Polaris RZR

The most exciting production side-by-side on the planet is the Polaris RZRS. If the $14,000 price tag scares you, Polaris offers the $11,000 standard RZR. This compact, fun machine is capable in the whoops, sand, mud, hills, tight woods and on wide open trails.

We recently took a bone-stock RZR and added a few products that an average trail rider should consider. Tires and wheels from ITP, wheel spacers from SoCal Trades, an exhaust system from FMF, an air filter from UNI, graphics from The Sign Guy and a hood from Quad Tech make up part one of this project.

In part two, we will turn this trail machine into a racer for competition in the World Off Road Championship Series (WORCS). In that feature, we will add a stronger roll cage, seats, seat belts, OMF beadlocks, Pro Armor doors, suspension from Dragonfire Racing and shocks from Fox Racing.

In stock trim, the RZR’s shocks soak up any normal jumps. Get into racing, and the A-arms and shocks need to be upgraded. In part two of this project, we are adding DragonFire A-arms and Fox Racing Shox.

For a unique look to start off the project, we ordered a custom graphics kit from www.thestickerstand.com. The Sticker Stand has multiple graphics kits available for UTVs as well as street vehicles, trailers and more. We chose their red/black/silver kit to go onto our RZR. The graphics kit also protected the plastics on the RZR perfectly, leaving very little exposed to the harsh landscape where we did testing. The kits for the RZR start at $195, and they can customize them for you for a small fee. They were quick at getting proofs of the graphics to us for approval and had the graphics to us in two days. They also provided a dash kit (an additional $55) for the RZR with company logos on it, turning our RZR into an awesome-looking vehicle. The kit comes with a big hood graphic, but it wouldn’t fit the aftermarket Quad Tech hood. The graphics went on with ease as it lined up with little stress. Our graphics installer, Travis Ross, did a great job of ensuring the graphics went on with no bubbling by heating them up with a hair dryer occasionally.

Next, Quad Tech supplied us with their carbon fiber hood for our project RZR. The RZR has a common problem of running hot due to the radiator only breathing through a small area in the nose of the RZR. The hotter something runs, the more power it loses. The Quad Tech hood has three different open sections, allowing for more than double the airflow amount to get to the radiator. Before we installed the Quad Tech hood, the fan on the RZR would turn on after only a few minutes of driving. With the Quad Tech hood installed, the RZR ran much cooler, as the fan hardly came on. On top of increased performance and airflow from the Quad Tech hood, it added more of a race-type look to the RZR. We received many compliments on the hood, and it looks awesome from all angles.

Another issue the Quad Tech hood solved is that the stock hood blows off at top speed. The over 60 mph airflow under the stock hood is enough force to bend and dislodge the lightweight plastic piece.

Installation of the hood was quick and easy. Simply pull the knobs and rubber grommets off the stock hood and pop them into the Quad Tech hood. Their ATV and UTV hoods range from $225-$235.

One weak point about the stock RZR hood is that at full speed, they sometimes blow off. The stiffer carbon fiber hood from Quad Tech stayed connected even when driving against high winds, and it looked great doing it.

The RZR engine is only second to Arctic Cat’s Prowler 1000, in terms of horsepower. Unfortunately, that doesn’t keep people from wanting to install a few hop-ups.

The FMF slip-on exhaust system is a cheap and affordable way to increase horsepower and torque on your UTV, as they have systems available for multiple UTV models. Many exhaust systems require an aftermarket fuel programmer to make the UTV run without hesitation. Our RZR ran great with the pipe and the stock fuel management system, as the RZR easily did a good 63 mph wide open. The roar of the system also makes the RZR sound much better than with the stock exhaust system. Installation of the pipe was very easy once the bed of the RZR was removed, and it added 30 minutes to the total installation.

The stock exhaust system has a mid-pipe about a foot and a half longer than that of the FMF slip-on. The FMF pipe utilizes the stock heat shield from the RZR and bolts on with ease also. We do highly recommend using a spring-puller tool to remove the stock exhaust springs, but some may be able to do it with a good pair of pliers.

You are not going to get your money’s worth out of any exhaust system unless you have a good intake system feeding it. And on the RZR, you need a better than stock system anyway. The stock system is located in an enclosed area near the rear tire. This area traps a lot of heat and even more dust, so the filter element gets clogged quickly. On this project, we decided to ditch the stock-pleated paper filter and install a new foam filter element from UNI.

UNI Filters are two-stage foam filters with a cage inside to keep it from collapsing. The first stage of the UNI is a red foam, not super-fine but just enough to keep large chunks out. The second stage filter is a yellow, finer, filter. These filters allow little to nothing to get through (except air), even when they get a little wet. They are quick to clean and provide an excellent seal at the base of the airbox. For around $35, you can pick up a UNI filter for your RZR at any major motorcycle parts retailer.

The stock filter is good on the RZR, but it’s in a bad spot. We replaced the stock unit with a foam element from UNI, because it flows better and is easier to clean.

The novelty of the Polaris RZR is that it has an overall width of under 50 inches. This concept is so the machine will fit on narrow ATV trails. While this is a great idea, the need is void in this case. All of our driving in this machine will take place on wider, faster trails and racetracks in the Southwest, so a little extra width is a positive asset, not a negative one. To get a little more width out of our machine, we installed a $140 set of aluminum wheel spacers from SoCal Trades. The two-inch-wide billet spacers along with aftermarket wheels provided a total width addition of eight inches to the RZR. This is about the same measurement of the $14,000 RZRS.

With our offset wheels and the spacers, the RZR had a perfect stance to feel comfortable drifting and turning at high speeds. After jumping multiple times, we weren’t able to see any bending on the RZR, either. If you are on a budget and want to get a little more width out of your UTV, spacers are a great alternative to expensive aftermarket A-arms.

Last but not least, we installed a set of ITP’s new BajaCross XD tires and their T9 Pro-Mod rims. This is the same tire/wheel package that was used by the Baja 1000 winning Kawasaki Teryx. The tires are eight-ply and are much wider and more neutral feeling than the stock tires on the RZR. The tires hooked up great in the wide variety of terrain we tested them in: sand, mud, rocks and hardpack. They broke loose to get a good drift going when we wanted, but grabbed immediately when we needed traction and straightened the steering wheel.

We did multiple hill climbs and made it to the top with ease. We did jump after jump in the RZR and didn’t have any bending or marking of the wheels. They add a great look to any UTV and are a very strong, heavy-duty wheel meant for the harshest of terrains. The tire and wheel combo does weigh a few more pounds per set, but we didn’t notice a loss of power. Most complete sets of ITP wheels and tires run around $840 mounted. The wheels individually are around $111 each, and the tires run around $130 each.

The FMF pipe we installed saved several pounds and increased power without being too loud. Part two will have a Dragon Fire Racing ECU, keeping it legal for the limited class.

As you can see, turning your stock RZR into a fast, durable vehicle isn’t that hard or expensive. The products listed are inexpensive ways to get that extra little performance out of your UTV while still maintaining a long life span. In a future issue, we will be turning our project “play” RZR into a ready-to-race RZR. We will be adding aftermarket seats, an aftermarket harnesses, a race-spec roll cage, and a few other goodies required for race day. Then we will let our test driver, Kyle Mellville, loose on the World Off Road Championship Series circuits to see how well it performs in the heat of competition. Stay tuned for the follow-up results.

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