A Mountain Ride on Honda's Best 2015 Fourtrax Rancher
Since the introduction of Honda’s original Rancher 350 over 15 years ago, top-of-the-line ATVs have ballooned up in both displacement and physical size to a point where a machine like the original Rancher would be considered an “introductory” machine. In fact, the biggest machines on the market can be a handful even for highly experienced riders, and for almost every type of riding situation, we prefer something that is easier to control and much more forgiving on the trail.
Look outside any creaking, cabin door where the machines are stabled much like horses were a hundred years ago and you will almost certainly find a Polaris Sportsman ATV or Ranger Side x Side. No other lineup has enjoyed more success and acceptance with outdoor enthusiasts, mostly due to Polaris designing machines with the features that appealed directly to their needs. It was a match made in heaven, and finally hunting, fishing, camping enthusiasts, and generally anybody that enjoyed time in the woods had a machine that fit their lifestyle perfectly.
Turbochargers work by funneling the hot exhaust gas through a small vein turbine, creating a rapidly spinning shaft attached to a similar vein turbine that forces cool air into the airbox and air intake tract. This pumps more air through the engine, creating more horsepower. In theory it is a simple system. In practice though, turbochargers can be finicky mechanisms that run on the extreme edge of performance thanks to the very high temperatures and high RPMs. They require excellent bearings and consistent lubrication to remain reliable.
The last decade has not been kind to Wolverines, whether it was the economic downturn felt by the Wolverine State of Michigan, the four-legged forest dweller, or the cellar dwellers of Big Ten football, the Michigan Wolverines. All three were seemingly on the brink of extinction, and even the comic book character Wolverine was killed off in recent months, but there may be hope on the horizon.
While it’s fairly easy to find a way to prop up an ATV to get a corner or an end off the ground, a 1200+ pound SxS is another story. Having a small jack with you can turn a big problem (and perhaps an injured back) into a small ordeal. There are several SxS related products on the market. We’ve also found that a trip to an auto salvage yard with a few bucks can get you a compact scissor jack that is plenty strong to lift your SxS.
I was less than 100 yards into the RockHouse loop of the world famous Hatfield-McCoy system and I already knew it was going to be a great day. Light overnight rain had erased any dust and a few low areas of the trail even held small pools of water to splash through. Early fall in the mountains of West Virginia meant the leaves were just beginning to turn, but the temperature was also cool and it was a perfect day for riding. Today I would be testing Honda’s new FourTrax Foreman Rubicon 4x4. In every way I felt right at home.
Anyone who spends time perched on top of or pushing a mower around the yard knows the Ariens name as one of the premier makers of lawn and garden equipment for homeowners. Ariens doesn’t just limit their reach to residential customers, though. Through their heavy duty Gravely brand, landscape professionals and turf managers have been tackling about any tough job using professional grade, reliable Gravely equipment they can count on all day, every day.
If there is one product that can make any Side x Side more functional, it is a quality mirror kit. Whether you drive a sporty, desert taming model, or a hard working machine on the job site or farm, it’s much more difficult to see behind you when strapped into the seat of a Side x Side than it is in your truck. This is especially true if you wear a helmet like we always do. There are plenty of mirror kits on the market, but the hands down best kit we’ve found is the PURSUIT mirror by Seizmik. We’ve tried other mirror kits, but none are nearly as nice as this.
One would be hard pressed to argue that the knife is nothing less than the most important tool ever developed. With our original crude knives hewn from a sharp rock, then later bone, copper, and finally the specialty metals or even composite materials of today we’ve gone from hunters on the savannah, to farmers, and finally to modern man. Still, the knife of today would easily be recognized by our ancestors despite its continual evolution. It has been and always shall be the most basic yet highly functional of tools.
Even when part of a large group, riding is primarily a solo adventure. There are times we really appreciate the quiet shelter of our helmet while the machine beneath us carries us far from everyday life and to a place that recharges ones soul. Anyone who has spent much time on the trails knows this feeling well. At other times though we want to share the adventure with our riding buddies or just talk about whatever we find along the trail, but unless you’ve got a helmet communication system you’re out of luck.