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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I bought a 2012 Sportsman XP 850 Touring EPS last month and I'm looking for ideas and answers to a few questions... First I figure you need to know what type of riding I'm doing...

The areas here range from sea level to a few thousand feet, swampy mudpits to mountain trails with plenty of rocks and obstacles thrown in. I literally go from sinking my 800+ lb machine up to the frame in sticky gumbo to a rocky 60-70 degree climb in less than 100 yards. Hills, rocks, and mud, all slam-packed one after the other...

I'll also be using this machine to haul a meat wagon on extended hunting and fishing trips, but just about any quad with a decent tow rating can do that, so I'm not really worried.

I haven't done any modifications yet, I cranked the coilover stops to the second-highest position and I noticed that I didn't scrape rocks on the skid plate nearly as much on the trail vs the factory (lowest, smoother setting). And it didn't feel like I sacrificed much, if any, ride quality.

My biggest problem is that I get stuck pretty easily in gumbo... I struggle to clear some spots that my buddy's Grizzly 550 clears with relative ease... But I guess that's to be expected for a machine that outweighs his by 300 lb.

My second concern is the amount of shifting in between High and Low... Most of our riding is around 10-15mph, with the occasional 25mph straightaway thrown in. So most of my riding is right at the split between High and Low gears. Obviously, I'm shifting to Low for the steep grades, but for smaller hills, I look down and I'm doing 10 or so mph and I feel like I should be shifting to Low gear for that.

This winter, I'll be looking at upgrading from the stock tires (Maxxis M9805 & M9806) this winter to something a little better for mud, because I do like to dive off into a mudhole every now and then, but I don't want to lose trail durability. The shale rocks here can get sharp, and you don't want a blown tire 15 miles from the truck in the backwoods of Alaska. I would like to step up the size a bit to a 27", or maybe a 28" if I can get it to fit (I understand I'll have to trim the metal passenger footrest support either way). What's the deal with radial ATV tires? If I'm understanding it right, radials have more tread contact with the trail, right? That sounds good to me, I'm just not very knowledgeable when it comes to ATV tires... I've thought about spacers, but I keep seeing posts about "I've been told to stay away from spacers" why is that?

I've also read a bit about clutching... Not sure exactly what all of this entails, though I do have a rudimentary understanding of how the CVT works. If I'm stepping up my tire size, do I need to do a clutch kit? Would this help me get more low end power in High gear? I've taken this thing up to 40mph only once... And I'll likely never ever ever do it again. It scared the crap outta me. So I'm not too worried about losing top end speed, better low end performance is what I think I'm needing and I'll sacrifice all the speed I need to in order to get it. So would a clutch kit help me out with this?

I've heard a lot of different things about a lot of different winches... I'm leaning towards Superwinch 3500lb synthetic line... I would rather have a Viper, but those aren't Prime eligible, so I'd have to eat the shipping cost.

So, to sum it all up, I'm doing mostly technical trail riding, with a healthy dose of mud thrown in because life is short and slinging mud is fun.

I need some recommendations for tires, because shipping to an island in Alaska ain't cheap and I need to get it right the first time.

What's the final verdict on spacers? Good or bad? Safe? Reliable? I'd love to squeeze a 28" tire under this thing without lifting (I'm afraid lifting would hurt me on these steep uphill climbs).

Will a replacement clutch kit help me get more low end performance out of this beast so I don't feel the need to shift down to Low gear for smaller hills? Recommendations for manufacturer would be appreciated.

Superwinch 3500 lb a good winch? Good or bad experiences?

If I can buy recommended items from Amazon, that would be great... Free shipping to Alaska if it's a "Prime" item... You have no idea how much money that saves me. For instance, I was going to order 2 1000ft spools of 550 paracord from an online retailer, $50 a roll, $85 shipping. Amazon was $55 a roll, free shipping. See what I'm working with here?

Thanks for any and all input, my apologies for such a lengthy post. I'm glad to have a place to go with these questions... There's only one dealer here on-island, and they don't like me much... I just about stole this quad from them... It took me 2 weeks to wear them down from $13.5k to $10k... Thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Oh, and good snow performance would be great as far as tires go... I'd hate to be stuck at the house all winter, and I can't afford to put tracks on it.
 

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First off, welcome to the forum. Hopefully we can get the answers you need. Sounds like you ride similar conditions to me except for some of the steep hills. A radial tire is a definite for durability. As far as what to run, there's a lot of options. I ride mostly trails that have anything from dirt, sand, rocks, trees, and a few good mud holes tossed in to climbing my way around the swamp over small brush clumps and deep slimy mud and water. I chose the Sedona Ripsaws for my tires. 6 ply radial. Big 1 1/8" unidirectional lugs that grip anything with ease, will run at 0 psi since they are very strong and rigid, yet smooth riding. Built from the same materials they do their off road race truck tires from. Super tough, yet pretty heavy. But by the sounds of it you won't be going fast enough to worry about the 10Mph loss I took on top.

