ATV Television's Blog

The Latest News and Doug's Ramblings & Ravings.
Including Doug's "Here's what I think!" and "What were they thinking!"

Monday, December 20, 2010

An All-new Polaris Side by Side is Coming on 1-1-2011

I’ve been keeping my mouth closed for a while knowing I was going to go to a secret location at an undisclosed time to test a new Polaris, but now Polaris has leaked the first news that I can share about this – There’s a whole new class of Side by Side coming on January 1st!

While I knew it was coming and that I’ll be one of the first of the media-types to take it for a spin, what I still don’t know is what it is . . .

So the best I can do is guess – or wish . . .

Let’s just say for a moment that the ‘term’ “whole new class” is a marketing term. So unless we see a street legal RZR, or maybe a RZR with wings, ‘whole new class’ may be a bit of a stretch.

But if we think of the RZR4, or the RZR S as a whole new class of Side by Side then maybe we can guess at what we’d like this new RZR to be.

Personally, I’d like to see a 50” RZR XP. That means it would have the smooth 850cc engine and transmission complete with ADC. Or even better would be a RZR with a conventional 4wd system complete with lockers front and rear. Of course it would also be nice to see it come with a longer travel suspension like we’ve done to our RZR.  It should have a mechanical parking brake. And a better looking cage. And come with radial tires and a winch.

Well, that’s all just wishful thinking I suppose. Right or way wrong, at least we don’t have long to wait to find out.

Leave to Polaris though to break new ground when everyone else is hiding in their offices afraid of the economy.

Any thoughts?

A street-legal RZR would be a “whole new class of Side by Side!”

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tires and Snow

I received an interesting email from Lynn in Canada with a great question about snow tires. It seems that although the Mudzillas he runs on his Wolverine work great in the mud and muck, they don’t work well at all at pushing his snowplow down his driveway .

So what’s up with that?

Well, tires are far more complex than most folks realize. Think about how much controversy goes on surrounding tire wear, choices, air pressure and compound in NASCAR, F1, or any other racing you may follow.

While we may not be quite as ‘leading edge’ as racing, the same technology applies.

So to answer the question why certain tires work better than others, let’s first take a look at the tire’s compound. Hard rubber will wear slow, but it also doesn’t ‘grip’ the ground, especially when that ground is sand or snow. So a tire with better performance is a softer tire. Too soft though and it will wear out as you look at it. But too hard and it won’t grip at all.

The next part of the equation is the tread. Sure, big tread can move mud just like a paddle moves sand or water for that matter. But in snow (and performance on dirt) the tire’s tread needs to flex. The flexing allows the rubber of the tire to stay in contact with the ground longer, but also gives it a slight slingshot effect in moving the machine forward. Part of this ‘flex’ is helped by the small little slits in the tread called siping. These sipes also help the tread to flex, or squirm, thus allowing it to grab to the surface more. The tread also needs to trap enough of the surface to allow it to grab, but also be able to release that material so it doesn’t ‘clog’ the tread and not allow the tread to work as designed.

Now let’s look at air pressure. Air pressure has a similar but different effect on bias ply and radial tires. But basically you need to have a low enough pressure to allow the tire to flex (there’s that word again) to allow it to grip better, but not so low as to allow the tire to wallow around and roll over in cornering. Basically tire pressure is a very subjective item and the correct air pressure can only be found with a bit of experimenting on your part.

So to sum it up, snow requires a soft tire with a flexible tread with siping to make it even more flexible. That gives it the most traction. You also need to run the tire’s air pressure as low as possible without doing harm to the tire and wheel.

That sounds all well and good until you try to add that information to a specific ATV. In case you haven’t discovered this, ATVs are not all created equal. This inequality for our purpose here, can be focused mainly on the operation of the front differential.

And here’s the problem with front differentials – while lockers are pretty straight forward in their ability to apply equal traction to each front tire, the so-called ‘limited slip’ differentials are exactly that – limited!

