Photos by Cody Hooper and Troy Tokarczyk
A custom RZR with a knack for exploration
What good is a UTV without miles of unexplored terrain to conquer? In our years as UTV enthusiasts, some of the best times we can recollect have happened in desolate places with fairly standard machines. Sometimes, it isn’t about what you’re driving, but where you’re driving.
For our latest RZR build, we called up our good friends at DesertWorks in Claremont, California for some help building the ultimate Expedition-style offroad car. No long travel, no performance modifications, just creature comforts and plenty of storage.
The build started off with a brand new Polaris RZR XP4 Turbo, which was stripped of its cage and doors. DesertWorks replaced the stock pieces with their newest Dual Sport Turbo cage. The 1.75” steel cage has a very distinct look to it, with a high front crossbar for great visibility and a sweeping rear cage line that does wonders for the RZR’s overall look. A rear bumper is also tied into the cage and rear radius arm support, stiffening up the RZR chassis while also adding protection. The cage is finished in a textured gunmetal grey finish for scratch resistance and a clean look.
On top of the stellar-looking cage, DesertWorks mounted up one of their brand-new lightweight roof racks, complete with full sized spare tire mount and pockets for 8 Vision X Optimus LED lights. Up front, DesertWorks also mounted a 30” Vision X XPR light bar. The roof rack is made from laser-cut panels that rivet together for light weight. The entire rack only weighs slightly more than the lights that were bolted onto it.
The DesertWorks team finished off the look of the car with a set of four full doors with slam latches. The doors fit tightly and are rattle-free. All door panels, as well as the underside of the roof skin, have been skinned with carbon-fiber print vinyl for a finished look. The skins are soft to the touch, and the fitment is incredibly precise.
Adding to the Vision X surround lighting mounted atop the cage are twin 4.5” light cannon spot beams mounted to the A-pillars, as well as a full array of interior and undercarriage lighting, all in bright white. Vision X’s Optimus LED headlight replacement kit was also added, including dust-cutting amber covers for the high beams.
Vision X supplied lighting for the whole car, allowing us to create a 360 degree pattern of light surrounding the car. The reasoning behind the rolling sun concept was to allow us to easily work on downed vehicles or set up camp at night where there is no light- far from any public roads, way off on a distant trail. And boy, does it work.
Our goal for the car was to have a machine with ample space for spare parts, fuel, tires, and tools. By removing the driver’s side rear seat, we made room for a modular mount system that can hold tool bags, ice chests, and more. A seat can easily be popped back into place for an extra passenger as well.
Once the cage and lighting were installed, we dropped the car off at Alternative Offroad in Chatsworth, California to have it all wired. XTC Power Products sent out one of their incredible PCS-72 power control units, which allow all of the accessories on a vehicle to be wired to one simple control box. The kit came with 6 switches, which control rock lighting, interior dome lighting, roof surround lighting, Rugged fresh air pumps, our Rugged Radios communication system, and the A-pillar Light Cannons. The 30” XPR light bar up front is wired into the headlight high beam switch using XTC Power Products’ RZR-HB-Relay kit. The system allows for a clean, easy-to-install, fused electronic system that can control all of your accessories without the hassle of wiring individual switches and fuse blocks.
Proline Wraps drew up a beautiful Alpha Series vinyl wrap to cover the whole car head to toe, setting off the look of the DesertWorks cage system with color ties that really bring the car together. Other visual accents include a host of Assault Industries upgrades: Explorer Series side mirrors, fire extinguisher mount, billet gas cap, steering wheel and billet hub, billet speedometer ring, color-matched front grill and shock guards, and Assault’s awesome trailing arm guards with slide plates.
To keep the engine breathing fresh, clean air, we installed an S&B Filters particle separator. This high-tech add-on essentially spins the dust and silt out of the incoming air and deposits it out of a force-fed chute at the back of the filter box. This keeps the air filter clean for exponentially longer amounts of time than even running a pre-filter. Think of it as a high-tech salad spinner that uses centrifugal force to spin the debris out of the incoming air before it is ingested by the engine. S&B claims that the particle separator removes up to 94% of the dust from the engine’s air supply before it goes through the stock air filter. During our testing, we have accumulated about 700 miles of dusty desert driving without a single filter change.
Keeping the occupants comfortable are three PRP GT S.E. high back seats, complete with sewn-in hydration packs for easy water breaks on the trail. The seats are wide and well-padded for long days on the trail, and feature a suspended seat base that takes the abuse out of driving. Paired with our PRP four-point harnesses, the seats help transform the comfort level in the RZR, also adding a feeling of security over the skinny, shallow stock seats. PRP has tons of seat options available on their website, and they also have the capacity to help you design custom seats for your rig.
Rounding out the exterior are a set of absolutely gorgeous ITP Black Ops SD Series beadlock wheels with chrome rings wrapped in 32” Ultracross rubber. This tire and wheel package gives the RZR serious grip and added ground clearance, without sacrificing too much grunt. With 144 horsepower on tap, the XP4 easily spins these big 32’s at the driver’s will, making this big RZR loads of fun to drive. We will have a full test of the ITP Ultracross 32’s up soon.
