Looking for adventure is what sets most side-by-side enthusiasts in motion. Some love to test the limits of their vehicles, while others simply want to get out and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer. With this in mind, the idea of building (or you could even say creating) the Extreme Adventure Machine was born, and the Arctic Cat Prowler XTZ 1000 provided the right platform for the job. It has everything you need to survive really brutal terrain and do it in style. As we pondered the thought of being out in the middle of nowhere with no way to get help, depending only on what we packed, it inspired us to dig for products that would be tough enough to get us out. Along the way, we also wanted to ensure that the driver and passenger felt safe and secure in the ride.
As we began the build, the first order of business was to install tough skid plates so the bottom of our machine didn’t get ripped apart by the rocks that litter the trails around the southeast. Savant Manufacturing’s line of Strong Made products was the choice for this ride. The thick aluminum skids came in five pieces and took only a couple of hours to bolt on. This company is the only one we found to have very nice glide plates on the front, rear and inner fender wells to take glancing blows and slide right over.
With the weight of a small...
With the weight of a small car on the remote trails of Moto-Mountain, installing the Warn RT30 was a no-brainer.
In looking for what would come next, we came across a company known as DragonFire Racing (DFR). This innovative product monster has combined a line of sport accessories that take the average ride from drab to fab! The first of these products was the Fox shocks, which gave our Prowler a new feel on the trail. The Fox shocks are a bolt-on piggyback unit with multiple points of adjustability. The long shock bodies equipped with threaded preload adjusters gave us plenty of room to change the ride quality. The shocks coupled with the valving adjustments meant we were set for success.
We knew all too well what the stress of the powerful engine and tough trails was going to do to our machine, so we opted to install aftermarket axles from The CV Man. The guys in the CV Restoration shop have presented our market with yet another product to ensure there are no broken axles on the trail. These monster axles are made from 4340 chrome-moly steel with heavier and thicker boots to resist puncture on the trail. Tough is an understatement for these beasts!
With the shocks mounted and CV axles installed, we needed some wheels to mount our tires on, so a set of DFR Crippler beadlocks were unboxed. These wheels use a standard beadlock on the outside of the wheel and have an extra thick reinforcement ring on the back of the wheel. They just scream ruggedness. The rubber of choice for this project was a no-brainer as we chose to run the popular ITP BajaCross tires. The BajaCross has been used in many forms of racing, and one notable event for this tire was the Baja 1000 where the winning UTV ran the entire race without a single flat.
After some careful research and modification, we left the machine sitting back on its feet as we discussed reinforcing the framea prevalent issue given the brutality of our destination. UTVinc has leaped into the world of UTV and SxS aftermarket parts with many items, several being the reinforcement of weaker components. The company offers front and rear frame tube stiffeners, and we had to have them. Installing the tubes was a breeze; with just a couple of self-tapping screws we had the fix we needed. In the back of our mind the addition of massive lights and other accessories had us worried about the charging ability of the stock stator. Then we found the Prowler alternator kit at UTVinc. This little gem is a Denso 60-amp bolt-on alternator that runs off the crank of our Prowler’s massive engine. The kit comes complete with all the hardware needed to get extra power for an auxiliary battery or simply to supplement the existing battery. Fortunately, we had already arranged to install an Odyssey PC 925 auxiliary battery in the storage compartment for the lights on our ride, so the entire plan came together perfectly. Having a tough-as-steel battery like the PC 925 was just par for the course and met the goals we had set for the build. The final few items we had picked up at UTVinc were a horn kit for alerting the slower trail peeps and a parking brake buzzer to warn us in the event the parking brake was left on. This may not sound like a true problem but several Prowler owners have mistakenly left the brake partially engaged and lost the machine due to fire. Just keeping it safe, you know!
Some features on our machine...
Some features on our machine took precedence over others, and safety and comfort topped the list.
Some features on our machine...
Some features on our machine took precedence over others, and safety and comfort topped the list.
As we mentioned, riding in remote areas could possibly leave us out in the dark with little vision on the trail back to camp. As we wanted to avoid this our goal was to light up the night’s sky, so it had to be done right. Halogen lights would strain the stator, so I knew HID was the only way to go. Baja Designs has been lighting the way for many off-road race teams for years, and if I do anything involving my safety, I always trust the experts. Baja Designs set us up with twin eight-inch Soltek lights and two Fuego four-inch versions of the same HID design. With many points of adjustment, spot-on directional lighting would be very useful, and the lights are totally self-enclosed with only a single weather-sealed power cable coming off each light, which simplifies the mounting and powering of these super-bright lights. It’s not hard to find the extreme value in the products that Baja Designs is making for our sport.
Thinking of safety precautions, I wondered just how I would get the 1,200-pound behemoth out of any area that might try to hang it without provocation. Warn Winch is a name that everyone recognizes for winching, and I knew if I wanted out of any situation, I had to attach a suitable winch to the bumper of my Prowler. The Warn RT30 was our choice. This winch offered a standard steel cable and a lanyard-type hand control cable for operation. This was a great choice and when it comes to extreme situations this winch is ready for anything.
