Project UTV SOTU: RZR 800 Introduction

Though a small niche of the automotive world, off-roading consumes the majority of my time, attention, and– yes– funds. Going fast on the road might be fun, but going places most wouldn’t think possible…that’s my jam.
One discipline of the off-road hobby is the All-Terrain-Vehicle sector. After ten years with a Kawasaki Brute Force 650 4x4i, the V-twin-powered muscle car of the quad world, and after a spinal surgery forcing that machine to no longer be a reality for enjoyment, I turned my attention to a 2011 Polaris RZR 800 to transport me to the places the ‘ol Brute used to.
For the foreseeable future, this pumpkin-colored Side-by-Side is my off-road exploration device. It’s the successor to the vehicle that made the biggest impression on me of any I have owned, and it’s positioned to take me and a passenger to even more and even greater places.
No, it’s not a car (PSxSSOTU?), but to get the run-down on Project RZR 800, hit the jump.

After an increase in popularity in the mid-to-late 2000s, Polaris kicked the then-tiny side-by-side craze into a full frenzy with the introduction of its RZR line. The sportiness, go-anywhere motives, and reasonable price/size meant you could do anything a traditional handle-bar equipped ATV could do, and take you, a friend, and all your stuff in the process. The buying public caught on, and sales exploded. I didn’t really “get it” until back surgery rendered my Brute Force unrideable, but now I understand. The SxS is 90% as fun, 110% as capable, and 100 times as comfortable. It’s the perfect middle-ground between a normal quad and a full-size Jeep/truck. It works, and it works quite well.
The machine here is a 2011 model year 800cc motor class vehicle, which was the “base” model until the 570cc-model was introduced. This individual SxS started life as a standard 50” wide trail model, with no power steering and nothing in the way of the “creature comforts” available on the more modern examples. Today, with the SxS craze having gone to heights nobody ever expected, you can get a RZR with nearly 170 horsepower, power steering, a built-in video camera, GPS, full stereo system, climate control, and so on…and that’s before you start with the dealer-installed slew of available accessories. I’m just happy my RZR has electronic fuel injection, after having dealt with the voodoo magic that is carburetors for the last ten years.

In order to make it better at everything it’s intended for, modifications are somewhat extensive. Up front are Fox Racing shocks, with Walker Evans Racing suspension out back. There’s a 2” lift kit, ITP wheels, and Interco Reptile Radial tires. Underneath is a full belly skid plate with matching armor in the form of a front bumper made by EMP, which has a synthetic-line carrying winch bolted to it for when the inevitability of getting stuck becomes a reality. There’s a few other accessories like a roof, mirrors, and a K&N filter with pre-filter cover. Just fore of the “dash” sits an LED light bar which has already proven invaluable when on the back-side of a mountain after the sun sets or when your timing doesn’t on a town-to-town ride up in Maine doesn’t work out as perfectly as planned. Recently I removed the rear sway bar to complement its already-removed front counterpart, which as you can see in the image below helps dramatically with the suspension’s ability to flex since the component designed to limit such is no longer present.

Aside from needing a few miscellaneous items, yet-to-be-named Project RZR is healthy aside from a perpetual overheating issue in which the temperature climbs up to about 250*F when running for the first time on a respective day, then somehow sorts itself out and runs in the 190-220*F range for the rest of the day. Fuses, relays, and radiator have been checked, as has the fan for any mechanical blockage, but all seems in order. This might just be the Polaris’ way of reminding me it can have some fun of its own by scaring me every time the temperature gauge passes 235*F and is climbing in increments of twos or threes.
So that’s Project RZR, the new addition to my fleet. It should provide some good times and more off-roading fun to supplement my number-one hobby. I’m looking forward to owning it and to enjoying it alike.

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5 responses to “Project UTV SOTU: RZR 800 Introduction”

  1. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    Not a car?
    It has four wheels, two seats, some bodywork, and a roof.
    And a real transmission, not something wacky like grindstone drive.
    It’s a car alright.

    1. Ross Ballot Avatar
      Ross Ballot

      It’s closer to a car than cars used to be, that’s for sure. And even though you can’t drive it on the street in my home state, you can register it and do so in places like Maine, New Hampshire, and some of the states out west (UT/NV). Even compared to how little didn’t function on my VehiCROSS, it has basically all of the same stuff, short of glass surrounding the cabin.
      “Real transmission” is up for debate though…It’s a CVT. I don’t love them conceptually, but it works well for a trail machine.

      1. Mark Thompson Avatar
        Mark Thompson

        I’ve seen RZRs and the like plated and driving on city streets in South Dakota. Even in Sioux Falls, a city of close to 200k. I’m not sure that was really the SD DMV’s intent, but SxSs and quads are everywhere.

        1. Ross Ballot Avatar
          Ross Ballot

          Yeah can’t really see that being intentional for metropolitan areas. Maybe something that people are skirting the law with, but I’d do it if I could…

          1. rovingardener Avatar

            Here in Salt Lake City I regularly see RZR 2 and 4 seaters and CanAms in the downtown area which people are parking in downtown parking garages, driving to work daily. The speed limit for ATVs/UTVs is 50 mph no matter what or where but folks also ride $10K roadbikes to work and put them in their offices as well, or show up wearing climbing gear too.