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When asked “how long have you been riding?”, I can truly say my whole life. More so out of need than anything else. I was raised in a town called Dowling in northern Ontario, a place where combustion engines are an extension to your way of life. On top of that, raised part time on a trap line with my father. Covering hundreds of square kilometres, as you can imagine, requires something more than your jean-guy rubber boots. My obsession began like many from the same time frame, with three wheels!

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Over the years I went through eight different Honda ATC’s. I could never stop myself from rebuilding them for old times sake. Hell, I even convinced my now wife to take engagement photos on one. It wasn’t much later than that we found ourselves purchasing our first home, being adults and what not. With all the boring you should do’s out of the way, I had my eyes on something I could never afford before!

This was the day passion truly went into over drive, a money fueled near marriage ending rampage began and I have zero regrets. For many reasons, I knew this 2018 Outlander XMR 1000r was trouble. I knew right away I would not be doing what I promised my wife I would be doing with it. Up to no good, dare I say.. some mischief to be had.

April 18th 2018, my wife found a cheap used GoPro 4 Black. Something we had always wanted and were not sure why. Didn’t take me long to stumble upon YouTube that very same day and wonder “What does it take to start a channel?”. Less than 24 hours later I posted our first Mainville ATV and Outdoors video, my finest work, a 3:36min long video titled “2018 Outlander XMR 1000r! Introduction!” that would capture the world, or so I was thinking.

One video after another I find myself creating something I never knew I would love so much. I managed to combine my favourite sport with a new passion for capturing it. Which led me to wanting to explore new trails and meet new people. One of whom, Trevor Braun the owner of Dirty Life, I found in Johnstown Ontario at an off road event. I didn’t know how much that day would impact my wallet but the immediate friendship is almost worth it!

With a new found hobby, the machine and a new friend this is where Mischief really came to be. I wanted more, I wanted louder and I wanted a monster. Something my friends from back home would be proud of, something my wife would shake her head at and something I’d be most happy with hurting myself on.

Before I knew it, everything I imagined in my head was made possible with Dirty Life. Clutching, ECU Flash, tires, wheels, a-arms, trailling arms, tiger tail, header, exhaust and a splash of billet. So many things to list but it came to life! The adventure this machine put us on alone was worth it but this animal changed the game for me forever. Theres no looking back anymore, I only want bigger and better now.

Outlander Playlist:

 

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rj weld custom - swedish manufacturer of high performance stainless steel exhausts for ATV's and UTV's

The Best Name in Premium Exhaust Systems

In the ATV and UTV exhaust world there is no better quality, or better performing exhaust system than an RJWC exhaust.  Anyone that’s been around the mud and performance world knows RJWC, even if the general public doesn’t.  The reason is simple, Robin Janssen, the owner and genius behind the exhausts is meticulous in his craft and he doesn’t want them sold as a mass produced product, even though he could leverage his brand strength to do just that.  Every premium quality, 100% stainless steel exhaust system that leaves his care has been hand built by artisan fabricators and welders.  Known the world over, RJWC produces exhausts in several lines, including the quiet as a church mouse Baffletech series, the OEM replacement line of Standard exhausts, the mud riders wet dream called the Mud Series with a cleanable and replaceable core, and of course, the loudest in the group that unleashes massive power gains, the Performance Series. Seeing what Rob’s brand was all about, I knew there was a tremendous alignment between our two companies in terms of putting quality first, and standing behind our products.  Dirty Life will be Ontario’s only supplier of the full line of RJWC exhausts, and one of the very few suppliers in Canada.  Pursuing RJWC as our premium brand of exhausts was a no-brainer.  There just isn’t a better looking, better sounding, longer lasting, higher quality exhaust system on the market today.  Riders like Ostacruiser use Rob’s exhausts because the performance gains and build quality is second to none.

