ONE-STOP SHOPPING FOR YOUR SIDE-BY-SIDE
To say that Yamaha’s Rhino has taken off in the ATV world is wildy understating the case. There are now all manner of hop-up shops, scattered all over the country, that cater to this highly popular side-by-side off-road vehicle.
MTA, or Motorcycle Tires and Accessories, is a huge tire and aftermarket product distributor that has offices in both Louisiana (MTA East) and California (MTA West). “We have been selling our wheel and tire kits for the Rhinos to various shops for the last couple of years,” says MTA West’s Willy Musgrave. “The majority of Rhinos sold have had customers that wanted to trick them out. But they were not generally located in areas that had Rhino specific hop-up shops to deal with,” claims Musgrave.
“Since we have got so many requests to carry more Rhino products, we have put together an assortment of accessories that every Yamaha dealer could order up for their customers. We feel that this way, you could go to your local Yamaha shop, order up one of our Rhino accessory kits, and have the dealers service department bolt the stuff on for you. That way, you would have a ready to drive, full accessorized, Rhino straight off the showroom floor,” added Musgrave.
NOT BAD THINKING
This one-stop shopping plan sounded good to us as well. We called MTA (West) up and had them send us out one of their bolt-on accessory kits for the Rhino. We then proceeded to bolt it onto one of our test units for evaluation. Since we wanted to check the fit and see how everything bolted together we installed MTA’s accessories ourselves, instead of having our local Yamaha dealer do all the work. Here are the products and companies that MTA uses for their Rhino hop-ups.
The JStrong company is located in the American heartland, Kentucky. The company specializes in building many unique products for the Rhino. For our Project Rhino we had them send out one of their folding wind shields, a set of Rhino doors, and a combination roof/cover with extra lighting and a stereo.
The stereo itself is a JVC CD changer with a CD-R/CD-RW, MP3 control, a front AUX Input, two-line output (2.5V) with 20 Watts RMS X 4. It is ready for iPod hook-up or a satellite radio, with two-120 Watt four-inch speakers.
They also offer several options with their plastic Rhino roof covers, with either a top with lights only ($516.75) or a top with lights and full stereo ($1033.50). We opted for the plastic roof top with four headlights and a deluxe stereo unit installed.
The interior of the ABS plastic roof was designed with stereo and speaker compartments integrated into the top. That way, it allows you to keep your favorite high dollar accessories high, dry, and protected. It comes complete with an easy to install, plug-n-play wiring harness, which has its own fuse box with three extra auxilary hook-ups. This allows for easy installation of the lights, stereo or any other electronic component you may wish to add later.
JStrong also sent out one of their innovative folding windshields. The folding design allows air ventilation to the cab on hot summer days. The windshield is made from impact-resistant acrylic to prevent shattering and potential injury. Strong informed us that it is also non-yellowing, and non-cracking, as well as UV-resistant. The suggested retai price (MSRP) on the windshield is $320.90.
MTA also carries a half door set for the Yamaha Rhino that is a “must-have” accessory. Being able to keep the driver’s and passenger’s legs inside and protected from the elements is something every Rhino owner should look into.
The doors are made of high impact, paintable, ABS plastic. They are completely removable and reversible, and appear very durable. We think the reversibility of the doors it a good idea and it will extend the life cycle of them quite a bit. All you have to do is flip the door and switch the hardware, to get that brand new out-of-the-box look again. Neat.
These JStrong doors also mount inside the Rhino’s stock roll cage, which is another added benefit. It ensures that the width of the Rhino will remain the same, which is a big issue for riders who ride on tight trails. The mounting brackets and hardware are powdercoated for extreme off-road conditions. The hinge pin, door latch and strike plate are also made of stainless steel which will help increase the longevity of this hardware package. MSRP on the Rhino half doors is $516.75. Note: the half doors will only fit on the 2004-2006 Models. They do not currently fit the 2007 Rhino at this time.
