If It Was Up To Me!
For years on ATV Television we would run a year-end special of “The Best of.” There we would name the best ATVs in class and the best products. We would also occasionally include a “Best of” some other items that caught my fancy – so to speak - my favorite place to ride, or my favorite trail, or even my favorite off road vehicle. But probably my favorite “Best of” that we did was to put together a list of the best parts and pieces of ATVs.
In testing so many different ATVs over the years I’m always amazed at how many incredible features on one brand of ATV or UTV are completely ignored by other manufacturers, either by oversight, or maybe by just plain stubbornness. I wonder how one ATV have such a great shifter and yet another one have a horrible, notchy shifter? And that applies to thumb throttles, 4wd systems, engine sounds, and even seats! Don’t they ride the other brand ATVs?
So, I was recently thinking once again about those best individual features and even some of the suggestions that I’ve made over the years that seem to just get shrugged off by the manufacturers. It got me to thinking, “What if the red phone rang and the design of a new model was up to me. What would I make?” Well here’s what I’d do if it were up to me.
I’d start with a layout that is 50” wide overall and has about a 75” to 80” wheelbase. That seems to be a really good size. Sure, wider is more stable, but for me, 50” wide is hugely important as it can fit on the 50” wide ATV trails that are so prevalent (and the most beautiful) on the Paiute Trail system. While wider may have some handling advantages in Moab and the sand dunes, I think the machine can be designed to handle those situations well enough.
Out back would be the bed (look at the Manx again), but with a lockable aluminum cover over it for all-weather storage as well as a place to lash bigger items for camping.
Now comes the power. My preference would be for a slightly larger version of the Teryx 750 V-twin. Although 950cc would be best, even the 750cc version would work fine. And here’s why. Rather than run the heat-producing, power-robbing, and all-around stupid CVT transmission, my SxS would run a centrifugal clutch 5-speed like used to be on ATVs. And the short shifter would ratchet back and forward to shift through the gears. And if we really wanted to get even more trick, why not put a set of paddle shifters on the steering wheel?
Here’s another item that’s a bit off of the traditional. I think in this case, that the engine and transmission could sit in front of the driver. Behind the front axles, but in front of the driver. This not only would make a tighter and more space efficient package, but may prove to make the machine more stable. Not sure how well that would work but I’d certainly test one that way.
Next up is suspension. There’s nothing better than the trailing arm suspension found on the rear of Can Ams. That would be the perfect set-up. Compact. Long travel. No scrub or caster gain. And since that system is so good, why not put a similar system on the front as well?
Of course it would have to come with a set of tires designed to help the handling and stability, so I’d put a set of 27x8x14 radials on the front and 28x10x14’s on the back.
The drivetrain would be the proven, 2wd, 4wd, with a ratcheting front and rear locker set-up. Each locker would have its own lever. And of course we’d have high and low ranges in the transmission and a nice cable-operated hand brake for emergency and parking. Perhaps we’d even have two separate rear e-brake levers. That way they could also be used as turning brakes when the rear differential was open.
Well, dreaming is fun, but work is calling…
Stay tuned, my friends.