Side by sides are lauded for their ability to go just about anywhere and do just about everything. But they do have their limits. Thick mud, swamps and deep snow can be a challenge for even the most well-equipped UTVs with tires. This leads you to either abandon that riding terrain or to switch vehicles, like to a snowmobile in winter.
There is a third option, though. UTV track systems can be the answer to get you through that nasty terrain. More and more riders are turning to track systems on their side by sides. With them, they are able to get through conditions they wouldn’t have dreamed of attempting with just side by side tires. The demand for track systems has grown over the past decade. With that, so are the offerings of track systems that are available. There is something for just about every machine out there.
As good as these track systems are, they do have their drawbacks. By weighing the pros and cons, you can decide if investing in side by side tracks is right for you.
While you may be most interested in the advantages of UTV track systems, it’s important to know all the disadvantages as well. Before you get totally sold on the pros, let’s take a look at the cons first.
One of the main barriers that will prevent many riders from switching to a track system is the price tag. These kits are not cheap. Prices range anywhere from $3k all the way up to $5k and above. That’s a hefty chunk of change to shell out. If you’re disposable income is tight, you need to be sure that you will fully take advantage of what tracks offer.
The next con is the extra strain that track systems put on different components of your side by side. The added weight and resistance of the track systems can put extra strain on the hub and suspension components as well the engine and transmission in certain situations, like on slushy lakes.
Tracks are heavy and can add up to 100 pounds of extra weight compared to tires. This shouldn’t be a huge deal on most modern machines. But certain situations may require you to account for the extra weight.
You can also expect your turning radius to not be nearly as sharp. This will leave you at a big disadvantage in tight, technical riding areas, such as thick forested areas. Turning at slow speeds requires a bit more effort. Power steering is a complete game changer with tracked side by sides and is almost necessary.
Don’t expect to be a speed demon with tracks on your wheeler. Your top speed will most likely be cut in half. If you have a need for speed in the snow, you are better suited towards a snowmobile.
Because there are more moving parts on track systems, there inherently is more maintenance needed. The track frames need upkeep and the idler wheels and bearings will eventually need to be replaced.
There’s really only one major advantage that you need to consider with UTV tracks. You can go just about anywhere with them. This one pro can outweigh all the cons for the right rider. One that wants to push the boundaries of where they can ride their machine. Whether you use your machine for work in remote areas or just want to conquer more, track systems will get you where you need to go.
By expanding the footprint, tracks lessen the amount of ground pressure produced by your machine. This essentially allows the machine to “float” atop snow, sand and boggy areas. Tires have the tendency to just spin and dig deep ruts, which eventually lead you to being stuck. The ability to float over more snow and mud combined with the lugs of the track provide excellent hookup with minimal spinning. This allows you to move through terrain at slow speeds without the worry of sinking.
Track systems also provide a higher ground clearance compared to a stock wheel setup. This will allow you to climb over more uneven terrain. The footprint is also widened to help prevent the machine from being more prone to tipping.
The low speed torque of a side by side allows it to be a great work machine in snow. The heavier towing capacity and ability to crawl at slow speeds make them a superior choice compared to a snowmobile.
Installation of UTV track systems is fairly straightforward. The whole process can be completed within a couple of hours or less. Many track manufacturers compare it to the ease of swapping wheels. There are a few more steps involved, but nothing that no home mechanic can’t do on their own. Once the initial setup is complete, swapping back and forth from traditional wheels and tires is a simple process.
Side by side tracks are not for everyone. But for those that can afford them and want to go past where others have to stop, there is nothing better.