How to extend your ATV and UTV riding season

Here are some ways to customize your machine for use in the wintertime

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Three sporty looking side by sides lines up in the snow.

Many people are extending their ATVing and UTVing seasons with the help of many innovative products. — photo courtesy Ray Senio

Many people are extending their ATVing and UTVing seasons with the help of many innovative products that make winter play a piece of ice cream cake.

Who extends their season? According to Aaron Seminoff of Main Jet Motorsports in Nelson, B.C., recreational riders in their mature years are most likely to be the ones incorporating winter implements to their ATVs and UTVs. 

“Young guys and girls usually want to go fast, so a snowmobile would be their choice for a winter toy,” said Seminoff, “but older people, who simply want to get out on the trail and enjoy the serenity and beauty of winter, are now using their ATVs and UTVs year round.”

The extra cargo space on your side-by-sides comes in handy for those who are venturing deep in the woods, or ice fishing, allowing you to take everything you need in one trip.

Here are some accessories you can put on your ATV and UTV to make winter riding more enjoyable:

Tracks

“ATVing has become a year-round activity now that you can put tracks on them,” said Linda Murray from Barrett Motorsports & Equipment in Fruitvale, B.C., “and they are becoming more and more popular as a way to plow snow in the winter.”

Originally designed for commercial application, track systems on your ATV or UTV have now hit the recreational world by storm. Tracks allow the user to enjoy the winter season by providing the traction and flotation to carry their unit over snow-covered surfaces. Even the greatest of sceptics has been surprised. While they may not win any speed races, the tracked ATVs and UTVs handle well in the snow. 

Camoplast and TREX are some of the most popular on the market,” said Reid Nehring of UTV Canada. “Both of these companies produce a top quality product right here in Canada. They are priced within pennies of each other.”

It is recommended to have at least a 500-cc ATV if you are wanting to run tracks in the snow.  You need sufficient power to turn the tracks and those less than 500 ccs won’t have enough power to do so adequately. A 700- to 850-cc machine would be the best. 

Cab enclosures 

Those who utilize an enclosure for their UTV have many options. You can go with a soft type of enclosure, which keeps the elements out, but won’t necessarily protect you from all of the wind or last nearly as long as the hard type of cabs.

The hard enclosures utilize plastic and even have tempered glass for windshields to give you a more permanent feel, and much more protection from harsh winter conditions. Hard cabs are also much quieter inside, which can work to your advantage if you have some tunes accompanying your ride. 

Heaters

There are heaters for virtually every UTV on the market, even the Arctic Cat Wildcat. Fall hunters and winter enthusiasts are quite often choosing this option to keep comfortable when the weather turns cold. 

Heated grips, even for passengers, make cold weather riding enjoyable on your ATV. How about a heated seat? Plugging into a 12-volt DC system, this plug-and-play unit keeps your tush toasty warm with a variable heat setting. Nothing says comfort like a warm tush!

Plows

Plows are a very useful addition for winter snow removal. There are a few different types of plows to choose from—some constructed of metal or a poly-type of blade, which is lighter. The poly blade has the capability of flexing as opposed to bending as metal blades sometimes do. ATVs usually run blades ranging from 50 to 60 inches, while UTVs can accommodate up to a 72-inch blade. 

To power plows, you have a few choices.

Winch-operated systems are by far the most popular and cost effective, but many commercial applications are now utilizing hydraulics to operate their snowplows. This type of system can cost upwards of $3,500. 

There are benefits to the hydraulic plow, according to Nehring.

“The benefits of the hydraulic plow is that you don’t have to leave the driver’s seat to adjust the blade angle,” he said. “The manual blade has to be adjusted by hand when swivelling the blade to direct your snow from one side to the next when snowplowing. The hydraulic blade has a joystick on the dash that controls the lift and turning of the blade. Some hydraulic blades can also give you down pressure to insure that the snow is being scraped down to the surface whereas the manual winch-operated blade just floats over the uneven ground.” 

There are many other innovative products that will make winter riding more enjoyable on your ATV or UTV. Aftermarket lighting, racks and other types of carrying accessories really push the imagination. There is no need to mourn the loss of a season, for winter fun will add a whole new dimension to enjoying your ATV and UTV. 


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