Project Build – Hand Control Polaris RZR

Project Build – Hand Control Polaris RZR Motocross was my life’s passion. For 24 years I had raced at all levels and made it a career, finally winning the 1996 AMA East/East-West shootout and becoming the four-stroke National Champion. I was on top of the world, but as sometimes happens in life, I was blindsided by an event I never saw coming.

All motocross riders crash at times and I certainly had. I had seen countless other riders crash, but they almost always got up and back to riding, just as I always had. This crash was different though. It would be a long journey before I would get up again, and longer still until I could get back to the off-road riding I had come to love so much.


For 18 years I have been confined to a wheelchair after suffering a bad motocross racing accident that left me as a t-9, t-10 paraplegic. The past 18 years I have wanted to get back out in the dirt but the question was how? Motorcycles were not a safe or smart idea, ATVs with my limited balance are not a good option, and most of the old Side x Sides were hard to get into and power steering had not been introduced yet. I might as well have been trail riding a tractor. Then Polaris introduced the RZR, a machine that kicked open the door to high-performance Side x Sides, and the entire market changed.2015.polaris.rzr570efi-custom-mike-young.close-up.cabin.jpg

The original RZR was radically different than any machine before it. It was nimble, quick, and offered sporty fun in a two seat package. The RZR family expanded every year, and one of the best and most popular models in the lineup is the RZR 570. With its compact design and great engine performance, it’s proof that great things often come in small packages! This was a vehicle I could customize and make my own.


There were many reasons to pick the Polaris RZR 570 for this project, but a big one is it is lower to the ground than other Side X Side vehicles, making for easy transferring in and out of the seat. Being smaller and more compact also makes it easier to fit onto tight, twisty trails that other Side X Sides can’t venture onto. Overall the RZR 570 is a very versatile machine. 

We haven’t made a ton of chassis or performance modifications to the stock machine, other than to swap out the stock exhaust for a Big Gun EXO slip on exhaust, which saved a bunch of weight and added torque to our powerband. It also added a little more thump to our exhaust, but that is because we wanted people to hear us in case they were coming the other way on the trails. Overall though it isn’t too loud and has a nice deep, typical Big Gun sound to it. We also left the spark arrestor in the muffler so we are legal on USFS trails. Nobody wants to be on CNN because their machine started another forest fire. The rest of the RZR was kept pretty much stock. Our main focus was to add a custom manufactured hand control system.2015.polaris.rzr570efi-custom-mike-young.close-up.steering-column.jpg


With only hands to work with, I needed a way to steer and use the throttle and brakes, all in one compact package. A custom manufactured, state-of-the-art hand control system was fitted into the vehicle for me from Mobility Specialist, INC. in Brea, California. This would get me back on the trail and I was stoked! To install the controls, we had to remove the stock Polaris steering dampener to be able to mount the hand controls, but in its place we put a CNC billet aluminum block that allowed us to mount a brake and throttle assembly firmly and safely in place. Normally when a hand control system is adapted to a Side x Side, it doesn’t often work well because the space in the driver seat is so limited. Another huge problem is the brakes because it’s difficult to build enough brake pressure with hand controls to slow down a vehicle. Mobility Specialist really thought this project through, however, and everything looked excellent.

I couldn’t wait to get back in control of an off-road machine, and this was my very first time in a Polaris vehicle, but after this test, I assure you it won’t be my last. My first impression of the vehicle was this thing is “totally amazing!” Driving this vehicle was an adrenaline rush like driving a slot car; it was so quick, nimble and stable. I was nervous at first, not knowing how it was going to steer since I have to drive it with one hand on the wheel and one hand on the controls. The word that sums it up best is “perfection.” The Polaris electronic power steering had the perfect feel. The wheel never jerked out of my hands and I didn’t feel any of the feedback from bumps or rocks in the steering wheel. Not knowing how far I would have to turn the wheel in tight situations was another concern, but the most I ever had to turn the wheel was ¾ turn. No re-gripping needed! Throttle control and the brakes were out of this world amazing as well. A slight push forward on the handle and I’d come to a screeching halt! Together I have to say, this is the best all-around Side x Side and hand control project I have ever been a part of and would recommend this to anyone that needs a hand control system! In my Polaris RZR 570, it works flawlessly!2015.polaris.rzr570efi-custom-mike-young.close-up.front_.jpg


The Polaris RZR 570 was the perfect machine for this project. I owe it to Polaris and Mobility Specialists for putting this together and allowing me to get some fresh air. It makes me feel like a little kid and a champion again. Best of all, I’m able to go out riding with my two young children and my friends, sharing memories and creating moments we will never forget. With any luck, this project will find its way into the hands of other people like me that want to get back out into the dirt. Now they can!

Mobility Specialist Inc.

490 Capricorn St

Brea, CA 92821


Big Gun Exhaust Systems
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October 9, 2015

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