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by Nick Olson

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If you can only have one vehicle for off-roading in 2021 a side-by-side is the only choice yeah I said it what’s happening everybody it’s Nick Olson chupacabra off-road and this topic’s been weighing a little heavy on my heart over the last year or so and someone needs to say it someone needs to stick up for the side-by-side community so might as well be me right what I mean is that you know you go on social you go on YouTube you see a lot of comments a lot of us side by side guys we get a lot of flack the sand car guys like to bust our chops the jeep guys the pre-runner guys and you know it’s fun I’m all down for some some good ball busting but you know I’m here to tell you guys don’t take a lot of that stuff for reality in my opinion the reality is that the side by side is by far the best off-road vehicle you could own and if you can only own one of these vehicles it’s not even a consideration of a pre-runner a sand car of a jeep don’t even think about them so I compiled my list of top five reasons why but first here’s the disclaimer now I’m not a hater of any of these other vehicles I’ve never owned a real pre-runner I probably will one day I used to have a wannabe pre-runner ford ranger back when I was youngster I’ve never owned a sand car I definitely plan on owning one one day maybe a v8 pre-runner type sand car it’s always been my dream to have something like that with a ton of power I did own a jeep it was my first car back when I was in high school but I never really did a lot of like real jeeping off-roading with it but I am a jeep fan I might own one you know as I get older who knows I do also own a race car in addition to my play card and my race car is very similar to a pre-runner or to a sand car and the fact that it requires a ton of maintenance you’ve got to maintain it like a race car you’ve got to replace nuts and bolts and heims and and tune it all the time and constantly checking every little nuance of it to get that thing operating in its peak condition like you would if you owned a seriously built pre-runner or a seriously built sand car and speaking of race car I’ve raced my race car in the same track that a lot of pre-runners and race cars had rage at the river in laughlin I’ve done some real rock crawling with some jeeps in moab and sand hollow and have doomed with glamis with some sand cars you can see all that on our YouTube channel so being that I’ve been lucky enough to have all these experiences from baja rock crawling dunes pretty much anywhere in the southwest I’m here to tell you that a side by side is by far the best way you can spend your money so the last few months I’ve been doing some riding it’s really inspired me to make this video I kind of put these rides into three different buckets the first bucket being adventure riding or a long multi-day trip the second bucket being some more real rock crawling and the final bucket being some duning and glamis now I have done all these trips on my 2019 turbo s dynamics with very minimal maintenance it was go ride change a couple little things you know obviously change your fluids keep everything working good and the car worked amazing in all of these conditions so starting off with the adventure trip I did a 180 mile ride in mexico and it was a up and back trip so you got to be self-reliant you have to carry all of your own clothes you have to carry tools you have to carry you know food and extra fuel so the car is weighed down pretty heavily and this ride has a lot of people that break on it it’s a lot of sand whoops there’s some higher speed stuff and then you’re riding in deep sand along the beach for whatever reason this this this trip just sees a lot of people’s cars break and my triple s worked perfectly filled it up with gas washed off when I got home did my normal prep and didn’t even hesitate at all we were going as fast as we wanted to go over some big loops when the car was loaded down couldn’t have had a better trip in the car the second trip or trips I did was some dune in glamis now I was doing with some sand cars over veterans day weekend um it was a family trip so we weren’t really going that fast but then also we did glamorous new years ship where he shot a big video on our YouTube channel and we were loaded down with four cars we were pushing my turbo west pretty hard because we’re using it for some filming sections we were getting chased by the helicopter we did night rides we had it loaded down with camera gear four people in it multiple times I don’t know one of our film guys drive it and um it never stopped you know it never had an issue at all the car ran perfect and the third type of trip I did was up in san holo I really wanted to do some rock crawling hadn’t done any in a while so while I was there visiting my family for thanksgiving I took my dad and we went and we did the double sammy trail as well as another trail called john’s trail um the jeepers give you like a one to ten rating