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!"

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Is It Just Me?

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 —


  1. Hello Doug, thanks for the new blog.

    Allow me to introduce myself; I'm A.B. Normal so it looks like we must be related.

    I was thinking (very, very scary) this morning about your "is it just me" topic in your blog and decided that the one thing that the majority of all ATV/UTV riders/drivers share is where to ride, something that the magazines seem to forget and/or do a poor job addressing.

    One of the reasons I quit reading ATV magazines a long time ago because I got tired of the mudders and all the bling bling for ATVs, things I know others are interested in but I'm not. I have never cared which ATV was the fastest, if I wanted to go fast I'd take my Mustang for a spin. I can't think of anything scarier or dumber that to fly WOT down a mountain trail that someone might be coming up, we both know the outcome of that one.

    ATV Magazine was my all time favorite ATV magazine and when I first subscribed it was a
    bi-monthly publication and probably the "thinnest" of all ATV magazines but it had great sport/utility articles and seldom if ever had sport quads and had it contained great travel/adventure articles.

    I first started losing interest in print when I stopped caring about the new model ATVs
    (partially because Honda never changed anything LOL) and when ATV Magazine started writing articles on trucks and other stuff like that, if I want info on a truck I'll but a truck magazine. To me that was like buying a copy of Road and Track to get their opinion on the latest off-road 4-wd truck.

    The #1 reason that I quit reading any type of off-road magazine is when they start having
    girls in bikini's hanging all over whatever the magazine was supposed to be all about, again if I want to look at pretty girls I'll go pick up a copy of Playboy magazine, not an ATV magazine.

    I have never opened a UTV magazine because there is nothing of interest in there to me unless it would happen to be a GREAT travel/adventure article and I guess I'll end up missing that one.

    I have more to say and I'll post again soon.

  2. I'm back for more.

    For my first set of replacement tires I turned to ATV forums and magazines and ended up with a set of Goodyear Mud Runners. I was looking for a set of aggressive tires for the snow; we have very little mud out here in the Rocky Mountains and the Mud Runners “looked cool”.

    I chose the Mud Runners over the 589s because they were supposed to have a nicer ride than the 589s and smooth surfaces, what a joke. Those Mud Runners rode like tractor tires filled with calcium chloride and probably weighted about the same.

    A friend of mine and I went on an organized trail ride to the San Rafael Swell to visit the Copper Globe Mine. When we stopped for lunch there was a father and son that were riding Honda 400s with new wheels and tires, the tires were new Maxxis Big Horns.

    I asked these two guys how they liked them and they told me that they substantially improved the ride of their older 400s so I figured if anything could improve the ride of one of those they would improve the ride of my Rubicon, little did I know at the time that that ANYTHING would improve the ride over my Mud Runners. So I bought a set of Big Horns and loved the ride, smooth as glass compared to those old Mud Runners.

    Then one time I rode one of my friends Rubicon’s that still had the factory tires and I was surprised that it actually rode as nice or nicer than my Rubicon with the Big Horns on it, gee maybe they we’re that great of a riding tire after all.

    After a couple of years on the BIG Horns I knew I was going to be in the market for another set of tires. I loved the Big Horns in the snow and just figured I’d be getting another set, after all I did have several thousand miles on them and thought they were holding up pretty good.

    We were out riding last winter with some friends that had a 2 year old 700 KQ with a new set of Big Horns on it and another brand new 700 KQ. The husband and wife kept trading back and forth because the KQ with the BHs did perform better in the deep snow over the one with the stock tires.

    The wife finally said that she didn’t want to ride the one with the BHs anymore because she preferred the ride and handling of the KQ with the factory tires. I really didn’t think much about it at the time.

    One year later I’m talking with “someone I know” and he was explaining the ATV tire world to me and what a huge difference tires make in the handling and performance of an ATV, especially when it comes to tire weight.

    So I ended up with a set of Carlisle ACTs and went with 26” over the stock 25s because I was getting a tire that weighed a lot less than the Big Horns so I figured an inch taller and less weight the new tires “should” be an improvement over what I had been running for the last few years.

    I will admit that I was very skeptical about how these tires would perform in the snow compared to the Maxxis Big Horns.

    Now that I some miles on my new ACTs I will NEVER own a set of big heavy over-weight tires. The ACTs are more than impressive in the snow, the handling is superb and the ride is great.

    I can feel a small gain in power even considering that these tires are one inch taller than the Big Horns; maybe even more seeing that the BHs were worn out.