RJWC Exhausts

From their website:

RJWC stands for quality. We produce everything by hand in the highest quality stainless. Our mufflers are made of thicker material than our competitors to withstand the abuse they are subjected to. The choice of wool in our mufflers is a ceramic mat/plate that can withstand over 1200 degrees Celsius (2000 farenheit), we now use a completely new type of pillow also that surrounds the ceramic mat to keep down the temperature of the outer shell of the muffler low.

rjwc stacked dual exhaust for can-am outlander If you’ve ever had a chance to see one up close, you’ll know that these exhausts are the closest thing to perfect you’ll find in an exhaust.  After witnessing how beautiful these exhausts look and sound, you realize just how much care has been put into designing and building them.  Once you’ve put your hands on an RJWC exhaust you simply can’t go back to a different brand.  As you shop for your RJWC exhaust, you’ll realize they are premium exhausts with a higher than average price tag, but if you’re accustomed to buying quality, you know you get what you pay for. The exhausts are made from 304 stainless steel that is 1.5mm thick and use fibreglass encased ceramic packing, and no structural rivets (the only rivets you’ll find are used to hold the RJWC nameplate in place).  These are quite simply the best quality exhausts anywhere in the world.

Baffletech Series

The Baffletech series of exhausts is a quieter option for those that aren’t looking for the biggest performance gains and who don’t necessarily want to purchase a fuel tuner with their exhaust.  RJWC has combined a mechanical core and a full flow muffler in a very small format.  You’ll pick up some performance, but this series of exhausts is geared toward quieting your engine noise.  If you’re operating in the lower RPM ranges of your machine most of the time, you shouldn’t need a fuel tuner, although it’s always recommended to pick one up so your bike doesn’t run too lean.  Combining the great looks of the other RJWC lines in a quieter package is perfect for anyone who doesn’t want to wake the neighbours when they fire up their bike in the early morning.

Standard Series

A line that was designed to give ATV and UTV owners an OEM replacement option in the premium tier.  Having 100% stainless steel construction and using a thicker steel than its competitors makes for a super long-lasting exhaust that you can put on your bike and never have to worry about.  For casual riders that don’t want to have to replace their stock exhaust every few years, this is the perfect exhaust.

Mud Series

rear of red can-am xmr 1000 renegade showing off rjwc dual centred exhaust The mud series is a gorgeous add-on to your mud machine, and replaces the Performance Series.  It will grant you a healthy gain in power and make any bike sound deep and throaty – but if the core goes, what good is any exhaust?  Well, finally there’s an option for those of us that do a lot of mud riding and have to deal with deep water crossings.  Short of snorkeling your exhaust, there’s really no way to keep mud and water out of your exhaust 100% of the time.  That’s where the Mud Series shines – it comes with an easily accessed core that can be disassembled for cleaning in about 5 minutes without having to take the exhaust off your bike.  And when the time comes to change the packing, a complete changeover to a new fibreglass-wrapped ceramic pillow can be done in about 15 minutes. By keeping exhaust gas velocity high and not allowing heat to build up in the header(s) and muffler, these exhausts offer low exhaust temperatures.  Because all their time went into making sure power gains were as much as possible, noise was a secondary concern.

The Sweet Sound

I’ve posted some clips for you so you can hear the amazing sounds of the RJWC exhaust!

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It starts with “Oh, you ride?” which then turns into “What do you ride?” and my answer is usually in the form of a photo since it’s much easier to explain my ‘Kodiak’ with a visual aid. You see, it’s not just any Kodiak. This particular Kodiak belongs to someone who is married to a mechanic with an addiction to upgrades.

It all started when a friend of ours was coming to meet us at our place for a ride, and his wife happened to be 9 months pregnant and unable to ride so they offered me a bit of freedom for an afternoon rather than trying to hold on for my dear life on the back of Kyle’s Outlander XMR 1000R. Well, I’m sure glad that was the case because we hit some serious mud holes that day (see video here). They warned me it wouldn’t be much, and that it was “only” a 350 Honda, but boy did she get through some thick stuff (see other video here). Without any technique whatsoever and with me being a very weak statured individual, the day was not without its struggles. Add 40 degree (Celsius) heat to that while wearing neoprene chest waders, and it could have been a recipe for disaster.  But what d’ya know? I LOVED it! Needless to say, I was NOT going to be a passenger much longer.