Getting lost is a reality in places such as the dunes or mountainous regions of the desert, but it can even happen in the mountains of the southeast U.S. The larger ride areas such as Windrock or Brimstone can leave the unsuspecting enthusiast not only exploring for new sights, but also lost and trying to find a way back to camp! This is where my Baja race experience kicked in again, and thanks to the help of Lowrance we had no doubt that we could travel anywhere and not get lost. One of the largest units produced by Lowrance, the HDS-10m is a fully functional directory of information. The massive screen lets me see the trails from a bird’s-eye view and I can track myself, so if I have to turn back I know how I got to my turning point. The high-def screen is very sharp and with the 16-bit color Super VGA SolarMax Plus TFT display I can’t miss any details. But I did wonder where and how I could get the display snugly into the cockpit of our Extreme Adventure Machine without compromising space. With a call to our friends at Ballistic Fabrication, I had the 1.75 tube clamps I needed to build my very own crossbar to hang the Lowrance GPS from. This bar along with Axia Alloys’ GPS mounting system had our unit right where we needed it to be. These billet aluminum mounts give a great look with functionality to boot. Axia Alloys also had our rear-view needs covered with its super-wide rearview mirror, which came with clamps that fit our stock Prowler XTZ 1000 cage perfectly. At least we know what’s behind us now, and the styling with black-anodized finish keeps this prize stealthy to say the least.
Our final thoughts about safety led us to Arctic Cat’s catalog of aftermarket parts that are available to the consumer. The seating in the Prowler is good for the trail enthusiast, but for our purpose we opted for Arctic Cat’s own custom high-back seating. These seats are tall and very supportive, and allow us to utilize the four-point harnesses that DFR had sent as a part of its sport package. The seats bolt to the stock mounts from the stock seats and right back in with a tighter fit but much improved feel. DFR has the seatbelt safety harness figured out, and when you’re strapped in by these beauties you’re locked in tight. With belt straps across the lap and over both shoulders there isn’t much more area to secure the rider. Although we did have to build yet another crossbar to strap our DFR belting to, but Ballistic Fabrication had us covered on the 1.75 tube clamps and with just an hour of tube bending on the JD model 32 we were set.
Other items from Arctic Cat’s factory accessory catalog were the front and rear bumpers, A-arm skid plates and spare tire carrier. These all rounded out our ride for protection and perfection. Last but not least, we installed the DragonFire quick-disconnect steering wheel and its components. Having a removable steering wheel means I’m less likely to get hung behind it should I need to evacuate quickly. This also can be a theft deterrent!
The 360-degree views and awesome...
The 360-degree views and awesome trail systems at Moto-Mountain in Fairmont, Georgia, put this Extreme Adventure Machine to the test.
So with the entire machine pretty much covered and protected, the last item at hand was to add just a little to the reliability and power for which the XTZ 1000 is known. Keeping the engine cool on slow trails is very important and with our Fluidyne oversize radiator we were sure that was taken care of. This machine will see many elevation changes and that means different fueling issues, but Dynojet had us covered as well. The Power Commander V with AutoTune will manage our fueling needs while adjusting for any changes in altitude and air. This device will not only assist in making our machine perform at its best all the times but it can record data that gives us insight on our engine’s performance and what happens as we drive! Adding our final engine performance-enhancing part, the full Muzzys exhaust had us a bit worried that we might experience some air-fuel issues but that wasn’t the case. The Dynojet AutoTune had it covered. The Muzzys full system is stainless and performance matched to the Arctic Cat’s prowess, and with a complete kit that even included header wrap to protect any exposed items we knew the value was above the cost.
Getting the Prowler out of the shop and into the mountains of north Georgia was exciting to say the least. Strapping into the custom seating and slipping on the steering wheel made the long days and nights very much worth the work. The engine fired right up and the lowly sound of massive explosions right beside me was directed out the intense Muzzys dual-exhaust setup. The Power Commander’s auto-tuned throttle was crisp, and unlike the stock feel, I had much more in my control. The higher-elevation trails in our test location made for interesting riding, and we had every chance to grind away at the belly of our beast. The rocks were brutal but the skids and tires held up completely. We ran a few tests on the Lowrance HDS-10m, and we got so much info on our location as well as the terrain we had been riding on that it was overwhelming. It would be hard to get lost with this GPS mounted onboard! Roaming into the night we found out that we actually could send messages to the neighboring counties with the Baja Designs lights. The trail didn’t seem to notice the sun had gone down hours before! With not even one problem on the trail each product on our Extreme Adventure Machine had performed just like we had intended, and future rides include even more extreme destinations. This machine’s true test will come in a few weeks as we travel to the mountains of Tennessee, so be sure to check back for that ride. ATVR
Arctic Cat Prowler XTZ 1000 Extreme Adventure Machine
DragonFire Racing: www.dragonfireracing.com
Crippler beadlock wheels, 14x7: $299.99 ea.; four-point restraints: $139.95 ea.; quick-release steering wheel kit: $199.00; DFR shocks by Fox: $1,999.99
Baja Designs: www.bajadesigns.com
8-inch Soltek HID: $324.95 ea.; 4-inch Fuego HID; $299.95 ea.
UTV Inc.: www.utvinc.com
Alternator kit: $474.95; frame tube kit: $74.95; horn kit: $39.95; parking brake alarm kit: $29.95
Arctic Cat: www.arcticcat.com or your local dealer
A-arm skids, front/rear: $99.95 ea.; front sport bumper: $239.95; rear sport bumper: $209.95; high-back suspension seats: $349.95 ea.; spare tire mount: $159.95
ITP: www.itptires.com or your local dealer
BajaCross tires, front 26x10-14: $159.95; rear 26x11-14 $165.95