    I think everyone gets hung up on tire appearance rather than a tires performance. I also like the fact that these tires are going to do less damage to the trails than the big heavy mud tires.

    My personal tire recommendation?? Buy great trail tire like my new Carlisle ACTs.

  3. Hey Doug, great blog.
    I also feel your pain. It is hard to find forums or reviews with any information relative to what I am looking for. For some reason it is all about the mud and that is just not for me. I am not a young kid who wants to tear up my machine. I want to enjoy a nice trail ride. I want to know what ATV will handle the best on the trails. I want to know what I can add - tires, shocks, etc - that will make my ride more enjoyable. I want to know what ATV is the most reliable. I dont care if it can go 70 mph. I dont care if it can go through mud and water 4 feet deep. I dont care if you have the biggest tires and the best snorkle. That is why I have become such a big fan of your site. It is the only place I have found that gives me the information for riders like us. I like being able to get reviews on not only ATVs but also the add ons - tires, shocks, projects, bags, etc. I realy like the adventure reviews as this gives a great depiction of the trails and makes we want to go check them out for myself.
    All that being said, keep on doing what your doing. It appears you have a corner on this market.

  4. Doug
    I too find “it’s just me” in the same boat or should I say ATV; I subscribe to a couple of ATV magazines only to find performance riding fills the articles, what is missing is riding adventures. However, there have been a couple of short articles on riding adventures that leave me with more questions than answers. When my subscriptions run out I won’t be renewing them.
    I subscribe to the Ogden Standard Examiner and periodically the publisher will have an insert called Explorer and there is usually an article of an ATV adventure ride, I clip the article out and save them for future reference. Now I will admit the articles favor Southern Utah as places to ride, with very little attention to the northern part of the state.
    Last year a few friends of mine decided to plan rides together, the rules were simple; first the ride had to be close so the ride to be done in one day. Second the ride had to have goal or adventure, not just goofing around. Third (and most important) the ride had to be relaxed and enjoyable with many breaks and stops to enjoy the adventure and beauty of the trail, which included lunch along the way. So far we have taken four rides this way and are planning more this year, getting everyone together at the same time is the biggest challenge. From the start there were four of us, by the middle of fall there were fourteen of us with the same riding traits. However, we are clear about how we ride, so whenever a new comer wants to join us for a ride he or she is informed about the ride so there is no question of what is expected, this way they can decide if they want to ride with us, so far everyone has enjoyed this type of riding. This year we are planning at least one over-night trip to see how that would be, since most of us are in our mid to late forties we want to see if roughing it could be enjoyable, I’ll keep you posted.
    Finding gear for ATV’s is certainly interesting, as finding gear for trail riding is almost non-existent, I have found a couple of places that have been somewhat helpful, but for the most part you have to know what it is you are looking for and search the WEB for it, as most stores and dealers won’t have what I’m looking for. I wished I knew someone with ATV that rode the trails a lot when I purchased my ATV a couple of years ago, I could have received some good advice on trial equipment.
    One of the discussions we have along the trail is riding equipment, as each of us shares his or hers trail equipment, which ranges from tires to bags or trunks to winches and everything in-between. I will admit I have purchased some equipment that I didn’t like and ended up purchasing something that fit my needs better.
    In conclusion, you are not alone, there are many of us that would like to know more about equipment and trials, and your program certainly helps which has given me some new ideas for the upcoming riding season.


  5. Great comments Jeff, we seem to look for the same adventures.

    What do we wear when riding?? Well that all depends on the weather.

    Let’s just assume it’s going to be a nice sunny summer day. In that case you’ll find me wearing a pair of Levis, a long sleeve t-shirt, shoes, goggles, a pair of EK Motorsports riding gloves and one of my favorite ball caps from either Car Concepts or Honda.

    When we bought our firs ATV we really didn’t have a source of “information” to rely on so we just went looking. We were going to buy a new Polaris because we had ridden a friends and thought it was a blast so why not?? We ended up with a Honda but that’s another story for another day.

    We did buy a Tamarac trunk so my wife would have something to rest up against while we out riding and carry our lunch in.

    My wife and I spent about ½ the time riding by ourselves so I would have to say that we “self-educated” ourselves on what to carry with us. Every time that we needed something and didn’t have it we added it to the list.