Here’s what happens when a limited slip differential detects slip - a difference in the speed of both front tires. When one tire tends to move faster than the other, or slip, the differential tries to bind and attempt to limit the excessive speed of the faster spinning tire. To cut to the quick here, what happens when you have bigger tires with more traction is that they can overwhelm the design parameters of the limited slip differential and it can’t bind the differential enough. So, your limited slip differential doesn’t work as planned!

That means that on many machines with limited slip differentials (and those can come in many fancy names, but are basically every 4wd system that doesn’t have a lockable front differential) a tire with too much traction can actually cause you to have less traction.

Confused? You’re not alone. And if you’re not confused I could go on until you are.

But I won’t.

What did we learn? The best tire is one that has a soft compound with flexible tread and siping. You need to adjust you tire pressure to as low as you can for the conditions, and on ATVs without locking front differentials you also need to remember not to overwhelm your drive system with too much traction.

And just in case you were observant enough to notice the many pictures of the ACT and wondered – yes they are my favorite all around tire…….

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The UMP Filter for the Polaris RZR:

As you may remember, I have searched for a solution to the RZR intake problem for quite sometime. If you’re a RZR owner or even a RZR want-to owner you no-doubt know what we’re talking about.

We’ve had a new RZR every year since they came out and we have never had a problem with the stock filter system not doing its job properly. But we continue to hear enough horror stories about RZR engines being destroyed to think that there must be something going on. Although Polaris claims to have fixed the so-called intake leaks on the RZR, it seems the talk continues about dirt leaking into the intake and ‘sanding’ the engine, sometimes with several hundred miles of use!

No matter what, there’s enough talk that I wanted to be sure that my RZR wasn’t going to suffer a dirt meltdown if there was a way to prevent it. After all, I’m too-often too far from civilization to have more things to worry about…

We’ve talked to RZR owners with their solutions – most of which require home-built fabrications. What I wanted was a bolt-on solution that I could be sure of.

I have used K&N filters for many years on many different types of off-road race vehicles with never a problem, so that was my first effort. The K&N system went on easy enough, although requiring the removal of the bed and bulkhead for better access.

While the K&N filter system may do an incredible job of keeping dirt from entering the RZR’s engine, the one item I didn’t think to consider was the additional intake sounds due to its open design. Intake noise is seldom a problem on race cars, but on a RZR designed to explore the back country, quieter is a better thing to have rather than noisier!

Under acceleration or with enough throttle to climb mountains, the additional intake noise definitely was more than noticeable. For me it was bothersome as it really reduced the ability to easily talk with your passenger.

So I continued to look at options. One of you wrote me suggesting I check out the UMP filter system. So I did. It didn’t take long before UPS delivered the UMP for me to try out. The UMP is a great canister system that is designed to have the air flow spin into the system. Plus it is a fully sealed unit and pulls the air into the filter through the stock intake tube. One important item to remember in all this is that the K&N filter claims to add power (which it seems to do) and the UMP filter makes no claim other than to better filter the air that goes into the engine. And that it seems to do.

Like the K&N (and any filter system I suppose) the installation of the UMP filter requires the removal of the bed and the bulkhead. The first thing I noticed is that the UMP canister mounts very, very securely, better than both the K&N and the stock filters.

I like the idea that the UMP unit is a more sealed unit and uses the stock air intake tube. And that’s no doubt part of the reason that there is little or no increase in power for the UMP filter. But once again, this unit is not about increasing power, it’s about eliminating the destruction of your RZR’s engine without any additional noise irritating you or your passenger while trying to enjoy a great trail ride.

We’ll have an installation video and a follow-up as we put some miles on our RZR. But some times you can just ‘see’ that a product is built correctly and do the job it was meant to do.

I’m no longer worrying about getting dirt in my intake and ruining my RZR. No-sir-ee, now I’m free to worry about other things!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Arctic Cat New Model Introduction – What I Hope to See:

Arctic Cat has invited a group of media reps to Texas to look at and ride some all-new models being introduced for 2011!

