GUIDE TO AXLES & CV JOINTS
Back in the beginning of ATV time, machines were propelled with either a sealed shaft-drive system or chains and sprockets. This is still the best way to transfer power without loss. Sealed shaft drives are very durable, virtually maintenance-free and not capable of articulating very far for long-travel vehicles. So the most common type of drive shaft used today on ATVs and UTVs is the axle shaft/CV (constant velocity) joint combo.
On the downside, next to tire and belt failures, broken axles are the most common issues ATV owners face. Mud boggers with lifted machines and racers with long-travel suspension experience these problems even more frequently.
Today’s UTVs are like mini buggies. Unfortunately, they are still using axles only slightly bigger than the ones found on much lighter quads. If you drive your machine hard, an upgrade is in order.
Riders on stock machines only see the occasional axle failure under normal circumstances. What does cause problems for many are ripped or torn CV boots that can ultimately cause complete axle failure down the road if they are not fixed quickly. A ripped CV boot will cause the joint’s grease to escape and heat up the component. Additionally, the boot protects this delicate moving part from getting introduced to water, dirt and rocks.
Luckily, the average garage mechanic can replace a complete axle or even a damaged CV boot with basic tools in a couple of hours. Furthermore, stronger-than-stock aftermarket axle assemblies and CV joint components are being offered up by more and more companies these days at affordable prices. Most new axles will come with directions for your specific machine, but to give you an idea of what’s involved, read on.
This is what was left of a CV joint after the boot ripped and the hot grease poured out like oil. Luckily, these days there are plenty of options to rebuild.
Basically, to remove and replace an axle, you have to remove the tire and wheel hub, then loosen either the top or bottom ball joint. This will allow you to pull the spindle or wheel-bearing carrier out of the way and access the axle assembly. Finally, to remove the axle shaft from the front or rear differential, you either jerk the axle straight out or slightly pry the inner CV joint away from the housing with a large flat-blade screw driver or tire iron. As you can see, it’s not that hard. The following is a group of companies that offers these parts and a few reasons why to use them.
All Balls boot kit
All Balls Racing is not yet in the business of selling replacement axles and CV joints. They do have an extensive line of wheel bearings and steering components, plus a CV joint boot kit for today’s hottest off-road machines. All Balls claims their CV boot kit is easier to install than most OE and aftermarket CV boots, and the DCR66-grade rubber has a 40-percent-higher tensile strength and is 50 percent more abrasion-resistant than conventional CV boot material. The kits include two stainless steel clamps that are designed to be tightened without special tools and lithium-based molybdenum grease for long CV joint life.
Top-selling All Balls CV boot kit: Part number 19-5008 fits many Suzuki, Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha and Can-Am front CV joints at $13.20.
Contact: (888) 228-3323, www.all ballsracing.com
EPI boot kit
EPI CV boot-clamp kit
EPI CV joint kit
EPI half shaft
EPI full shaft
EPI Performance axle shafts and CV joints are manufactured using the exact OE specifications to ensure the parts will fit and function correctly. EPI shafts and CV joints are designed to be a high-quality replacement option at a considerably lesser cost than the OE part. Best of all, EPI shafts and CV joints are backed by a one-year limited warranty. EPI axles and CV joints are manufactured from 4340 nickel chromoly steel. All critical areas are heat-treated for strength and wear capabilities. Their CV boots are made of neoprene, a very durable rubber that withstands punctures, chemicals and the harsh conditions we run our machines through. Most half shafts (and axles that include the outboard CV joint only) are priced at $159, and most full shafts (shaft and two CV joints) are $229. CV joints are priced at $99 for outer joints and $109 for inner joints. EPI Performance replacement CV boot kits are $15.95 and include a high-quality custom boot, clamps, and CV grease for all brands and popular models. EPI offers two styles of banding tools for the serious DYI ($25) or local repair shop ($60).
Top-selling EPI product: Inner rear Polaris Sportsman CV joint ($109) or the front outer CV joint for the Grizzly 550/700 ($99)
Contact: (218) 829-6036, www.epiperformance.com
Gorilla full shaft
Gorilla rebuild kit
If you don’t know who Gorilla Axle is, that’s all right, they are only one of the largest aftermarket companies catering to the mud crowd in the south. Gorilla Axle not only made their name selling beefed-up components for the mud crowd, they were one of the first to manufacture components for customers putting long-travel kits in Yamaha Rhinos nearly a decade ago. Before their ATV business expanded, Gorilla paid the bills by doing CV and axle repair on automobiles.
Gorilla axles are made entirely out of 4340 chromoly. Gorilla joints are also made with a patented dome-shaped cage that allows for more maneuverability. They carry complete axle shafts ranging in price from $365–$435 for most Arctic Cat, Can-Am, Honda, Kawasaki, Polaris, Suzuki, Yamaha, Carter Bros GTR and Redline vehicles. CV joints are $225 a pair, and boot kits sell for $15 each. CV boot-clamp tools sell for $14.95.
Top-selling Gorilla Axle product: Can-Am 1000 and Polaris RZR XP full axles. Both are $415 apiece for stock length, and with a lift over 4 inches is $436.
Contact: (318) 345-8186,
High Lifter boot kit
High Lifter full shaft
Down south, High Lifter is known as the leader in aftermarket ATV components for mud riders and more. In fact, with their highly acclaimed High Lifter Mud Nationals series, the folks from Shreveport, Louisiana, are trying to expand their customer base as well as their product line across the country and around the world. As far as axle components, High Lifter only sells complete axles and have products for most Polaris and Can-Am models, as well as popular Kawasaki and Yamaha machines.
