PROJECT UTV: Built for abuse 

By the staff of Dirt Wheels

The Walker Evans re-tuned shocks were far more impressive than stock. They tackled high-speed sections easily, but could be adjusted for slow-speed chop.


Building a project machine is always rewarding, but we like it best when we get to start with a great machine. Collin Duffy is our project specialist, and he set his sights on Polaris’ RZR XP Turbo S Velocity for an epic adventure build.

The goal for this RZR, which we have named “Rocky,” was to tackle nasty desert obstacles like you’d find in Southern California’s Johnson Valley, home of the infamous King of the Hammers UTV race. To do so, you must protect the machine’s important parts and its occupants.

Factory UTV’s UHMW full skid plate set is a must for driving through rock and trail debris. The plates protected our frame and suspension.



The KISS method, or Keep It Simple Stupid, was key for this project. The first stop was BFD Off-Road for their Turbo S two-seat cage. We had them add intrusion bars, which added even more strength and protection. A thin-wall stock cage will crush or bend long before a BFD cage, which is constructed of far stronger materials. They are happy to add light bar mounting tabs and fulfill other build requests.

Rocky Mountain ATV/MC Tusk Barrier Pro Fit doors bolt right on with some adjustment required. They have a steel frame with an aluminum outer skin bolted to it. That skin reduces the dirt and debris that gets in the cab. They reuse the stock latching mechanism.

We had a spare CVT belt and tools to change it on hand thanks to Savage UTV’s case mounted to the BFD Off-road roll cage.


The stock RZR XP Turbo S front A-arms and rear trailing-arm suspension are plenty stout enough for most drivers, but we wanted to protect them from rocks. Factory UTV offers a 1/2-inch-thick UHMW skid plate kit for the Polaris. We drilled many new holes under the RZR to mount a full two-piece belly skid plate kit that included another plate under the front end. Rock sliders were included in the kit, along with full protection under the stock suspension components.

We consider a winch safety equipment. Warn’s impressive Axon 45RC winch comes with a dash-mountable switch, along with a cabled remote. The Axon is easy to install since the contactor is now built into the winch, and it has overheating sensors that stop the winch from burning out under hard loads. Collin chose to go with a synthetic rope on the winch (instead of steel cable). Synthetic is easier on the hands when you have to winch a lot to get yourself unstuck.

SealSavers protect our Walker Evans shocks, while Rock Knocker flaps keep rocks and debris from entering the rims and chewing up the suspension.



Creature comforts aren’t as vital as safety products but are important. Comfortable and better-bolstered Simpson Racing Pro Sport UTV seats were installed into Rocky. Three-inch-wide, 5-point H-style racing seat harnesses with mounts keep the driver and passenger securely fastened in the vehicle at all times.

Assault Industries came on board with many favorable upgrades. The 350R leather steering wheel with a quick-release system and hub was installed. The wheel is much more comfortable than the stock RZR XP Turbo S Velocity edition came with. Impressively tough Sidewinder convex side mirrors were bolted to the BFD roll cage, along with Assault’s Ghost tinted sun visors. The passenger gained a billet grab bar. We mounted an iPad (for GPS display) with an Assault Industries case with a setup from Ram Mount. Collin also connected a Ram phone mount to the roll cage so he can keep track of his own GPS.

We have fallen in love with helmet air-pumper systems since we first started using them. They keep your head cool and stop dust from getting into your helmet. S&B Filters came out with its own helmet Particle Separator utilizing the same technology as the amazing air intake Particle Separator. The helmet separator was mounted to the BFD Off-Road roll cage with S&B’s hoses and hose mounts.

Ram Mounts hold our phone and iPad that we utilize for GPS. Assault’s grab bar holds the Ram-mounted Assault iPad case. Assault’s steering wheel is comfortable.



