Desert season has arrived and for many of us our first trip or TRIPS if your lucky have already been had! But as Christmas approaches I know a lot of us are searching for the perfect gift to buy for the UTV enthusiasts in our life or maybe you need to come up with a list of things YOU want for your significant other to buy for you this holiday season.
Top 5 Products for 2010-11
#1 – Base Camp Communications
In off road racing we never leave with out first ensuring that both the race and the pit/chase vehicles have proper communications. It made me think, no one really has base camp communication with the UTV’s when we take off for a ride in the desert when on a recreational riding trip. So this year I am recommending a Base Camp Radio System. Now if someone gets a flat or breaks a part instead of sending another vehicle all the way back to camp we can now have the spare part we need delivered or at minimum let those back at camp know what’s going on. In the case of our last desert trip it would have helped our friend Moses find his way back after we lost him about 200 yards from camp…hahhaha…
Our friends at Rugged Radios
make 2 types of “chase or base camp” radio systems. The most economical is the 50w Radio Package which comes ready to go with a 50w Race Radio, Push Button Mic, Magnetic Antenna for easy locating, all the necessary cables, and its pre programmed with all the standard VHF radio frequencies such as Weatherman,BFG, and BITD. If playing in the desert is all you do then this is the system for you. Retailing at $410.00 its cheap piece of mind.
For the more hardcore desert enthusiast or for those who race then consider the 120w Radio Package. It too comes with all the same accessories as the 50w package but this unit will broadcast and receive transmissions from much further out. Of course the pricing is a bit steeper so unless you really need a serious amount of range then stick with the 50w system.
Both units can be custom programmed to your personal frequencies and both systems come with the amazing customer support that Rugged Radios provides.
Mention UTVUnderground when ordering to get a special discount!
#2 – Pro Armor Quickshot Universal Spare Tire Mount
Arguably one of the most innovative products to ever hit the off road market and especially the UTV market is the new Quickshot Universal Spare Tire and Accessory Mount made by Pro Armor
. Unveiled at the 2010 Sand Sports Super Show this was my favorite new product. It gave you the “why didn’t I think of that?” feeling!
The Quickshot allows you to carry different combinations of tools and accessories in one easy to access location to help you while on the road, in your garage, or on the trail. Simply attach the Quickshot mounting plate to any spare tire on your UTV, RV, Truck,Trailer or even to a wall in your garage and then begin to attach the tools you wish it to hold or carry. Every Quickshot comes with an integrated scissor jack already mounted and ready to use which is an awesome addition to an already amazing product. So when looking to spend your hard earned dollars on an accessory for your UTV consider one that will give you the most bang for your buck. In this case the Quickshot is worth every penny and more!
Mention UTVUnderground when ordering to get a special discount!
#3 – Compression/Rebound Adjustable Shocks
As a lover of the high speed desert terrain the most important feature of my UTV is the suspension. To me a properly tuned suspension is a fine work of art and those who know how to perform the task of proper shock valving are artists. The problem most have is access to these artists, and while there are many imposters pretending they know how to tune shocks reality is majority are full of you know what! Suspension is something that most of us tend to just “settle” with for one reason or another. For most the idea of spending an entire day or weekend making passes and then pulling all the shocks off the car to make some minor tweaks only to do it all over again and again and again and again just doesn’t sound all that fun. While I am willing to do what it takes to tune my shocks, and in the past I have, time is a problem for me now so I need turn key adjustability.
This brings me to our #3 must have product for the desert season, fully adjustable shocks. Most of us have realized the versatility in our machines. For many the UTV is not just a one trick pony only going to the dunes or on a trail. Like most UTV enthusiasts I have found solitude in riding UTV’s in the mountains, dunes, deserts, trails, and simply around the house. With the versatility and the changing of terrain comes the need to adjust the vehicle’s shock set up. When I ride the hardpack I like a balanced suspension that soaks up the bumps, in the dunes I like a lot of compression to absorbs the hard “g-outs”, and when on rocky slow paced trails I like a super soft set up allowing for maximum wheel travel and articulation. Having adjustment dials built into the shock allows you to change the shocks characteristics with the turn of a knob providing you and your UTV with optimal ride potential per the terrain you are trying to conquor. A set shock gives you no flexibility in how your car handles the terrain and forces you to “settle” with what you have to work with or again spend the time to set the valving up to your style. Even then you are limited to that setting.