Yippee I’m going, and here’s what I hope I see:

First and foremost I hope we see an all-new Prowler. Or maybe we should call it the ThunderCat  Side by Side. Built from the Thundercat it would be a 50” wide, 1000cc, all independent UTV. Although you’ll first think I’m thinking about an Arctic Cat RZR, think again. The Arctic Cat would be built to be the ultimate trail machine. The 1000cc engine would be detuned for more torque. The transmission would be an industry first centrifugal clutch. The rear would be a nice metal cage-rack system and another smaller rack system at the front. It would come with a spare tire, a large fuel tank, and a low, narrow cage to fit better under and around the trees. It would retain the great AC suspension but also come standard with a great set of radials – maybe the Carlisle ACT HDs!

Years ago we tested an amazing little Arctic Cat that I fell in love with – a 250CC 4x4. It was a small, Recon-sized ATV with 4 wheel drive. It was so nimble and competent and yet so manageable it was amazing….. So, that what I hope to see, a small 4wd ATV. Simple. Basic. Inexpensive. Competent. And fun! And hopefully it would come with a $3995.00 price tag.

I’d also love to see some sport versions of the Cruiser 550 and 700 ATVs. Now when I say ‘sport’, what I mean is really, an ATV set up ‘ready to use’! Better shocks. Good radial tires. A winch, heated grips, and good, sturdy cargo boxes front and rear. Maybe even with a set of RotopaX fuel packs attached…..

We’ll see just how close I get. If my wishes and hopes for Arctic Cat are no closer than my wishes and hopes for Polaris I’ll be 0 for 3! Oh well they’re loss.

And here I was going to help them rule the world.

Maybe another day………

Thursday, October 14, 2010

ATV Update – Touring LE First Ride:

Polaris Touring LE First Ride:

As I mentioned earlier, I fell in love with the new 2011 Touring models when I first saw them at the New Model Introduction we attended up in Cascade Montana. I especially like how the new LE comes complete with a winch, Carlisle (MudLites?) on aluminum wheels, twin mirrors, handguards, and even grip warmers.

One of the coolest things is how the new Touring can be quickly converted into a single-seat ATV by removing the rear seat and handgrips and replace them with a box that blends with the rack! Not only does that make it more practical, but makes it what I think could be the best looking ATV out there. There’s nothing that looks better (to me) than a long wheelbase and short overhangs – nice. Real nice.

But this is about the first ride.

I must say, this thing may be the smoothest ATV I’ve ridden! Yeah, that’s right, smooth and quiet. And I’m not talking just about comfort from that soft cushy seat either. I’m talking about a silky smooth engine. A silky smooth drivetrain! It’s shocking and wonderful!

Also much to my surprise, the engine braking is phenomenal as well. Let off on the gas and the big machine slows down just as it should – not too much and not too little. Once again I’m wonderfully amazed.

Of course I also already mentioned that I’m really disappointed in Polaris’ cost-cutting measures that include the removal of one of the rear disc brakes! Yes, the Polaris still stops okay, even coming down the steep mountain roads at speed, but this is their Top-of-the-Line machine! It shouldn’t have a hub sitting there with the rotor and caliper removed! For Pete’s sake, just as an added slap in the face, the mounts are still there for it!

Speaking of the brakes and getting off of the 3-brake complaining - if I could tune the Sportsman, I’d add in just a bit more braking leverage. When you only have one brake lever it should apply more pressure, more easily to the braking system than it does. It’s especially noticeable to me due to how I use just a couple fingers to pull in the lever. Maybe few of you do that, but it’s a habit I got into years ago racing – the more of your hand you can keep wrapped around the grip, the less likely you are to get it yanked from your grip. Maybe that’s another reason I always prefer two-lever systems – better control.

The machine obviously has plenty of power, but more than that, it has good balance. You can just add power while twisting up through the trails to bring the rear end around as needed to aid in the steering or just plain have fun!

Speaking of steering. Why is it that Polaris cuts so many corners? Is it really worth irritating customers over a few dollars here and there? This time I’m referring to the plastic steering bushing at the top of the steering stem that is just too sloppy. It transmits all the bumps and giggles that the power steering should be isolating from the handlebars. It is actually loose enough that you can see it move back and forth as you wiggle the bars forward and back! I parked next to my friend’s 13,000 mile Honda and there wasn’t even a micro-mili-movement in its steering stem.

