Published on December 19th, 2019 | by Joe
Top 5 BEST SXS Upgrades for Sport Utility UTVs: WITH VIDEO
Top 5 Sport Utility UTV Side-by-side Upgrades.
In the world of SXS, it’s no wonder that the sport/utility segment is by far the largest. After all, these vehicles work hard and play hard. With so many aftermarket upgrades available for these machines, picking the right ones can be a bit overwhelming. To help, we picked out our top-5 list of sport utility SXS upgrades that will make your machine work and play even harder, regardless of the brand and model you own.
In the world of SXS, it’s no wonder that the sport/utility segment is by far the largest.Yamaha was kind enough to sponsor this video, allowing us to build on their outstanding Wolverine X2 R-Spec, a sport/utility side-by-side already offering a high level of performance and versatility. The Wolverine X2 features a compact chassis at 59.1” wide, with an overall length of 115”, providing stable, confidence inspiring handling and the ability to easily maneuver in tight spaces. Low sight lines out of the front, back, and sides of the machine make it easy to judge where you’re at and where you’re headed. Sway bars at both ends are paired with fully-adjustable KYB shocks, which let you fine tune the Wolverine’s ride to suit the terrain, payload, and your driving style. Power from the fuel-injected, 847cc, parallel-twin-cylinder engine provides brisk sport performance for the trail, with plenty of torque to handle its one-ton towing and 600lb dump bed capacity. With its CVT transmission featuring an unrivaled 10 year drive belt warranty, it’s a machine we felt confident in building up to go hard, whether it’s on the job site, or at the ride park.
Browsing Yamaha’s in-house GYTR line and co-branded aftermarket accessories at www.shopyamaha.com, we noticed that the blue crew offers nearly every accessory imaginable, including our top-five upgrades. With the machine and all of the accessories we’re looking for located conveniently under our local dealer’s roof, Yamaha was kind enough to team up with us to make this video possible. However, the type of upgrades we’re suggesting are all available for most popular Sport utility SXS regardless of brand or model.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at our Top-5 sport utility SXS upgrades and see how they can improve your machine for work and play.
Number 5, GPS
While some might argue that we got along fine without them before, an all-terrain GPS navigator like the Yamaha Adventure Pro by Magellan can make all of your adventures easier, safer, and more enjoyable. The Adventure Pro comes pre-loaded with tons of trail maps from across the US and Canada; plus, lifetime map and software updates are included. You can log new trails noting trail obstacles, difficulty, terrain, and much more all of which can be shared with others. Adventure Pro’s exclusive timing mode allows you to create courses and record lap times to test your driver skill, or the benefits of performance upgrades. For driving to and from the trail or around town, you can use your adventure Pro for street navigation as well.
The adventure Pro is a fully functional Android tablet featuring front and rear cameras with Bluetooth and Wifi connectivity, along with social media integration, allowing you to easily share your adventures. It can also be used to stream your favorite music to a Bluetooth compatible audio system. Adventure Pro can be useful in helping keep track of work related tasks.
Finally, if you’re a Yamaha owner, the Adventure Pro offers connectivity with Yamaha’s latest Wolverine, YXZ, and certain 4×4 ATV models displaying vehicle information such as speed, RPMs, drive mode, temperature, and more.
Number 4, Front Brush Guard
A good quality front bumper or brush guard is a popular upgrade among SXS enthusiasts for many reasons. Most importantly, a well-designed front brush guard adds a lot of protection to the front of your machine from brush and other trail obstacles, helping protect your machine’s bodywork, lights, and radiator. A front brush guard provides a good place to tie onto in case you or your friends need help getting unstuck. They also provide an excellent place to mount accessory lights.
The Genuine Yamaha front brush guard is constructed of a combination of steel tubing and plates, powdercoated for long lasting good looks. Its shape is designed to blend perfectly with the Wolverine’s front end providing superior protection, appearance, and functionality. As an OEM accessory, fitment is near pure perfection. Integrated positions for installing Yamaha’s accessory spot or flood lights makes adding accessory lighting easy.