As far as what gear to run in, sounds like you should spend about 99% in low. You can certainly run up to 40+ that way without issue but it sure will turn some RPM's there. If you want to be able to run in high more often then you will definitely need a clutch kit. You will also need one if you go to larger and/or heavier tires. I can get you set up with that when the time comes easily. I can creep along at an idle with 2 people on my 850 in high gear now with the QSC kit in it and could not before with the tire change alone. It also made it smother and easier to control in the tight technical stuff and slick rocks. I have yet to run them in the snow, but am expecting good things from them at this point. I run the 26" but they also make a 27" and retail for around $425 a set.

Heard great things about pitbull tires as well so check them out too.
 

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I'm running 27 inch Mudlite XTR (radial) on my '13 850 Touring. The riding you do sounds similar to mine and I find this a good all around tire. I changed my rims and the aftermarket rims I have have a 4+3 offset so no need for spacers. I think I could run 28 inch tires if I wanted. Everyone has the preference but in general you will want 6-8 ply rating. Radials will give you a tougher tire if you are ok with the extra cost.

I have my suspension cranked to the top most of the time. I am fairly heavy (250) and ride 2 up quite a lot.

I didn't mess with my clutch after adding the tires as for what I do I really haven't felt the need.

I haven't used a superwinch brand in a long time. The one I did try (10 years ago) always had issues keeping it waterproofed.

I hear ya on the in between lo and hi scenerio. If you are only getting up to 25 in between the slow tech spots I would leave it in low and just ride a little slower. If the trail is not putting much load on the machine and I'm not riding 2 up I will ride as slow as 10 in high. It's a situational feel thing and depends on how you feel about wearing on your belt:)

Happy Wheelin
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'd been thinking about the Ripsaw and the Pitbull, any idea if they run true to size, or slightly off?

I feel like I should be in Low gear a lot... But it just seems like I'm over-revving the motor. It'll get up to 5500 rpm pretty quick if I don't put it in High gear after I clear a hill. Is that too high? I can definitely tell when I've been riding in Low gear a lot... Gas gauge doesn't tell any lies there...

It sounds like a clutch kit is the solution to my problem here. The ability to stay in High gear for most stuff without worrying about breaking or wearing something is a major plus for me.

Silly question, but I assume replacing the clutch voids the warranty?
 

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My ripsaws are almost exactly 26" on the stock steel rims. A hair over. The Clutches when setup properly will not let you over rev the motor. The 850 makes peak HP at 6750RPM so nothing wrong with 5500. Just sounds like it's revving high, but don't worry, it's designed to. The mudlight XTR is a great tire too.

Being in the remote area you are, definitely don't skimp on the winch. In your area that can make the difference between getting back home or being stuck waiting for help for days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Ok. I've been worried about over-revving the motor, but I guess I shouldn't then.

Yeah, as far as the winch; I've heard good and bad about Warn, and not much good at all about the Polaris winch. Super winch and Viper are the two names that seem to stay at the top of most people's list. I never ride alone, but I have had to dig myself out after getting stuck trying to pull out a buried Grizzly.

The Ripsaws look good, so do the Pitbulls. The mudlites and similar tires have too much space between the lugs for me to have warm fuzzies about them in the rocks here.

Looks like it'll cost about $750 for a set of 4, that's with $250 shipping included. I guess I need to look harder at the available tires on Amazon Prime.
 

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One thing to remember when looking at tires especially owning a touring is that you can't go as tall a tire if you buy a radial if you are planing on using your stock rims, they are more squared off on the sides and will hit the passenger footwell. I have 28" Mega Meyhams on mine with no problems, I did a ride in Maine a few weeks ago which had a lot of rock and they worked well. One other thing if you are going to a bigger more aggressive tire do yourself a favour and order two front axles when you order tires as they are weak
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Do you guys think I'd be better served by a taller tire (ex: 28" Mega Mayhem) or a smaller radial (ex: 26" Ripsaws) that will put a little more tread on the trail?

I'd prefer to not have to throw another $400 for new front axles into it on top of the clutch and tires unless I really have to. Right now I'm thinking the 26" or maybe 27" Ripsaws will get me what I'm looking for, without stressing the axles too much.

