Adventure UTV riders are always on the lookout for new mods and accessories to upgrade their off-road vehicles. Whether you enjoy the bumpy trails of the Moab or the exhilarating rides on dunes, you need to be ready for anything. Modifying your UTV for racing and adventure takes a bit of preparation. Are you planning for mudslides or rock climbing? Depending on your preferred UTV riding spots and styles, you have to choose between a wide diversity of accessories and aftermarket parts. However, today we will discuss the elementary mods all side-by-side owners should consider!
Bumpers add a more aggressive look and extra protection to any vehicle. If Jeep owners add bumpers to their trucks, nothing stops you from following their example regarding your UTV. Most sports side-by-side manufacturers sell models already featuring bumpers. However, if your off-road beast doesn’t have one, consider searching the aftermarket parts shops. A bumper is crucial for UTV adventures. It protects your lights, radiator, fenders, and people inside. Some bumpers allow the attachment of a winch or sway bar, which is all for the best.
If your off-road vehicle already comes with a bumper, consider the use and abuse you are going to take your UTV through with each adventure. Most stock bumpers do not fare well when it comes to rock climbing, forest trailing, or even heavy-duty work. For this reason, it is best to change the factory one with an aftermarket, pro model. Depending on the side-by-side model you ride, you will find bumpers ready to host light bars or winches, too.
2. Exhaust System
Adding a new exhaust system – of the racing kind – is probably one of the most popular mods among UTV owners with a penchant for adventure and competition. Professional exhaust systems boost your vehicle’s performance in terms of horsepower, speed, maneuvering, and so on.
However, just because you added a new exhaust system doesn’t mean you can conquer the Imperial Sand Dunes with no problem.
It would help if you also considered installing a performance intake filter at the same time. You will find such combinations in professional shops like Rad Parts, as they address seasoned UTV riders who want to prep their vehicles for exhilarating rides. Some of the best exhaust systems for adventure and racing come from Trinity Racing, but you will find other manufacturers and sellers meeting your needs just as satisfactorily. While you’re at it, look for packages selling full exhaust systems and compatible tuners.
3. Roll Cage
If you plan to ride your UTV above the speed limit – as you would do in a race or on a trail – together with passengers, change that factory roll cage with a professional one. As you probably know, rollovers are the most common type of accident occurring among UTV riders. You can prevent many such mishaps, but you are not likely to avoid them all.
All off-road buffs took a tumble at least once in their lifetimes. The idea is that when you ride bumpy, adrenaline-pumping trails, it is best to have a quality Tig-welded 1.75-inch DOM steel roll cage capable of holding a weight of about 4,000 lbs. or more. Change the medium-quality factory cages with performing and seamlessly weld steel to protect you and the passengers from the UTV’s weight sitting on top of you.
4. New Seats and Harnesses
UTV adventuring and racing means spending days in the saddle covering incredible mileage. If you are new to side-by-side riding, you should know most factory seats become the stuff of nightmares when you spend your days riding the unbeaten paths.
You want suspension seats to keep you comfortable and safe no matter where you plan to spend your adventure. Moreover, in the spirit of safety, we also recommend you get compatible 4-point harnesses. In case of a rollover or crash, they are there to protect you and your passengers. Keep in mind that if you enter organized competitions, your harness must have an SFI certification.
The issue with stock harnesses is that they are quite loose and will not offer you the protection you need in case of an accident. For outdoor and off-road adventures, a four-point harness for each of the vehicle’s occupants is usually enough, even in dire situations. However, if you have racing on your mind, read carefully the organizers’ requirements. Most UTV competitions will not admit you if you don’t have your vehicle equipped with 5-point or 6-point harnesses and other accessories.
If you know you cannot help but test all the challenging terrains possible, we also recommend you look for professional seats featuring sand/water drains so your pants avoid wet/dirty pants and extra stress.
5. LED Lights
Installing LED lights on your UTV adds safety, comfort, and aesthetics to your vehicle. Aftermarket shops offer you a wide range of choices. You can mount LED bars on the roof or to the front frame. You can also install them as brake lights or turn signals so everybody can see you move. Some UTV riders install LED kits under their vehicles and around the frames for safe night rides and a more impressive overall look.
If you like to spend as much free time as possible off the road and in the dark, then lights should be on top of your priority list. Even if you are not into adrenaline-pumping quests but use an UTV for farming, cargo hauling, or hunting, you still need the best lights possible.
You can have them custom-made to give your side-by-side a unique look and make a statement everywhere you go. It is a bit expensive, but toys like these deserve the best. If you want to keep things simple, get light kits from your favorite aftermarket shop, they are just as good!
The usual list of UTV mods among riders also includes Beadlock rims, better tires (adapted to the terrain you want to ride), upgraded shocks and suspensions, skid plates, hard rooftops and doors, side and rear-view mirrors, a GPS, and more. It all depends where and how you want to adventure in your side-by-side. The most important thing is to protect your vehicle and keep everybody inside safe and entertained.
Do you own a UTV? Have you already upgraded it, or are you still looking for the best aftermarket parts to suit your needs? Tell us how you feel about side-by-sides and feel free to share your experience in riding them!