all-wheel engine braking.

This reduced wear has contributed to Yamaha’s proven durability, and the engine braking gives the driver confidence, especially on hills and in rough terrain.

The Viking’s optional Electric Power Steering (EPS) system provides the industry’s best balance of light feeling with positive feedback from the terrain. The system reads steering wheel torque, vehicle speed, On-Command setting and negative feedback to determine the appropriate amount of assist in any given situation.


The Viking’s rear steel cargo bed was purpose-built for durability and convenience. Large enough to carry a fullyloaded pallet, the assisted dump bed can pack up to 600 pounds of equipment and supplies while the standard twoinch receiver hitch is rated to pull 1,500 lbs.

The Viking’s chassis also contributes to its off-road capability with nearly 12 inches of ground clearance at the lowest point, a full steel/composite smooth skid plate front to back and side to side, and an optimized frame with up-turned side rails allowing for smoother transitions over obstacles.

The Viking’s long-travel four-wheel independent suspension is balanced to provide a plush and comfortable ride with a quality damping feel in rough terrain, all while carrying either a light or full load. The gas-charged shocks help reach the delicate balance of damping and resistance with one or three people, fully-loaded or empty.

The all-new Maxxis Big Horn 2.0 tires were designed specifically and exclusively for the Viking with maximum performance and durability. The new Big Horns provide an optimized balance of sidewall and tread center stiffness in a tire that delivers an excellent combination of traction, precise steering and comfort. The Viking’s large diameter front and rear brake discs with dual piston calipers on all four wheels ensure good balance and power during braking—with or without cargo. The Viking also comes equipped with a mechanical parking disc brake.

The SE Tactical Black Viking 4x4 EPS will be available in the spring of 2014 with an MSRP of $13,749.

More details are available at

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May 14, 2014

Takeshi Hayasaki Appointed President, Suzuki Motor Of America

Suzuki Motor of America has announced the appointment of Takeshi Hayasaki as president. Hayasaki, a long-serving executive of Suzuki Motor Corporation, has many years of experience in the motorcycle/ATV industry.  The company also announced that Takao Kudo has been named executive vice president and will oversee the new After Sales Operations group.

“Suzuki Motor of America is wellpositioned right now for growth,” Hayasaki said, “with a new company focused on the recreational powersports industry and exciting new models for 2014. I’m eager to work with Suzuki staff and dealers to continue this growth and brand momentum. We are creating opportunities for Suzuki dealers and Suzuki enthusiasts nationwide.”

Hayasaki served as assistant to the president of American Suzuki Motor Corp. from 1996 through 2002, overseeing strong growth in the company’s motorcycle/ATV division. Under Hayasaki leadership Suzuki launched several key models in the USA, such as the 1999 Hayabusa and QuadSport Z400 ATV. His broad understanding of sales and marketing as well as vehicle production and distribution will allow him to serve the U.S. market well again.

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May 14, 2014

Clarification About Can-Am Outlander 6x6

In the March, 2014 issue of Dirt Toys Magazine (“Can-Am Outlander 6x6 1000 XT,” page 8) we wrote a brief story about the new 6x6 ATV Can-Am unveiled in Finland.

While we thought we were clear in stating that the vehicle is available only in Finland and not in the United States, we should clarify one thing we did write.

We printed the MSRP of the 6x6 ($17,890 Euros) and then converted that figure to show what it would cost in the U.S. By doing so, that led some people to think that would be the U.S. price of the 6x6.

Again, we stress that the 6x6 is not available in the United States and thus, there is no U.S. MSRP. So disregard the U.S. dollar figure in that story.

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May 14, 2014

Polaris Introduces Two New Ranger Work Vehicles

Polaris has added two new vehicles to its Ranger utility line of side-by-sides. The new, three-passenger Ranger Diesel HST and Ranger Diesel HST Deluxe offer customers considering a utilitarian side-by-side the most comfortable and easy-to-use vehicles on the market.

The new Ranger vehicles offer key features that are important to the agricultural and rural lifestyle customer such as diesel power with a hydrostatic transmission, an industry-exclusive treadle pedal, multi-link coil over De Dion rear suspension and, for the first time on a Ranger vehicle, full climate control which is standard on the Ranger Diesel HST Deluxe.

At the heart of the new models is a 24-horsepower Yanmar diesel engine with a hydrostatic transmission which delivers incredible torque and power to get the job done. The transmission also features an engine braking system delivering a smooth and even deceleration while carrying a load for increased operator confidence. For comfortable traversing of virtually any terrain, loaded or unloaded, the Ranger Diesel HST and Ranger Diesel HST Deluxe also feature
Polaris’ exclusive On-Demand True All-Wheel Drive which automatically engages all four wheels when more forward traction is needed and reverts back to two-wheel drive when the traction is no longer needed.

The Ranger Diesel HST and Ranger Diesel HST Deluxe offer an innovative treadle pedal allowing for travel in forward or reverse without shifting gears or taking hands off the wheel. This enables the operator to tackle the toughest jobs in less time with lower fatigue. To work harder and longer, the vehicles are equipped with a 90 amp alternator that provides best-in-class power for cold-weather starting, and gives the operator the ability to power several accessories at a time for increased efficiency and effectiveness.

The multi-link coil over De Dion rear suspension provides the Ranger Diesel HST and Ranger
Diesel HST Deluxe with superior ride quality for any work application. The rear suspension supports a 1,250-pound cargo capacity and minimizes suspension sag when fully loaded. It also maintains class-leading ground clearance when trailering with its best-in-class 2,000-pound towing capacity. An extended length, pallet-sized rear dump box, with gas-assist lift on Ranger Diesel HST and electric lift on the Ranger Diesel HST Deluxe, provide ample space for hauling and feature Polaris’ exclusive Lock & Ride cargo system for easy installation and removal of accessories.

For operator comfort, the Ranger Diesel HST and Ranger Diesel HST Deluxe come standard with Hydraulic Power Steering to minimize driver fatigue. Cab ergonomics such as tilt steering with the 10 inches of motion, extra legroom, foot rests, larger seat width, and easy cab ingress and egress deliver optimal operator and passenger comfort. For even more comfort no matter what the outside conditions, the Ranger Diesel HST Deluxe also has a fullyenclosed, factory-installed cab with climate control including heat, defrost and air conditioning and features 180-degree opening doors for easy entry and exit. A full line of cab, storage and vehicle protection accessories also are available for the vehicles to meet each customer’s unique needs.

The Ranger Diesel HST and Ranger Diesel HST Deluxe will be offered in Sage Green and were available at Polaris dealerships in April.

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May 14, 2014

Great New ATV, SxS Rally Announced The Lost River - Rally In The Pines

As we first reported on in late February, there is a brand new rally in the state of Idaho, Lost River - Rally In The Pines. It is organized by the same people who organize Yellowstone Country - Rally In The Pines, held annually in Island Park, ID.

The new Rally will be held in Mackay, ID, July 18-20. Mackay is 95 miles west of Idaho Falls on U.S. Highway 93. This new rally will feature many types of group rides. Several rides will be easy rides to scenic locations. The Mackay area is known for its western history and many of the rides will take you to the historic locations. There will also be challenging rides to areas that require technical driving skills. Drivers will be taking on trails with rock and shale obstacles.  Challenge rides are only for experienced drivers.

In addition to the group rides, there are areas that drivers can go to test their machines and driving skills like “Suicide” and “Black Daisy.” Even though these areas are not officially part of the Lost River - Rally In The Pines, it does help to make everyone’s adventure more exciting. Registration is now open. For more information, visit:

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