WIDE OPEN: Top performance for everybody

UTV and ATV enthusiasts have got it good. There are a lot of exciting activities out there, but UTV driving and ATV riding are two of just a few where you can buy true high-performance machines from a local dealer. I’m talking about machines like the Yamaha YXZ1000R, YFZ450R, Raptor 700, Honda Talon, Can-Am X3 Turbo RR and the high-performance RZR models—vehicles that are designed from the ground up for performance with very few compromises. If you like things with engines, there’s something irresistible about the ones that use the very best technology available—machines with few parts that don’t contribute to speed and performance. High-performance UTVs and quads have a few non-essentials, like lights and key switches, and some comfort and storage features. Features that are useful in real-world riding, and even those things are designed to be light, like every other part of the machine.

If you don’t think high-performance UTVs and ATVs are something special, consider the polar opposite of such a pure-performance vehicle, a motor home, a machine that tries to be a vehicle and a house, and performs poorly at both. It seems completely appropriate that in motorhome design, more frills are considered a plus, and things like excess weight aren’t just ignored, they’re encouraged. Why have a lightweight plastic countertop when you can drive down the road with solid granite? A normal, large motorhome is only as wide as Jason Aldean’s luxury tour bus, so why not go for the model with rooms that slide out from the side? That way you’ll have enough room to play Frisbee in the air-conditioned interior in case it gets hot outside!

The next time you take high-tech UTVs and ATVs for granted, think about how tough it would be if airplanes and flying were your favorite thing. Piloting the ultimate high-performance aircraft, a fighter jet, is an admirable goal, but opportunities are limited. Even if you earn your way to a seat in the cockpit of one of these beasts, you don’t get to take it out any time you like. When you do get to fly, you have to be ready for a danger level that is definitely not for everybody. You need more qualifications than good credit to buy your own modern fighter jet, and even if you could, the purchase price, over $150 million, can be enough to make a billionaire squeamish. If buying your own fighter doesn’t bankrupt you, maintaining one will. Current high-performance jets cost more than $60,000 per hour to fly.  Suddenly, a couple quarts of synthetic oil for your UTV every few rides seems awfully affordable, doesn’t it?

Dreaming of feeling the ultimate in automotive performance, a Formula One car? Access to those seats is actually more limited than fighter-jet-pilot positions. The actual cost of the cars is a closely guarded secret, but experts estimate the figure is around $8 million each. The maintenance costs are similarly staggering, and the whole issue of parts prices and availability is mysterious at best and scary at worst. Then, there’s the issue of where to drive the thing. If you can’t stand the wait at your local DMV office to register your UTV, imagine the time and paperwork involved in getting a plate for an F1 car. The most frightening thing about driving a Formula One car on public roads would be how fast your car and your finances would be destroyed, though it’s hard to say if the potholes or the speeding tickets would do more damage.  To enjoy the car, you’d have to face the expense and inconvenience of paying for time on extremely well-maintained tracks. You really need the combined wealth and manufacturing ability of major corporations like Mercedes-Benz and the vast financial resources of huge sponsors to operate a Formula One car. High-performance UTVs and quads don’t just save you millions compared to the other top-level motorized activities, they come with the freedom to enjoy a track one day and have fun trail riding the next.

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