Top Tech Of 2019 Sand Sports Super Show

Enthusiasts from all over gathered in Costa Mesa, California this past weekend. It was the return of the annual Sand Sports Super Show (SSSS), taking place at the Orange County Fairgrounds and attracting thousands of off-roaders who love the dunes and deserts. SSSS is a surefire winner with cool tech demos, new vehicle launches, and more to check out.

We made our way to the event on Saturday to see for ourselves what the hubbub was about. Along the way, we got to see some new tech making its way to the market, as well as new and improved versions of products already out there. It was exciting to see how everything is changing and bringing in new ideas to refresh the booming UTV industry.

From drivetrain to suspension to tires, SSSS showed that there is more to the UTV market than ever before. Let’s start by looking at a cool electronic device from Trail Tech called the Voyager.

Trail Tech Voyager Pro

At first glance, the Trail Tech Voyager Pro looks like a fairly simple GPS device, but that is only one aspect of its features. In talking with Trail Tech’s Stephen Davis, we learned there was more than meets the eye to the Voyager Pro.

“We designed the Voyager Pro to do a little bit of everything,” explained Davis. “It does vehicle monitoring, GPS, and an awesome feature we call Buddy Tracking.”

Buddy Tracking, as its name implies, lets multiple riders see live map updates on where the others are in their group, with up to 20 members in a single group. “The devices talk to one another in real-time,” said Davis. “So when you’re out in the dunes and everyone’s scattered around, Buddy Tracking will let everyone know where each other is at. Users can see the other riders on their screen, and if something bad happens like a crash or a tire blowout, that rider can activate an emergency beacon and alert the rest of his group.”

The Voyager Pro packs a lot into a small device. When grouped with others, it can save lives thanks to its Buddy Beacon, as well as locate GPS signals of other drivers. It also has engine monitoring readouts and other cool features.

Additionally, anyone that splits off from the group to do their own thing will also give clues to their whereabouts. “This is the Buddy Tail,” said Davis. “Users can see the up to a 1.5 miles off-course of any rider that breaks off. So if someone goes out of range of the group, the rest of the group at least has a good idea of where that person went.”

What this translates to is peace of mind. “UTV drivers told us that they’ve been able to get an extra 10-20 miles of fun thanks to the Voyager Pro, all because they don’t have to drive around looking for each other after taking off,” beamed Davis.

Pro Eagle Phoenix Air Jack

This tool is quite revolutionary for the UTV market. Pro Eagle’s new Phoenix Air jack is a trail tool that will change the way racers and enthusiasts work on their side-by-side in all kinds of environments.

We spoke with Pro Eagle’s Chuck Foreman to find out more. “Branching off of our success with the Big Wheel jacks, our customers wanted something that could be carried on a smaller vehicle and still work,” he said. “That’s why we came out with this, our Phoenix Air jack.”

The jack's platform can be positioned beforehand thanks to a spring latch, akin to an EZ Up tent. Once that's in place, it's a simple matter of gassing up the piston with CO2, and bleeding CO2 to bring it back down to normal. The jack supports up to 2,000 pounds and reaches a maximum height of two feet, all while weighing only six pounds.

The unit is made from stainless steel, and its secret is the CO2 gas charging system built into it. “It uses a basic CO2 cartridge as you’d find on a BB or airsoft gun,” explained Foreman. “The CO2 canister screws into the regulator, the regulator gets turned on, the jack raises to the desired height, the regulator gets turned off, and then you can do the repair. Once that’s done, a button is pressed to release the CO2, and the jack can be stowed away again.”

The jack’s compact dimensions, two-foot overall max height, and lightweight (six pounds) make it an awesome addition to any UTV driver’s recovery/trail repair gear. It can be optioned with a larger base (good for sand or loose pack dirt) and comes with a velcro holster for the regulator and CO2 cartridges.

Demon Powersports CV Axle

Supporting the drivetrain side of things, Demon Powersports was out showcasing tech with its Heavy Duty X-Treme CV axle. CV axles are a staple of UTVs, as all of them use independent rear suspension to maximize travel. But the Heavy Duty X-Treme from Demon showed there were plenty of areas for improvement.

