Playing in the mud on your trusty ATV or UTV can be both very exciting and fun for the entire family. The thrill of heading to your favorite ride park and getting away for the weekend is just a small part of the adventure. However, there is one small nasty side to the off-road mudder’s life, and that is the point when he/she figures out they haven’t prepared properly for the big ride. Usually this comes to light when mouth overruns ability and you find yourself stuck or broken as your group of buddies looks on in sheer delight.
As we have learned over the years of covering and participating in the awesome fun of mud riding, there are things that need to be done to the ride you depend on to ensure you will get out of the muddy trails in the same condition you came in. Except for lots of muddy stuff coming with you, of course! We turned to an industry expert to give the lowdown on what it will take for an adventure to the muddy marshlands. Greg McMullen works at Louisiana-based Gorilla Axle, and here is what he suggests as the 10 must-haves of mud riding.
Before you take the plunge of dumping money into your machine to make it mudworthy, make sure it’s something worth fixing up. Pouring thousands into a Recon probably isn’t your best bet. Choose something that is going to be decent once you’re done modifying it.
Make sure your machine is ready to go in deep mud. Unless you have a Can-Am X mr or Arctic Cat MudPro then your machine needs snorkels. You’ll want to vent all the necessary lines as well (diffs, carb, etc.).
Which Tires Suit Your Needs?
Decide if you want to go with a very aggressive mud tire (Silverback) or more of an all-terrain tire (Silverback X-Lite). You’ll have to make sacrifices either way, so simply decide on which way you want to bias (ride versus pulling).
Lift Kits: Necessity Or Not?
Depending on what size tire you run, you may need a lift kit to give clearance. Lifts also provide more ground clearance, which really helps in the rutted-out holes. Decide how big you want to go. There are lifts ranging from 1 to 12 inches.
Adding Parts For More Power
Since you’re adding a lot more strain on your motor with the larger, more aggressive tires, you’ll need more power to effectively spin them in the muck. A big mud tire is no good if you can’t turn it over in the thick mud. You can go with simple power upgrades like an HMF exhaust and programmer (or jet kit for carbureted models), or with extensive modifications like big-bore kits and other power adders. However, there are limits. Don’t expect to mount 32s on your Wolverine and have power to spare after only a jet kit.
If you’re truly going to go mudding, you’re going to eventually get stuck. We depend on our winches to get us out, but at the very least you should have a Bubba rope to get you unstuck. You’ll also need a Bubba rope for that guy in your group who always breaks down. Hopefully that person isn’t you!
Shining Bright For The Night
It seems like a no-brainer, but if you ride at night, you’ll want some additional lighting. You’d be surprised at how many show up to ride at night and have very little lighting on their ATV. Keep in mind that most OEM lights are mounted fairly low so after the first mudhole they’re coated with mud, rendering them useless. Unless you want to climb down and wipe off the lights all the time, mount your new lights up high.
Deep mud is usually conquered best when going very slow. Keeping the tires turning at a slow, steady pace is the best way to get out of deep ruts and mud. This allows for you to rock the ATV to the correct side to make the tires bite. If the tires are spinning wildly, they won’t bite and propel you forward. Also, you never know how deep the hole may be, so if you’re going too fast, you may get yourself into a bad situation.
Just about every time I ride we find a hole that nobody has been through. This can be fun and dangerous at the same time. If it’s standing water, you should check to see how deep it is before plunging in. There are a couple of things to look for, like if there are ruts or tracks coming out on the other side. If not, you should probably skip it. If there is vegetation growing on top of the water, that is typically a sign the hole hasn’t been messed with for quite some time, which means there’s a reason for it. Be careful when approaching mudholes you’re not familiar with.
This is a key element of mud riding. When you go through a hole and your buddy gets stuck in it, you should let him know about it. Make sure you know how he feels about your ATV and/or riding skills being better than his. Keep it civil, though, it’s all in fun.
Looking back on the rides we’ve been to, we agree these 10 key points really make sense. If you’re going to ride the majority of your time in a deep-water mud-laden creek bottom, then you better heed the warning. If you decide against the advice, just be ready because it is officially printed that we can trash talk in good fun to remind you that you were warned! Get busy planning the build and send us some photos so we can see the progress! ATVR