— Simpson Race Products starts off the Dirt Wheels YXZ1000R SS race build — By the staff of Dirt Wheels.
Since the arrival of our 2017 Yamaha YXZ1000R SS SE test unit, we’ve wanted to build a great race platform that can tackle any type of competition using some trick products that will help build it for battle. Our SE model came equipped with the new Fox X2 shocks with high-/low-speed compression, high-/low-speed rebound, bypass and preload adjustment. Currently, these are most adjustable shocks that come stock on a production UTV, and they are exclusive to Yamaha. However, even with great UTV suspension, the occupants in the car can still take a beating in the stock seats and seat belts.
After testing, the YXZ isn’t the best in deep whoops, and our backs would be feeling that abuse after some time, and the stock belts would allow you to move around more than we like. So first things first, we wanted to ditch the factory seats and belts for something better—enter Simpson Race Products’ Vortex suspension seats and five-point SFI 16.5 Latch and Link harness!
The Vortex seat provides high containment while still allowing easy entry and exit with its cutaway lower bolster. It is designed to work with the factory slider without raising the seat height. The Vortex’s traditional tube-style frame is mated to a laser-cut seat base, which utilizes a variety of different modular mounting rails. The Vortex seats are designed with a military-spec parachute cording that allows the multi-density foam seat cushion to be “suspended.” The cover itself is made from premium-grade marine and auto vinyl. The Vortex seat is made in the USA.
Simpson’s SFI 16.5 Latch and Link harness is constructed from quality polyester. The new polyester webbing provides protection without sacrificing comfort. The shoulder and lap belts are 3 inches wide, while the submarine belt is 2 inches. It’s simple to adjust the lap and shoulder belts by adjusters on each strap. These are certified for most racing organizations and are recognized by SFI 16.5 safety guidelines.
Removing the OEM seats ended up being a breeze. Taking off the bottom seat cushions and lifting the seats out of the car took a few minutes. The OEM seat belts took a bit more time, but was simple enough to do with basic tools. Installing the Simpson seats was more detailed. Most of the install time was spent removing a lot of the plastic pieces underneath where the seats sit so we could install the trick, extended harness brackets that Simpson provides for the YXZ. After those were installed, we installed the brackets for the seats and bolted the Vortex seat to it. Simpson spent time with fit and finish on the brackets and Vortex seats themselves. They still utilize the stock sliding bracket so different-sized drivers can adjust the seat to a comfortable position.
The five-point harness shoulder belts slide through the holes at the top of the Vortex seat, and the submarine belt goes through a hole in the seat cushion. We mounted the shoulder belts to the horizontal part of the roll cage that sits behind the seats, the lap belts mount to the extended brackets under the seat, and the submarine belt mounts to the Simpson seat bracket. It made for a very clean and quick install, which took around two hours total for both seats and belts.
The Simpson seats immediately felt more comfortable than the OEM seats. Taller bolstered sides hug the side of our bodies and made us feel like we were part of the car. It wasn’t until we started blasting the rough desert that we noticed the real benefit of these seats—the suspension webbing. Hitting large G-outs would be a kidney-bleeder in the stock seats, but the Vortex seat absorbed all that abuse! It seemed like the driver side soaked up more abuse than the passenger side, but it was a huge improvement in ride for both seats.
Five-point harnesses do take some time to get used to. Once we buckled and unbuckled ourselves multiple times, it became less of a chore. The adjusters are simple to use by pulling them down on the shoulders and pulling the lap belts to the side. Lifting the adjusters loosens up the belts effortlessly. The padded shoulder areas were a blessing in rough sections as they provided a lot of comfort. The harnesses provide a secure fit, and they didn’t allow our bodies to bounce around the cab like Richard Simmons. It was confidence-inspiring and made us feel much safer.
WHAT WE THINK
The Simpson Vortex seats and five-point Latch and Link harness made a world of difference in our driving. We were much more secure than before, and we felt more comfortable testing the boundaries of our beloved YXZ. A bonus is that our feet stayed more planted on the brake and throttle pedal than before with the help of the bolstered sides of the seat and the tight fit of the harnesses.
Our favorite part of the Vortex seat is the suspension. It’s easily one of the most comfortable seats we’ve tested, especially in rough terrain. Having a bit more suspension for our backs and butts helped with fatigue and our mental focus. Simpson sells different mounts, so you can extend your investment if you move the seats to another brand of UTV. Simpson has thought of it all to save you money and improve your driving experience.