First Time SxS/UTV Owner Checklist, Upgrades and Necessities

Posted by Harley Sipes on

We’ve all been there; you've been scouring the forums and Facebook pages for months, you've dreamt about building out your very own UTV, and finally the day has come and you are staring at that big shiny beast in your garage. But now what? Navigating where to start your build can be a daunting task, and with hundreds of different opinions on which exhaust is the best, which tire lasts the longest, or which oil viscosity you should use, there is enough information floating around the internet to make your head spin! Lets help simplify the process and at least point you in the right direction!

Safety is first!

While it's tempting to start ordering the loudest stereo or performance mods that will make you the fastest in the group, none of that will do you any good if you get injured while out exploring your dream offroad destination. Safety is the most important upgrade you can do to your vehicle and for yourself. There is a false sense of security when purchasing a 200hp car with over 20” of suspension travel. The assumption is that a manufacturer has provided the safest way possible to reach the full capability of the machine. Unfortunately, the safety components are designed to meet bare minimum requirements. Thin wall tubing, lack of proper triangulation and a new trend of quality control that leaves you expecting more, these offroad vehicles have many areas in which safety can be improved.  Below we will list our top 7 items that we recommend to all new SxS owners.

1.  Off-Road Safety Harnesses 

3 and 4 point harnesses are great if you plan on driving Miss Daisy to the county fair on Sunday. However, once you start pushing these machines you need a way to keep your butt planted in the seat with little to no movement. This is where a 5-point safety harness system shines. The big benefit to a 5-point harness is that it keeps the lap belt where it belongs; at your waist.  4-point harnesses typically allow the lap belt to ride up into the chest area which will not hold you down in the event of a rollover. We highly recommend Simpson D3 Off-Road 5-Point safety harnesses. We have experienced a number of rollovers and these harnesses kept us in the seat every time. With over 60 years of experience, they know a thing or two about safety.

2.  Robust Roll Cage 

The worst time to discover your factory “roll cage” was not actually designed for a roll, is well, after a roll over. Protect your ride (and more importantly you and your passengers) with a properly designed roll cage. Replacing the weak stock cage with a properly designed and gusseted unit will stiffen up your chassis as well as protect the occupants. These LSK Roll Cage Kits combine strength and style.  They offer an entire line of Weld-It-Yourself cages, and having .095 wall DOM steel with CNC bent and coped tubes makes protecting yourself even easier. Call Fastlab UTV today and we can even do the welding and install for you!

3.  UTV Communications

So you've broken down, your buddy broke down, or worse, you're on your lid miles from camp. Now what? A way to communicate with your group is a critical part of the riding experience.  It allows you to contact the group in the case of an emergency or a missed turn, but more importantly, allows your passenger to yell at you to slow down! A clear line of communication to base camp or the rest of your group can save you or someone on the trail in the event of an emergency.  It makes the ride more fun when you can poke fun at your buddies without ever getting out of the car.  PCI Race Radios produces top quality kits and is the only radio setup we recommend to friends and family.  This particular kit is what we use for our 2-seat Can-am, Polaris, and Yamaha UTV comms.

4.  First aid

Accidents happen. Scrapes, cuts, bruises and burns are part of life offroad, but there's no need to rub some dirt in it.  Take care of it the right way!  MyMedic makes some of the most comprehensive off-road first aid kits available. They include everything from quality bandages and gauze to electrolyte packs, burn ointment and complete tourniquet kits. We highly recommend getting familiar with your first aid kit and also suggest a first aid class. Who knows, you could save a life!  This MyFAK first aid kit is a thorough kit with a small form factor.  Perfect for medical emergencies while in your UTV.

5.  Recovery Gear

Ripping around trails and dicing between trees is all fun and games until that turn comes a little too fast, and before you know it you're hanging off a ledge or stuck in a deep rut. We always carry at least 50’ of recovery straps, but even better is having a winch installed on your ride. This SuperATV winch setup packs plenty of power at an affordable price and can definitely get you or your buddies out of trouble.

6.  Spare Tire

You know those annoying pointed rocks that jump out at you on the trails.  We’ve seen them too!  Tire damage happens when you are pushing the laws of physics in rocky riding areas.  Being prepared when one of those rocks slashes your sidewall can be the difference between a wasted trip and an epic weekend adventure.  There are many options out now for UTV spare tire racks.  We prefer setups that do not impede storage space and have easy access to the spare tire.  The Fastlab UTV Spare Tire Carrier for the Yamaha YXZ1000R moves the center of gravity rearward to help with that model’s tendency to buck the rear end.  The Fastlab X3 Tire Carrier keeps the center of gravity low and still gives full access to bed space. We’ve even towed cars back to camp with these, and they work great as an anchor point to right a toppled vehicle!

7.  Seats

Let's be honest, most factory seats leave us a little sore after a few hours on the trails. Once you really start pushing the limits of these vehicles (and their fuel range), an upgraded seat will make your time behind the wheel much more enjoyable. When it comes to comfort and quality, nothing beats Simpson Seats.  In our own vehicles, we are running the Simpson Vortex II seats, and our only regret is we didn't install them sooner. While all of the Simpson seats can be installed in almost every UTV, we have put together prepackaged kits with appropriate mounting brackets to take the guesswork out of it. These suspension seats install quickly with easily accessible mounting bolts (unlike many other options on the market).  This allows future removal for servicing or adding accessories much easier than other brands. Contact us for custom colors or adding seat heaters!

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