Side By Sides
by Brian Robinson
Though our two wheelin’ correspondent Brian Robinson likes to spend as much time on two wheels as possible, he’s always on the lookout for a new adventure no matter how many wheels are involved. Let’s find out what our roving reporter is up to this week.
BRIAN ROBINSON: “Whether you call them SidexSides, UTVs, or ROVs; they’re one of the fastest growing segments in the powersports industry. Let’s take a look at a few and find out why.”
The number of these purpose-built, 4X4s that have entered the market over the last few years is truly astounding. And here at MotorWeek, with a few minor exceptions, we’ve been mostly missing out on the fun. To make up for that, we recently had a chance to tryout four of these trail-ready four-wheel rigs out in the California desert.
Kawasaki has been in the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle game for quite a while now, progressing from the workhorse Mule to the terrain-tackling Teryx. This Teryx4, offers seating for four, a good-size bed for hauling cargo, and a 783cc V-twin engine.
Without a doubt, Polaris makes some of the highest performing ROVs available today, this RZR 4 900 is by no means the top of its line, but it has off-roading prowess unheard of a decade or two ago for anything at this price point. It comes with an 875cc engine, big 27-inch tires, and over 12-inches of suspension travel.
Even Honda has joined the mini 4X4 parade with this Pioneer 700-4 among others. It was the smallest of the rigs we sampled, but it still features a 675cc engine, and its compact chassis gets in and out of things like a rabbit navigating through a briar patch.
On the other end of the spectrum is this Yamaha Viking VI, with 6-seats for hauling around your friends, provided you’re lucky enough to have that many people that want to spend time with you.
Being somewhat unique among the field, we spent most of our trail time behind its wheel. Navigating its car-like 115.6–inch wheelbase through narrow trails is not as difficult as you would think. And its 686cc–engine has all the power necessary.
This Ranch Edition model, features unique paint, upgraded saddle-brown interior, and a front brush guard. Even with room for six, there’s still a fairly sizable bed for cargo as well as a standard rubber mat for protecting it. All four of these rigs proved to be a heap of fun out on the trail.
Though they may operate much like the car you drive every day, with similar looking controls, they respond quite differently to inputs. So if you do wish to join the ROV revolution, it’s a good idea to get some training first. The Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association can help with that, with both online and on-trail instruction.
With such a wide range of ROV offerings available, prices vary significantly, with the subjects we have here ranging from just under $12,000 to just under 19.
So without a doubt, owning one of these rigs is a significant investment. But with the amount of fun you can have behind the wheel of one, the capabilities they have, and the amazing places you can take them; it’s one investment that will start paying dividends…immediately.