It was time to go shopping, and to my pleasant surprise I even got to test drive a few. One of the perks of living in a small town I suppose. I felt like Goldilocks sitting on bikes that were “too big” and “too small” but finally I came across the one that would be my “just right”. I guess that ties in quite nicely with the name it’s been given: Mama Bear and as you now know, it wasn’t long before I found myself driving home with a matte black 2018 Kodiak 700 EPS SE.

Before (July 2018)
Next to my new ATV
Photo Credit: Mainville Media
After (October 2019)
Riding at The Full Canadian Ride
Photo Credit: Mainville Media

Once I had my own ATV, I started off slow and stock of course but within a few days we were already drilling holes and voiding warranties; anxiety was high, but it was well worth it in order to be able to keep up on the trails. One of my biggest concerns as a female rider at the time was that I’d be the one holding people up.

I can now say, with almost 2 years under my belt, that I was putting undue pressure on myself to keep up. I’ve been absolutely blessed with great people to ride with who have been nothing but patient with me over the years. From those we just happened to come across on the trails, to club members, to long time friends, for the most part my experience has been quite a pleasant one.

The biggest lessons I’ve learned in my short time riding were to trust myself more, to trust my ATV, and to know its limits. As a fairly new rider on the ATV side of things, I typically stayed back to watch someone else go through a mud hole or obstacle first so I could familiarize myself with it and plan out my line. I’ve also learned to accept when something was beyond my skill or comfort level. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t accepted defeat once or twice in the form of a daunting hill climb or a scary bridge and there’s no shame in having someone help you out.

Cassandra riding her ATV on the Voyageur Multi-Use Trail
System on Canada Day in Mattawa, Ontario (2019)
Photo Credit: Glassglowz Media

That being said, a special mention goes to my husband for being patient with me when I was hitting those learning curves at full speed. He always reminded me that it wasn’t a race and that no one would be judging me if I took things at my own pace.

In the moments where I’d be facing a new or daunting obstacle, I’d sometimes get frustrated and want to give up, or get Kyle to just do it for me; but then my sense of pride would come in to play and memories of Kyle coaching me in the backyard (yes, I’d practice in our backyard) would come flooding back in: “Breathe”, “Take it slow”, “Easy on the throttle”, and “Choose your line and stick with it” to name a few.

Look at me know! (points proudly to the photos below ¯¯¯)

 

Another thing ATVing has been able to do is remind me how much I love being outdoors. It has really allowed me to reconnect with nature and to be around likeminded people. It’s been truly amazing to see how many friends you can make exploring new trails and attending new events.

On top of it all, and I’ve eluded to this a couple of times above, it’s been incredible being able to share all of these experiences with my husband and achieving the goals we’ve set out to accomplish.

Now, to learn how to ride a snowmobile….

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Adding a Fuel Controller to Your ATV or UTV

When you’re adding performance pieces such as new air filters, exhausts (see our post on exhausts to read about how an exhaust can cause you to run lean without a controller), or changing the factory build with new clutching or larger tires, fuel controllers are the key piece in getting the all the benefits you’re expecting.  Choosing the right fuel controller can be a challenge and knowing what you’re buying is important.  A fuel controller setup for your ATV will unleash great performance.  Use a program that doesn’t meet the needs of the bike and it doesn’t matter what brand of controller you use, and you’ll have nothing but poor performance, frustration and these likely will lead to engine problems down the road.

Should I Add a Fuel Controller?

