— BUILDING A BETTER RZR FOR OFF-ROAD TOURING —
CT Racing has worked with us on a few UTV builds over the past six or seven years. The owners and staff have done a bunch of cool adventure builds, and we’ve even had the opportunity to tag along on a few of their UTV adventure trips. The CT style of going somewhere is not just cruising along listening to music and watching the wildlife. It’s a whole lot more—get in, hold on and floor it. There is always plenty of powersliding and backing it into the corners needed to keep up, so when we got the opportunity to hammer—I mean “test”—their latest XP Turbo build, we were all over it.
With CT Racing’s Allen Knowles at the helm, you can always count on a clean build with every detail handled, not just bling for the sake of bling. Keep in mind you’re dealing with a company that has won the SCORE off-road championship and Best in the Desert championship too many times to list, so speed and endurance are a common theme. Whether slaying trout in the High Sierras or exploring old mines in the desert, if these guys put it together, it’s going to be fast, functional and comfortable.
A REAL-DEAL ROLL CAGE
Any UTV build that’s truly gonna be driven should start with by replacing the mild steel ROPS cage. CT Racing replaced the Polaris XP 4 Turbo cage with a Baja cage system from Pro Armor. The Pro Armor cage is very well thought out and constructed of Tig-welded 1.75-inch DOM steel for maximum safety. We’ve tested many cages that were actually too low. Not just that you’re going to hit your head, but, if they are too low, you lose some sight line when going up hills. The Pro Armor cage is a good height, lower and sleeker than stock, so it looks great and fits in the trailer with its lower height. The Baja cage design still offers plenty of headroom, even for Allen at 6-foot-4. The Pro Armor cage integrates into the rear bumper, as well as the stock bed tie-in location.
The stylish matching aluminum roof is a work of art in itself, but not included.
Contact: www.proarmor.com or (888) 312-7667
Adventure UTVing calls for long days in the saddle while covering lots of ground. If you’re putting in the miles, you will want to run a good set of suspension seats with lots of containment and maximum comfort. The Pro Armor G2 offers just that with a few different seat styles and limitless color options. CT went with the XL G2 seats in black and blue marine-grade vinyl matching the car’s colors. These seats mount to the stock sliders for a simple install and easy clipping in and out when the need should arise. The XL G2 now features a sand/water drain that truly works wonders with no more soggy pants at the end of your ride.
Price: Pro Armor XL G2 seats: $429 each
Contact: www.proarmor.com or (888) 312-7667
RZR XPs come with really good Fox or Walker Evans shocks. While both shocks are good for different applications, price point and universal settings are always a factor. When you drive the car really hard, upgrading the shock is a good option. The stock shock can be re-valved and offer huge improvement, but if budget is not a concern, and you want one of the best shocks you can get, look at the Walker Evans Velocity Series 2.5s. They feature more controlled resistance with a five-stepped needle, positioned piggyback, high-/low-speed compression adjustment, and incredible bottom-out resistance. This is the second build we have tested with Velocities, and these things are phenomenal. You can honestly just plane over the top of gnarly whoops like it’s a straightaway. Plush ride, lots of adjustability and unbelievable performance in the rough.
Price: Walker Evans VS2.FIVE: $899 per shock
Contact: www.walkerevansracing.com or (888) WEE-RACE
Night driving is half the fun of running a UTV. Don’t let your enjoyment fade with the setting sun. With the advent of LED lights, you can hang so much light on the car that it literally turns nighttime into daylight. We’ve tried lots of different lights over the years, and it proves the old adage—you get what you pay for. We’ve tried the eBay specials directly from China—not only were the brackets not correct or even usable, we’ve had the lights fall apart inside, seen them fill with water and basically light the trail like you’re holding a flashlight out the front. When you pick up the Lazer Star lights, you’re dealing with a reputable company that is at the top of the pile. They have been in the ATV/UTV business since the ATV had wooden wheels. Their imported, price-point Pre-Runner-series LED light is aimed at the masses, but QC-inspected/controlled by a well-respected race light manufacturer.
The CT Adventure car uses 40-inch 84 LED bar for the top and an 11-inch 9 LED bar on the bumper. These sizes are a great combo, but it’s really the setup that’s more important than the size. The bumper light is key, as you want to aim it downward so you can see downhill. Your big light bar lights up ahead, but is pitch black below, so this setup is important. They also set up a rear-facing bar. The rear bar has lots of options and color combinations. We like to set it up with outer lights running amber, then inward red lights set up as brake lights, and then the center is a bright white for backing up or if you need to light up the bed. All of the lights from Lazer Star are controlled from a single console with all the switches easy to set up, and they supply different labels so you can mark them as you choose. The budget price point Pre-Runner series still features 3-watt X-Series Cree LEDs, stainless steel hardware, and is dust-resistant and watertight to IP67 standards.
