New accessory plugs into most push tubes, opens
opportunities for implements
By Liz Hochstedler
Every winter, Curt Hill uses his ATV plow to clear snow at his northern Minnesota home. The push tubes, or plow frames, used to attach the plow to the machine are effective in the winter, but rendered virtually useless by the time the snow melts.
That concept seemed lacking to Hill, the vice president of product development at Cycle Country, so he started thinking of ways to use the those push tubes to assist with year-round tasks — and help the company grow with sales all year.
“After plowing for three months, you get cabin fever, spring fever,” he said. “I’m of the mind that I want to do more with my push tube and my four-wheeler.”
His solution is the Drive In X-Change, also known as DIX-C, a product he hopes will revolutionize the ATV/UTV accessory business.
“Who knows, someday I might even be called the father of ATV implements or ‘Simplements [simple instruments],’” he joked as he referred to the DIX-C accessory line.
The basis of the DIX-C is its Push Tube Adapter (PTA), a dual-forked attachment that bolts on to the front end of any Cycle Country, Moose, Eagle, Polaris or WARN push tube. For riders who don’t have a plow already, the DIX-C Triple Play comes standard with the DIX-C interface, plus three bolt-on attachment positions to fit any Cycle Country, Moose or WARN underbody mount.
After it’s attached to the push tubes, the DIX-C can be driven into any Simplement that has the matching female end to the Push Tube Adapter. Once the PTA is driven into the female end, two pins hold the implement in place, and it’s ready for use.
Inspired by accesories
Hill landed on the concept of multiple ATV attachments after seeing the success of the Bobcat Company. He grew up near the North Dakota-based company and watched as Bobcat began creating implements to attach to its machines. Now the company has dozens, and the popularity of the accessories has led the Bobcat brand to become almost synonymous with any heavy-duty multi-use equipment.
The first implement created for the DIX-C — quite obvious for Cycle Country — is a Quick Attach Blade (QAB). The “drive-in” feature is made possible by bolting the female QAB adapter under any Cycle Country blade hinge plate. The PAT will slip into the QAB, but the rider does have to step off the machine to set the pins.
“The retrofit opportunities are pretty mind-boggling,” Hill said. “Considering Cycle Country is celebrating its 30th year in 2011 with somewhere close to a million ATV snowplows sold, just as exciting, we’ve decided to introduce DIX-C QABs for other plow brands as demand increases through our distributor and dealer partners.”
Other implements came from inspiration Hill found in his everyday life. Premiering with the initial launch of the DIX-C is a Ball Hitch Receiver. Just like the Quick Attach Blade, the Ball Hitch Receiver can be driven into using the PTA and connected with two pins. The Ball Hitch Receiver allows the ball to be attached to the front of a trailer, making for easy shifting of snowmobile, ATV, boat, or other trailers in yards or driveways.
“Engineering did a really good job with our ball hitch, making sure it would carry heavy tongue weights,” Hill explained.
The second Simplement being released immediately is the Trash Shuttle. Hill was inspired to design the Trash Shuttle after watching his neighbor drag his trash can alongside his truck to the end of his driveway, with one arm hanging out the window to steer the trash can.
“Even though my trash can pickup spot is just a half a block away, I’m lazy,” Hill joked.
The Trash Shuttle features two short vertical fingers that slide under the front handle found on trash cans provided by most trash collection and recycling companies. Once the shuttle slides into the handle, users can lift the can and move it. Hill said it was designed mostly for those who have long driveways.
A third Simplement that is moving into production is a Bucket Shuttle that was inspired by Hill’s wife. She wanted a way to carry buckets of water to her garden, so Hill created a system that would hold two buckets of water, gardening accessories or other tools that need to carried a distance.
Other Simplements are in development, and even more will come in the future.
“The fun is yet to come,” Hill said. “We invite anyone who has a good idea for a Simplement to contact us.”
Cycle Country is designing a program in which recommendations will be taken into consideration and studied, and if beneficial, the Simplement will be designed and manufactured. With this process in place, Hill expects Simplements to soon be released year-round as ideas come into fruition and parts are ready for distribution. The possibilities, Hill says, are endless.
“ATV front plow mounts will provide even greater opportunities because they have a higher push tube lift capacity,” he said. “UTVs will also be especially attractive because their mounts are up front.”
Hill considers DIX-C lighter duty compared to skid steers, but it is designed to accommodate any task that the frame, suspension, electric winches and manual lifts of ATVs can handle.
Into customers’ hands
Cycle Country’s distributors have already begun to place DIX-C orders, and dealers are now getting a peek at the latest accessory. Customers are expected to get their first looks in dealerships in October or November.
So far, those who have seen the product are looking forward to its release. “Everyone’s excited. The international market’s excited,” said Bruce Egeness, national accounts manager for Cycle Country. “I see the DIX-C becoming a big hit for dealers not only because of its features, but because it crosses over to other brands. Many of my customers handle more than one line, and we’d like a part of that accessory business.”
“You have to look at the big picture,” Hill explained. “In this industry, every manufacturer is busy designing push tubes and mounts. Easy on-and-off push tubes are great, but what we’ve done is create a true ‘drive-in’ system that works with them all. Also, because it’s so universal, dealers can sell the DIX-C to customers who already have a plow, plus they can use the Triple Play to clear stock of old mounts.”
In addition, accessories can be added to sales to a customer who has a DIX-C. For example, if a customer buys a DIX-C with a Quick Attach Blade, he or she could be sold on the Ball Hitch Receiver during the next visit to the dealership. Or if a customer has an old ATV not being used, they can find new uses for it simply by adding the DIX-C to existing push tubes, or the DIX-C Triple Play and a mount.
“And don’t forget about the rental market. It’s about time our distributors and dealers get a piece of that growing market,” Hill said. “New customers, new energy into our product line is what we’re looking for.”
The patent-pending PTA and Quick Attach Blade and are sold separately, retailing for about $89 and $59, respectively. The Ball Hitch Receiver and the Trash Shuttle will sell for $79 each, and the Triple Play push tube will retail for about $199. When purchasing a blade with the Triple Play, customers will also need the Quick Attach Blade with hinge plate, which includes springs and hardware for about $129. Most Simplements are expected to retail for under $200, though some could cost more.
Hill’s hope is that the DIX-C will not only increase year-round sales for Cycle Country and dealerships, but also that the product will change the way riders look at the use of their ATV and UTVs.