I admit it. When they first came out, I was a hater. I looked at Yamaha's Rhino and saw an overgrown golfcart. I refused to even acknowledge UTVs as part of the off-road culture. But then someone let me try one about six months ago, and I couldn't believe how fun they were. And when a coworker from a sister publication brought a Polaris RZR to the sand dunes for the weekend, I knew I had found what was going to be in our OFF-ROAD stable soon.
Weeks later, thanks to Donna Beadle, Polaris' external relations specialist, we had an '08 RZR on long-term loan for a year. And this wasn't just any loan. We are allowed to do whatever we want to it. And we are going to. In stock form, these things already rip: A 760cc fuel-injected engine, killer A-arm and coilover front and rear suspension, and a low center of gravity make it a formidable machine that does almost 60 mph in stock form. But the suspension can be improved, the engine modified, tougher rollcages can be added, stereos can be installed, and tires and wheels can cost you just as much as a fullsize truck's. There is no limit to what you can do to these little stompers.
For us, a long-travel suspension with a wider wheelbase was the first necessity. Although these RZRs are nimble, they are high-powered and are definitely capable of tipping over if care is not taken. Unfortunately, we did not take care. Magazine guys are great at pointing out the way you are supposed to do something, but we've probably broken every rule we remind you about.
And since we certainly weren't going to slow down, we called up CST to make sure we got a long-travel suspension with a wider track width on our RZR as soon as possible. The CST kit pushes out the wheelbase on the Polaris RZR 3 inches per side and allows 12 inches of suspension travel. That might not seem like very much next to many of the 6-inch-wider-per-side, 14-inch travel Yamaha Rhino kits out there, especially when considering the RZR is a narrower machine to begin with. But the CST kit only lifts the RZR about an inch (as we set it up), and the RZR has a lower center of gravity, keeping it more stable in the first place. Best of all, our RZR still fits into a fullsize truck bed with our long-travel kit on!
PeformanceWith our increased track width, we were really able to rip around the corners without fear of rolling down the hillside. It was amazing how much better this thing handled. From previous long-travel kits we've tried on Rhinos, we were fearful of what the steering quality was going to turn into. We were glad to find out that the RZR does not seem to suffer from this when adorned with a long-travel kit.
In the whoops, the extra stability really helped keeping the RZR from bobbing side to side, and the extra suspension soaked up the whoops beautifully. We were amazed at how fast we could travel over the whoops with this new kit.