Polaris RZR XP 1000 - The #RZRdigger Trail Rig Build: Part 3Posted in Project Vehicles on March 19, 2015
While some of you might look at a Polaris RZR and disregard it as a true trail machine capable of rockcrawling, hillclimbing, and leisurely trail riding, it is in many ways very similar to a fullsize. One thing that rings true with just about all off-road vehicles is the tougher the trail, the tougher your parts have to be. Upgraded suspension, better tires, stronger wheels, and tougher axles are all part of it.
Building this RZR to be the ultimate trail machine has many stages. First we upgraded the safety, then we upgraded the trail armor and other trail necessities. Now we are upgrading performance and strength. For a 100hp machine that is extremely capable, it sure has some flimsy parts holding it together. The first parts to get damaged are the suspension components. With just 29-inch-tall tires, there isn't much clearance from the rocks on the trail.
The guys at Wide Open Design are pretty familiar with bashing into rocks on the trail, so they have designed front A-arms and rear radius rods to be as strong as possible. The front A-arms are bolt-in replacements, using the factory ball joints and bushings. In our application we chose to run RCV Performance's new 300M ball joints for the ultimate in strength. The rear radius rods are a one-piece design with spherical ball ends, so if they wear out or bend, you'd still have to replace the whole assembly. Wide Open Design developed 7075 aluminum radius rods with 5/8-inch chromoly rod ends. They are fully adjustable should you need to, but they come preset at the factory specs to bolt right on using existing hardware.
Next order of business was to upgrade tires and wheels. Having already cut two factory tires, we knew sidewall strength was a necessity. GBC motorsports offers a 30-inch-tall Kanati Mongrel, an eight-ply tire that most of the top racers run. If it is good enough for the Baja 1000, it is good enough this trail machine. Since weight was such a concern on these little machines, we chose the Method 401 beadlock wheel. Method advertises them as "Lighter, Stronger, Faster," and that just so happened to be what we were looking for.
With the slightly bigger tire and the trail abuse this RZR was sure to see, an axle upgrade was necessary. One of the most popular choices for aftermarket axles is the SuperATV Rhino 4340. The major difference (aside from shaft diameter) is that both CVs plunge and have more range of motion, which means less chance of binding at full suspension droop or full steering lock.
Whether it is high-speed trail riding, full throttle hill killing, or technical rockcrawling, these upgrades will help us get back to camp after a full day of fun.
The Wide Open Design radius rods use 5/8x5/8-inch chromoly rod ends and custom-made stainless steel misalignment spacers. The links themselves are 1 1/4-inch-diameter 7075 aluminum, arguably the toughest radius rods on the market.
A-arms are usually the first thing to get damaged by trail obstacles. As you can see, even with very few trail miles on this machine the lower A-arms have taken a beating. The Wide Open Design arms are factory replacements using all existing parts and hardware to make for an easy upgrade to a part that is up for the abuse.
RCV Performance ball joints are made from 300M, the strongest material available for this application. RCV has been making industry-leading axleshafts with this same material for years and has developed these ball joints to be the strongest on the market. They feature a grease fitting, as well as have adjustability built in so that if, and, or when they develop wear and slack, you can tighten them up and keep them like new.
Wide Open Design's arms are fully fabricated from 1/8-inch steel plate. Each arm is internally braced as well as gusseted in all the high stress areas such as around the ball joints. The high-clearance design is crucial on the trail when navigating through the rocks.
One of the most common failures with the XP1000 are the axleshafts. Even a completely stock machine has plenty of power to snap the factory axles. SuperATV offers the Rhino axle replacement axleshaft, which is not only significantly larger in diameter but also made from 4340 chromoly for strength.
One of the factors that contribute to the strength of a Rhino axle is its ability to operate up to a 40-degree angle. Additionally, whereas the factory axleshaft is fixed at the differential end and only plunges at the wheel, these new axles have plunging CVs at both ends, contributing to the travel and reducing the chances of bind at extreme angles.
Installing beadlocks is a bit of a job, no way around it. All hardware is included, including four long bolts to get the ring started. It is important to tighten the ring down in small increments in a star pattern going all around the wheel. Then once the ring is snug, use a torque wrench to set all bolts at 12 lb-ft.
The 30-inch Mongrel is nearly 2 inches taller than the 29-inch Bighorn that comes factory on the RZR. The Mongrel and Method beadlock combo weighs in at just 48 pounds, compared to a factory rear wheel and tire. This small increase in rotational weight shouldn't harm performance much at all.
The GBC Motorsports Kanati Mongrel features an eight-ply sidewall construction and also has a very thick bead protector that should help keep the beadlock ring from getting smashed into rocks. GBC has done the research to try to provide one of the toughest SxS tires on the market.
When a rig only has 30-inch-tall tires, every bit of ground clearance matters. That is why Wide Open Design offers a high-clearance arm to hopefully reduce the chances of hitting rocks or other trail obstacles.