Part 2: We Test Fabtech's Long-Travel Suspension
We must admit, we had no idea how much fun our '08 Rhino 700 had in store for us when we picked it up some three months back. For those of you who haven't experienced the thrill ride in a side-by-side take note. These little carts supply amusement effortlessly for hours on end, over any kind of terrain. Because of their petite size, Rhinos and other side-by-side models of similar proportions open up a plethora of trail systems normally off limits to larger Jeeps and SUVs. What was once only suited for quads and dirt bikes is now our fun-zone too. Some OHV areas still remain off limits but those are few, and they are usually well marked with easy-to-read signs. The resulting wheeling we've been enjoying has added a whole new dimension to the activity; trails that were once too narrow or lacking the necessary overhead clearance for a traditional rig are now just right. The Rhino's nimble size makes it that much easier to escape the carbon-copy of modern day civilization, allowing us to seek adventures quickly and more cost effectively by abandoning larger Jeeps and SUVs in the dust at the parking lot.
Fabtech Motorsports hit the Rhino market hard with a whole assortment of desert-oriented products for side-by-side owners. We did some digging and discovered that Fabtech's long-travel suspension system is actually the most complete kit available to date. Obviously we wanted an in-depth look at the system, so we dropped off our Rhino at Fabtech's Corona, California, facility and waited anxiously as the talented team of R and D engineers tackled the installation for us. Check out what's included with the system.
Wheel travel: 13 inches
Width: 6 inches wider per side
Height: 3 inches taller
Wheelbase: 4 inches longer overall, 2 front and 2 rear
Suggested Wheels: 12x7 with 5+2 offset
Installation time: 4-6 hours
No cutting or welding required*
*Welding required for optional gusset kit
In a word, awesome! The Fabtech Motorsports Rhino long-travel kit provides us with additional confidence in every scenario. All but the largest of bumps feel like child's play and hard cornering exercises are no longer an act of balance. Instead, the 13-inch increase in overall track width allows drivers to set the rig up and drift around corners on the gas the whole time, and with a stable planted feel. The steering feels a bit on the heavy side but not enough so that our arms get tired quickly. The downside to this kit is we pretty much have to forgo the idea of ever fitting our Rhino in the bed of a pickup again. However we feel these sacrifices are well-worth the gains in performance. As of press time we challenged our new Fabtech kit to sand dunes, mountain trails, and even backwoods fire roads, the latter of which proved to be more fun than we ever suspected. Drifting the Rhino through corners on dirt roads is a newfound passion thanks to the added stability of the long-travel kit. We think the shocks are set perfectly and at this point will not need the complimentary shock revalve Fabtech offers each and every Rhino long-travel customer.