Killer Apps: Top Tech Picks At Off Road Expo 2015, Part 1

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Coming to the Lucas Oil Off Road Expo is like coming to a favorite restaurant where everything is delicious – you could pick just about anything from what you see and end up with something incredible. Walk in through the gates to the Pomona Fairplex, and the sights and sounds of off-road can be overwhelming; and that’s a good thing!

IMG_2414Past the initial wave of joy that hit us as we strolled into the expo, we knew we were about to enter yet another treasure trove of awesome technological advances to the world of muddy, sandy, terrain-stomping fun. Last year, we took a look at several selections from the likes of Currie Enterprises, FOX Racing, and more. This year, we’ve added to the total amount to break down our top picks for bumpers, tires, shocks, and other items that are making waves in the off-road world.

If you managed to make it out to the Expo last Saturday and Sunday, then this list will probably jive with the stuff you got to see, as well as show you some other innovations that slipped past; if not, then you’re in for a real treat. So let’s dive in without further ado, shall we?

Wilco Offroad – ADV Rack

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Wilco Offroad was stoked to be at the Expo this year, as we learned from the company’s Luke Wronski. “It’s super exciting to be here,” he said. “This is actually my first time here. I’m just blown away by how massive this event is. The industry is just blowing up right now.”

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Wilco Offroad’s ADV rack system fits all full-size trucks on the market.

Wilco Offroad had a Quad Cab Ram 2500 on display at is booth, which had the company’s new ADV rack system (PN ADV27889-R) installed and looking amazing. The rack is an over-cab, universal unit made to fit in any full-size truck.

“The idea behind the rack is whether you’re a motorcycle rider, backpacker, kayaker, or just love the outdoors in general, you can free up bed space with this over-cab rack,” explained Wronski. “It’s made from 1018 carbon steel.” Its rack space measures 300 square inches and supports up to a 40-inch spare tire with the optional tire mounting kit. Auxiliary mounting points also allow for up to a 50-inch light bar to be mounted to the rack.

Mastercraft Safety – HS1 Carbon Fiber Seat

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Over at Mastercraft Safety and Impact Racing, the hot-ticket item was the new HS1 Carbon Fiber seat. Mastercraft’s Ben O’Connor was on hand to explain some of the features and benefits of the seat and what it can do for the off-road racing market.

“This is made from 100-percent carbon fiber,” he said. “It’s very lightweight at just 13.25 pounds. Compared with what’s commonly used in racing, this seat weighs about a third of the standard seat. It’s modifiable in that it can be ordered with different cushions, so everything you see in terms of the fabrics is 100-percent replaceable, and it’s very easy to do with the tie strings that come on and off without hassle.”

The HS1 seat weighs just 13.25 pounds – almost a third of the standard racing seat – thanks to its full carbon fiber construction.

With its high bolsters and integrated holes for harnesses, this seat will best suit a vehicle used for either racing or prerunning purposes. “Trophy Trucks, Class 1 buggies, prerunners, Ultra4 4x4s, all of those vehicles would be ideal for the HS1,” explained O’Connor.

Body Armor 4×4 – 2010-14 Ford SVT Raptor Accessories

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Body Armor 4×4 was attracting visitors to its booth with nothing but the best in the business – a Ford SVT Raptor, done up in the latest gear and essentials to make off-roading preparation and protection a breeze. We spoke with the company’s Jeff Neubauer as he walked us around this unapologetic, V8-powered half-ton. Starting with the front, we saw the Desert Series bumper (PN DSF-19532).

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The Raptor (left) was a 4×4 beast laden with all kinds of Body Armor accessories, like the Desert Series front bumper.

“This is our new bumper, it has a tubular design and offers great protection in the desert,” offered Neubauer. “The bumper is winch-capable with a subframe winch mount for sturdy placement. It can run a lot of lights, too – square LEDs, lightbars, HIDs, halogen lights, you name it. You’ll put out more light than the sun!” Close observation showed this claim was no joke, as we counted no less than 10 lighting elements mounted and running.

Along the side, the Desert Series step bars (PN DSF-4121) grabbed our attention too. Cutouts in the steel deck on top of the tubular base prevent rocks from flying up and damaging the body, and also offer self-cleaning to stop the buildup of too much Mother Earth for ingress and egress. “It’s full-body coverage and fits the Crew Cab models only for right now,” said Neubauer.

The Desert Series step boards fit Crew Cab style 2010-14 Raptors.

The Desert Series step boards fit Crew Cab style 2010-14 Raptors.

The back of the Raptor held two more cool accessories that would make Raptor owners salivate: the Desert Series rear bumper (PN DSF-2961), as well as the chase rack system (PN DSF-6124). “The rear bumper does have that prerunner look to it,” affirmed Neubauer. “We put dimple-eyed decks in it as a non-slip measure. It has spots for the factory backup sensors to be reused too.”

Meanwhile, the chase rack has a sheet metal structure with a tubular subframe. A basket up top holds cargo that motorcycle enthusiasts can use to store gear and essentials. A tire mount can be added as an option, as can brackets for extra gas containers. “Raptor owners can have this chase rack system in the bed of their truck and still have space for two motorbikes,” said Neubauer. “This product is here to be useful, durable, and awesome.”

Body Armor's Desert Series bumper (left) and chase rack (right) go a long way towards making the Raptor a desert-conquering 4x4.

Gibson Performance Exhaust – Exhaust System for Yamaha YXZ1000

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Yamaha has made waves in the UTV market with the YXZ1000R, touting a manual transmission and 111 horsepower. Anyone who’s interested in side-by-sides has been clamoring to get their hands on one, and Gibson Performance Exhaust is riding the bleeding edge with a new twin-tip exhaust system made just for the vehicle.

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The new Gibson exhaust system for Yamaha YXZ1000Rs increases flow from 160 cfm to 302 cfm.

“This system comes with a set of big twin tips coming out of either side, a CNC-machined muffler, and a thick beauty plate with a wire mesh for a badass look,” said Shawn Gibson. “What better to have while you’re out there bombing around in this Yamaha and hitting the rev limiter?”

The system bolts to the factory header and allows flow to increase to 302 cfm, adding an additional 142 cfm over stock. No packing is used in the assembly of the mufflers, so there’s no worry of blowout years down the road. As Gibson put it, “It’s pure fun and powerful sound throughout.”

Stay Tuned …

Just as the off-road culture survives and thrives, so do the likes of Wilco Offroad, Mastercraft Safety, Body Armor 4×4, and Gibson Performance Exhaust. Each of these companies brought some terrific products to the show, representing the next level in off-road accessories, safety gear, and exhaust systems.

This is just part one of our picks of the top tech going on at this year’s Off Road Expo. We will have more in the near future, discussing wheels, tires, suspension, and drivetrain components. Off Road Xtreme is on point with all the latest going on where the pavement ends, so keep it locked right here!

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About the author

David Chick

David Chick comes to us ready for adventure. With passions that span clean and fast Corvettes all the way to down and dirty off-road vehicles (just ask him about his dream Jurassic Park Explorer), David's eclectic tastes lend well to his multiple automotive writing passions.
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