I need some help here!
There has been several times in the past that I have gotten depressed over the ATV (and UTV) market. I am again! I look around at the various stuff the industry sells, and at the weirdness of what the magazines cover and wonder to myself, “Am I the only, uh, ‘normal’ person out here?”
Here’s what I mean. Pick up a copy of most print magazines and the test riders pictured are wearing full-face helmets, racing jerseys and motorcycle boots. Excuse me, but do you ride like that? I’m not talking about testing race machines or being at the sand dunes shooting bowls. I’m talking about riding a utility quad through the woods! And the pictures of the action are equally out of place – in my opinion. They show big berm shots, jumps, and even wheelies! Wheelies for Pete’s sake. Now there’s how I ride my utility quad!
So then I turned to the UTV magazines. They were no closer to my reality. If picking one those mags up was your first glimpse of the UTV market, you’d think that every UTV cost over $20,000.00 and had long travel suspension with the inside of the 27” tall tires sticking well beyond the fenders. And that every owner either raced their UTV or installed 4 seats (complete with 4-point harnesses!) and pretended to race it with their kids in the back! Yeap, that’s not how I use my UTV.
Then look around at the industry itself. There’s some pretty strange stuff out there. I’ve been very close to ITP over the years and have thoroughly enjoyed many of their products. But trying to get them to make a wheel without added offset was impossible! And when I whined about why they don’t keep working on improving the ATR — possibly the best trail tire ever made, the answer was quick and to the point! “We probably sell 10 times as many mud tires as we do trail tires — nobody buys that stuff but you!” I can’t argue because when I look around at what ‘trail tire’ seems to be the most popular, I see the Bighorn. It is a big, heavy, and very hard-compound tire. Sure it wears well, but it handles like and ATR with about 50 pounds of air in it and your shocks drilled out so you’re riding around with no damping. And of course all the wheels (other than the stockers of course) stick out beyond the fenders so should you ever dare ride in snow or mud (or even wet dirt!) the tires will fling more of the trail on you than it leaves behind for the next rider!
And then there’s 14” wheels! Sure they make sense on a UTV where the weight of the thing is closer (or more even) than a dune buggy. But I have just not found any 14” wheel and tire combo that worked better on an ATV than a 12” set. They are just too stiff and too heavy!
I won’t even get into roll cages, window nets, stereo systems, lift kits, or any of the many other products not designed with me in mind.
And that brings me to the other source of information I find. It seems that nowadays many folks look to the internet forums for education, information, and direction. And there you’ll certainly find lots of input from a wide variety of riders. Perhaps too much so. While I have a couple very good friends with many, many miles on the trails that continue to provide me with valuable information, it is difficult to say the least, to sort through all the ‘posts’ on a forum and find information not weighed down with huge amounts of personal preference. It’s there that I all too often see the “This is the best because own it” syndrome. “Sure the Outlander 800 got so hot that the plastic melted to my leg, but so what?” Or one of my favorites is a question I actually asked a RZR owner. He had 3000 miles on his RZR and I wanted to know if he’d had any problems with it so far. His answer was “None. It’s great. I’ve replaced a CV joint, I replaced the air filter cause the stocker was sanding my engine, and a rear shock went out. But other than that, it’s great! No problems!” Considering I know two ATVers (referred to above) that have over 7000 miles and 11,000 miles on their ATVs and have only changed the oil and cleaned the air filters I don’t think the RZR owner fully understood the concept of “No problems!” I would have hated to rely on his perception as a basis for my decision.
Where’s that leave me? Or us? The magazines don’t help me understand which ATV is best for exploring the trails. Most of their product reviews only focus on racing or mud products. And then even when they cover events, the pictures focus not on the trail rigs, but the ‘silly stuff’ that you wonder why it’s even there. The forums seem to be home for self-promoting chest-beaters trying to rationalize their purchase. And the industry doesn’t help us very much as they only go where the money is.
So, I realize that I’m in the minority, obviously. Every time I’ve looked around like this in the past I’ve come to the conclusion that if I didn’t cover the real world of ATVs and UTVs then who would? If I wasn’t ‘in’ the industry, and was out in the real world looking for the best ATV to go exploring the mountains and the deserts, where would I find that information? If I wanted to find out which UTV was best for doing the chores around the farm and yet could me up into the high country exploring, or scouting, where would I look?
So help me out here. I need your input. Where do you find the best information on ATVs and UTVs. Where do you find the most information on where the best places to explore are? And where’s the best place to find out what the best stuff is to take along when you explore the back country?
To help, make a comment below or send an email to me at DougMeyer@ATVTV.COM and let me know where you find ‘your’ best information. Then I’ll put them all up here for everyone else to check out. Assuming there is anyone else out there that doesn’t wear motocross gear while racing their 70” wide UTV along the trails with their stereo blaring louder than their twin exhausts!
As always, Thanks —