With the growing popularity of mud riding, sinking the quad of your dreams into the bottomless bogs and creeks can be as simple as buying a factory-assembled unit or as hard as working countless nights in the garage. Having built many mud-capable units in the Georgia ATV laboratory I was dead set on creating a machine that would ride like a thoroughbred on the trail and twist like a caged beast in the muck of South Georgia. I called some friends over to the garage and with a wink I said, "You gotta see this one!"
The crisp fuel-injected throttle of the 2009 Polaris Sportsman XP 850 was in my grasp, and with the nod from the editor I was on a mission. The first and most important item to figure out was tire size. The tires I chose were High Lifter's Outlaw in the very large, deep-lugged 31-inch trench-clearing rubber saw blades. This tire was born into the dirt and mud with a dual purpose in mind, and I intended to use them to their utmost potential. Then it occurred to me, what do I put the high and lifted-up tire on since getting the largest tires on the market meant I had to step into the 14-inch wheel arena from the usual 12-inch low rider? Well, SuperATV.com had the answer to my question, and after the boxes had been cut open the excitement rolled through the shop like a cool breeze. The realm of 14-inch tires has brought on many challenges to the ATV world, and SuperATV.com came to the game swinging with a beadlock wheel that has interchangeable centers to fit any bolt pattern. Although interchangeable centers are nothing new to our industry, the size of 14-inch big ones is. Mounted up and ready the tire-wheel combo would have to wait for a few suspension mods before taking their position on the battlefield!
The ground clearance as well as tire clearance was the very next order of business. I wanted a simple bolt-together kit that I could install in just a couple of hours with simple hand tools, and the Gorilla Stage One lift was in my sights. The front shocks get a bit of a push from custom brackets stretched across the front of our 850 XP. The rear was changed a bit more dramatically with new suspension arms and a great reinforcement bracket to tie it all together. This gave the Polaris approximately 2 more inches of height and a stout appearance. Gorilla has many cool products, but the new age of lower lifts is greatly accepted by those who still want to trail ride the swamps and dive into the bog without hesitation. The tough part of this lift was getting the spring stiffeners under the springs of our shocks without tearing an eyebrow off! I suggest that if you do not have a spring compressor, just take the shocks to the local garage and chances are they can put the spacers on cheaper than you can.
Our stock 850 XP tranny is tough, but I just wasn't sure if it could pull the 31s without some type of CVT upgrades. Twisting the tires with 70 horsepower wasn't the concern, more like how long would the belt and CVT last in the grip, no grip situations of mud, and we knew it would at the very least affect our Polaris's get up and go. So we turned to the experts at EPI. Installing the Mudder Kit from EPI had us changing not only the weights in our primary but both springs as well as adding a performance helix in the secondary drive. The whole job isn't a cakewalk, and it can be done with moderate tools in any shop. However, we opted to get the best tools for the job right from the guys at EPI themselves. The clutch puller and clutch compressor tools made this job less of a headache. The Mudder Kit made our Polaris roll with ease on the huge 31s, and the power seemed to be a bit more responsive with no loss in acceleration, all things considered!