The Can-Am X3 is already the most factory-equipped UTV on the market. While it might outperform the competition right off the showroom floor, it doesn’t mean it can’t be even better. We’ve shook ours down for almost a year, as well as researching with industry and racer contacts to figure out just what are the best mods, parts and upgrades for this machine that’s already bordering on greatness. Here’s 10 of our favorites.
1. HMF X3 DUAL FULL EXHAUST SYSTEM
The Can-Am X3 power is impressive to say the least. It pulls off the bottom and continues to run pretty hard all the way through. While you might not really, truly need more power, it’s always fun to have a little more on tap. HMF Racing has developed a couple of different exhaust options that will give you between 5–7 extra ponies on the dyno. The Dual Full systems are Turbo-Back, featuring two 16-inch mufflers that retain the original turbo and down-pipe heat shields. They come with two 18mm O2 bungs—one for the original O2 sensor and one for the wide-band O2 sensor.
The HMF X3 Duals are available in three different series. The aluminum Performance Series gains 6 horsepower, 4 foot-pounds of torque, increases the decibel output by 10–12 and weighs 14.5 pounds. The stainless steel Titan QS picks up 5 horsepower and 4 foot-pounds of torque, while the Titan XL picks up 7 horsepower, 5 foot-pounds of torque and raises the decibels by 8–9. As with just about any fuel-injected machine, you will need a Fuel tuner or ECU re-flash to adjust fueling when adding an exhaust system.
Price(s): $1000, Performance; $1100, Titan
2. HMF RACING ECU RE-FLASH
As with any turbo UTV, there are huge performance gains to be had by re-flashing the ECU. This mod is best done in conjunction with a performance exhaust system, but sometimes it’s even beneficial on its own. There are a handful of different performance companies re-flashing the X3 ECU, and they all have slightly different parameters to which they think are optimum.
An X3 ECU re-flash from HMF Racing will see gains of 13 horsepower over stock and may even require clutch tuning to fully take advantage of the increase depending on tire size. HMF raises boost from 12 to 15 psi, adjusts spark timing for 91-octane fuel, removes all speed limiters, and fixes fueling to work with most free-flowing exhaust systems. Other improvements are the no-brake start, kicking the fan on quicker at 165 degrees, more linear throttle control and eliminating the Can-Am shaft-saver function. Rev limiters are set to 8600 rpm, and they also allow for brake and throttle application without de-rated power.
Price(s): $600, you must send them your stock ECU
3. ITP STORM SERIES TSUNAMI 15-INCH WHEEL
We recently pulled our X3’s stock wheels for paddle installation and noticed that the inside bell was severely ground down, almost to the point of failure. The issue is small rocks, gravel, and mud getting stuck between the brake caliper and the inner wheel. As the wheel turns, it slowly grinds away like a lathe in a machine shop. To combat this issue, you should pay special attention to this area when cleaning your X3. Another great preventative move is to go with 15-inch wheels for more clearance. We opted for a set of the new eight-spoke Tsunami wheels from ITP. You can get them with or without a beadlock, and they are super strong with a 1200-pound load rating. They also incorporate the ITP-exclusive Rock Armor inner lip. They are available in a 14×7 and the 15×7 size that we opted for.
We also like the ITP UltraCross R-Spec tire for its multiple 15-inch size options, great off-road traction and eight-ply durability. There are hundreds of other 15-inch tire options, but you can get the ITP UltraCross R-Spec in 29×10-15, 30×10-15, 31×9.5R-15 and 32×10-15.
Price(s): $105, 15×7 Tsunami; $150, UltraCross R-Spec 30×10-15
4. CAN-AM X3 ALBA ARP HEAD STUD KIT
The Can-Am X3 engine puts out a ton of horsepower, especially if you turn it up with an ECU re-flash, engine building or both. ARP head studs are pretty much a must with any turbocharged or supercharged UTV motor, as the increased clamping force keeps the head gaskets sealed under the extreme pressure. The X3 is especially vulnerable, as it uses M9 head studs compared to most other manufacturers that use M10 or even M12.
The ARP studs for the X3 are made from super-strong ARP 2000 material. ARP 2000 is four times more expensive than the standard ARP 8740 they use on UTVs with the M10 or M12 head studs. ARP feels they have to go to this extreme to make up for the smaller M9 stud size. These genuine ARP 2000 studs are, without a doubt, the best studs money can buy. The ARP head studs increase torque to 50 foot-pounds, they have Allen heads for easy install, and require no drilling or tapping.
5. ALBA RACING X3 TRANSMISSION SEAL GUARD
We all know that with this amount of horsepower, eventual clutch-belt failure is pretty much a given. Losing a CVT belt is no big deal if you have a spare and the tools/knowledge to change it when the time comes. The bigger issue with the X3 is that the transmission input shaft seal is left exposed and very vulnerable to damage from CVT belt shrapnel. Changing a transmission shaft seal is a much more involved repair and could cost you hundreds of dollars in damage. Team Alba Racing has developed and machined a billet guard that keeps the seal protected from debris and belt material. This $50 part and a simple four-bolt install can save you hours upon hours of work, as well as big bucks in the event of a belt-caused transmission failure.
