PROJECT UTV: SHOCK THERAPY CAN-AM X3 MAX
— Maximum Max—size matters, By the staff of Dirt Wheels —
Shock Therapy has a large and growing profile in the UTV industry. The company is located near Phoenix, Arizona, but has a fully equipped shop in a race semi. If you have seen the truck, then you have seen the techs scurrying around nonstop modifying suspension for customers right in the dunes so they can get a back-to-back feel for the new suspension. Shock Therapy can modify your suspension for any kind of riding, but dune fans are among the most fanatical of off-roaders, so we do see a lot of ST suspension in the dunes.
The latest Shock Therapy showpiece is a massive gold Can-Am Maverick X3 Max X rs with a Lonestar Racing MTS suspension kit installed. Naturally, the Lonestar kit is controlled with Shock Therapy-modified stock Can-Am Fox shocks. The Can-Am Max X rs is 72 inches wide, has a whopping 135-inch wheelbase and features 22 inches of travel. To put that size into perspective, the Max is almost an inch longer in wheelbase than a Ford Raptor pickup and 18 inches longer than the Polaris XP 4! But once Shock Therapy and Lonestar got through with it, this RS is 77 inches wide with 24 inches of travel front and rear! Add in 15-inch wheels and Sand Tires Unlimited exotic sand-specific rubber, and this is a “Maximum Max.” A metallic gold Wolf Designs full wrap with the wild Shock Therapy cartoon shock logo make sure that this is one Can-Am that won’t get lost in the crowd.
KEEPING IT IN SUSPENSE
In addition to the LSR MTS kit, Shock Therapy dialed in the shock internals with the Ride Improvement System (RIS) and the Series 6 bypass kit. The RIS is more than just changing the shim stacks. Changing the shock shim stacks made a difference, but valving alone was not enough. ST changed the shock-piston oil-flow characteristics, made shock-shaft mods and the adjustability in the dual-stage compression adjuster was widened to control a larger range. All of those internal shock changes affect the shock’s ability to be speed sensitive. But, the best shocks are speed and position sensitive. Fox makes the shocks position sensitive (meaning more damping force as the shock gets deeper in the stroke) by using bypass tubes. ST replaces the bypass tubes with new ones it CNC-machines in-house. The bypass tube has holes in it, and as the shock gets deeper in the stroke, more holes are bypassed to stiffen the shock. The ST Series 6 bypass upgrade tubes have many more bypass holes in different locations.
Added to these internal mods are dual-rate shock springs specifically rated for each machine to give the correct ride height for best-handling and -suspension action. Shock Therapy claims, “The Stage 1 Ride Improvement System creates a seriously plush ride while retaining the bump stage needed for the biggest washouts, jump landings and dune G-outs. With the addition of our Series 6 tube upgrade, you add another massive step in plush ride quality and add another 30 percent more bump stage for those big hits at the same time! This translates into not feeling the rough terrain and whoops at all while still having a smooth transition into a bump stage that is incredible and predictable. Smoother in the rough, stiffer where needed is the best of both worlds.” The bypass tubes are not sold separately.
MORE THAN LEGS
Showing admirable restraint for a project machine, Shock Therapy avoided loading an already heavy machine with products, but it did see the need for a stronger roll cage from TMW Off-Road. The Stealth cage comes with an integrated roof, and the car was fitted with Stealth full doors from the same company. It also has a TMW automotive glass windshield. For both safety, comfort and looks, custom, personalized Venom seats from Triple X Seats and harnesses were added.
For day and night, the PCI Race Radios radios and the Rockford Fosgate stereo system keep things lively. When Shock Therapy is in the dunes, they do suspension all day, so the Maximum Max needed to be dialed for night duty. It has Baja Designs light bars to see and LED Buggy Whip lighted whips to be seen.
