PROJECT POLARIS RS1
— Single-seat adventure from Maxxis —
By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Maxxis Tire race support stalwart Mike Farmer has done a lot of racing and riding on two wheels, and he still owns dirt bikes. But as he says of his fairly recent passion, “I just can’t stay out of these UTVs!” Even though the companies he offers event support for (CST as well as Maxxis) are powerful players in the UTV market, it was seeing neighbors in rural Utah having fun in UTVs that finally motivated him to step into a dealership. He is a family man, with everyone under the roof also smitten with wheels, so his first purchase was a Polaris XP 1000 four-seater. He soon found that he spent the majority of his time alone in the machine with many extra, but empty, seats.
FINDING THE ONE
That realization prompted the addition of the 2019 Polaris RS1 single-seater to the family garage. Despite the fact that much of his youth centered on burning ever-faster laps around small tracks, living in southern Utah sparked a need for adventure. “I still like riding motorcycles, but I have no desire to race them on a track any longer.” In a strange turn of events, his wife Amber motivated his first off-road races. Even though she eventually became a top-10 runner in the Women’s Motocross League National Motocross Series, her history is riding and racing off-road. His off-road motorcycle experience (gained with Amber’s influence), and the sheer beauty and variety of southern Utah off-road riding, has shaped his current wheeled adventures.
We met up with Farmer near St. George, Utah, so that he and Utah Off-Road Tours could show us some favorite trails while we examined his new single-seat adventure wagon. The time window we had available decreed that we have our driving adventures in 108-degree weather. All of our machines had roofs, and we were surprised at how pleasant the experience was despite the high temps.
HAVING A PLAN
Polaris obviously had short-course racing in mind when designing the RS1, but we have seen a large number of these machines in the dunes and on desert rides. For adventure driving the RS1 has a few limitations. On the plus side, the car is comfortable, and it has more left-leg room than a four-seat RZR, and that counts for a driver as tall as Farmer. It is easy to see your wheel placement during technical driving, and the RS1 is supremely nimble. The downside is that cargo space is limited. Farmer wanted to boost the safety and the comfort of the RS1, but so far he fully trusts the basic performance and protection that Polaris designed in.
He does carry tools to repair tire punctures and to replace the CVT belt if needed. He has confidence in the 32-inch (29-inch is stock) Maxxis Carnivore tires, and they add to the ground clearance. The tires are tough and have an open tread pattern that works well in soft and hard dirt. They come standard on the Polaris’ latest high performance RZR models. Just in case, he mounted the Carnivores on KMC XS234 Addict 2 beadlock wheels so he can run flat in an emergency. To help the normally aspirated engine turn the larger tires, he mounted an Evolution Powersports Magnum slip-on exhaust system. The RS1 engine already had major low-rpm response, but it is boosted by the exhaust. To make sure that he gets home, a compact 1.5-gallon Rotopax fuel can is mounted to the cage.
To prevent damage to the shock shafts, seals and the CV boots, Farmer installed the tough new Pro Series Coil Savers and CV Savers. Finally, he added a Rev Up graphics kit to the machine and topped it all off with a light bar from Tractor Supply mounted to the Polaris roof.
Hunter Safety Products has seats that you can customize, and the brilliant color combo Farmer chose remains the standard $404. He chose convenient four-point harness seat belts from the same company that use a normal seatbelt buckle. He always tries to have his adventures in a group for safety, so a Rugged Radios radio allows car-to-car communications. He chose the 60-watt model to provide the most range for the radio. There was no need for an intercom with a single-seater! Utah allows UTVs to transit between trail sections on rural roads, but requires a horn and turn signals to obtain the required license plate. Ryco Motorsports has an affordable, well-regarded kit that Farmer employed.
For that rare pavement-pounding and trail safety, Assault side and center mirrors allow a clear rear view. We were impressed with the ease of backing up in tight conditions.
Despite the unseemly temperatures, we went on three completely different rides with Farmer and his RS1. We had pavement; fast, smooth dirt roads; mountainous rock roads; boulders; water crossings; silt; sand, dunes; and even slick rock. We even had some of that smooth clay that is unique to Utah and the surrounding states. During our rides the RS1 kept pace with a variety of other UTVs, including our Polaris RZR XP 4 Turbo S. It never had any trouble hanging, and when the going got tight and technical, the small machine looked like a ballet dancer cavorting with football linemen.
The basic suspension package from Walker Evans offers a comfortable ride with plenty of control for the rough and those sudden G-out impacts that spring up on remote trail adventures. Some of the mountainous rock trails had some daunting cambers, but they didn’t faze the RS1. We knew that the competition-bred machine would be a weapon in the tight, but wondered about the high-speed manners. Farmer suggested that we stay in 4WD during all of our driving, and the RS1 responded with well-planted trail and dirt road manners.
We could really see the value of the shorter wheelbase when we skirted a million rocks while dealing with multiple river crossings. It is very nimble, wheel placement is easy and the taller tires give it all the clearance required. Our helmets were not wired for the radio, and after driving without it, we can see that it is almost a requirement in the RS1. Through it all the RS1 was comfortable with all of the engine performance and ground clearance we needed.
WHAT LIES AHEAD?
No doubt there are suspension mods and some undercarriage protection in the works in the future. For now, though, Farmer has personalized the car for his geographic requirements and to suit his passion. It is easy to mess up the best part of a machine’s performance by adding too much weight to it, but Farmer carefully considered the weight and the cost of the mods before he made them. The result is a single-seater that is a highly desirable adventure mount.
PARTS AND SERVICES
Moto Zoo Polaris of St George: (435) 652-2640, www.motozoo.com
2019 Polaris RS1: $14,999
Assault Industries: (714) 799-6711, www.assaultind.com
Phantom convex side mirrors $309.99
Bomber convex center mirror $99.99
Evolution Powersports: (715) 247-3862, www.evopowersports.com
RZR XP 1000/RS1 Magnum slip-on exhaust $649
Hunter Safety Products: (623) 233-9711, ww.huntersafetyproducts.com
Rage UTV seat $404
2-inch 4-point harness $85
KMC Wheels: www.kmcwheels.com
XS234 Addict 2 beadlock
wheels $277 ea.
Maxxis Tires: www.maxxis.com
Carnivore 32X10-15 $225 ea.
RS1 aluminum roof $399.99
Rev Up Graphics: (702) 951-5750, www.revupgraphics.com
Complete RS1 graphics kit $995
1.5 gal FuelPax $47.99
Rugged Radios: (888) 541-7223, www.ruggedradios.com
RK-RM60-V radio kit $423
H22 Pro Series 2-way headset $159
Ryco Motorsports: (801) 643-3440
Turn signal & horn kit $305
Seal Savers: (951) 757-0458, www.sealsavers.com
Pro Series CV Savers $39.95 per set
Pro Series Coil Savers $39.95 per set
Tractor Supply Company: www.tractorsupply.com
Traveler 21-inch 7200-lumen
light bar $159.99