The Touring is so smooth and wonderful that this single fault is hugely irritating. So I suppose I can try to see if the local Polaris dealer can install one that is a tighter fit, or I can go out to the shop and cut up a beer can to wrap around the stem to fill up the space. Either way I imagine no buyer of a $12,000.00 machine will think they should have to do this.

But I love this machine and will continue to put a bunch of miles on it one way or the other. Hopefully I can get the steering stem fixed so that I’ll be singing praises rather than grumbling about the bean counters. This Polaris demands all the praises.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Test Updates

ATVTV Test Updates:

Polaris Sportsman XP 850 Touring LE  —

While at the Polaris 2011 New Model Introduction up in Montana, I fell in love with the new Touring models – especially the LE that comes complete with a winch, Carlisle (MudLites?) on aluminum wheels, twin mirrors, handguards, and even grip warmers. What, no seat warmer? Am I asking too much? Am I getting too old?

What I really like is how you can convert the 2011 Touring to a single-seat ATV! Not only does that make it more practical, but makes it what I think could be the best looking ATV out there.

Of course, I’m more than merely disappointed in Polaris’ cost-cutting measures that include the removal of one of the rear discs! The official explanation is that because it has a solid rear differential, one rear brake is all that’s needed. I just don’t know what to say :-(

Actually I do, as when have I ever been at a lack for words? Polaris’ downfall will be their cost-cutting procedures – plastic bearing carriers, moving their manufacturing to Mexico, and even things like 3-wheel disc brakes!


The project RZR is pretty much completed, well, except for some changes we plan to make to the intake system. We need to modify the K&N filter we installed! It’s just too noisy! The more open (or less restricted) intake and the metal box that’s a big part of it, just make the interior sound of the RZR too loud for me. Under acceleration the induction sound reverberates enough to actually be uncomfortable on my ears. It also completely annoys my companion, Bob Dog. So I think my options are to try and quiet the K&N box down, put the stock filter back on, or find another filter system that’s not so loud.

Perhaps since it’s already installed we’ll try first to quiet this one down. Perhaps we can cover the open intake side of the box a bit. Or put some padding on the box itself.

Any suggestions? Whatever we do, we’ll let you know what it is and how it works.

Suzuki King Quad —

The modifications we’re making to the KQ are coming right along. We’ve mounted a pair of cargo boxes front and rear that seem to be what we are looking for for. Our biggest problem is with the mounting of the rear box. The problem is that the box I found that I like the most hinges at the rear! Yeah, while digging through my old boxes, I found a pair of Kawasaki-branded boxes that I really like. The size is right, and the shape is right, with flat tops so more items can be mounted on the top if needed. And although I really like the fact that the rear box hinges from the rear, it requires the fuel pack mounting brackets to be moved farther rearward. Even with that done, the box extends forward enough that the seat is difficult to remove and the fuel cap harder to get to.

We’ll see how that all works and if it’s a problem or if we can deal with it.

I also got the new 3000 pound KFI winch installed. What an easy thing to do. The mount installs so easily that I almost wanted to take it off and put it on again! Then, Suzuki has made the mounting easy on their part by first providing a nice plastic tube to run all the wires through, and second, by making a nice place to bolt on the connector box. The only problem is that to use the pre-drilled holes requires removing the rear plastic bodywork which also requires removing the rear rack. Actually they just need ‘mostly’ removed. Also this helps to make for a very clean install. We also mounted the remote plug right up on the handlebar with the switch – something we’ve never done before but makes for a simple (and clean) installation.

We think every winch should come with a synthetic cable. Once you use a ‘rope’ in place of a  steel wire cable, you’ll be sold on its safety. It’s both easy to handle with your bare hands and even more important, should it ever break, it contains no kinetic energy, so rather than whip around and possible cause serious harm, it will fall harmlessly to the ground! I still have the steel cable on my Prairie I use to plow snow with and the cable is already frayed enough to be dangerous to touch.