With all the suspension, there is ample need for traction. Douglas Wheels beadlock wheels are wrapped with Sand Tires Unlimited specialty sand tires. In the rear are 30-inch Blackbird tires that fit on 15-inch wheels. In the front are more 30-inchers on 15-inch rims. These tires are called Tributes. Sand Tires Unlimited’s owner attended the funeral for a friend’s son, Clinton Ruiz, and while he was there, he saw photos displayed showing Ruiz growing up in the dunes. He wanted to do something to commemorate the young man’s life that sadly ended during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. In large letters, it has a full message on the sidewall of the tire. Some money from the sale of each tire is put aside to be donated to veteran charities. This year $10,000 went to the Clinton Ruiz Foundation. The Tribute has a single rib on the outer face of the front tire. Inboard of the rib are small front paddles to aid performance specifically aimed at AWD machines.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
Getting behind the wheel of the Maximum Max was a little intimidating after seeing what Ernie could do with it. He had it flying over the dunes. It may be a jumbo jet, but it flies amazingly well. We figure that the weight of this car must be at least 2000 pounds. The Can-Am X3 motor is no monster off the bottom, and it feels even more subdued in this monster car with massive sand tires to spin. We feel like the glass windshield contributes to the feeling. There is no air coming in the front of the car to give a sensation of speed.
As you might expect, the suspension and handling are first-rate. Many of the Can-Am Maverick X3 Max cars that we see look like they have been lowered. There is just no ride height. ST’s springs get the ride height up where it should be, so you have the benefit of using all of the available 24 inches of wheel travel. This machine rides up in the stroke, so the initial action is plush and smooth, but the ride is stable and planted. It steers well, but you do feel that this is a long and wide car. Bottoming resistance is excellent as well.
This Max is so calm and collected that you end up driving the car hard and going fast. In spite of that, there is never any drama from the machine. Even though we had warm-weather conditions when we drove, the glass windshield was pleasant. It didn’t collect dust, but still offered amazing protection from the elements. If it was cold out, it would be most welcome. Shock Therapy has built a machine that stops people cold with its look but has totally hot performance. The heart of things is the suspension. The prices for the Shock Therapy mods are surprisingly affordable compared to buying upgraded suspension. We can truly see why all the Shock Therapy techs remain so darn busy whenever we see them. They do good work. And when they are done, they hit the dunes for fun. Those are our kind of people.
Shock Therapy www.shocktherapyst.com, (623) 217-4959 Dual-rate spring kit: $994.95 Ride Improvement System: $749.95 Series 6 bypass kit: $399.95 Bump-stop delete tie-rod kit: $274.95 Adjustable sway bar links: $149.95
LoneStar Racing www.lsracing.com, (480) 834-2990 MTS long-travel suspension kit: $6,500
TMW Offroad www.shop.tmwoffroad.com, (480) 969-9261 Stealth cage: $2,499.95 Stealth doors: $1,599.95 Windshield kit.: $879.95 Front arm gusset kit: $389.95
Triple X Seats: www.triplexseats.com, (602) 741-6909 Intimidator series seats: $549.95
Wolf Designs www.utvwrap.com, (480) 888-0202 Full wrap: $790 starting price
Baja Designs: www.bajadesigns.com, (866) 335-8180 S8 10-inch driving/combo LED light bar: $329
Can-Am S8 shock tower mount kit: $38.95 S8 40-inch Spot LED light bar: $1,079.95 RTL-S 30-inch light bar: $449.95 LED Rock amber lights: $64.95
Buggy Whips www.buggywhip.com LED whips: $249.00 each
Affordable Powder Coating www.affordablepowdercoat.com, (602) 272-7646 Powdercoating: Price varies
Sand Tires Unlimited www.sandtiresunlimited.com, www.sxsaddicts.com SR-30-15 Blackbird paddle tires: $395.18 each 31-15 Tribute front tires: $233.09 each
Rockford Fosgate rockfordfosgate.com, (800) 669-9899 Stage 5 system X3 Max: $2,999.99
PCI Race Radios www.pciraceradios.com, (833) PCI-RACE Radio and Intercom System
XTC Power Products www.xtcpowerproducts.com, (480) 558-8588 6-switch power control system: $299.95 TSS-MAV plug-and-play turn-signal system: $339.95 PCS radio stand-alone power control harness: $159.95
Custom LED laser-engraved switches: $19.95
Douglas Wheels www.dwtracing.com, (800) RACE-RIM Sector wheels with custom Shock Therapy machining: $399.95 Sector Zero wheels with custom Shock Therapy machining: $399.95
Method Race Wheels and Tensor Tire www.methodracewheels.com, www.tensortire.com Tensor DS 32-inch race tire: $299.99