Expo features more utility for quads – March 13, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS — The 2006 Indianapolis Dealer Expo could very well be considered the year of the 4x4 recreational utility vehicle.
Never before have we seen so many side-by-side utility vehicles (Rhinos, Rangers and Prowlers) accessorized to the hilt as we did in Indianapolis. Not only are these machines bigger than their ATV brethren, they also attract boatloads of attention from dealers.
We’re not forgetting about the four-wheeled ATV aftermarket, and why should we? From what we saw, it was as strong as ever and the product seems to expand as much as those offering product. In fact, many companies have products available for the RUVs and the quads.
In September, Powersports Business projected that UTV sales could top 270,000 units this year. With that figure likely to grow, it’s no wonder the powersports aftermarket has devoted itself to this niche.
The UTVs of old were considered vehicles for utility purposes and not specifically for off-road use. With the release of models from Yamaha, Polaris, Arctic Cat and others, that is no longer the case. Utility side-by-side machines have unleashed the recreational-use era. That includes hunting, trail riding and, yes, racing. The UTV Racing Association is proof of that. Visit www.utvracingassociation for more information.
We found dozens of hot new products that make a UTV work harder and definitely play harder.
One way to accessorize a RUV is to add new plastic, and Fullbore Innovations has it. For $2,100, consumers can have a complete kit in seven different colors. It includes a tailgate cover, bed, hood, upturned dash and sides and should be available in the spring.
Much like the SUV market, adding tires and wheels to RUV has become big business. Douglas Wheel introduced its new Rattle Snake wheels. ITP, with its new TerraCross tires and 14-inch C-Series Type 7 wheel, has committed to the UTV market as well. A new entrant is CWS Motosport Alloys, which got its start in the SUV and truck market. It will manufacture wheels and tires for UTVs and quads.
Due to the size and weight of UTVs, Ramsey Winch introduced a new Honcho UTV5000 winch at Indy. Warn Industries also displayed its 4.0ci winch for these same vehicles. These winches will be in high demand as we’ve seen the UTV snow plow market expand this year. Several manufacturers debuted new plows, including RangerWare, Cycle Country, Warn, American Manufacturing and more.
However, Agri-Cover said its SnowSportATV Utility Plow does not require a winch to function and never needs to be lifted because it can remain on the ground even in reverse.
We saw at least 10 different forms of UTV cab accessories, from fabric covers to full-blown cab steel enclosures with working windshield wipers and integrated heaters. Canada’s L.B. Manufacturing debuted a full cab for the Arctic Cat Prowler UTV and also builds product for the Rhino. Both Parts Unlimited and Tucker Rocky showcased Yamaha Rhinos with their own line of cab enclosures. The RangerWare Weather Protection wooed dealers in the dome with its line of weather protection systems for the Polaris Ranger and Yamaha Rhino. It also introduced a few of its PowerTach components, like a roto tiller and snow blade and hydraulic mount kit. James Green Products may have one of the most diverse lines as it manufacturers product for other utility machines, such as the John Deere Gator line, Kubota and Kawasaki Mule. Most of its products, which have a camo finish, cater to hunters and outdoorsmen.
Though it doesn’t build enclosures, RUV Motorsports does modify these same machines. The California-based company offers three customized “Roll Cage” modifications. It also manufacturers many chassis parts and carries parts and accessories from other manufacturers and is authorized to install Black Rhino Performance parts. RUV Motorsports also displayed an aftermarket seat builder from Beard Seats, which builds custom bucket and bench seats for UTV beds. The aftermarket seat bolt into the rear cargo bed and is designed to carry more riders.
If Rhinos and other RUVs are going to be raced, there better be aftermarket product to meet the demands. Enter companies like Alba Action Sports, Pro Armor and Fat Katz, all of which introduced chassis components for RUVs. Some of these parts increase the durability or aesthetic value, while others improve handling and performance. Alba’s Rhino services will include bumpers, A-arms, netted half-doors and even a full engine kit and exhaust. Pro Armor also will offer front and rear bumpers, A-arms guards and more. Fat Katz specializes in custom beds and chassis armor to increase the look and durability of the Rhino.