Mounting the synthetic cable is certainly easy enough. Remove the steel cable. Drill the hole that holds the steel cable on the spool a bit larger diameter. Thread in the synthetic rope. Bingo! Reel it in and you’re ready to go winching!

Looking at the pictures you’ll see that I also installed a set of Rotopax mounts on top of the front box. I like the added storage options but I’m a little unsure how the box itself will hold up to the added weight.

So we’re pretty much done with our mods with the exception of bolting on a better set of shocks, and putting some miles on it to see how everything works! Interestingly enough, we recently ran into a couple of guys on the Paiute Trail that had to have one of their KQ racks re-welded after it broke from hauling the weight on rough roads! And what they were hauling didn’t seem like too much to me. They even were running Elka suspensions! It kinda makes me wonder…..

Kawasaki Teryx —

The Teryx continues to perform flawlessly. No hiccups in its performance whatsoever. We’ve even used it twice to run up the mountain with a trailer and haul down a good-sized load of wood. No power problems and no braking problems. And never once was there anything that made me question whether I would make it back – or not.

It continues to be used hard and put away wet and yet like a faithful dog is always more than willing to head out again.

Of course we still wish it was a bit quieter (What’s new?), and more than anything else wish it was 50” wide!

Kawasaki Mule —

The same thing applies to the diesel Mule. It continues on with flawless operation. I continue to enjoy its sturdy, metal construction and its no-nonsense design. I do continue to wish for a Sport Edition Mule, with a little more suspension travel and no speed limiter so it would make a little better machine for casual trail riding. Fat chance I’m sure.

Polaris Ranger EV —

I continue to be amazed with the EV. I love the quiet operation. I do wish it had some kind of a back up system that charged the batteries while driving.

Also, for some reason I’m now finding that the throttle response from a standstill (what I always refer to as ‘tip in’) seems far more sensitive than before. Sometimes you start pushing the throttle and nothing happens and then all of a sudden, (WHAM), it starts moving – faster than you planned.

And I’m more used to having an increased gasoline bill than I am a larger electric bill.

Kawasaki Brute Force 750 —

Gee I wish I had something more to say about the Kawasaki’s we have other than their faithful operation. Even after spending its first several hours immersed, hopelessly stuck in a muddy spring stream due almost entirely to rider error, it has never once given me any reason to doubt its ability to get me where I want to go and back home safely and without any worry. That’s not something that can be said about every ATV that comes through our testing…..

Monday, September 13, 2010

Project RZR - The Ultimate Trail Rig Moving Right Along!

We've started preparring our 2011 RZR in our attempt to make it the most capable trail machine to use exploring the vast expanses of the Paiute Trail system.

One of the first things we did was remove most of the stickers. I like the clean look. Could you image if your car came with all these stickers?

We then took some clear silicon sealant and sealed the seam in the front fender wells as we've noticed that in mud and snow these can leak. We then installed our floormats made from the BedRug. We do this for several reasons; One to quiet the interior, and two, so that we can fill in the silly heel pocket that drives us nuts! We installed our High Lifter aluminum top - which of course we glued some carpet to, once again as a sound-deadening process. We then bolted on our reaview mirror. I think every ATV and UTV should come standard with a mirror! We also installed our Ram GPS mount up under the roof. We put a QuadBoss fender bag in between the seats for added interior storage.

Because we hate rattles, we also ran several wraps of black electrical tape around the grab bar to keep it from vibrating!

To increase the suspension's articulation we remove the front sway bar entirely and back the rear sway bar as far off as we can. This way it lets each wheel move a couple inches further before it moves in like our government controlling things. We've seen some folks remove the rear altogether but we have yet to try it.....but we will.

We installed a set of Super Works shocks with extended body length. This gives us all the advantages of Works Performance shocks and a 1" to 1 1/2" l;ift all in a single package. We love 'em. If you contact Works, ask for the ATV Television build.