The back of this RZR deserved a lot of attention. Do not go off-roading unless you are prepared with the proper tools to repair your rig. In Rocky, you will find a Tuff Trail Gear jack, and an Assault Industries quick-release fire extinguisher mounted to the rear downtubes of the roll cage. A cage-mounted Savage UTV tool kit holds a spare CVT belt and tools to change it. An Assault Industries adventure rack is mounted over the bed of the Polaris. It securely holds a spare tire and flips open at the pull of a lever, allowing access to important tools and components.

Inside the bed are two different Warn Industries winch kits that come with snatch blocks, tree or rock ropes, durable winching gloves, and metal shackles. A UTV Grab Bag recovery kit comes with a long, heavy-duty tow strap, a soft shackle, and two metal shackles. Another bag holds an assortment of useful tools that Collin put together. It includes tire repair equipment, tools to change tires, electrical and duct tape, screwdrivers, various wrenches, a tire inflator, rags, and more. The finishing touch is an Assault Industries Rugged cooler bag that holds cold water and food. The Adventure rack securely holds the items in the bed, but it’s still good practice to strap them to the bed on the inside as well so they don’t shake around.

HMF Engineering’s Titan Series exhaust looks great and adds a mellow yet throaty tone RZR. Teixeira Tech’s high-clearance A-arms are strong and avoid rocks easily.



Collin didn’t focus too much on increasing the Polaris RZR Turbo S’ power. It’s stock 168 horsepower is nothing to laugh at, and in trail situations, more power isn’t required. However, the increased weight of added components means the RZR would be somewhat slower than a stock machine. HMF Engineering offers multiple exhaust systems for the RZR S. The Titan Series full exhaust with Quiet Core inserts added some power. Reliability was very important for this build, so only the exhaust and a higher-flowing Uni air filter were installed.

This RZR is called the Turbo S Velocity Edition because Polaris worked with Walker Evans Racing (WER) to offer a price-point version of the “S” that came with Velocity shocks on it. WER’s aftermarket Velocity shocks are different than the stock ones. They come with more options and offer higher performance. To erase that gap, Collin sent the stock shocks to WER to get them modified and tuned for the terrain the UTV would be driven on, and to compensate for the added weight of all the new components. WER valved and sprung the shocks while adding crossover rings to them. The shock internals was changed to complement rocky- and desert-style terrain.

Polaris’ RZR Turbo S comes stock with 32-inch tires, which means the machine is tuned for that size. A set of Method Race Wheels 405 UTV Beadlock wheels found their home with Tensor DS 32-inch-tall tires. Running lower tire pressures for rock crawling is key for great traction, and a Beadlock wheel safely allows that. It also stops the tire from breaking away from the rim if you hit an obstacle hard with the sidewall.

Assault’s Adventure rack carries a spare tire, and keeps our spare tools, parts, and Assault cooler bag safe in the bed of the RZR.



This RZR’s modified cockpit instantly lets us feel safer while going fast compared to the stock Polaris RZR XP Turbo S Velocity. The stronger roll-cage intrusion bars and crossbar over the hood do hinder your view, but the safety is worth it. Tusk’s doors are taller and more encapsulating while still opening easily. The Simpson seats offer more comfort and a more secure feel. Their race-ready harness systems hold you sturdily in place, and the padding on the straps is plush. The new Assault Industries 350R steering wheel with the quick-release setup puts the wheel a lot closer to the driver, which is comfortable for some but a bit too close for others. The convex mirrors are a treat when it comes to reversing the machine, and depending on where the sun is sitting in the sky, the Ghost Tinted visors are eye-savers.

Rugged Radios sent us one of their complete kits for our RZR build, which included a 60-watt radio, 696 Bluetooth intercom, mounting bracket, and helmet kits. Being able to communicate with your co-driver and other machines out on the trails is the only way to go. The S&B helmet separator fed us clean air, but for those colder days, we wished we could adjust how strong the airflow is. Being a bit chilled is better than sucking in a ton of dust, and when it gets hot, the breeze inside our helmets is much needed.

Simpson seats and harnesses keep the occupants safe and secure inside the cab. The seats are comfortable and won’t let your body slide.