While a few newer UTV’s come with adjustable shocks right off the showroom floor most still don’t so you need to turn to an aftermarket shock manufacturer to get what it is you desire. Most top brands such as Walker Evans, FOX, King, and Elka make stock replacement shocks as well as “long travel” shocks for your UTV. Many shocks that are made by these top brands can also be adapted to accept adjusters after the fact so consider upgrading your shocks or turn to an off road company like Magnum Offroad
or Xtreme Machine & Fabrication
who have in house shock experts to help you turn your current shocks into adjustables. In the end you will be a much happier off roader when you can tune yourself to the ultimate ride!
#4 – Full Face Helmet
One of the recent accessories I obtained was a Simpson Air Pro Voyager
helmet to use when racing. Now I understand that while UTVUnderground has a multitude of racing members the majority are just your average enthusiasts. So they may ask why would I spend the money on a full face helmet? Well let me tell you why. #1 everyone SHOULD be wearing a helmet anyway while riding in their UTV, just for safety purposes so why buy a MX helmet that still leaves your face exposed and then rely upon a set of goggles that no doubtingly will be replaced a few times during a season? A lot of people think that the only reason racers where a full face is for the safety aspect and while that is true it is not the sole reason.
There are many benefits to the full face helmet and those benefits have not been more relevant than they were while on my last 2 recreational rides I have been on. The full face helmet seals up so that no dirt or dust gets in your face. So if you ride in groups or in areas where dust or sand kicking up can be a problem then the full face helmet can be your best friend while on a long run. There is pleasure in knowing that you can run in the dust and still not only see well without dust working its ways into your eyes but you can also BREATH! My helmet is what would be referred to as “Blown and Wired” which means it is set up with an air inlet for a “Fresh Air System”
and is wired for radio communications so it works in conjunction with my on board radio and intercom and takes the place of my headsets. You do not need a parker pumper to enjoy the fresh air feeling, the fact that the dust is eliminated from your face provides a feeling of freshness. The wiring of a helmet can sometimes be done by your helmet manufacturer or you can usually send it off to communications companies like Rugged Radios
or PCI Race Radios
to be done for you. You can also buy a helmet kit and do it yourself.
While on our last trip over Thanksgiving weekend we did a lot of night riding. I decided to run my full face helmet and it was the best decision I could have made. It was freezing outside and coupled with a strong breeze and my furious driving style (joking of course) it made for a face freezing adventure, well for everyone except me! The helmet while protecting me from dust also kept me extremely warm while tearing through the night time desert air. While the rest of my body was feeling the cold my head and face were warm and toasty and that experience alone made wearing the helmet all worth it. The weight of a good full face isn’t much more than a standard MX helmet and companies such as Simpson
and PCI Race Radios
usually have some solid deals on full face helmets so do yourself a favor and add this to your Christmas wish list!
#5 – LED Lighting
Most that know me would know that I was probably one of the last to come around to LED (Light Emiting Diode) lighting for off road use. Mainly because I came from a 12 year career in outdoor lighting where I knew the pitfalls of LED. While we always agreed that LED produced a smoother pattern it was the throw of the light better known as candle power that caused me to hesitate on utilizing it in off road. The fear of out running the light itself was a legit concern and still is to a degree in faster forms of off road. I was also weary of the longevity laims that many were making in terms of how long the LED would last. But after some time in using an LED lightbar (Rigid Industries
) I have become a believer in the products.
One cannot deny the ruggedness of the LED products on the market. Unlike a filament style light such as halogen or HID if a LED takes a hard hit and loses a diode the rest will continue to work where if the filament takes a hit in a halogen or HID the light is all but rendered useless. UTV’s in my opinion will not outrun the light output of a decent sized LED bar, the color pattern they produce are nice, and the optic options in terms of beam spread are improving. Top trophy truck and class 1 teams have even taken a liking to these LED products and have began to run them on their unlimited power machines in desert racing.
We recently installed a 30″ Baja Designs STEALTH LED Bar
on our project Polaris RZR4 and it was very impressive in my first time using it. I also have a 20″ Rigid Industries “E” Series LED Bar
on the front of our UTVUnderground Chase Truck and we use it nightly as an additional means of lighting while traveling on back roads and non lit highways. The draw of an LED is significantly lower than HID which means less stress and drain on our already limited power and charging systems in the UTV’s. So while HID is no where near being replaced altogether by LED if you do chose to go with a LED product on your UTV I am certain you will be pleased!