Number 3, Windshield
These days, many higher-end SXS come outfitted with a roof. If yours did not, consider it as your first accessory to defend the cockpit against the elements. For models like the Wolverine R-Spec that come with roofs from the factory, a good windshield can help protect you from rain, cold wind, and encroaching tree limbs making long days on the trail or job site a lot more comfortable.
A folding windshield like the genuine Yamaha model for the Wolverine X2 and X4, adds a much higher level of versatility than a non-folding design by allowing you to close up the front of the cabin to keep out wind and rain, or, or fold it down on hot, dusty days when more air flow is desired. Folded down, the bottom third of the windshield remains in place, offering the protection of a standard half windshield against bugs and other debris. The half windshield configuration also allows dust to pass over and through the cabin. Whereas, a full windshield creates a vacuum that sucks dust in the back of the cabin leaving it swirling around in the driver’s compartment.
The Genuine Yamaha windshield features polycarbonate construction, hard coated for scratch resistance and is said not to shatter like acrylic windshields. It utilizes the Wolverine’s windshield channels in the cage for excellent weather sealing and is secured in the down position without the need to drill holes in your body panels. It can be installed and removed without tools for cleaning, maintenance, or when times with the trail is simply too overgrown and you want to protect your investment. For those colder, winter months, Yamaha’s folding windshield also works with their Soft Cab Enclosure system.
Number 2, Winch
Today’s top sport utility SXS are incredibly capable off-road machines, yet even they have their limits. Even with the Wolverine’s 11” of ground clearance and On-command 2wd, 4wd system with front differential lock offering maximum traction in any situation, it’s still possible to get hung up in the most extreme terrain. A reliable winch can make all the difference in getting yourself or someone else unstuck out on the trail or the job site. A winch can also help with work related tasks like raising or lowering a snow plow or helping drag large items.
Yamaha worked with industry leader, Warn, to develop their 3,000lb Vantage, and 3,500 Pro Vantage winches for Yamaha owners. As a machine outfitted for trail riding and tough jobs, we opted to go with the heavier duty Pro Vantage 3500 model. They both feature fully sealed three-stage primary gear train with metal gears, 50’ of steel rope, which is better for utility purposes due to its higher level of abrasion resistance compared to synthetic rope, a rope roller fairlead, and Warn’s patented roller disc brake for outstanding brake control while winching. However, the Pro Vantage 3500 is rated to tow 500lbs more. It enjoys an all metal gear housing, heavier duty 3/16” rope, plus limited lifetime mechanical and three-year electrical warranty from Warn, offering extended peace of mind.
A wired remote control adds a higher level of safety compared to a dash mounted switch, allowing you to control the winch from either inside or outside of the machine
For serious work or exploring, a winch is an accessory we wouldn’t want to live without.
As we mentioned before, if your SXS didn’t come with a roof like the Wolverine R-Spec does, you’ll be wishing it had one to keep you out of the rain or sun. A soft cab enclosure system can turn your SXS into a four season fun machine or work horse. While lacking the wow factor to make it on our top-5 list, a rearview mirror, like this one from Assault Industries, is something that most owners add to their machines, making it easier to back up and keep track of those behind you. Audio systems are common upgrades for the trail that can help pass time on the job site. Companies, like Wet Sounds and SSV Works, are building some rather impressive sounding systems that are dust and weather resistant. These items are available for most popular sport utility machines and all of them are available for Yamaha owners through shopyamaha.com and your local Yamaha dealer.
Number One, Tires and Wheels
Tires are the number-one performance upgrade for most SXS. They can improve your level of fun out on the trail and productivity on the job site. Tires improve traction and handling. However, there are several other good reasons for switching to aftermarket tires and wheels. Running taller tires increases ground clearance and roll more smoothly on rough terrain. Many performance enthusiasts set their SXS up with the same size wheel and tire all the way around. This can further improve handling and allows you to swap wheels front and rear in the event of a front flat tire. Running a larger wheel with a larger tire helps maintain sidewall height for a more predictable feeling. Beadlock wheels are the ultimate insurance policy for long distance trail rides, ensuring that the tire doesn’t become unseated in the event of a flat, allowing you to keep driving.