Quite simply, yes.  There is an argument that can be made that says the very first upgrade you make should be a fuel controller because it is the central upgrade that will tie in everything else you add to your machine.  The addition of a fuel controller can completely change the way your machine performs.  For example, in the 2015+ Polaris 900 RZR the throttle body is only programmed to open up to 80% at max throttle, but adding a fuel controller opens this up to 100% and boosts horsepower from 78 to 92 hp with this one upgrade.  This is an exception and rarely will you see this kind of improvement but it illustrates how a fuel controller can spoil a manufacturer’s intentional detuning of the capabilities of your engine.  Most controllers expect something like a premium quality RJWC exhaust and an aftermarket air filter to be installed and with the 3 components added you should expect, ready to add 4-8 hp depending on the make, engine size, etc.  

Manufacturers and Brands of Fuel Controllers

There are many, many brands of fuel controllers on the market for your ATV or UTV.  The brands on the market today include EJK, PowerCommander, Bully Dog, RJWC, TheBom, HMF, and FMF, however there are many, many others. What you might not know is that there are really just 3 different manufacturers: Dobeck, DynoJet, and Bully Dog (with Bully Dog being a relative newcomer to the off-road market through Bikeman Performance).  Dobeck manufactures just about every brand of fuel controller in use today with the exception of the PowerCommander Series and the Bully Dog GT. According to Dobeck, the only difference in the brands they manufacture are the way the controllers are configured.  Electrically the controllers have the same functionality, but depending on the brand, trjwc fuel controller and harnesshe company may have asked Dobeck to give them access to specific parameters they feel will give them the flexibility they want for their specific style of engine tuning.  Granting access to one parameter will generally restrict access to another.  Each person that develops a program for the controller believes their setup has certain advantages over others.  The example given by Dobeck is that a Green/Blue zone light on their controller may represent any number of parameters including “Accel Pump Fuel”, “Decel Fuel”, or “Green Lower Switch”. DynoJet’s PowerCommander provides access to a lot of the same parameters and functions in your machine as the Dobeck controllers but gives a great deal more flexibility via their proprietary software that is installed on your PC or laptop.  Using this software you can essentially “dial-in” your machine while you’re connected directly to the controller.  This generally requires you to have your machine on a dyno to be able to take full advantage of what the controller and software offer.  One option to avoid this is to add an Auto Tuner to your controller which essentially provides on-the-fly tuning.

What Does the Fuel Controller Do?

Engines have torque and power curves that can be adjusted by changing the air-fuel ratio (AFR) that is being introduced to the cylinder prior to ignition.  Air to your engine is pre-determined based on the air filter, add snorkels, or any physical change you make to how air flows from the atmosphere into the engine.  How fuel is delivered to the engine is a different story and the amount fuel to the engine is controlled by your thumb moving the throttle position and sending a signal to your ATV’s computer.  The computer interprets your throttle position and introduces the amount of fuel that it’s programming tells it to.  The program in your stock controller is setup for how the manufacturer wants the engine to perform considering emissions, fuel economy, and the power they’d like to advertise.  (Often from year to year, the increase in power from say a 2017 to a 2018 machine is just a change to the ECU’s programming, it’s rarely anything more than that.)bully dog fuel controller

In the case of both the Dobeck and PowerCommander tuners, the controller is connected after the stock ECU and the fuel injector, however, they operate in different ways.  With the Dobeck, the controller intercepts the signal going to the fuel injection system and sends its own signal instead, but the PowerCommander actually turns your ECU into a dummy and replaces its functionality with its own.  The end result is the same, but the way they work if fundamentally different.  In both cases, your fuel controller reads any number of parameters about the conditions of the bike (speed, rpm, throttle position, etc.) and then based on the program that’s loaded delivers the amount of fuel for that situation.

For example, while you’re running casually down a trail at 30-40 km/h, your thumb is at 1/4 throttle, cruising along.  The fuel controller will know based on engine rpm’s, speed, and throttle position what amount of fuel to provide to the engine.