A Breath of Fresh Air

Have you overlooked these air flow necessities?

Published in the September 2013 Issue September 2013 Powersport News

My endurance is nothing compared to what it was years ago. This was recently brought to my attention a few weeks back when I decided to take a short ride on the motocross track with my boy on his new dirt bike.

It has clearly been a while for me as I started to suck wind after riding only a lap or two. What happened to me? Oh, that’s right, motocross took a back seat some time ago when I found I could stick the whole family in a side-by-side with me and still enjoy negotiating corners at 50 mph. I am sure if I put a little effort into training I could build my stamina and endurance back to the way it used to be.

What? Yes I would like another Pepsi, thank you.

The point is if I want to get serious about performing at a higher level I need to put in the work. This stands true for many different things, including UTV performance.

For example, fail to maintain things like the oil, filter, clutches, tires and drive train and your UTV will eventually be the one lacking performance. But are there other areas on your UTV you may often overlook?

Tip No. 1

Clean Your Air Filter Or Else

Take your air intake system; think about all the dirt, mud and dust we subject our buggies to. The motor spends 100 percent of its time trying to draw enough air in to keep your right foot happy. Along with the air is all that dirt you and your buddies just kicked up. Sure, the air intake has some kind of filter designed to keep out anything other than the precious power producing oxygen, but it can only resist the dirt we love to shred for so long. At some point the dirt is going to plug the intake or, in some cases, get past the filter into the engine. Game over.

But let’s say the dirt doesn’t get past the filter. Maybe it just sits there blocking any hope of your machine running to its maximum potential.

I see the symptoms of this too often when talking to UTV owners all across the country. Many times they realize it after they made a serious investment in performance parts only to find out their buggy doesn’t perform any better with the new parts than it did previously without them.

The conversation typically goes something like: “Hey, I just installed your new performance clutch kit that you sold me and I can’t tell a difference. In fact, it is running 600 rpm too low.” I then explain that there are other contributing factors that can prevent maximum performance and that further investigation is needed in order to determine what is affecting the performance.

In many cases, they have never cleaned and inspected their intake system and filter so I list that as one item to check. The call back afterwards is always the best. “So I did what you said. Man my intake was dirty. Then I went for a test ride and it made a huge difference. I owe you a cold one.” (Just what I need … another Pepsi.)

Of course some of us are always in search of extra performance and creating additional air flow can help your buggy make more power. In most cases stock air intake systems have some restriction due to space limitations, manufacturing capabilities or cost considerations. But many aftermarket companies offer modifications that will increase your airflow over the stock system.

Be aware that increasing air flow will often require compensating with extra fuel to efficiently gain performance and maintain reliability. Do your research before you buy.

Tip No. 2

Clutches Need To Breath Too

Some UTVs like the Polaris RZR actually vent air to the clutch housing in order to cool the clutches and belt. Heat is the biggest enemy when it comes to clutch performance and durability. The harder you work your machine, the more strain you put on the clutches, which substantially increases the chance of heat. Running in the sand or mud under high load is one of the quickest ways to build heat in the clutches as well as other parts of the chassis.

The primary clutch has fins on the back that act as a fan to bring cold air in and exhaust the hot air out. The clutch housing is attached to ducting that runs up the side of the chassis and attaches to an inlet vent and filter. As with the engine intake, this vent can become plugged as well. Cut off the air to the clutches and low performance may not be the only problem as drive belts tend to fail quickly in high temperature conditions.

There is no such thing as too much air so adding extra air flow to the clutches is always a good change but keep in mind a couple of things. Clutches do not perform well if they get wet so any means used to add air to the clutches has to keep water from getting in. If not, you better stay out of the water or you will be going nowhere in a hurry. The same holds true for dirt. Make sure the vents are sealed securely and the vent material is adequate at preventing dirt passage.

Tip No. 3

Really Hot Plastic Tends To Change Shape

This is the same concept as mentioned in the clutch section. The engine, clutches and exhaust are going to build heat. The harder you work your machine, the more heat it will create. Don’t risk having plastic or parts fail if your machine begins to build excessive heat. Cooling things down may be as simple as increasing your speed to create more air flow across these areas. Again, adding vents in key areas will create more flow and help remove heat.

Some companies even offer an additional fan system to help move hot, unwanted chassis air out and replace it with cooler air. These systems help reduce under body temperatures substantially and help prevent any performance loss and damaged parts.

Even though maintaining performance in your UTV may not require weekly trips to the gym, it does require regular attention to specific areas.

Don’t let your buggy get “out of shape.” Let it breathe.

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