What sets High Lifter’s Outlaw DHT axles apart from other competitors is the dual heat-treating process each axle goes through. They target the key components of the joints and the housings to improve toughness against shock loads without compromising bearing surfaces and long-term life. High Lifter housings, cages and bars are made from 4340 chromoly steel, and their puncture-resistant boots are crafted from premium-grade thermoplastic polyester elastomers. High Lifer claims this material is superior to rubber boots found in other aftermarket axles, as it provides protection from fatigue, wear, and remains durable in high- or low-temperature climates. High Lifter DHT axles range from $279.95–$309.95 and come with a one-year warranty. Accessories include boot kits ($25.95) designed for High Lifter axles and a special DHT CV boot banding tool ($61.95), and a steering stop kit for Polaris models that helps prevent axle breakage ($17.95).
Top-selling High Lifer product: Polaris RZR axles at $299.95.
Contact: (318) 524-2270, www.highlifter.com
LSR axle shafts
LSR full shaft with RZR 570 CVs
The guys at Lonestar Racing have been in the ATV business for 20 years. They made a great name for themselves in the sport quad racing world and have carried that quality over to UTVs recently. As for axles, LSR carries $140 stock replacement axle shafts and complete axle assemblies for the RZR XP 900. They also have an axle kit that works exclusively with their own XP 900 long-travel kit or narrow-woods kit, costing $570 for the axles only. Both are made from 4340 chromoly up front and 300M in the rear. Rhino, Commander and Maverick products at +3, +4 and +6 inches are also available. Lonestar Racing UTV axles are backed by a limited lifetime warranty against bending and breaking.
Top-selling LSR product: RZR XP 900 full shaft with 570 CVs at $425 each.
Contact: (800) 4-LSRACE, www.lsracing.com
Any Parts Unlimited dealer
Moose CV boot kit
Moose full shaft
Moose HD full shaft
Moose CV joint rebuild kit
Moose Utility Division (MUD) offers a wide variety of axle components, both as standard replacement and also heavy-duty parts for high-performance machines. Pricing is competitive to OEM pricing, and all MUD products carry a one-year manufacturer warranty against defects. Prices range from $177.95 to $218.95 for standard-replacement half shafts, and the complete axle shafts range $231.95 to $394.95. The Heavy Duty-series product pricing for complete sets are $495.95. Moose offers products for the following manufacturers: Arctic Cat, Can-Am, Honda, Kawasaki, Polaris, Suzuki, Yamaha, along with some products available for Kymco and John Deere applications.
Front CV joints pricing starts at $112.95 to $154.95, and rear CV joints start at $112.95 to 161.95 for all the popular brands. Moose CV boot kits, which come with both grease and clamps for all popular ATV/UTV models, are $14.95, and the Moose Fast boot kit that fits all ATV/UTV products retails for $17.95 with grease and clamps. Moose offers two types of clamp tools at $18.95 and $55.95, and a Fast boot-installation tool for $227.95, along with a Spanner tool for $12.95.
Top-selling MUD product: Replacement CV boots at $14.95.
Contact: (608) 758-1111, www.mooseutilities.com
All MTA dealers
Slasher full shaft
Slasher products are sold exclusively through MTA powersports dealers in the U.S., like Rocky Mountain ATV and Motovan dealers in Canada. The brand has parts like exhaust systems, wheel spacers, UTV seat belts, and ATV/UTV axles engineered in the U.S. by Interparts, a major name in powersports and automotive replacement parts. Slasher axles are made of 4340 chromoly steel with precision ground-slip joints for a claimed smoother articulation. All of their axle assemblies come with a spindle nut, stainless low-profile boot clamps and clips ready to install. Slasher boots are made of UV-resistant neoprene to extend its life.
Complete axles range from $196.50–$265. Half shafts sell for $136.50 and boot kits are $15.95. Parts are available for most Arctic Cat, Can-Am, Honda, Kawasaki, Polaris, Suzuki and Yamaha ATVs and UTVs.
Top-selling Slasher product: Arctic Cat 4×4 complete rear axle at $196.50.
Contact: (800) 336-5437, www.rocky mountainatv.com
Summers Bros. full shaft with RZR 570 CVs
Summers Brothers is not an aftermarket company that happens to sell ATV axles; they are an axle company with 45 years in the axle business. You can find Summers products on long-travel kits by Hard Core Racing, and the race cars of Jagged X, Nic Granlund and many other top racers. We just finished installing the Summers Bros. 570 CV joint kit on our RZR XP 900. With this kit they take the larger stock RZR 570 and install them on their own stronger axles. The upgrade cost is $989.18 and is only available and needed in the rear. Summers Bros. uses the best moly grease, stainless steel clamps and surgeon-like assembly methods. All Summers Bros. axles are made from aerospace-rated 4340 or 300M chromoly.
Axle prices range from $170–$203, and they can make them any length you need. They do carry the RZR 570 and Rhino CVs from 2005–2010.
Top-selling Summers Brother Racing product: RZR 570 conversion at $989.10.
Contact: (909) 395-5555, www.sum mersbrothersracing.com
Super ATV CV boot kit
Super ATV full shaft
Super ATV is the home of the only aftermarket ATV electric power-steering kit we know of. They also have a complete line of other parts, including 4340 chromoly axles under the brand name Rhino. Paired with larger CV joints, each Rhino-brand axle is put through rigorous tensile and endurance testing, assuring they operate at higher angles and can withstand monster tires and big lifts. Rhino axles come with a one-year warranty, and all complete axles sell for $199.95. Replacement CVs are $79.95 and boots sell for $24.95. Super ATVs also carries extended +4 and +10 axles primarily for the RZR, Ranger, Sportsman, Outlander, Commander and Maverick. They sell for $209.95.
Top-selling Super ATV product: Boot, clamp and grease kit at $24.95.
Contact: (812) 574-7777, www.super atv.com