TEIXEIRA TECH & CT RACING BUILD A GREAT ADVENTURE UTV —
Power to explore, By the staff of Dirt Wheels:
There are all sorts of UTV enthusiasts. Some like to blast around a riding area or the dunes for a short time, then stop and swap stories in the shade, while others like higher-speed running and some like oh-so-slow rock crawling. But, one group we met up with are all about high-mileage adventure rides in a hurry. On the day we shot the action photos of this 2016 Polaris RZR Turbo, they only put in about 35 miles, then we met up with them again in the low desert near Salton Sea, California, to get some more seat time in the car in different terrain. Thank goodness they had a toy hauler with a fuel station, because we headed 60 miles north to a mountain overlook before lunch, then traveled another 65 miles to distant sand dunes after lunch!
This 2016 Polaris RZR Turbo is built to safely navigate rough, fast destination trips like our day in the low desert. We wanted a car we could drive hard, could stay comfortable in for 100-plus-mile days, would be safe, guaranteed reliability to get to the destination and back, and that would look cool while doing it all.
Building an adventure car means you will be going places where you won’t have any help to bail you out. You must be self-sufficient and be self-contained. It also means spending long days in the seat, so dialing in comfort is a must. The RZR XP Turbo is so quick on the trail that if you push it to its limit, you better set it up for beyond its limit. We had CT Racing’s Allen Knowles prep and do some of the testing on the car for us. Knowles has a lot of seat time in UTVs, so he had good info and feedback.
STEP BY STEP
Safety is the most important priority, followed closely by comfort and reliability. Our machine was built all at once, but for this story we are assuming that you will work in steps as budget allows, and this is how Knowles and our staff would prioritize the spending and wrenching.
While factory seat belts have gotten better and allow quick entry and exit from the car, there’s nothing like the security of being cinched up tight with a race harness, so those are the first things we installed. We used the Pro Armor four-point, 3-inch-wide harnesses.
Next on the importance scale is a roof over our heads. Aside from the obvious safety factor, having the sun beaming down on you all day is not good. We went with a Pro Armor Asylum roof, as it is made to fit the Pro Armor cage. Pro Armor also offers roof options for the stock cage.
LET THERE BE LIGHT
The RZR is fun to drive at night, especially if you have good lights. Good lighting encourages you to plan night excursions, or, as in our low-desert ride day, you don’t always beat the sun back to camp. We’ve learned that there is a big difference between the quality and brightness of LED lights. Being water- and dust-resistant makes a huge difference in durability.
We clamped on lights from the masters—Lazer Star. We roof-mounted a massively powerful 42-inch light for high-speed vision, along with a grill-mounted 12-inch light pointed downwards to see down hills. We also mounted a rock light in each wheel well to light up under the car for rock crawling so that you can see your wheel placement. Ours are red to minimize the effect on the driver’s night vision, but other colors are available. We like to run an amber Lazer Star facing backwards for safety. Amber-colored lighting is most visible through dust, so you will be seen and, hopefully, avoided by someone coming up behind you.
Part of building a strong machine is avoiding obstacles. Teixeira Tech has built some extremely strong high-clearance chromoly A-arms. The front lower arms are gusseted gull-wing-style arms, very similar to products that Teixeira builds for winning cross-country and desert ATVs. The upper arms are plate-boxed with a tubing rear half, all made of chromoly steel for exceptional strength.
The rear radius rods are built out of triple chromoly plate. There’s a front and back plate with another layer stitch-welded in the center, along with top and bottom plates. The added ground clearance is essential in getting through rocky trails without damaging the suspension. The upper radius rod is a larger diameter and stronger. Teixeira also manufactures a trailing-arm gusset kit. It boxes in the trailing arm significantly, adding strength.
WHERE ARE YOU?
Rugged Radios offers a lot of kits contoured specifically to each UTV. This car was set up with a car-to-car radio so you can communicate with your cronies. It also works great if you race. It’s nice to be able hang back out of the dust and still know where the car ahead of you turned. It’s pretty common to be able to communicate as far as 10 miles away.
We also have a voice-activated intercom in the car so you can just speak and carry a conversation as you go. With the car-to-car radio, a button is pushed to broadcast on the chosen channel. The intercom also allows you to listen to music. The music will automatically mute when your conversation begins and softly comes back after. With the optional music-record cable, it can be plugged into your GoPro to record conversations as you are filming.
RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD
We really like running beadlocks on the RZR. We were able to keep up with the group driving 50 miles on a flat. OMFs are made in the USA out of American-made aluminum. You can get a cheaper wheel, but not a tougher wheel. We chose GBC Kanati Mongrels in the 30×10-14 size for toughness as well. The Mongrels perform while resisting wear, pinches and punctures. They hook up amazingly well on hard surfaces and are surprisingly good in sand.