As you could also see in the previous picture, we installed a 3000 pound KFI winch complete with synthetic cable and aluminum fairlead. Once you use a synthetic cable you'll wonder why winches even come with twisted wire cables! We mounted our switch just behind the shifter and the remote left under the seat.

The stock skidplate leaves a lot to be desired for hard trail riding.

So, we installed a complete set of HCR aluminum skids. Wow! These are incredible. They go on using the stock hardware and actually bolt on without any problems or misaligned holes. I can't say enough about how well these skidplates fit - especially since we've heard many stories about the horrors of trying to install aftermarket skids, and seen enough of it ourselves that we typically don't add aftermarket skidplates.

One this we did that I highly recommend is to run some rubber insulating tape between the frame and the aluminum. It really keeps the reflective noise and vibration to a minumum.

This was another one of those products we hesitated to bolt on. The RZR's are notorious for letting dirt past the filter and into the engine, some going kaput within 200 miles! So, a good filter is a must, and K&N are one of the best. Why the hesitation then? Good filters add a lot more induction noise - something I don't really want. And they require quite a bit of work to install. But the thought of a ruined engine after a couple days on the trail was motivation enough for me. We'll have a complete Product Review segment on it, but it required removing the bed to install. But in addition to being sure the installation was correct it gave me the ability to double check everything else under there. BTW: The sound is louder than stock, but I think I can live with it. If not, the next step would be to carpet the engine cover behind the seats.

There we go! We mounted a set of 26" Goodyear MTRs on 14" High Lifter wheels. These seem to work really good in every condition except snow. We'll see how they last. You can see the lift that the extended Works Performance shocks give the RZR. On the rear is our incredible RyFab cargo box with a pair of RotopaX fuel and storage packs mounted to the lid. I think we are now ready to hit the trail!

We have a few more pictures on our website.

And we have already started work on our Project Suzuki King Quad!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Test Updates

Ranger EV -

And it handled quite well!
We are absolutely amazed at how well the new EV is working around our place. We're preparing the video  that will show the EV hauling firewood and towing the rough cut mower to have up hopefully in the next couple of weeks.

It never ceases to amaze us the smiles the EV puts on other's faces. Quite, powerful. Of course we still struggle with really testing it's full potential as a trail machine as we can't find the right can to carry the spare volts with us. Or is that watts? Whatever.


Kawasaki may not endorse this but the Mule moves
 this around my ranch without a problem
We are also getting our diesel Mule test ready, but since the EV's been here we've used the Mule less than before. Suddenly a diesel really seems noisy and smelly. But of course, nothing else sitting around the shop can haul and tow like this thing.


Now that we have the 2011 RZR test completed we can get started on the modifications we plan to make to it to make it the Ultimate Trail Machine! The pile of parts is growing. Some decisions are easy, some much harder.
One of the first things I do is remove all them danged stickers!
 We have the HCR skid plates and kick panels.
 We've got our KFI winch.
 We've got our RyFab cargo box.
 Although we've got a couple RotopaX fuel and storage packs, we're still figuring out if want to mount them a little different this time.
 We're also trying to decide whether to mount the long travel, extended length Works shocks or try the air shocks from Legend Air. I can't seem to get past the thought that as you lift it that it will also be stiffer.
 Also, ATR makes a pretty cool kit that includes a lift kit, strengthening tubes and Fox shocks that looks like it might be the answer.
 Then there's the tires and wheels. We ordered the Blue and White edition so that we had nicer-looking 12" wheels that will still be 50". Now what tires. We also still have our 14" High Lifter wheels with the Goodyear MTR's that I really liked on the last RZR we fixed up.
 And the cage! I've love to put on a lower-profile, better-looking cage, but wonder if it's really worth the effort.
 We plan to remove the front sway bars as before, and either loosen or remove the rear as well.
 Bolt in the GPS
 Bolt on some additional lighting front and rear.

Some RZRs seem to work just fine, but most need an air filter upgrade to be sure the inners stay clean. So we have that to do - no matter what!