of how difficult it is and both those trails are rated about a seven on a scale of one to ten on the jeep you know hardcore scale if you will but double sami is a pretty popular trail it was pretty much about my ability and at the very end I climbed the shoot which was cool like a lot of people post the photos and videos so I had to go up there and had to tackle it and mix up my riding from what I normally do with sand hollow which is kind of far around on the dunes or maybe do some longer rides around there so all I really did to change my car prepare for the rock crawling is I removed the sway bars and I removed the rear mud flap just so they wouldn’t get bent as I was kind of dragging my my trailing arms on some rocks so that’s pretty much it I dropped the air pressure down to 6 psi the razor worked amazingly well it was really fun and having the dynamic suspension I could soften it up and then stiffen it without the sway bars when we’re going faster for the remainder of our ride three different styles of trips my razor worked amazing I’m like you know what I gotta I gotta put some heat back on the sand rail crowd the pre-runner crowd the jeep crowd like again we’re always the butt of the joke but no I I’ve been all around and the side by side has really taken over and and here’s a couple reasons why all right guys so let’s get into it here are my top five reasons why side by side is by far better than any other off-road vehicle you can buy today number one is the four-wheel drive versatility new skills and confidence yes the g-pass four-wheel drive yes some pre-runners might have four-wheel drive most don’t but four wheel drive in a lightweight vehicle is a complete game changer if you’re new to off-roading or if you’ve even done it for a while I’m not new to off-roading but when I had a side-by-side I got into situations where the four-wheel drive kept me from not getting stuck be it the dunes be it ocotillo wells be it anywhere like that and with the four wheel drive you have that ability to pretty much do whatever you want and it’s very hard to get stuck if you do get stuck you’ve got a vehicle that’s really lightweight it’s easy to push or worst case you get a quick toe out what’s really cool about four wheel drive too is that you learn different driving styles you can learn to drive in two-wheel drive if you want it’s fun it’s slower but when you learn how to drive a four-wheel drive you’re getting pulled through corners you can corner a lot more aggressively it’s really fun and you’ve got both of those available at the flip of a switch which is a really nice thing to have and you can really learn to become a better driver switching back and forth between both styles now I wouldn’t be able to do any real rock crawling if it wasn’t for the four wheel drive check out this footage of me doing some rock crawling in sand hollow I’m going up this trail like I mentioned double sammy it’s about a seven out of ten you know I’d consider myself pretty much a novice on the rocks you know I’ve been to moab a couple of times but I’ve really only had I’d say three to four maybe five days of legit rock crawling experience so I get some of these obstacles I freak out a little I get a little bit nervous and I watch somebody else go up it or you just put this thing in low range and and what these side by sides can do is really amazing I’m I’m probably the most impressed with these vehicles in this environment because maybe that those obstacles that type of riding is is new and maybe more scary to me than everything else I do but it blows me away what we can do if you haven’t done this type of rioting even if you’re a speed demon you’d also be surprised how spooked you can get going a couple miles an hour so with my razor I’m able to tackle trails like this you know I’ve done hell’s revenge and moab poison spider golden spike and more I definitely wouldn’t have the hutzpah to go through these trails in a jeep my razor’s got much better visibility it’s lighter weight um it’s less expensive generally speaking than a lot of other jeeps so I don’t feel near as scared about pushing or trying these obstacles where in a jeep I’d be terrified you know you add a little bit bigger tires in stock as you can see I’m running my 33-inch tires it really enables you to go over a lot of pretty difficult obstacles that most jeeps shoot you have to again have 33s 35s just even consider going over so to sum it up four wheel drive can make you a better driver you can learn how to drive the vehicle in two wheel drive and four wheel drive so you’ve got options you can take it for more places it’ll really prevent a lot of situations like soft sand a heavy two wheel drive pre-runner gets sunk even a sand car needs to get towed out the four-wheel drive can get you in and out of a ton of sticky situations which is an amazing piece of mind if you’re new to off-roading or you want to try some new trains that you’ve never tackled so not having four-wheel drive is something that the sand car guys and the pre-owner guys don’t want to talk about but