Polaris has cornered the growing ATV and UTV market, accounting for more than half of all sales. Much of the brand’s appeal is its dedication to reliability, exceptional build, capable suspension setups and gutsy engines and drivetrains. Add the great styling, competitive pricing, wide options list and an aftermarket that makes all things Polaris, and you can see why quads bearing the North Star logo are selling like hotcakes.
And if anything goes wrong, Polaris owners are spoiled for choice when it comes to replacement parts and upgrades. While all the company’s ATVs and side-by-sides are meant to last, some parts will need more attention. The stock axles cope with most of what riders throw at them, but they eventually need to be updated or replaced. The same goes for the tires you get from the dealer showroom. And if you’re harder on your quad, a little more protection in the form of front and back bumpers keeps away scratches and dents and retains the good looks.
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Upgrade Your Polaris ATV Axles
Stock axles are advertised to last up to 10,000 miles. A number no self-respecting Polaris has reached while fully appreciating what the quad bikes are capable of. Eventually, general wear and tear, metal fatigue, overheating and loss of lubrication from torn CV boots all lead to loss of power, difficulty steering and inconsistent acceleration. Symptoms that manifest themselves before this are the typical clunking noises when turning or when the CVT goes up or down the gears. Either way, owners lose much of the promised performance of a new machine. Advanced wear that hasn’t been caught on time eventually means a bent or snapped axle.
To avoid the hassle of being stuck in the middle of nowhere, spares are always a reasonable option. But which aftermarket Polaris ATV axles do you pick? There are hundreds of aftermarket variants to choose from. Respected brands usually sell axles as two-tiered varieties, depending on how and where you use your Polaris quad or side-by-side.
Standard replacements are based around thicker and stronger 5140 carbon steel shafts, so more fun in the rough stuff, paired with more material and strength in the neoprene boots to avoid punctures and tears, as well as CV joints engineered for smooth power delivery and rolling on industrial bearings. These meet and exceed OE standards in terms of durability, and there are no fitment issues, with aftermarket rear and front Polaris axles meeting tight tolerances and exact dimensions for each model.
OE replacements should meet most needs while considerably undercutting dealer offers. If you need more strength, say for heavy work purposes, or want to know what the RZR and Ranger of other current and previous Polaris models can do when pushed to their limits, go with heavy-duty variants. These are built from even stronger steel, which is also heat-treated, thicker boots, precision machined joints, and heat-treated roller bearings.
The difference between the two axle types is that you get more performance and axles that better handle heat extremes, offer lower friction between moving parts, and better hold up against impact and abrasions when hitting rocks and other obstacles. If you ride hard or more often, these are the axles to get.
Look for left and right, front and rear, types that suit your Polaris model. Again, aftermarket axles are cheaper, and riders get something that lasts longer while still being pushed hard, regardless of where they ride.
More Grip With the Right Tires
Eventually, the stock tires will wear out, and you’ll notice less grip on looser ground, with the remaining rubber finding it hard to bite in. Riders get less feedback through the bars and wheel, so handling is also compromised. Turning takes more attention, acceleration takes a while, and braking distances are longer.
The good thing about aftermarket tires is the wide selection of different types meant for different terrains. Those with deeper treads and a wider block placement in what essentially is an all-purpose tire should get you through both road and gravel work equally. Of course, if you regularly ride obstacle-ridden trails, then a tire with a more aggressive tread holds grip better, allowing for quick turns and a faster quad. And if mud is your thing, then look for even deeper treads and spaced-out lugs to dig deeper into the road. Alternatively, choose sand tires with smoother treads but also designs to filter out sand for more grip at higher speeds if you’re riding on beaches or near coastal areas.
Tires also complement newer Polaris ATV axles to get the right amount of power down. The combo means improved power delivery for the road surfaces you’ll typically encounter. Other buying factors are ply count and compounds. The number of plies and how they are distributed (radial or bias) determines how heavy the tires are and how resistant they are to punctures. Averages for ATVs and UTVs are tires with 4 to 6 plies in radial designs, though heavy-duty 8-ply and sand tires with 2 or 4 plies are also sold.
As for compounds, go with softer tires when you need outright speed and more grip, or harder compounds for something like the Ranger or General or any side-by-side that you’ll use for work. These handle more weight and last longer, but they aren’t the last word in traction on looser surfaces.
Up Protection with Front and Rear Bumpers
If you want to keep the good looks in your quad and save the plastics and vital engine and steering components from damage, bumpers riding front and back are a must. Polaris does have a detailed lineup of protective accessories, but these can get pricey. Sound advice is to save your pennies and shop elsewhere. Aftermarket bumpers and guards come in three basic types: thicker tubed guards, thinner sheet metal types shielding more of the quad, and winch-ready bumpers that let you fit the winch of your choice. The latter also come in tube or sheet metal variants.