This build was very focused on enjoying and surviving technical trails, and not making it a lot faster. The Polaris RZR XP Turbo S is a fast-enough platform. We added the HMF Engineering exhaust to add power to make up for the added weight on the machine. Power still felt crisp and meaty any time we called on it. The Tensor tires were very impressive, too. They put the power straight to the ground and gripped pretty hard everywhere. At times the RZR felt twitchy due to the traction. The Method Beadlock wheels allowed us to run low tire pressures to crawl through big rocks.

Walker Evans’ upgraded shocks were the cherry on top. We tried chasing him down in a set of deep whoops with a stock four-seat Polaris RZR XP 4 Turbo S, and the two-seat project was at least 10-mph quicker through the rough due to the plush WER shocks. They handled very well at a quick pace, but in the slow-speed sections, some compression tuning was required to soften them up. As an all-around shock setup, it is well worth sending your Walkers in to get freshened up and upgraded.

Factory UTV sent us their Ultimate 1/2-inch UHMW skid plate kit. It was difficult to install but worth the protection.



Collin can push his build a lot harder and faster than when it was stock. Building projects won’t give the best results for everyone. As superb as the support and comfort of the seats are, they do sacrifice room in the cab compared to the stock seats. But any build is for a specific driver. There is ample in-cab room for Collin. Every change complemented his driving style, sated his adventure requirements, and elevated the safety standards for him to go fast and drive through the roughest terrain.

The 32-inch-tall Tensor tires had quite a bit more grip than we are used to in tacky terrain. They made the car react instantly and hooked up very well.


ASSAULT INDUSTRIES: (714) 799-6711, www.assaultind.com

Hellfire grill $154.99

Ghost tinted sun visors $169.99

350R leather steering wheel $169.99

Steering wheel hub $64.99

Quick-release $124.99

Sidewinder convex mirrors $299.99

Quick-release UTV  fire extinguisher $169.99

Rugged offroad cooler bag $59.99

Adventure rack $479.99

Grab handlebar $189.99

BFD OFF-ROAD: (760) 789-5896, www.bfdoffroad.com

Turbo S two-seat cage $1,750

FACTORY UTV: (916) 383-2730, www.factoryutv.net

Ultimate 1/2-inch UHMW skid plate kit $1,300.90

RAM MOUNT: (800) 497-7479, www.rammount.com

Quick-Grip XL phone holder $23.99

1 1/2–2-inch diameter rail base $35.49

Custom setup for IPad N/A

HMF ENGINEERING: (216) 631-6980, www.hmfracing.com

Titan series full exhaust $1039.95

METHOD RACE WHEELS: (866) 779-8604, www.methodracewheels.com

405 UTV beadlock wheel $301.90 each.

N-STYLE: (661) 425-7275, www.n-style.com

Custom door graphics: N/A 

RUGGED RADIOS: (888) 541-7223, www.ruggedradios.com

Complete RZR radio kit: Starting at $1,626 (includes 60-watt radio & 696 Intercom)

SAVAGE UTV: www.savageutv.com

Savage Tool Kit $169.99

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS: (800) 654-7223, www.simpsonraceproducts.com

Pro sport UTV seat $579.95 each

Seat mounts $29.95

5-point harnesses N/A

Harness mounts N/A

S&B FILTERS: (800) 358-2639, www.sbfilters.com

Helmet particle 

separator starting at $399

Hoses and hangers 

sold separately depending on UTV

TENSOR: (866) 779-8604, www.tensortire.com

DS 32-inch tires $299.50 each.

TUFF TRAIL GEAR: (801) 634-4321, www.tufftrailgear.com

Jackdaddy aluminum w/cage mounts $345

UTV Grab Bag recovery kit $75-$104

TUSK: (800) 336-5437, www.rockymountainatvmc.com

Barrier pro-fit doors $399.95

WALKER EVANS RACING: (951) 784-7223, www.walkerevansracing.com

Shock rework N/A

WARN INDUSTRIES: (800) 543-9276, www.warn.com

Axon 45RC winch $769.99

Light-duty winch accessory kit $109.22

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