“The Heavy Duty X-Treme axle is made entirely from 4340 chromoly steel, which gets dual heat-treated for strength and longevity,” commented Sarankan Sri, Demon Motorsports R&D and sales rep. “On the internals, the cages are redesigned to have more surface area. The added surface area means more contact points, and that lessens the chances of fracturing. The axles are designed to transmit more torque, so racers and enthusiasts will get a big kick out of these.”

Although invisible here, the internal cages on the inboard and outboard joints of the Heavy Duty X-Treme axles are noteworthy. They use 4340 chromoly, are heat-treated twice, and have greater contact surface for the balls to rotate in, minimizing breakdowns and maximizing lifetime usage.

Going into more detail, Sarankan talked about the internal cages some more, as they were important to what made these axles so outstanding. “The cages inside the inboard and outboard housings hold the balls together inside the race,” he explained. “Compared to factory, our design uses a thicker wall and dual heat-treated 4340 chromoly for more toughness. Also, it has a smaller window for the balls, tying into that better surface area, and is micro-polished to get rid of contaminants and defects.”

Currently, the Heavy Duty X-Treme axles cover a multitude of makes and models, including Polaris, Yamaha, and Can-Am models. We see them as awesome modifications to any UTV or side-by-side that demands extra reliability off-road.

Wolfpack Suspension Control & Trailing Arms

Wolfpack Suspension brought some sweet tech to the table in the form of suspension arms for both the front and rear. We spoke with Alex Sznaider to get the nitty gritty on what went into the control and trailing arms for UTVs, which we saw mounted on a 2019 Polaris RZR Turbo S four-seater.

“We manufacture all of our components locally in Santa Ana,” said Alex. “Parts like our control and trailing arms are all CNC-laser-cut and bent, and professionally welded.”

Wolfpack currently offers these TIG-welded, boxed chromoly kits for Polaris RZRs and Can-Am Maverick X3s. Plans are in development to offer kits for the newer Honda Talon and Yamaha YXZ1000.

On the RZR’s front, the upper and lower control arms were 1.25-inch-diameter, .120-inch wall thick. “These arms are pretty much indestructible,” Alex commented. “We plan on making a boxed kit and ‘Plus-3’ boxed kit for the Turbo models as well. On the rear, we have boxed trailing arms that are made of chromoly and are clam-shelled together with internal gusseting. We TIG-weld the components ourselves, so we have quality control there.” What’s more, Alex pointed out the radius rods have adjustable heim joints inboard and outboard to adjust toe-in and toe-out.

Wolfpack’s pedigree has racing experience to boot. Behind the red-and-black RZR we were looking at, a yellow-and-black 4500 class RZR also used Wolfpack’s suspension. “We’ve raced both of these side-by-sides in Best In The Desert, among other racing series,” said Alex. “We make kits that cater to enthusiasts and racers alike.”

Nitto Trail Grappler SxS New Sizes

UTV tires have come a long way in recent years, and part of the pioneering accomplishments is thanks to Nitto Tire. Their Trail Grappler SxS has been out for a few years now, but new for 2019 was the addition of new sizes. Nitto’s Chris Corbett was on hand to share the details.

“We now have the 32-inch and 39-inch model in production, with three more sizes coming in 2020,” said Corbett. “Both are modeled after our KOH design for the tire, just on a smaller scale.”

The Trail Grappler SxS's rubber compound is softer to better suit racing demands. Nitto proved the tire's durability by letting its sponsored racers – Shannon Campbell, Loren Healy, and others – drive them to the hilt in multiple races.

Such design traits include the soft rubber compound and overbuilt sidewall, both of which are well-suited to racing and hardcore off-road usage. “We’re also proud of the weight of these tires,” commented Corbett. “The 32-inch model comes in about 42 pounds, while the 30-inch is about 39 pounds.”

The purpose-built compound and construction works well in a variety of terrains, as Chris explained. “We’ve proven this design can handle rock, shale, sand – a little bit of everything,” he said. “They pair well with 170-plus-horsepower UTVs going at higher speeds.”

What sorts of UTV tech excites you the most? Let us know in the comments below.

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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