Have we passed the point of ‘common sense’ in the name of profit?
The newest Side by Side has hit the media outlets and will soon be sitting on the local dealership floor near you. The new 1000cc Commander is definitely the “latest and the greatest” SxS we’ve seen yet! But is it an aubaine or a dysastre?
With a 78 mph top speed and more complicated electronics than we’ve ever seen on a UTV or ATV it is an incredible display of technology. But more than it’s cost (initial or maintenance) perhaps most importantly it’s another prime example of a new vehicle brought to the market that will do more harm to our industry - all in the name of profit.
Sport quads are great machines for the race tracks and the sand dunes, but they do more damage to the trails, local communities, and the cause for responsible use of ATVs on the wonderful and scenic trails of our great backcountry than their utility counterparts. So why are they so prevalent? Because the manufacturers know that they can sell them. It matters less that they are harmful to the future of ATVs than to the immediate padding of their profit ledger.
That same holds true for the bigger and faster UTVs that are now hitting the market. While there is nothing wrong with the Commander in and of itself, it is more about the type of rider/driver that it is aimed at, and how (and where) they will use that machine to help accelerate the closure of our ATV trail systems.
Why am I complaining you say? Am I not in the business of profiting from this market as much as anyone else? Well yes, I guess – kinda, in a way. The latest and greatest, newest and most trick machines do draw more viewers, that’s true. But there’s something more that I see. I see the damage these machines (and riders) do to the areas where they are used.
Once again, whether it’s ATVs, guns, or alcohol, it’s not the device itself that causes the harm, but the person that chooses how to use it that causes the problem. So, to cut straight to the quick, I see that certain off-road vehicle ‘choices’ cause more harm than others. I’ve been fortunate(?) to have lived in several different locations (all on the edge of the wilderness) and I have seen the destruction that certain vehicles cause, to the trail system itself, but even more importantly the damage they do to the community around the trail system. While many people put up with mechanized off-road travel out of respect to the very users themselves, they tend to be noticeably less tolerant when the off-roaders are loud, fast, and irresponsible and disrespectful.
This sword has two edges, and both are dangerously sharp – and damaging. Certain off-road vehicles are marketed at the less responsible of off-road users, and those less responsible users then take that vehicle to an area (typically away from where they live), and use it (and their behavior) in ways that accelerate the closure of the trails they came to enjoy(?).
This closure affects not only those irresponsible users, but the responsible ones as well.
Some of you may call me crazy. To that I say, “Why are you even reading this? Shouldn’t you be on some other website?” Other’s of you, those that I do this website for, know the danger in irresponsible trail usage. All I’m pointing out is the relationship of the machine they use to their lack of responsible use of our trails. While there are things we can do to help stop the irresponsible users from closing down our trails, I find it equally irresponsible to be profiting from the manufacture of the tools that help them do it.
So, go riding while you can. And smile, as every day there are more idiots on the trails that you are going to have try to make up for with your respectfulness, politeness, and responsible behavior.