Our UTV is a 2015 Polaris RZR S EPS – and I love it! Since the day we picked it up, I get giddy just talking about it. But, buying the RZR wasn’t the end of the journey – hardly – it was just the beginning of a number of modifications that have made our UTV, into a veritable tank of a machine.
From stock, here are the things that were added to make sure we could go where our ATV friends thought a side-by-side couldn’t:
- SuperATV A-arms, with a 1.5″ forward offset
- HighLifter 2″-5″ lift kit
- 32″ STI Outback Max tires on STI 14″ rims
- SuperATV front axles
And with those additions, we’ve found that we walk through the spots where the big ATV’s (CanAm Renegade XMR, Polaris Scramblers, Suzuki King Quads, Yamaha Grizzly’s, and even the Kawasaki Brute Forces) think we’ll struggle and some are pretty gnarly spots. But when our turn comes and we brace ourselves for impact, inevitably, the RZR just walks over the spot and my wife and I look at each other and laugh because we should know better by now, and then we head onward looking for the next chance to get it stuck.
The original Polaris A-arms are 1″ tubing and are very light duty. They do the job but I learned quickly they don’t stand up to the kind of punishment I can throw at them. In April 2015, on a trip into the hunting camp, which is in the Canadian Shield with lots of loose rock and even more solid rock, I noticed that I was hitting the A-arms regularly and upon returning home, I saw that the right side had been bent pretty good so it was clear the stock arms would eventually have to go. When time (and money) was available, I did some research and boiled my decision down to either SuperATV or Highlifter. I finally decided on the SuperATV arms over the Highlifter ones because I liked the design a bit better and I could get them colour-matched to our bike.
The SuperATV A-arms are a stout 1.25″ and the build quality is clearly superior to the stock ones. But the real beauty of the new SuperATV a-arms is the extra 1.5″ of a-arm clearance you gain and the 1.5″ forward offset (which helps to accomodate larger tires). I did not have the ability to check it, but the weight difference in the two different a-arms also suggested to me that the tubing on the SuperATV arms was a bit heavier, too (but this could be all in my head).
I used the a-arms for a few weeks before putting on the lift and the tires. The difference was stark. On trips where I would feel the a-arms hit, they just never seemed to make contact. The feeling was like there was an extra 1.5″ of clearance on the bike, not just in the a-arms. These a-arms have been a godsend for me as I tend to get into rocky and rough terrain more often than not and now, the arms have about 4000km on them and they have performed incredibly well, even though I’ve put 75 pounds of tire and wheel on them instead of the stock 37 pounders. In the pictures below, you can see what a difference it makes in the clearance in the front of the bike.
Highlifter 2″ lift & STI Tires and Rims
The way this came about was after the Marmora Poker Run event that’s held the first weekend in May. We met up with friends at the event who have a 2015 Highlifter Edition Polaris 1000 side by side, and decided to follow them for the day. As the spring thaw was upon us and the frost was coming out of the ground, many rocks and old logs were being pushed up to the surface – and we felt every single one of them. In fact we seemed to be hitting so often, my wife, trying to be casual and not panicked, asked “Will that damage the RZR?” I, putting on my most reassuring and convincing tone said “Nothing to worry about hunny! It’s designed to take the abuse.” Unfortunately, I don’t think either one of us was completely convinced.
When we got back to the launch point, my wife said to Sarah, (from the the Highlifter ride) how rough the trail had been and how it sucked hitting so many rocks and sticks, and didn’t Sarah think so. Sarah very quickly shot back that they hadn’t felt a thing. And so it was written. SuperATV, Highlifter, and STI should have paid commissions to Sarah because that comment gave me the green light to get what I needed to get so we weren’t bouncing off every other rock on the trail.
Prior to Lifting: 10.25″ (factory pre-load on the springs)
After Lifting: 14.5″ (factory pre-load on the springs)
As before, my decision came down to SuperATV or Highlifter for the lift kit. I went with the Highlifter kit because it seemed sturdier, the forum “reviews” I could find were positive, and there were very few people that had used the SuperATV ones. The Highlifter kit is called a 2-5″ lift, but this is a bit of a misnomer. It’s a 2″ lift, but they take credit for the fact you can dial out your preload to achieve a full 5″ lift from factory. I can’t tell you a lot about the kit, other than it was easy and straightforward to install and it did the job I needed it to do.
The front lift is managed by bolting two 1/4″ plates to the front shock mount framework extending making the shocks mount a bit further out and a bit lower. The rear is handled by two 1/4″ plates bolting to the rear suspension and moving the shock mounting points out several inches to achieve a 2″ lift.
The biggest decision I had to make as you, dear reader, can imagine was on tires and rims. For the longest time, I envisioned I would have the Gorilla Silverbacks on the bike and some stunning wheel to go with them. However, the more I read reviews and forums, I realized they just weren’t the tire for me. We ride as much rail trail as we do hard pack and mud, so having a tire prone to “walking” wasn’t desirable. So the search began. What tire would give me great hard pack AND strong mud performance? In the end, I came across the STI Outback Max tires and there isn’t a person I’ve met that doesn’t agree the tires look amazing. While I haven’t tried anything else except the stock GBC Dirt Commanders, I can’t imagine a tire performing better than the STI rims and tires that are on the RZR now. They are rock solid on hard pack, pavement, or gravel, never wavering in the least, and when I get to the mud…well, I haven’t had the bike stuck yet.
I really didn’t check the difference in the weights of the tires and rims between stock and what I put on and to be honest, I’m glad I didn’t. The weight difference is incredible, each corner is at least double what was there before. Had I checked, I probably would have steered clear of the combination and never known how good they worked on our Polaris. Because of the weight difference, I started researching whether or not I needed to upgrade axles. I was fortunate to come across a post that appeared to be from a SuperATV rep who suggested that the 2015+ Polaris a-arms were much more stout than the old ones, but if anything, the front ones could be replaced. Because it was such a huge increase and being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a broken axle didn’t appeal to me, I cried a few tears and ordered the SuperATV Rhino axles. I did ride with the stock axles while I was waiting for the Rhino axles, and I didn’t have any issues, but as soon as the Rhinos came in, the stock ones became my spares. I’ve been pleased with these and have no complaints whatsoever.
In the end, I think the RZR looks good, and we quite simply couldn’t be happier with the choices we’ve made. I’d love to see and hear what you’ve done. Post in the comments below and show me the modifications you’ve made to your beast! I’ve added a YouTube video of our RZR as we tackled some soupy mud at Lingham Lake.