Most spare tire mounts are a trade-off. Some hang off the back of the car, and that certainly has negative effects on handling, but you get more luggage room. Others stand the spare up, allowing more room to pack additional stuff, but they block rear vision. The Buckshot is up high enough to give you good access and room to haul stuff in the bed, and just low enough to give you a sight line looking back in the mirror. It uses a Dirt-Bagz Trophy Truck ratchet strap made to hold tires in place. It is quick to loosen to access stuff in the bed, and the tire stays put. Dirt-Bagz also offers a nice selection of tool bags and wraps that will keep your junk where you want it. Check out their website for more info (found in the “Parts List” below).
We opted for the Baja cage from Pro Armor. It is constructed of off-road, race car-spec, 1.75-inch, DOM steel tubing with a lower profile and more rigidity than the stock cage. More rigidity is better for the durability of the rest of the chassis. We’ve had lots of cages we were prying and pounding to get fitted up, but not the Pro Armor. Conveniently, the rear section unbolts, and this can be important for working on the motor. We’ve dropped cars off for warranty work, and they want to charge you for anything in their way that is not stock.
The stock Polaris doors are nice, but we went with Pro Armor’s complete door, which is nice looking and offers lots of protection.
S&B Filters’ particle separator is a simple device that has been used on military helicopters in harsh desert environments. Basically, the air intake has a high-speed fan that blows heavy dirt particles right out the bottom, resulting in substantially cleaner air reaching the air filter. And, a motor breathing clean air is a happy motor.
We saved the best for last, mostly because it’s a lot of money and most would do this upgrade last on the list. Teixeira Tech high-clearance arms do not change the geometry or the suspension travel, but adding Walker Evans Velocity Series shocks all the way around does change the suspension action. The stock Turbo comes with very good Fox suspension, but there is room for improvement. We went with Walker Evans 2.5 Velocity Series. Companies have stock shocks built making concessions for cost and to make the handling suit a wide variety of terrain and driving styles. The Walker Evans Velocity Series is race technology packaged for a RZR. You order them with your car’s specifications, type of use, etc. We sent in the information, and out of the box these were most impressive.
We understand that the price of a full set of quality shocks dialed in for your machine and driving style is high, but so is the gain in comfort, control and handling.
This is a very impressive RZR with stellar performance, superior comfort and reassuring safety features. The suspension is very plush over small bumps, but mash the throttle in monster whoops and the car just tracks straight and eats every mogul. We never found the suspension’s limit. The adjusters have a wide range of adjustment. We ran them nearly all the way out (four clicks in) on compression for running choppy washboard roads to get that super-smooth feel, and dialed in a few more clicks when hammering whoops and beating up gnarly washes. The difference in comfort of the shocks is night and day, so if you have the budget, you can’t go wrong.
Then we started to hit G-outs, and the difference was amazing. The Velocity Series shocks soak up all major impacts. Once we hit the sand dunes, we assumed the difference compared to stock would shrink, but it did not. In back-to-back testing, stock XP 1000 suspension wallowed and had far less control in whoops.
While hammering the suspension, it was nice to rely on the safety mods to the cage and the harnesses. We also appreciated the beadlock wheels and flat-resistant tires for the running we were doing. We arrived back late enough after dark as it was, and stopping to fix flats would have made it that much later.
The goal was to make a car that excelled at aggressive adventure driving, and this one certainly succeeded. It has the safety, performance, handling and comfort we desired with plenty of clearance and protection from ugly terrain.
PARTS & SUPPLIERS
CT Racing: www.ctracing.com
Buckshot Racing: www.buckshotracing.com, Spare tire mount $229
Dirt-Bagz: dirtbagz.com, Spare tire strap $79.95
GBC Tires: www.gbcmotorsports.com, Tires $210.77
OMF Performance: www.omfperformance.com, Wheels $449.95 each, Wheel caps $39.95
Pro Armor: proarmor.com, Seats $449.95 each, Steering wheel $79.95, Harness $119.95
each Wheel adapter $49.95, Baja cage black $1,599.95, Doors TBD
Rugged Radios: www.ruggedradios.com, Radio $1,189.71
S&B Filters: .sbfilters.com, Particle separator $399.95
Teixeira Tech: www.teixeiratech.com, A-arms $1255, Radius rods $578,
Trailing-arm gusset kit $178
Walker Evans Racing: walkerevansracing.com, Velocity Series 2.5 shocks $899.99 each