    We have done a lot of off-roading over the years in our 4-wd so I had some idea what to carry to survive if we encountered a problem, the list did change due to the amount of room we had to store stuff. I have never been one for carrying a lot of tools because I always figured that if something did break I doubt that I would nave the spare part so I don’t carry very many tools, just a few simple ones.

    Once that we had access to the internet I would find ATV forums and start a thread and ask what other riders carried with them and then I’d go through their list to see if they had something that I had forgot or never thought of. Today we probably carry somewhere around 60+ items from dental floss to tequila and everything in-between. I like to feel that we are prepared most anything that comes along.

    The internet is still a great place for information; the only problem is that you have to weed through 500 pounds of crap for one ounce of good info. I still feel that the best source for info is from friends, like my friends that had a set of Big Horns on one TV and the stock tires on another identical ATV, I just listened to what they had to say about the difference between the two sets and kept what info I felt was useful, and I got some of the best and most useable info from someone I know.

    I have also learned a lot from your website,

    Thank you

  6. Yeah, you sound pretty much like me First. I take an assortment of clothing when I ride as I have been caught off guard a couple of times, I like to wear shorts and short sleeve t-shirt (oh no) when I ride, but if I have not been in a particular area before then I will wear pants and long sleeve shirt. My assortment of clothing includes a jacket, warm gloves, knitted cap, long pants, sweat shirt, t-shirt, shorts, extra socks, rain gear, riding gloves, extra pair of shoes (closed toe sandals), riding boots; this sounds like a lot of gear but when I ride in the high elevations the weather can be unpredictable, so having extra clothing is a must.
    When I started riding I asked around what type of bag or trunk should I use, and most people replied that a soft bag was the way to go. So I purchased a soft bag only to find dirt and water will penetrate the bag leaving your gear dirty and wet. I now have a Tusk MTS trunk and am very happy with it as the items in the trunk are clean and dry.
    OK basic necessities to have on the ATV at all times; First Aid kit, flash light, assortment of hand tools, the above mentioned clothing, matches, lighter, extra fuel. Now when I pack for my ride I include a lunch, snacks, bottled water, GPS, Maps, extra AA batteries, Two-way radio, cell phone and leave an itinerary of my ride.
    I’m always revamping my ATV to meet the needs as I ride, so the equipment on the ATV is evolving to include a winch, trunk, gun rack (to carry a short handle shovel), extra bungee cords, rope, new hand grips to provide comfort to my hands. I would like to have Rotox fuel storage containers, but I’m having a hard time justifying the price, but I think by summer I’ll have the fuel packs.

  7. Hello Doug,

    I just read your latest blog and couldn't agree more. I am new to the ATV world within the past 2 years. I previously wrote you about atv longevity and brand quality. You were very nice and personally answered which frankly surprised me. Now I will answer your question. I tend to research the hell out of everything I buy but I didn't when I bought Can Am from a friend. I wish I had because i would have found a better deal but I still like the machine. This time I started research after the purchase and read or watch just about anything I can find. (Retired with plenty of time) Anyway to tell you the truth, the best info I have found anywhere is your site and believe me I'm not just blowing smoke. I've read magazine articles (some of which were yours as well) but I don't find much that is applicable to my use of an atv. I just want to ride the trails of northern Wis and maybe go west sometime. I did start using it for deer hunting but that situation is now gone for me. Now, as you speak about tires, I will tell you that I have been trying to find the Carlisle Badland ARs that you speak so highly of to replace my original Japanese brand bias plys and can't find anybody that carries them. I typically find the very aggressisve tires that I don't need or want. I really believe many riders just want to see dirt fly. So just keep doing what you're doing and remain as forthright as possible because I along with many others are counting on you.

  8. Hi Doug,

    This is a follow up letter to the letter I sent responding to your frustrated blog.
    I get news by email and just read a review of the 2010 Honda Rubicon. Your review of the Razor is also there, though I saw that review on your website. I told you in the previous letter that many of us rely on you for accurate reviews and let me add the term "complete" to accurate. Just compare the review of the Honda to your review of the Razor and you will know why I am saying that. I learned almost nothing about the Honda. Could it be the writer was afraid to write anything negative therefore he didn't write much at all?


  9. Doug,

    Your site is the only site that provides the info about ATV's and trail riding that I'm looking for, just wish there were more like you. I'd like to see more video's from readers on other trails across the country. I'd love to ride the trails you do out west sometime. I live in East Tennessee and there are some good places to ride here. I agree 100%, Thanks, DON