We also spoke with Elka Suspension and Fox Racing Shox, and saw upgraded utility side-by-side models in Indy with both of these aftermarket suspensions installed. The Pro Armor booth also had a Rhino with King Shocks, which builds suspension for buggies, and both on- and off-road trucks.
With all the potential growth shown by the UTV?industry, we expect more China-based manufacturers to enter this realm. Fusin Motorsports is one of the first China-built UTVs we’ve seen. The two-wheel-drive FX650 ATV?Truck comes standard with rack and pinion steering, hydraulic disc brakes, 3,000-pound-rate winch, a two-stroke liquid-cooled engine and a 30 mph maximum speed.
Utility ATVs
One area where we’ve seen growth in the ATV aftermarkets industry is agricultural and landscaping pull-behinds, from mowers to disc harrows.
Along with proven pull-behind mowers for quads, AcrEase now manufactures a Till-Ease pull-behind implement. The product is in its first full year of production. An optional culti-packer also was introduced at Indy. Cycle Country and Swisher have more competition, but continue to display their proven lineup of products, which includes plows and implements for UTVs and quads. Tarter Gate introduced its new line of Terrain Tough garden and farming implements at Indy, including a new Disc/Culti-packer combo pull-behind and 5-bushel seeder/spreader.
Because pull-behind equipment is in high demand, it’s no wonder more companies are offering alternatives. The Creeper pull-behind trailer from HYPE?Manufacturing is innovative because it can tote 1,120 pounds of cargo on top of it, yet turns into an electronic pushing trailer. It’s designed to replace your ATV or UTV’s gas-powered engine by using its electric engine, which is capable of pushing a motorhome and has pushed a Yamaha Rhino with two passengers up a 36 percent grade slope.
The ATV?Wagon by Bosski is another pull-behind trailer, but it’s designed to increase an ATV’s load-carrying and cargo-toting capacity. The lightweight aluminum trailer has electric braking and independent all-wheel suspensions. Bosski’s Utility ATV Wagons have dump boxes, a drop-down tailgate and powdercoated steel frames.
Winches are making big news again as Warn, SuperWinch and Ramsey winch all introduced new designs at Indy. Warn now has a full line of synthetic rope ATV?winches and a true H1000 AC?Hoist for hoisting quads and sleds. It also introduced a sport quad winch integrated with a Pro Armor front bumper. Ramsey also has added synthetic rope to some of its winches and redesigned it rocker switch to be more friendly. And its 10-year patent on its remote control has been awarded, which could give it a leg up on the competition.
The competition in the aftermarket tire-and-wheel business continues to grow as companies like CWS Motosport Alloys, Modern Tire Company and Pirelli join the crowded field. Proven veterans like ITP and Douglas Wheel introduced new tires and wheels in attempt to stay ahead of the newcomers. The demand for true radial tires has grown and a few of these companies are building product to satisfy that demand.
Because the ATV and UTV business continues to expand and consumers continue to add pricey customized mods to their vehicles, the need to protect these machines becomes more important. Prolockers by ProLawn Equipment introduced a new line of lockable and adjustable wheel locks for trailering. Not only does the DOT-approved device automatically lock the wheel in place, it also secures the vehicle to the trailer and eliminates the need for tie downs.
Kryptonite introduced a new line of locks that feature a three-point ballbearing locking design and a rotating locking head.
Another fierce area of competition in the ATV?industry is with rack bags and accessories. Kolpin Powersports launched an all-new Trail Tan line of rack bags and accessories. Kolpin said its findings showed many ATV?owners wear or ride in Carhartt clothing so it designed its bag to closely match that color scheme. Stearns’ line of Mad Dog rack back and accessories continue to expand yearly and has grown into one of the most popular brands with its camouflage offerings. Cocoon Solutions manufacturers a unique ATV?Cocoon system that traps natural engine heat to keep riders warm and attaches to the ATV with self-tapping snap screws. psb

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