The Beard Family started Beard Seats over 20 years ago. Using the experience gained by their own off road racing, the Beards perfected the Beard “Super Seat” and have continued to add options and enhancements to make Beard Seats a premium, high quality, accessory seat.
We had MTA send us a set of their Beard headrest covers ($71.91), a set of Beard Sport seats (very pricey at $395.95 each) and, one of their black leather steering wheels ($109.95) with a billet aluminum steering wheel adapter ($139.95).
The Beard seats are designed as suspension-style seats, and offer one of the most comfortable, lightweight seating options on the market. They feel more like you’re sitting inside a comfortable hammock, instead of a hard foam rubber seat, a la the stock Rhino seating.
Beard Seats start with a powdercoated, steel tubular frame and have an inner liner that is strung with military spec parachute cord. This allows the seat to move with you and absorb energy. The inner liner is then wrapped in high density foam and a CNC-cut cover is then sewn onto the unit.
TIRES & WHEELS
The next items to get bolted onto our Project Rhino were a set of ITP Mud Lite XTRs (27×11-14 fronts, $141.94 and 27×9-14 rears, $129.33). These are a highly popular choice for the Rhinos, and work well and hold up to abuse in both hard pack and muddy terrain conditions.
Tim Orchard at OMF came up with a set of three-piece billet aluminum wheels that were custom built for our Project machine. “These are extremely trick wheels and you guys are getting only the second set we’ve ever made for the Rhino,” stated Orchard. “They take an extraordinary amount of time to custom build and we anodized them blue to complement the blue plastic on the Rhino. We don’t expect to sell many of these units at $429.95 a wheel, but for the Rhino driver wanting the very best wheel on the market, this is it!” OMF also sent us one of their gravel guard aluminum protector kits for the Rhinos which sell for a more reasonable $179.95.
On this phase of our Rhino Project we opted to concentrate on the look and feel of the machine versus all-out performance. But we did want to perk up the power somewhat for this first part of the Project story.
To that end, we installed a DRD (Duback Racing Development) exhaust system ($329.95). It is an aluminum slip-on exhaust muffler with spark arrester that meets USFS (United States Forest Service) requirements. The spark arrestor screen can also be added or removed in minutes via the removable endcap.
TESTING INSTEAD OF RESTING
We absolutely loved the new Beard seats and headrests, the steering wheel and our new JStrong Roof rack with stereo and lights, and the new wheels and tires. The Beard seats offer up a sofa-like ride on the Rhino. They go a long way to improving comfort, especially when compared to the rock-hard, stock foam rubber seats. They are extremely pricey, though, at $395.95 each. Then again, they look great, are extremely durable, and provide a much improved ride, even with stock suspension.
The JStrong plastic roof does a good job of keeping water off the driver and passenger and it was great to have access to music on the trails, although when you wear a helmet, it is much harder to hear, especially when driving. We think the stereo option is designed moreto be listened to when you are stopped, versus riding. The extra lights (four in all) mounted on top of the roof also help boost the lighting output on the Rhino and provide better nighttime illumination.
The fold down windshield is a great idea, especially for colder weather climite, but we would like to see them incorporate a more secure lock down feature for the windscreen, should you opt to ride with it in the “down” position.
Our “half-doors” opened and closed securely and held up well. This should the rider’s legs end up getting pushed hard against them in a high-speed turn.
On the wheel and tire side, the ITP Mud Lites hooked up in the hard pack conditions we rode our Rhino in. They work well in a wide variety of terrains and slide and turn predictably. The OMF beadlock rims got a lot of admiring looks but only the biggest spenders can afford units of this caliber on a limited budget. We also got a good increase in overall usable power with our DRD exhaust system, although it was a bit louder than stock, even with the spark arrester screens installed.
For a Rhino owner wanting to accessorize his machine straight off the dealer’s showroom floor, the MTA package is a smart move. That way you can get your machine set up exactly how you want it. Whatever your budget is, you will be able to start out with a Rhino that is ready to go from the start.