Your thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
After reading through canuk's thread about busted axles... I think I'll just stick to 26" radials and a clutch kit... I don't want to shell out the cash for new axles just to have something else (that's more $$$) break too because the axles transferred increased load to another drivetrain component. I'd rather break an axle than my front diff or ADC unit or anything else really. I can limp home in 3x4...
 

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I've heard a lot of people break axles, some of them more than one at a time. but I've never heard of anyone breaking a diff or something else besides a belt on the big xp's after they upgraded the axles. you've got to remember that Polaris had a price point they wanted to hit with the xp's and to hit that not only did they have to design in weak points in the system, they also had to make consessions. Is it better to have a stronger axle that could potentially cause other problems, or to save the cost and leave the designed weak point in the system to meet the pricepoint?

For your riding, you're riding a thin line and really need the best all around tire you can find. I would say radial for sure. but you've got to find the right tire within that. 6 ply at a minimum 8 would be better for sharp rocks. I'd also recoomend getting a spare tire for the meat wagon to carry. I'd also consider moveing to the same sized wheel and tires front and rear to make it so you don't need two spares. You don't want a huge gap between the treads for the rocks, but you can't have to narrow of a gap for the mud and snow. I'd probably take the advice of some of the guys riding in the colorado area as for what works well for them.

I'd get the clutch kit whether you change the tires size or not. and you run less of a chance of braking axles, even with larger tires if you get the clutch kit. you're not talking about jumping up to huge in tires or lifting the bike so the axles "should" be ok if you do the clutch kit. just remember, it's a designed weak point. and you'd rather have that break than something bigger, not that that's common after upgrading your axles.

I have had 0 "non-user error"problems with my superwinch. also purchased off of Amazon. and would recommend it. I've also heard good things about Runva (sp?) winches. I wasn't paying close enough attenion when winching in after a long line pull and jumped the spool, this later lead to me snapping the winch line because I didn't take the time to get the cable unbound before tryin to winch myself out of a hole.

I'm not a fan of spacers. They add excess torque to the hub and lugs. causing premature bearing failure and can potentially cause lug failure. personally, I like to stick to the KISS method. the fewer components needed to get a job done the better. so new wheels with a better offset is prefered over spacers to make the current wheels work. Less potential for failure. and less overall wear and tear on the system. but if you can stay with the stock wheel backspacing youre better off. less wear and tear, and less money if you can keep your stock wheels all together.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you for the advice Thor, makes perfect sense.

I think I've pretty much committed myself to a clutch kit upgrade, and probably won't go any higher than stock tire size. Bigger tires would help me out in a few spots, but it the trails have been easier for me since I cranked up the coilover stops. And bigger tires seem to lead to more reliability issues and $$$. Need new wheels for bigger tires to avoid backspacing/rubbing issues ($$$), run a higher risk of wearing something out or breaking an axle, and generally cost more.

I think a 26" or 26.5" 8-ply radial will suit me just fine for what I really need. If I ever want a true mud machine I think I'd be better off with a machine that doesn't weigh as much anyway. :)

Superwinch is sounding better to me by the day. It's cheaper than a comparable Viper, and it qualifies for Prime shipping.

If I run a 26x11x14 tire up front to match the rear size, do you think I'll run the risk of rubbing? Lots of important stuff up there...

I really appreciate all the advice I'm getting here. You guys have been very helpful so far, keep em' coming!
 

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If you have the funds, a gear reduction kit sounds like something you could use.
 

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I would not be afraid of putting on 27' tires. I have the Black Diamonds. 8ply radials, great traction in summer and winter, sand and mud. Its only the fronts that tend to break. Mine broke while stuck in some ruts and we were trying to get it out by rocking back and forth. I thin the side of the tires got wedged against the side while the wheels were spinning.
 

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Put it in high gear and have a ball. Low gear is for under 7 or 8mpg I think the manual says.

I have 1700 miles on my machine, I am 300 lbs and I have 40 lbs of tools on board as well. I rarely go into low.

I just pulled apart my belt case and my belt looks fine. No shiny areas and no belt dust in there either.

I am not an engineer but as long as you rev high enough for the belt to engage in high you are OK.

My touring does as well as many others in the mud holes. I have stock tires that are worn below half way. Now when I hit the mud I hit it hard! I watch where others go as well. Yes, I did swamp this past week end but after 3 or 4 minutes and I got it out under it's own power.

As far as tires go,

When I get new tires I will be staying with the stock size. I think I kind have made up my mind on Black Diamond XTR's. I think they can go on my own rims. They have great tread, radials, 6 ply and are DOT approved. (for what ever that is worth)
Thor recommended them (i think) and he had them priced very reasonable.

Going to a bigger tire changes things in my opinion.
 
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