Off-road enthusiasts cannot wait for good weather to take their UTVs out and hit the unbeaten paths and famous (or less famous) UTV trails every year. Whether you ride a Polaris RZR, a Can-Am, or a Honda, you know off-roading with such powerful beasts is a once-in-a-lifetime, tell-your-grandkids kind of experience. However, few UTV buffs explore the wild without some necessary upgrades. Factory settings for sports/racing side-by-sides are excellent, don’t get us wrong. Nevertheless, some aftermarket parts are a necessity when it comes to safety, and you should consider them. Let’s see what upgrades to factor in your adventure plan!
Factory seat belts protect UTV riders, no doubt about it. However, if you want to take things up a notch and ride some challenging terrains, showing MOAB or the Imperial Sand Dunes what you are made of, harnesses are crucial for your safety.
Replacing stock SXS seatbelts with harnesses is probably the most common modification UTV owners make. However, the 100 points question is whether to get 4-point harnesses or 6-point harnesses.
The experts from rad.parts, who also sell aftermarket UTV accessories and spread the love for UTV riding, have some answers for you in this regard. First, you need to decide how you are going to use the vehicle. For trail rides, nature explorations, and outdoor off-road fun with the family, 4-points harnesses are enough to contain and protect you, no matter how challenging the terrain is. Nevertheless, if you are considering racing or exploring extremely difficult areas, you should get 5-point harnesses. In case of spectacular rollovers or crashes, they are the ones you need.
Speaking of UTV racing, keep in mind that they will perform a technical check of your vehicle before you can officially enter the competition. They will look for a proper UTV roll cage (six-point/OEM), fire extinguisher, doors/nets, capped & rounded bumper or nerf bar tubes, mirrors, and more. As equipment goes, you should always invest in quality fire suit, helmets, gloves, and boots.
Specialists also recommend you put on your shopping list quick-release harness mounts to make installation and removal smoother. If speed is an issue on the trail you want to test, get a harness kit coming with a seatbelt bypass.
As all UTV owners know, factory seats can be a nightmare for most riders. If you want to take your UTV out for cruising, camping trips, trail adventures, hunting, fishing, or even racing, you need better seats. Most UTV aftermarket stores sell seats, but here is what you need to consider:
· Harness and seating compatibility. Keep your expenses to a minimum and get seats + harnesses that work together smoothly without extra operations, work, and accessories;
· You want cushioned seats that improve your driving confidence, add back support, and don’t turn maintenance into another nightmare;
· Racing UTV seats are in a league of their own, so do your homework well before you do your shopping.
3. Lights and Mirrors
We don’t say to make your UTV 100% street legal, but if you drove a car before, you know mirrors and lights protect your vehicle and life, keep others safe, and improve riding performance and comfort. Just as you add high-powered upgrades to lights and safety features to your off-road pickup, you should do the same with your UTV.
Here are some accessories to put on your shopping list:
· Rear and side mirrors;
· Front and backlights;
· For night adventures, roof lighting is a godsend, provided your UTV already has a hard rooftop.
Some of the best investments you can make in your UTV to prep it for off-road quests are LED light bars, fog lights, and waterproof spots, and so on. Again, consider the place you want to travel to, the area’s conditions, and the local regulations you need to follow.
As a reminder, if you consider UTV racing, check the organizers’ instructions and checklists. They will always present candidates with upgrades and accessories lists that are mandatory for entering the race.
4. Off-Road Tires
Many UTV riders consider aftermarket tires to play a double role. They improve your metal beast’s looks (the more aggressive, the better) and boost your riding performance like no others. Tires come in many models, and you have plenty of options at your disposal.
However, remember that you need different tires for rock ledges, dunes, forests, or mud trails. Before you fill in your credit card details with an aftermarket shop, make sure you have your homework ready on:
· tire sizes,
· heavy-duty capacity,
· terrain type (wet terrain is more demanding than a dry one, you know this from years of driving),
· season (winter UTV tires are a different breed), etc.
5. Radio and Communication Systems
If you are into UTV off-road cruises, chances are you are not alone. You surely have some friends who can’t wait to join your adventure. It would be best, as riding alone in remote or challenging areas is never a safe idea. When you plan a quest for you and your fellowship, having radios and communication systems at the ready saves everybody many troubles.
Besides helping you listen to your favorite jam during the ride, UTV radios allow flawless communication with your friends and family members. Some models have 30 miles range, so you can call for backup if you find yourself in a sticky situation.
When it comes to UTV gear, accessories, and aftermarket parts, the sky is the limit. Don’t forget to invest in safety gear and apparel. Look for SNELL-approved helmets, and SFI certified 5-points safety harnesses. Always have your toolbox at the ready, as you’ll most likely need to fix a tire puncture, fix the UTV trailer ratchet tie-downs, and more.
Are you planning a UTV adventure this year? Tell us what upgrades you added to your vehicle! In case you have other fine-tuning suggestions for our UTV crowd, feel free to share your thoughts with our community!