PROJECT POLARIS GENERAL 4
How a racer improves his General for normal trail usage
— Building a four-star General —
By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Polaris’ General and particularly the General 4 have been very popular. We’ve suspected that success is based on the General having near-RZR performance in a dump-bed-equipped package that you can convince your wife and tax guy is for utility. WORCS Sparta Racing crew chief Darin McGuffin had a less complicated reason for upgrading his RZR 900 to a General 4: “I just wanted something a little different than what everyone else had at first, but now I love it.” McGuffin is the owner of All Valley Carburetors in Santa Clarita, California, so he knows his way around wheeled machinery. He is a long-time ATV fan, and he was a Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno class winner as long as 19 years ago!
A guy like McGuffin isn’t going to be happy with a stock machine, but he is also quite picky about what goes on the car. To a long-time racer, weight is the enemy. He isn’t bashful about added critical components, but he doesn’t add anything because it “looks cool.” One of the key components of this project machine is the HCR Racing long-travel kit. This is a very complete kit that jumps the track width 10 inches to 70 inches, adds 2 inches of wheelbase for better handling and has high-clearance front A-arms that add 1.25 inches of additional ground clearance. And, living up to the long-travel name, it increases travel to over 17 inches of travel on all four corners.
HCR has come up with impressive suspension numbers for A-arm suspension. The TIG-welded arms are fabricated from proprietary steel alloy, and the arms are literally works of art. McGuffin recognized that fact, so he had the arms clear powdercoated “They told me it would last a year, so I chose clear. When it starts to get rough-looking, I can make them a solid color.”
At $5999, the HCR long-travel kit sounds pricey, but in addition to those sexy suspension arms, the kit includes specially tuned 2.5-inch HCR Racing King shocks. Alone, these shocks would cost $3400. The compression adjusters are claimed to allow up to a 30-percent range of adjustment in the available 20 clicks.
The kit also includes wider RCV Axles 4340 Series chromoly axles. At the end of those axles are 30-inch tires on 14-inch wheels. We tried 30-inch tires on a General, but they hit the body. McGuffin’s General’s track is so wide that the wheels are completely outside the body lines, so he easily uses 30-inch ITP Ultra Cross tires on 14×8 Raceline Black Mamba beadlock wheels. The Mambas have more offset than the stock wheels, so the car is even wider than the 10 inches the HCR kit adds. Those larger wheels required different clutching from EPI Performance. McGuffin chooses to stay with the reliable stock exhaust and intake programming.
The HCR kit and the wheels are really the major performance mods. Every other aspect of the machine is to help it get the occupants home. McGuffin fabricated his own lightweight aluminum roof that barely covers more than the front seats. He pirated the half windshield and fire extinguishers from his old RZR 900. The same with the RotopaX 3-gallon gas can and the spare tire mount in the bed. Behind the mount is a McGuffin-modified bumper jack out of an older American car. The General 4 comes with excellent seats and full doors, so the only requirement was the addition of Pro Armor 3-inch harness-type seat belts. The cage is stock.
Who doesn’t like to see and be seen? So, affordable All Terrain Concepts LED lights—a 20-inch bar in the front and a pod as a backup light in the rear—assist the stock lights. Inside the cab is Rugged Radios communication gear and a pumper to get filtered air into the helmets of the driver and front passenger. The air hoses use a trick MagLock magnetic fitting that instantly locks the fresh air hose to the helmets. When not in use, the hoses simply attach to the roll cage.
McGuffin uses the General 4 for a wide variety of driving adventures. It pre-ran complete Baja courses, worked around his property and took him fishing in the Sierras. That is the reason for the Big 5 fishing pole rack attached to the roof.
McGuffin claims the General has largely been reliable. He had just replaced some primary clutch parts that caused some problems; otherwise, the car has been trouble-free. It has just what it needs for his planned adventures and nothing more. It does have a front bumper and a winch, but those parts are stock. We shot our photos on trails that we have a lot of time on in 64-inch cars. You can certainly tell that this General has a wide track. With stock wheels, it would be roughly 70 inches, but with the Raceline wheels, it is probably more like 74 inches wide!
With the stock suspension, the General 4 can take some surprisingly big hits in stride, but it doesn’t appreciate repeated bumps, whoops or cobby, buried rocks much. HCR took care of those limitations. This General 4 is a best-suspended A-arm-equipped machine in memory. The suspension action is plush on choppy bumps since it rides well up in the stroke to get the most out of the travel.
At the same time it is smooth and controlled through whoop sections. The General is no slouch in the engine bay, but with around 20 horsepower less than a RZR XP 1000, you can keep the throttle mashed through the rough with no concern that things will get out of hand. McGuffin claims that he easily runs with the latest Can-Am X3s, but we give much of that credit to his driving ability.
On a recent desert trip McGuffin had all four seats filled, and he said that on each ride at least one of the rear-seat passengers fell asleep—and we guarantee they weren’t sleeping from boredom.
The EPI clutching eased up on the engine braking, something that McGuffin likes to take some of the strain off the CVT belt, and you do indeed use the brakes more on descents than you would on a stock General, but we like a little less engine braking.
Being so wide in the stance makes this General a weapon on cambered trails as well. In the end, despite one of the shortest product lists on any project UTV in recent history, this General 4 is a genuine pleasure to drive, whether the pace is fast or the conditions are slow and technical. It has plenty of power and all the suspension you could ask for to put that power to good work. It has tough tires and the beadlock wheels to get the car back despite a flat. There is light, and there are effective safety belts. McGuffin has put well over 1000 miles on this machine in one year, and those are hard miles. This is truly an impressive machine, and we are among those who wish the General came stock with suspension like this.
All Terrain Concepts www.allterrainconcepts.com
Platinum-XL (rear) $99
O-Series LED light bar $170
All Valley Carburetors (661) 252-0772
Build and labor Price varies
Assault Industries www.assaultind.com
B2 Bomber side mirrors $299.99
PTLX Global www.ptlxglobal.com
EPI Performance www.epiperformance.com
Clutch kit for bigger tires $329.95
HCR Racing www.hcrracing.com
Complete long-travel kit (includes four front A-arms, four rear A-arms, 2.5 Kings shocks, axles & hardware) $5999
Clear powdercoat (colors available) $250
ITP Tires www.itptires.com
30×10-14 Ultra Cross R-Spec tires $192.45
MagLock connectors $299.95
Pro Armor www.proarmor.com
Three-inch harnesses $$119.95 each
Raceline Wheels www.racelinewheels.com
Black Mamba 14×8 beadlock wheels $100
Three-gallon gas can $99.95
DLX pack mount $39.95
Rugged Radios www.ruggedradios.com
RRP660 Plus two-place intercom with 60-watt radio and Alpha audio helmet kits $1,347.25
M3 two-person air pumper system with hoses $369