Price: 40-inch Pre-Runner LED bar: $400. 12-inch LED bar: $100 . Pre-Runner LED Chasetail: $200
Contact: www.lazerstarlights.com or (800) 624-6234
Empire Industries builds a nice set of dual-exhaust slip-ons for the XP Turbo and many other popular UTVs. The XP Turbo’s stock head pipe is fine for horsepower, and it’s a well-made stainless unit, so Empire builds from there. This exhaust is actually as quiet as stock, with a better note and more horsepower—what else could you want? They made them duals to control the sound. The stock exhaust has the catalytic converter built into the can, so you won’t find one inside the Empire system so it may not be legal in some states. We found it to be an excellent system in performance, noise (lack of it), fit, finish and a solid four-bolt mounting system. Available in brushed or polished aluminum or black ceramic coating.
Contact: www.empireindustriesinc.com or (928) 505-6443
GROUND CLEARANCE & DURABILITY
Teixeira Tech offers their Extreme Ground Clearance (XGC) A-arms and radius rods, which offer maximum ground clearance by actually getting most of the A-arm and radius rods up to the level of the bottom of the car. Teixeira Tech is owned and ran by Ed Teixeira, who is a former ATV off-road racer and BITD champion that knows and truly understands the benefits of increased ground clearance and durability. His XCG design really keeps you from snagging rocks and causing serious suspension and chassis damage. The lower A-arms are significantly stronger than the stock units as well, with lots of gusseting and stronger steel, using chromoly instead of mild steel like the stockers. Teixeira builds their boxed construction radius rods out of plate chromoly, and we’ve seen lots of tubing radius rods straighten out with aggressive driving, but that does not happen with these. The Teixeira Tech radius rod has a front and back plate, plus a center plate that is stitch-welded atop the top and bottom plates where it is tongue- and groove-notched for assembly.
Price: XGC radius rod kit: $618. XGC stock replacement A-arms: $1295
Contact: www.teixeiratech.com or (209)833-9160
10-PLY DOT TIRES
The GBC Kanati Mongrels in a 32×10.00-15 size will add ground clearance as well as top speed. This added ground clearance is especially appreciated on the longer four-seat cars like the XP 4 Turbo. Running the same-size 10-inch-wide tire all the way around is also the way to go for adventuring, so that one spare covers all four corners. The Mongrels hook up amazingly well on hard surfaces and are surprisingly even better than the stock tires in sand. We have found the key to the Mongrels is to run a little higher air pressure than you would with other tires. We like 20-22 in the rear and 16-20 up front; this seems to work best for trail and hard terrain. The GBC Mongrel is available in a multitude of sizes from 23×10-12 all the way to the big-boy 32×10-15
Price: 32×10-15: $259 each
This build used the DWT Star Fighter beadlocks in a 15×7-inch with a narrow 5+2 offset. We like a beadlock on an adventure car. It gives you the ability to actually run on a flat and get back to camp. If you’re not running a beadlock and the flat tire pops off the bead, you’re either grounded or tearing up a lot of parts trying to make your way. We’ve had to run 50-plus miles on a flat with a DWT beadlock, and the wheel was still good and reusable. Without a beadlock, this would not even be an option. The DWT Star Fighter is a great-looking, solid, heat-treated, cast-aluminum beadlock wheel at a good price.
Price: 15×7 Star Fighter beadlock: $193 each
Contact: www.dwtracing.com or (800) RACE-RIM
We love having a radio in our cars. It has a lot of good offerings for having fun when running as a group. It allows communication between cars, so you can keep your separation—that way nobody is sucking dust. It offers a lot of additional safety by keeping a group together and being able to announce oncoming traffic, alerting to an issue with the trail or alerting to any other type of issue. You can truly get everyone together in a hurry. Rugged puts together several systems—the 60-watt system offers a lot of range in some situations over 10 miles. They also have a communication unit for in-car communication. The 660 can also be linked to a phone or iPod for sound and music with auto muting. It’s available with helmet kits or headsets. Helmets are required in many states now, and the speed this RZR travels at, it’s a pretty good idea to be wearing one. The com picks up with voice activation. To talk car to car, it comes with two PTT (push-to-talk) buttons—one for the driver and one for the co-driver, and that button has to be pushed. Rugged offers kits for all the popular UTVs, so they make mounting plates and so forth for your ride. They do offer radios, only without communications, which may be what you need if you don’t want to hear that passenger screaming at you for driving like an idiot!
Price: RRP660 Plus 2-Place intercom: $860. 60-watt car-to-car kit: $350
RIDE-IMPROVING SWAY BAR LINKS
Walker Links (evaluated November 2016) replace the standard rear sway bar link and provide a smoother initial ride over rough and uneven terrain, regardless of vehicle speed, while still providing a confident feeling during cornering. With 1.5 inches of damping action per side, your rear shocks will be able to act independently until a point where the Walker Link has collapsed enough to now act like a rigid link under heavy loads and when cornering. You get the best of both worlds with these links—a more independent shock action at the initial stroke and a solid support under heavy loads, turning and when leaning on the sway bar.
Price: Walker Links pair: $375
Contact: www.walkerevansracing.com or (888) WEE-RACE