6. TORQ-MASTERS TORQ FRONT-DIFF LOCKER
One of the few complaints with anyone seriously racing a Can-Am 4×4 is the Visco-Lok front diff or the absence of a true locking differential. This was the case with the Outlander, Renegade, Commander and Maverick, and the Maverick X3 is no different. If you are into rock crawling, rock bouncing, running in the sand dunes or drag racing in the mud, you will benefit from a real locking front diff. When 4WD is engaged with Visco-Lok, it allows for 3WD until that third wheel senses spin, and it locks up the front end for true 4WD. The downside to this system is that is reverts to 3WD as soon as you let off the gas.
The Torq Locker claims to be the most advanced, strongest, highest-quality automatic-locking differential on the planet. Torq-Masters backs this claim with a four-year unconditional warranty—four times longer than any other automatic locker on the market. With the Torq Locker installed, your Can-Am’s differential is always engaged in 4WD and allows it to ratchet when turning for improved handling. It is CNC-machined from USA-made 9310 steel and then heat-treated for maximum durability.
7. HALO MAVERICK X3 & DEFENDER LOCKER KIT
While the Torq Locker replaces the Visco-Lok with a full-time locked gear set, the Halo Locker kit takes it one step further to a fully selectable locking-diff setup. The Halo Locker uses a push-button-actuated, electronically shifted, pin-style locker. The X3 and Defender kit uses a four-pin design for maximum strength and efficiency. The complete kit includes a billet half case, motor mount, a chromoly Rockwell-hardened internal locking gear and 4140 chromoly components.
www.halolockers.com, (573) 200-9237
8. SHOCK THERAPY RIDE X3 X RS IMPROVEMENT SYSTEM
The double throw-me-down, Fox IBP shock-equipped X3 X rs is definitely one of the best-handling machines to ever leave the showroom floor, but it’s still by no means perfect. After serious testing, the Shock Therapy crew found a handful of negative traits that they felt they could improve on. The first issue was stiff ride quality in the rocks, small chop and at slow speeds. They also felt it has a harsh compression hit and the rear end would buck in the whoops. In stock form, the X3 X rs also jumps with the rear high like a stinkbug and has minimal ground clearance that leads to bottoming out. Overall, the range of its adjustments, the suspension just feels too stiff or too soft without the progressive feeling that gives you a plush ride without bottoming out.
Shock Therapy spent a ton of time improving the internals on these shocks. For their RIS Stage 1 kit, they change valving, change the piston oil-flow characteristics, modify the shock shafts and modify the adjusters. This drastically improves low-speed handling through the chop and chatter, as well as smoothing out the whoops. They also widen the adjustability in the dual-stage compression adjuster to control a larger range. They internally build the shock to create a smooth ride in the small, slow stuff, yet they use extremely progressive compression damping to keep you from bottoming on the biggest hits.
RIS Stage 2 combines their Stage 1 valving package with the dual-rate spring kit that they have developed specifically for this machine. They claim to double the ride improvements that you see with the valving alone—twice as plush, twice as smooth in the whoops and a whole lot more bump stage for jumping and big G-outs. The spring kit also raises ground clearance by 2 inches for additional clearance in the rocks as well, keeping it from ever bottoming out.
The final stage of development for the X rs shocks is the new Series 6 bypass tubes. The Series 6 upgrade uses new internal bypass tubes that are developed and made in-house on the CNC. They consist of more bypass ports, in different locations, bypass valve stacks, bleed holes, and completely different pistons and valving. They claim to make an even more massive improvement in plushness and add another 30 percent more bump stage.
Price(s): $750, RIS Stage 1; $1,750, Stage 2 w/ spring kit; $400, Series 6 Bypass tube upgrade
9. TMW CAN-AM X3 BULKHEAD GUSSET KIT
The biggest failure point we’ve seen with Can-Am’s new X3 is the front-suspension mounting points. While the stock suspension geometry works incredibly well, the suspension-pivot mounting points are all single shear. We have literally seen the entire front end ripped off of a machine as it rear-ended another car in the dust. While many shops are fabricating suspension gussets to combat this, TMW has taken it one step further by developing an entire bolt-on kit that makes the entire front bulkhead double shear and incredibly stronger.
10. HCR X3 X RS OEM DUAL-SPORT FACTORY REPLACEMENT KIT
Taking the already-impressive X3 one step further, HCR has developed a true American-made, HD suspension replacement kit for the 72-inch X rs models. This kit can also be used as a long-travel conversion kit for the 64-inch X ds and base models. The HD replacement kit quickly surpasses OEM quality, as they are not limited by the factory’s cost-driven manufacturing process. In other words, with much smaller production runs, they can use better, more expensive materials and donate a lot more time to the individual construction process. HCR truly builds a product they want to stand behind, while the OEM X3 stuff is made out of stamped steel.
When a new machine like the X3 comes out, HCR’s in-house design team immediately goes to work reverse engineering the suspension system and designing for more strength, durability and ground clearance. The HCR-signature high-clearance A-arm and trailing-arm design increases ground clearance by 1.5 inches under key components. Approach angles are also improved for reduced surface attraction and friction. Both the Dual Sport and Elite kits are manufactured with HCR’s proprietary Elite material with internal ribbing for strength. Their custom alloy is 30 percent stronger than 4130-series chromoly.
The HCR X3 kits are fiber laser-cut, CNC-bent and Tig-welded. HCR uses FK heims, CNC billet hardware and custom Delron bushings. The HCR kits are a true work of art and as tough and durable as you could ever want. Best of all, HCR backs them with an unbelievable lifetime warranty.