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The main reason to own a UTV is for their recreational and utility off-road uses. UTV’s are typically narrower than a standard vehicle making them easier to drive on smaller tighter dirt roads and their tires and suspension are designed to maneuver rougher terrain than a paved road.
|Narrow||Can travel on smaller pathways|
|Off-road suspension and handling||Handles different terrains: dirt, sand, mud, hills, rocks|
|Steering wheel, Gas and Brake Pedals||Similar controls to a car for an easier learning transition|
|Roll-cage||Protection in case of a rollover crash|
|Seats with seat-belts||Being strapped in for safety|
|Multi-purpose||Recreational or Utility play in the dirt or have a project|
|1-6+ passengers||Transporting multiple people in remote areas or just fun with friends|
Since UTV’s are steering wheel operated and brake and gas pedal controlled it’s a fairly easy transition from driving a car to driving one of these off-road vehicles.
A UTV consists of a body frame that includes a roll cage to help protect its passengers and not all off-road vehicles offer this feature. Plus they can seat anywhere from 1 – 6 people whereas other smaller off-road vehicles can be limited to no more than 2 riders.
Examples of why you would want to own a UTV:
- Carrying loads
- Transporting people
- Snow removal
- Lawn maintenance
- Law enforcement
- Fire and rescue
- Parks management
- Public works
There are two main types of UTV’s you could own that are built differently to accommodate different off-road needs.
The 1st type of UTV is Recreational or Sport UTVs that are more performance-based vehicles and mechanically are designed to push max-speeds, the suspension that can handle jumps and steering to maneuver tight turns on trails. They tend to be more of a mix of a quad and a dune buggy.
The 2nd type is of UTV is more suited for Work and utility-based needs and typically offer a cargo bed for storage in the rear, can handle larger towing capacities, and are more of a mix between a golf cart and a truck.
Are Side by Sides Fun? And are they worth it?
Do you like going fast? Hitting jumps in a vehicle that shouldn’t be able to leave the ground under its own power? Of course their fun. One of the most exciting parts of off-road motorsports is doing something you can’t do in car or street motorcycle.
You will probably spend a large amount of time during your life in a highway based vehicle like a car so you know where you can and can’t take your car if you don’t want to be in need of a tow truck. There is nothing like looking at that idea backward and not just taking the safest route possible, but instead aiming for the challenge.
The feeling of dropping down into an area that is really steep and really deep is so, so amazing. You are committing to giving it everything you and your machine can do to climb back out.
Or what it’s like to keep hitting that lip a little bit faster each time so see how much more air you can get while still riding that fine line of safety. Or just putting the pedal all the way down and flying across rolling hills of terrain that most road vehicles can’t even get out to.
Now, imagine doing all that with a copilot or even a cab full of people. Your now the rollercoaster operator and they are the excited riders with no sense of control over the ride but there are no rails to keep you on track so the possibility of the ride actually going wrong is there.
It’s exciting and adrenaline rushing, to say the least. I personally think the amount of fun is totally worth the risk.
Why are Side by Sides so Popular? and Why Are UTVs So Expensive?
If you go to a dealership or visit Polaris or Can-AM’s websites you will find a huge range of UTV pricing from $5k all the way past $30k for an off-road toy. So what has pushed that price tag up to where it is?
One of the reasons for their pricing has to do with UTVs being on an upward trend. The idea of a small buggy-like vehicle that could share the same territory as a four-wheeler is not a brand new one. For years people have been creating vehicles similar to an Odyssey or a go-cart to take off-road.
Before I was 10 my dad had built me a small single seat buggy out of an old three-wheeler. I’ve even seen a wave of people transforming old golf carts into awesome off-road machines. But after Polaris introduced the RZR back in 2008, people flocked to this exact recipe of an off-road vehicle.
I grew up in a family of sand rail people and I myself am still a ‘buggy’ guy but one thing that never caught on with sand rails was a large motorsport company creating a factory built vehicle.
Sand rails have always been a very custom ride pieced together from parts made by different manufacturers. When Polaris proved that the market did want a small off-road buggy-type sports vehicle it wasn’t long before other large motorsport manufacturers jumped on the wave.
By 2012 the trend became an upward hill of interest with no signs of going away anytime soon.
Some newer sport UTVs only need slight modifications to be able to race with the big boys in trophy trucks and race buggies in huge races such as the Baja 1000 and cost only a fraction of what a trophy truck costs($600k-$1M).
Stop for a minute and think of a side by side as a small car. Now, what kind of car can you buy that can reach 80mph on bumpy offroad terrain or take jumps that send the car sailing ten feet high in the air and still be able to drive that vehicle the next day. I’m pretty sure that if you jumped a $15k Kia Rio it would be totaled.
UTVs have suspension that is designed to travel really far up and down compared to a car. Most older dune buggies were designed around the idea of using parts from older Voltswagon bugs and vans including the suspension.
I used to jump my moms sand rail (powered by VW parts) at the dunes until I got too brave and was getting three to six feet of air before I started breaking stuff and was told I had to get my own ride.
Some UTVs are coming stock with 22 inches of suspension travel which gives you a lot of cushion for some high speed whoops sections and some big air. And speaking of stuff breaking, the major UTV companies offer at least a 6-month limited warranty and the option to buy an extended warranty.
Meeting the ROHVA Definition of an ROV / UTV
Making the highest performing 1000cc engine with the highest horsepower has pushed the cost of UTVs to new heights also. The big brands like Polaris, Can-AM, Yahama, & Honda are all pushing to be the biggest and the best when it comes to horsepower stats.
Because a UTV needs to meet the standard of having an engine with a displacement of no more than 1000cc, these companies have started adding more performance parts like turbos to their UTVs to reach higher and higher horsepower numbers.
These performance add-ons cost more from a horsepower-to-dollar ratio than if you could just upgrade to a larger cc engine, but the manufacturers have to stay under 1000cc for the vehicle to still be considered a UTV. For more info on 1000cc UTV limitations, check out our article right here.