For all of these reasons, Yamaha has teamed up with MSA and KMC offering both beadlock and non-beadlock wheel options. They’ve also partnered with EFX, offering tires ideal for hard-pack surfaces, mud, and everything in-between. Tires and wheels can be purchased separately or as kits through Yamaha.
With 26” tires mounted on 12” wheels from the factory, the kit we chose consisted of 27×10-14 EFX MotoClaw tires mounted on 14” KMC, Machete beadlock wheels. Our area demands tires that can perform in every type of conditions throughout the seasons. EFX multi-condition, MotoClaw tires feature a tough rubber compound and a multi-directional tread design, allowing the tires to be rotated and ran in either direction. Both promoting longer lasting tread life. Their 1” tread depth features closely spaced tread down the center for smoother rolling and increased tire contact for hard packed, or rocky conditions. Widely-spaced, wrap around tread is there to help promote traction in mud and deep ruts. MotoClaw tires feature 8-ply radial construction. Radial tires typically provide a smoother ride, although they are usually a bit heavier.
Featuring cast aluminum construction, the 14×7” KMC Machete beadlock wheels are designed to be both light and strong. Their beadlock design not only makes it possible to drive on a flat tire, it also makes tire changing easier. Their wider offset widens the machine from around 59” to 63” wide, increasing stability while still providing plenty of room to maneuver on most SXS trails.
When going to larger, heavier, wheels and tires, you will need to address your SXS’s clutching to help maintain acceleration. There are a few good aftermarket clutch companies out there that can help you with this. Yamaha makes it easy for Wolverine owners by offering their Oversize Tire Clutch Kit, designed to work with their larger 27” tire kits or other similar sized aftermarket tires. The kit comes with new weights to optimize low-speed clutch performance with larger tires, preventing sluggish acceleration.
We put our Wolverine through a battery of tests over a couple of months and are quite happy with our upgrade selections. The Adventure Pro is something we often take with us these days. It’s a great on and off-road navigator, useful work tool, and a great way to get your friends and co-pilots more involved.
Yamaha’s front brush guard is a beast. Aside from deflecting field grass and small limbs, we failed to secure our winch hook on one occasion with the bumper taking a couple hard knocks. The surface was slightly dinged, but the finish was still intact, proving it can take a beating.
The genuine Yamaha folding windshield opens and closes quickly and easily. The lower section doesn’t distort your view of the trail like some half windshield’s we’ve used. After a few encounters with encroaching tree limbs, we’re happy to report that the Genuine Yamaha windshield has proven scratch resistant with no noticeable imperfections thus far.
The Warn winch came in handy a couple times dragging logs off the trail and we found ourselves up a creek on a bank that couldn’t be easily climbed. The winch, coupled with a little throttle, helped us safely and easily get out.
The 27×10-14 EFX MotoClaw tires provided predictable traction in a variety of trail conditions. Their taller size gave our Wolverine an extra bit of ground clearance that’s noticeable out on the trail traversing ledges, ruts, and other obstacles. The wider offset of the 14” KMC, Machete beadlock wheels seemed to more than make up for any potential loss in stability from the taller tires. Yamaha’s Oversize Tire Clutch Kit does very well at maintaining acceleration off the line at the expense of adding a little more engine noise at lower speeds. Yamaha’s electric power steering did superbly at filtering bump feedback and keeping steering light with the wider offset wheels.
We think our top-5 sport/utility side-by-side upgrades list is pretty solid for most enthusiasts, although specific needs might make your upgrades vary. If you have any questions regarding the Yamaha Wolverine X2 or X4, any of the products used in this video, or a specific need for your machine, let us know in the comments.
For more information on the Yamaha Wolverine X2 and X4 plus Yamaha’s expansive line of parts and accessories visit YamahaMotorsports.com