— Adding a full-metal jacket, By the staff of Dirt Wheels, photos by Casey Kramer.
Axiom Side by Side may be a somewhat new, even unfamiliar name in UTV accessories, but we liked the look of the products. We called the company and selected a basic yet comprehensive list of equipment for our in-house 2017 Polaris RZR XP Turbo 4. While the name is new, the company is one of the Midwest’s largest metal fabrication, painting and powdercoating operations. Axiom also claims to pride itself on the fit and quality of its products. Since we were installing everything ourselves, we were surely hoping that fit claim was accurate.
We selected a roof, skid plate, lower doors, A-arm guards and trailing-arm guards. A look under our machine at 450 miles showed that we have indeed been abusing the underside of the machine a bit, and more underside protection sounded like a good idea. We also had roost- and rock-inflicted scars to the A-arms and trailing arms. A very warm weekend was our motivation to get the roof on, but a roof is also a valuable safety item we like to have.
LET THE WRENCHING BEGIN
A clean, well-lit shop always makes installing accessories easier, but we opted to install the Axiom Outlaw roof while parked in the dunes using just the tools we carry in the truck. We did have two people to do the job, which was handy, and had the roof installed in less than 10 minutes. One of our staffers used to work at a dealer installing products, and he claimed the Outlaw roof was one of the easiest ever. It is made out of 1/8-inch aluminum, so it is lightweight and durable. The sheets of colored aluminum have a factory-installed cushion material, and all of the hardware is supplied. You can get the roof in raw aluminum, but it comes in many standard colors. We chose a red color that was an excellent match for our machine.
LAND DOWN UNDER
Next up was installing the Axiom 0.160-inch aluminum XP 4 1000 skid plates. The five sections feature simple bolt-on installation with no drilling or modifications to your machine. Despite being a near-flawless fit, the installation was much more work than the roof. The heavy-gauge aluminum comes in a single box that weighs over 70 pounds.
Unfortunately, we only had a single staffer available on skid plate day. No single section is overly heavy, but it still takes work. Like the stock plastic skid plate, most of the fasteners are bolts into self-centering cupped washers. Axiom provides all-new cupped washers that keep the mounting bolts recessed and protected. That is clever, since a few of the stock ones were so damaged that we needed a hammer and punch to make clearance for a socket to remove them.
Access holes are provided in the bottom plate for maintenance and drainage, and they were uncannily perfectly lined up with the openings in the frame. In addition to being aluminum, the Axiom skid plate covers more of the underside of the machine than the stock plastic skid plate. The stocker leaves the underside of the floorboard area and the supporting metal cross members uncovered.
The front A-arm guards are cleverly designed to protect the A-arms and the front CV boots, but they are out of necessity a bit fussy to install. Round-headed stove-bolt-style mounting hardware (also called square-shouldered low profile bolts) ensures that the hardware on the bottom of the A-arms is tough and won’t get hung up on obstacles easily. The downside is that the locking nuts must be on the top side of the beefy 0.160-inch aluminum guards. That means getting your hands in between the front axle and the A-arm bars to tighten the nuts. It just takes time and patience. Drainage holes prevent you from carrying excess mud and make clean-out easier.
Axiom trailing-arm guards are the opposite. There is one small bolt underneath that takes a little reaching, but the guards slip easily over the trailing arms. The only other hardware slips through tabs at the top of the channel-shaped guards. A sleeve slides under the brake line to prevent chafing, and the bolts slide through the sleeves. There is vibration-reducing foam in the bottom of the guards. Like all the Axiom products, there is no drilling or modification required.
FOUR DOORS DOWN
Polaris’ quarter doors work well. We like the latching system, and they offer easy entrance and egress from the machine, but the bottom is open. The opening allows mud, water, snow and brush to intrude into the passenger compartment. Axiom solves the problem with shaped aluminum panels that mount to the stock doors to close off the space between the stock doors and the door sills.
You simply remove the stock plastic door covering, then use the supplied fasteners to mount the matte black aluminum door inserts. The job is quick and easy. Triangular filler pieces are included to close up openings behind the rear doors. They were harder to mount cleanly than all four doors. Hinge kit hardware is included that replaces the stock hinge pins with bolts said to eliminate rattling. Our doors still feel snug, so we’ll save the hinge hardware for later.
We did drive the Turbo with just the roof installed, and we noticed nothing negative. It was still easy to climb in and out, and there were no odd sounds or vibrations. We put the rest of the products on in one solid day. We could have radically shortened installation time with a single helper, but we went the one-man-band route. After everything was installed, we washed the machine, polished it up for photos and headed out for testing.
Combining the roof with the door inserts makes the cab feel very secure. The doors still close just like stock and with all the reliability of the stock latches. The A-arm and trailing-arm guards look good, and we are sure that they will fend off abuse, but we didn’t feel them in a negative or positive way while driving. We did, however, have reassurance that we had more protection in the rough.
Since we changed the skid plate from plastic to aluminum, there is a sound difference when it makes contact with the terrain surface or with rocks dislodged by the passing tires. We did contact a rock outcrop, and the skid plate broke the rock. We did find that there is a harmonic resonance that is audible at certain engine rpm, but the protection is well worth the trade-off. In every case we were extremely impressed with the fit and finish of the Axiom products and with the quality of the mounting hardware. Our machine has definitely risen to another level of comfort and protection.
Polaris RZR XP 4 1000 lower doors and hinge kit $399
Polaris XP4 skid plate $549
Polaris RZR 4 Outlaw roof $535
Polaris RZR XP 1000
trailing-arm guards $149
Polaris XP Turbo front A-arm guards $115