2013 Polaris RZR XP900 Racing Review 0
This Polaris XP900’s all-round performance is what many buyers are searching for when they hit the showroom floor. Most OHV drivers love different environments, from sand to more technical hard terrain and trail riding. With the XP900 drivers don’t have to purchase separate vehicles for each off-road discipline, as the RZR is all those vehicles, put into one. Driving the Polaris in various conditions and environments, it proved a strong performer over every obstacle we put it toward. The multipurpose nature of the XP makes it an ideal family toy, something for the whole family to get in and enjoy.
Spending time behind the wheel at Southern California’s Glamis Dunes, I found the XP light and powerful enough to tackle any bowl full of loose sand with no worries of getting stuck. On a Grand Prix-style Motocross track, it handled the brutal beating of rocks, bumps and jumps with ease. Not to mention narrow OHV trails that are hard to fit wider cars thru, the RZR rolls thru without any problem. From a lightweight and smaller driver, like me, to a heavier and larger-built driver, the Polaris can handle whoever decides to jump in it and take it for spin. The adjustable steering wheel makes it that much more comfortable for the driver. And being a XP900 model with power steering, our test unit takes only about the strength of a finger to turn the wheel, putting the E in easy to turn. The XP900 has the total package, from performance, handling and reliability.
At a first glance you would think this Polaris would have long hours of fabrication work done to it and loads of cash invested, but it’s quite impressive in stock trim. In fact, after a few hours in the driver’s seat I decided this car was more than capable as-is to compete in its first side-by-side race and be a contender for the podium. Having to meet race rules and safety requirements, I did decide to make a few modifications that would not only benefit the driver but the vehicle’s performance all together. The modifications would also make the RZR look prepared for battle off the line of its first race against the competition, many of which are modified UTVs with large amounts of money invested.
While the stock vehicle is safe and legal for recreational use, racing requires some changes to be done to the vehicle in order to handle harsher, more crowded conditions safely. Following the safety requirements to enter the Polaris XP900 in its first race, we were on the hunt for an aftermarket cage with secure doors. That’s when we ran upon Pro Armor’s Asylum XP900 Roll Cage, which is one of the only cages certified by ANSI and ROHVA that also works with its Latching XP 900 Doors. These items not only make it safer but also more convenient for any driver and passenger to get in and out of the vehicle without the hassle of jumping through the sides of a welded enclosed cage. Installing this cage was fairly simple as it uses the same foundation and bolts of the stock cage, making it easy to remove and install the new cage with doors. The new cage and doors also make the seating area feel more secure and bigger, as the cage is wider. To compliment the cage and doors Pro Armor sent a Ultra Front Bumper. Finally some Front A-Arm Armor would protect the front arms from being completely chewed up by rocks and obstacles.
Another requirement for racing is the that you must have 5-point racing harnesses rather than the automotive 3-point belts that come stock. PRP Racing Seats provided a set of 5.3 Harnesses to keep me and anyone brave enough to ride along firmly planted in the seat. While the stock seats are decently comfortable, deeply bolstered racing seats not only increase the comfort factor but also provide more control. PRP stepped up huge and custom built a pair of it’s RZR GT Suspension Seats to match the orange and blue colors of the RZR. Anyone can custom order these seats from PRP direct. Racing or not, this is one of the best upgrades you can do to your UTV.
Next were some modifications not required, but preferred to bump up the car’s performance and reliability in racing conditions. I installed a Two Brothers Racing M-7 Dual VALE Slip-on Exhaust, which not only added a few horsepower but also made the throttle smoother, not to mention amplifying the sound. Next on the list I added some new beadlock wheels and Blackwater Evolution Tires from ITP Tires to the vehicle. Deciding on the beadlocked wheels and tires is almost a must, as it keeps your tire on the rim when throwing the weight of the car aggressively into a corner where the tire can peel off or risk going flat. We went with ITP Blackwater tires because they have an aggressive tread that bites into any surface without fear of puncturing the thick sidewalls.
The 2013 Polaris RZR XP900 has great handling ability compared to its big brother model, the new to the market XP1000. While the 900 does have less suspension travel than the larger XP1000, it also exhibits less body roll. The tradeoff for less travel is a rougher ride on straights, but the petite RZR XP900 gains in cornering. I equipped the RZR XP900 with a set of FOX 2.5 Podium RC2 shocks, increasing the shocks’ stiffness and decreasing the chance of bottoming out. The shocks feature adjustable high and low-speed compression damping, wide range rebound damping, bottom-out control Kashima coating and Teflon coated spherical bearings. Bump absorption is light years ahead of the stock units, and the tunabilty is handy for changing riding and racing conditions. The new shocks also enhance performance longevity, as the shocks get hotter on long rides or during races. This makes for a pricey upgrade, but one that is worth every penny. It’s like buying a completely new and better RZR.
With the changes made, it was time to line this car up for its first race. All the modifications were exterior, as we kept the motor bone stock. With the great foundation Polaris provided with this car, I believed it would prove a solid podium-contender as is. So I entered the car in the Lake Elsinore GP, a historic race that has grown tremendously in UTV entrants during the past few years. Entering the car in the 1000 open class, it was up against larger motors and more modified cars. But I stood firm in my belief that by keeping the car mostly stock it would better avoid failure in the 45-minute race, and it is not uncommon for UTV racing cars to break down in the grueling conditions.
After the flag dropped, my hunch proved true and the 2013 Polaris RZR XP900 ran strong throughout the race. Not only did I do better than I expected, the XP900 crossed the checkered in first place.