Wow, all of a sudden it looks like a lot of work! Maybe I should just put some miles on it stock ;-)

Suzuki King Quad 750 EPS -

Still looking for the perfect box!
One of my favorite ATVs, and one I always want sitting around here to measure other ATVs against. It's coming along well as a project simply because it's easy to get trail-ready.
 Carlisle ACTs mounted on the stock wheels
 A pair of RotopaX one gallon fuel packs mounted on the rear rack.
 Have a bag on now but still looking for the right box.
 The GPS mount was easy.
 Still need to mount the winch.

RZR 4 -

What can be said?
Just hit over 500 miles on our RZR 4 and getting ready to send it back. Not sure we're real happy with some of the noises it's making. It sure handles great, but sure is big when you don't need all that seating space.

We're replacing it with a new Ranger 500EFI crew. I enjoyed putting miles on one at the new model intro in Montana and for how I explore the trails with three other people onboard, I think it will work better than the RZR 4. Certainly smaller feeling.

We'll see.

Teryx -

The Teryx never once let us down - even in severe conditions
The Teryx just continues to do everything it's asked. It is the most trusted trail rig when we ride where there are no 50" trails to worry about. It's towed a trailer up to 10,000 feet to haul down loaded (both the Teryx's bed and the trailer) with firewood.

I wish it were a little quieter. I wish it had a hand-actuated parking brake, and I wish it had an automatic-clutch, manual transmission. But that is most likely asking too much:-)

I guess wishing it were 50" wide would be too much too?

It still is what sits right outside my office door, but then I don't have an electrical plug that close.

Brute Force -

The Goodyear MTRs work great but the wider fronts
make the non-power steering harder to steer!
After burying it in the mud within the first 25 miles of use, it has forgiven me and continues to be at the ready when needed to explore the 50" trails. Ran the Goodyear MTRs on it for a while but being so used to power steering on the other ATVs we put the stock tires back on to ease the steering. I guess I should have put on the ACTs as nobody likes the stock tires much.

Hopefully we have some more 2011s on the way as my favorite time to put the miles on are in October and November!

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Value of Air

Don’t Forget the VALUE of Proper Air Pressure!

You’ve heard me constantly yammer on about the difference that the proper (radial!) tires make on an ATV. There are very few machines come with tires that actually help the ATV handle properly, and in fact most stock tires usually make ATVs handle more like a watercraft than a machine planted on the ground! The thin, rounded, bias-ply tires roll over too easy when cornering and provide less than precise steering. Of course, the problem is that you’d never know that the ATV could handle better until you actually change the tires.

Once you change the stock tires to anything else, you become a believer that those new tires you put on are the best in the world! The trouble with that is that it is based only on the difference they made on your machine. It’s something I see over and over again. People talk about the virtues of the tires they have put on their ATV based entirely on how they compare to the stock tires they replaced. Little do they know that almost any tire they could have bought is better than the stock tires!

So that’s something to keep in mind when your friend replaces his worn stock tires with a set of Goodyear Mud Runners and tells you how much better they are ;-)

So, once again, tires are one of the most important modifications you can make to your ATV. But choose them carefully!

But there’s more, as I was reminded just the other day. Air pressure makes a difference in every tire’s performance! And tire pressure changes with altitude! But we’ll leave that part of the discussion for another time.

Here’s my story. I was riding one of my favorite ATVs equipped with one of my favorite tires. A Suzuki King Quad with Carlisle ACTs on stock wheels. I was riding on some trails I had not been on in a long time. Several times I mentioned to my friend that the trail was really slippery. He agreed but then he was riding a Brute Force with the stock tires on. So what did he know?

As we rode, I kept going over in my mind as to why I was not that happy with the performance of this ATV and these tires. Maybe it’s me? Maybe I’m just off today? Maybe its? Maybe what?

Towards the end of the ride, we stopped near a small stream to enjoy looking over the valley below as a powerful thunderstorm moved its way slowly through. While listening to the thunder, I looked at my tires. They seemed a bit stiff looking so I decided to check the air pressure in them. To my surprise, the front tires were at 4 ½ pounds, but the rears were at almost 7 for some reason!

