|Testing our Can-Am Commander
at Sand Mountain
This was a great father/son trip to Sand Mountain, NV. We brought along our Polaris RZR XP 900 and Can-Am Commander 100 XT. Both were outfitted with sand tires fromFullerton Sand Sports. The RZR XP had buffed ITP Dunestars and Comp Cut 60/40 stagger STU Sand Blasters mounted on black DWT wheels. The Commander had buffs up front and Play Cut STU Sand Blasters mounted on OMF Billet Center Wheels.
I have used the play cut setup several times on my Commander, Teryx and the RZR XP. I really like the overall size and looks of this setup. These are slightly larger than the setup I have on my RZR XP and I learned something from Dave at Fullerton Sand Sports. The STU Blasters are not all the same size. They buy so many that they can mix and match to get a package that works front and rear. I think the larger size just looks awesome, and I also like the extra ground clearance and additional float provided by them. But I do think the play cut with full width paddles is a bit much for the RZR XP and Commander (not my race Teryx though!). They pull the tire fine, but after experiencing the 60/40 comp cut tires, I know there is more performance to be had.
The 60/40 stagger cut paddle has less paddle and therefore less bite. On a stock RZR XP or Commander 1000, this helps the engine keep those tires spinning easier. On the RZR XP, I felt like the climbing performance in 2 wheel drive was nearly as good as all-wheel drive. This is definitely not the case with the play cut tires with full width paddles.
Fullerton Sand Sports can also “Comp Cut” paddles. This will remove material from the paddle and reduce weight. This can make a big difference because you are taking away rotating mass on the drive wheels and this increases performance. But with every positive gain there is usually a negative. When you remove material from the tire, it is more susceptible to damage and I can attest to this! The camping area at Sand Mountain is littered with rocks. I figured this would be my biggest challenge so I was pretty careful coming in and out of camp. But on Saturday night, there was a decent wind storm. My son wanted to go to the top of the mountain to see the sunset and I did not grab my goggles. On the way back down the face, I couldn’t see much but I wasn’t too worried because I just had to make sure I could see the other vehicles. Just my luck, there was one random rock that someone had to have brought it up the hill and left it. Of course I had to center punch it.
So if you want the additional performance gains of a comp cut paddle, there are some additional cost and risks. I would not recommend a comp cut if you ride where there are rocks, sticks or even asphalt.
At the end of the day, I think the play cut 60/40 stagger is the best tire for me. My RZR XP and Commander are relatively stock and the smaller bite lets the engine work better. If I was going to do some engine work or a turbo, the full width paddles might be better. I did like them on my race Teryx (999cc Muzzys engine).
The front tires did not make a huge difference for me. I have no problem steering with the complete buff, but I think the additional razor from the Dunestar helps the front grab a little better. I think the more important piece is what size. The larger STU Sand Blasters are too tall for the modified Dunestars, so you need to get smaller STUs to match up. Again, this is a key benefit to dealing with Fullerton Sand Sports. They can create a matched set for you.
Commander Long Travel
This was my first real dune trip with the long travel on my Commander 1000. The kit is a +4″ from TCB with Elka Stage 4 SXS shocks. The additional width provided by the TCB arms creates a much more stable platform for aggressive driving in the dunes. Not to mention the extra amount of wheel travel.
The Elka Stage 4 shocks have high & low-speed compression adjustment, plus rebound adjustment. Since I ride in a variety of terrain, I really appreciate the ability to adjust my shocks to suit the terrain and driving style.
In addition to the Elka Suspension shocks, I swapped in a set of progressive rate springs from King Springs. The springs are a bit long for the rear, but I wanted to try them out on the Commander.
I have used these springs in the past on another project and really like how they worked. The springs work similar to a dual rate setup, but even better and in a smaller package. Soft in the chop, but progressively stiffer the more the spring is compressed.
I am very impressed by the difference King Springs progressive springs can make to ride quality and hope some of the shock manufacturers take note. This is a great option to offer.
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