South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is about as far from the image of a stereotypical, stodgy legislator as one can get. She’s dynamic, enthused, and out there interacting with the people of her state. Not just content to send out press releases from the governor’s well-appointed office, she much prefers to get in on the action, whether it’s at the shooting range, or, when we met her, behind the wheel of a new Honda Pioneer minutes after it rolled off the line.
Each year we put in thousands of miles and countless hours riding, wrenching on, and basically living with new ATVs and Side x Sides. While there are a lot of great machines we enjoy on the trails and track, there are always a few that stand out and deserve recognition as being the best of the best. After much debate, consideration, and consternation here are the machines our staff picks as the best models of 2013.
Think your truck is tough? ATVs and Side x Sides are designed to perform in terrain and conditions that would make your truck whimper like a scared puppy, and they can do it year after year with the proper maintenance. The most critical part of that maintenance is regular air filter cleanings and oil changes. Neither is particularly difficult, time consuming, or tedious, but both are almost universally despised, especially cleaning a sticky, dust caked air filter.
The Polaris Sportsman is quite possibly the most popular ATV line ever built. Since its inception in 1993, Polaris has manufactured well over one MILLION units, making it the best-selling utility ATV platform in the industry. But as with anything mechanical, there have been some issues that have come to the surface, and there was a run of Sportsman 600’s and 700’s from 2002 to mid-2004 that were plagued with electrical problems and failure of the ignition system was a matter of when, not if.
Master Mechanic Pete Shows Us How to Rebuild a Tired Engine
If you’re going to ride, you’re also going to wrench now and then. Most of the time that means nothing more than changing the oil, cleaning an air filter, or simple adjustments. Every so often though your mechanical buddy will need a major rebuild, the most common of which is replacing piston rings. On a two stroke this was no problem; pop the cylinder off, hone the bore, install new rings, and get back to riding, often times in the same afternoon.
Jury-rigging. Backwoods engineering. Cobbling. Call it what you want… at some point we’ve all encountered a situation where we’ve had to improvise and come up with a solution that isn’t exactly ideal. We’ve had some real doozies that make us practically hear Larry the Cable Guy yelling, “Git-R-Done!” For moral and legal reasons, we won’t publish some of the real hum-dingers, but here are a few of our favorites that don’t involve explosions or imminent trips to the emergency room.
Part of the fun in ATVs and Side x Sides is spinning wrenches from time to time and installing modifications. We’ve seen all manner of modifications over the years, from highly modified mud runners, to powerful motocross racers designed to soak up the biggest jumps with ease, to rock crawlers that can climb crab-like over boulders we can’t even walk up. The owners always love their ride, and they also love to talk about it, but we’ve never heard anybody brag about their oil filter.
Despite the tremendous personal effort it often requires, snow removal is never going to be an Olympic sport. The faster you can get through the task, the better, and the most you can look forward to are admiring, appreciative glances from your significant other. Other than a move to a warmer climate, you’ve got one other sure-fire way to beat back Mother Nature’s worst - and the best tool for the job is already in your garage. Remember your all-terrain hunting and trail buddy?
No performance shop has won more races and championships than CT Racing. From national ATV championships, stadium championships, SCORE, Best in the Desert, AMA Supermoto, and even on other continents, they’ve won it all from the humble beginning of ATV racing up through today. Whether on two-strokes or four strokes, CT Racing has consistently provided complete performance packages that make tons of power, but are reliable as well.
One category of models we have not awarded a Best in Class award for in the past is the multi-passenger, 4 seat Side x Side. The problem is, both the Polaris RZR-4 XP900 and the Kawasaki Teryx4 750 4x4 were designed for vastly different riding conditions and intended users. Both offer some outstanding features, but it really comes down to where you ride and what you need it to do. So which is best in Class? That depends on you.