We opted to go with a full suite of Rugged Radios communication products on this ride, plus three separate MAC1 fresh air pumps for clean running in the dustiest of conditions. Rugged’s new RM-50R 50 watt in-dash radio and RRP660 Plus intercom grace the RZR’s dash, allowing all three passengers to communicate via helmet-mounted microphones. Car-to-car broadcasting is handled via push-button toggle switches on the steering wheel and passenger grab bar. The MAC1 pumps allow filtered air to be pumped into racing-style helmets. This pressurizes the helmet slightly to avoid dust entry, allowing for a clean, dust-free ride in any conditions. They work especially well in the cold, where the fresh air helps eliminate fogging of the helmet lens.
For its maiden voyage, we took the Expedition RZR out to Cuddeback, California, which is part of the Mojave Desert. During its first outing after its completion, we put 370 miles on the RZR, starting in Boron, where the world’s largest Borax mine resides. We let the new car stretch its legs all the way to Randsburg, which is a living ghost town nestled in the hills of the Mojave desert. On weekends, Randsburg is filled with offroad riders from all different reaches of the local states, offering food and refreshments at the halfway point of your ride. From there, we hopped on a trail marked R43, which is nicknamed “Rainbow Canyon” for good reason. The high canyon walls and twisting, bermed sand wash in the center stretch for miles, offering one of the most fun-filled rides in this area. This trail system forks at the basin of California City, allowing riders to traverse Northwest to Jawbone Canyon, South to California City, or back east towards Red Mountain. Our route took us by Jawbone, California City, and then back across Highway 395 to the “Husky Monument”.
Husky is a popular destination for off-road enthusiasts to pay their respects to fellow riders who have passed on in all walks of life, as there are hundreds of very unique monuments buried into the desert floor paying homage to those who shared a love for the area. Thirty years ago, there was one singular display cemented into the ground- a lone Husqvarna motorcycle that belonged to an avid desert rider who frequently camped out near the area where his family built the monument.
Near the end of the trip, we started to experience some belt slippage. Changing the belt did not correct the problem, as the primary clutch was hanging up and not moving through its shifting phase properly. We installed a $60 shim kit from Pit Proven Performance that remedied the problem immediately, allowing us to put a few more 300+ mile trips on the RZR recently. In the near future, we will be taking this RZR across the Arizona desert, so stay tuned for more adventure rides with this fantastic touring vehicle.
Driving this big RZR is a blast, and despite all of the aftermarket additions, the vehicle still feels lightweight and nimble. Part of this is due to Desertworks’ attention to detail in building the cage and roof rack- they didn’t put too much weight into the car, allowing it to still handle like a stock RZR XP4. We did not have to change any spring or shock valving on this car, which speaks volumes both to the fantastic shock tune that the XP4 turbo comes with, as well as the car’s overall weight. For more information on the products offered by the fine companies involved in this build, please visit the sites below!
- Alternative Offroad- www.AlternativeOffroad.com
- Assault Industries- www.Assaultind.com
- DesertWorks- www.Desertworks.US
- ITP Tires- www.ITPTires.com
- Proline Wraps- www.ProlineWraps.com
- PRP Seats- www.PRPSeats.com
- Rugged Radios- www.RuggedRadios.com
- S&B Filters- www.SBFilters.com
- Vision X- www.VisionXUSA.com
- XTC Power Products- www.XTCPowerProducts.com
- CAGE/ROOF/DOORS: Desertworks Dual Sport Turbo
- ROOF RACK: Desertworks
- LIGHTING: Vision X Optimus surround lighting, XPR light Bar, Optimus RZR Headlight kit, 4.5” Light Cannons, Tantrum LED rock lights, Billet Dome Light
- ACCESSORIES: Assault Industries Explorer Series Mirrors, Billet Gas Cap, Billet Speedo Ring, Leather Steering Wheel, Billet Wheel Hub, Billet Fire Extinguisher Mount, Trailing Arm Guards, Shock Guards, Front Grill
- TIRES/WHEELS: ITP Black Ops 15” Beadlock Wheels, 32” Ultracross Tires
- AIR FILTRATION: S&B Filters Particle Separator, OEM Polaris Filter
- PASSENGER AIR SYSTEM: Rugged Radios MAC1 Air Pumps (x3)
- COMMUNICATIONS: Rugged Radios RM-50R Radio, RRP660+ Intercom
- WIRING HARNESS: XTC Power Products PCS-72 6-switch wiring kit, RZR-HB-Relay High Beam Light Bar Switch
- ASSEMBLY: Desertworks
- WIRING: Alternative Offroad
- SEATS: PRP GT S.E.
- HARNESSES: PRP 3” 4 POINT
- WRAP: Proline Wraps Alpha Series