I lowered the rear to 4 ½ while questioning how I could have been that far off. It took little more than 1 mile for me to realize the incredible difference that adjusting the air pressure made.

So my point is - check your air pressure often, and if you have never changed it, try it? Even a ½ pound one way or another, or from front to rear can make a noticeable difference in how your ATV works. And all tires are a little different. The heavier, stiffer tires can certainly get by with a lot less air pressure than the thinner, more flexible tires.

So do yourself a favor – go ride your ATV with a little different pressure than you’re used to and see what happens……

Sunday, August 15, 2010

At a Loss for Understanding!

At a loss for understanding!

I am so fortunate to live where on any given day I can hook up with a friend and go for a ride. Not just any ride mind you but a ride that most people would spend a year planning and spend their hard-earned vacation time to do. All this in what I call my ‘back yard!’ Of course it’s a backyard necessitated by my job of testing ATVs and UTVs, and the products that go with them – but that’s another story I guess…

So it was that a good friend, Kenny and I had some time on our hand to explore an area where we had not gone before. That is always an exciting prospect and always an adventure!

The trail we chose did not let us down. It was a seldom-used trail that with only a couple distractions led us on an incredible 2-track journey. A journey that traversed side-hills, climbed some rather good distances through the aspens, dropped steeply into a distant stream and followed it to what was for us, a great lunch stop.

We continued exploring a few of the other side-trails in the area, one traveling tightly up through the dense aspens and pines, past a few mining relics, and along a ridge with those incredible views that bring people to the area. It was one of those trails that because it was ‘seldom used’ was almost completely free from the usual litter of beer cans and water bottles.

We had found a jewel of a trail for sure. It was with great expectations that we followed it onward and upward. What could be any better than this? Here was a 2-track trail with everything we could ask for. It was one of those trails where should we run across some liberal extreme environmentalist shouting how ATVs destroy the wilderness, we could poke them back in the chest, go toe-to-toe, nose-to-nose, and say, “Show me where the damage is? This trail is no different than any riding and hiking trails we’ve been on, and better than most!”

I spent a good many days of my life building hiking trails, including a connecting section of the famous Pacific Crest Trail. Even building a trail for hiker’s and horseback rider’s, the government’s requirements were that you needed to make enough clearance between trees and rocks and switchbacks that a sensible rider on an ATV could ride them without harm. That wasn’t their wording or intent, but my point is how big they required a simple hiking trail to be.

But I digress.
This was a great trail. One of my favorites. It was one of those trails that I feared telling anyone about because since it wasn’t marked a 50” trail I was sure if they knew about it, the ‘Wild Crowd’ would try to ride it in their 60”, long travel, race machines! And then it would be ruined. This great 2-track, scenic trail, free of trash and even tire damage from fast machines would be destroyed. Closed. Forever, thank you very much.

Wait a minute! What’s this? A gate? The trail’s closed from here on to motorized travel? Yikes! Look what they’ve done. Eeww, look what they’ve done! Ohhhh, look what they’ve all done….

It seems we had run upon a gate installed across the trail blocking it to all motorized forms of travel. In their effort to do that, the forest service had not just installed a gate and a sign, but also downed trees in an attempt to cover the trail and to hinder any possible circumnavigation around the gate. It was an ugly attempt to close what had been so far a perfect example of the perfect reason to leave these kinds of trails open for use by ATVs.

But it also seems that we weren’t the first to run across this seemingly newly installed deterrence. Someone else had been there prior and left their distaste for this closure by leaving an even uglier reminder of the type of people that come to ride these trails. The people that seem to either unwittingly or uncaringly help to bring about these trail closures in the first place.

Suddenly Kenny and I were looking at each other and wondering what shocked and irritated us more, the forest service’s closure of this incredible trail for what seemed like no reason, or the distasteful reminder of the people we are classified with as ‘trail riders’ or ‘ATVers!’

It would all make at least some sense if the trail defecators were there first and then the trail was closed. But this was more of a case of ‘we’ll show you why this trail should be closed!’

I just don’t understand – any of it. Add it to the list I guess.