what that also translates to is there’s a lot less areas that you can go take those vehicles to I’ve been to coral pink sand dunes I’ve seen one sand car total in seven raid trips every time I’ve been there I’ve seen no pre-runners I’ve seen some pre-runners um out at ocotillo wells but there’s such a big car it generally is kind of like a big overkill for it like ocotillo wells is really fun with a lot of tight washes it’s super fun on a two-wheel bike for some single track atvs and the side-by-sides can still fit on a lot of these faster tight little wash trails so jeeps can kind of squeak through them going slow but the pre-runner guys can really kind of help really like run pole line it’s a little bit overkill in my opinion for what type of riding the ocotillo wells has those big pre-runners really need a lot of open whoops so they can breathe so you’re really talking like barstow high desert area you know some sections of baja imperial county that type of stuff but when I did a couple of baja rides I was really blown away how tight and technical a lot of the trails or former racecourse trails were there and after you look at the the racecar results it makes a lot of sense why class 1600 cars and utvs do really well in the baja races because they’re lighter weight they’re more nimble and they can make up a lot of time and a lot of that tighter terrain that these bigger heavier vehicles trophy trucks two-wheel drive cars just have to creep through and make sure they don’t get stuck through which is also a big deal you know speaking of baja you go to ojos negros it’s fun it’s wide it’s fast you’re ripping around and that’s what I thought a lot of baja would be but you know I’ve done a couple 500 mile trips and and it’s not like that for a huge majority I would even say I mean obviously there’s so many routes you could plan something out but it was always my dream to have a big v8 4c pre-runner and after doing a couple chips on my four-seat razor I really think I got almost probably the perfect tool for the job speaking of pre-running I have seen some pre-runners out in glamis but I’ve very rarely seen one actually out in the dunes particularly if it’s two-wheel drive you’ll see guys your pre-runners they’ll go hang out the drags or maybe they’ll hit sand highway and take it to the hill and that’s cool I’m sure it’s fun if I had a perimeter I’d be doing the same thing but to actually go take one around and go on dune rides um like I said I don’t think you see it very often they’re heavy most of the time they’re two wheel drive so if you get into a pickle you’re gonna get stuck who’s gonna pull you out of there you know it’s it’s um easier said than done so all right reason number two um I’m calling this one do you even know what you love you know I love all types of dirt I like a little bit of mud I like rocks I like whoops I like sand washes canyons I even like screwing off a little bit of snow I don’t care I’m all about it I love going to glamis I love going to moab but if I only rode glamis or if I only rode moab I would get a little bit bored um I just like variety and the best thing about a side by side is you have the ability to kind of go try and taste different things now maybe one day I’ll get really hardcore into rock crawling maybe I’ll build a rock bouncer buggy or a jeep but I have the ability to taste and see what it’s like with my side-by-side and do some pretty aggressive trails to see if that’s the flavor of off-roading that I like or something that I’d like to do a couple times a year maybe now sand duning like I love going to glamis I really think there’s gonna be a point in my life where I will buy a sand car and maybe just go hard at duning you know take several trips try to spend 25 30 40 days a year out there for a couple years but overall I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned experiences different people I’ve met you you can kind of get a better idea of getting where you fit in whether it’s groups that are really into one style of riding or another or having the ability to just kind of do a couple a year you know like glamis is great but after April it gets pretty hot so wouldn’t you like a vehicle that you can go take to a utah trip extend your riding season you know maybe do some some foresty type riding other type of things that you couldn’t normally do with a jeep you know you can go do those things but you’re going really slow if the terrain is harsh I don’t know if you guys have been in a jeep and try to go over 20 miles an hour off-road but it’s not very fun and um that reminds me of I did arizona peace trail with my buddies we were all in razors and we passed a jeep on the arizona peace trail and a section that was particularly rough with some some big g outs and I just looked completely miserable to be doing it in a jeep especially at the mileage that you wanted to do to go from town to town it can be a long day in the arizona desert which is pretty rough up near the part of where I saw this guy which is not a bullhead and um yeah didn’t seem like near as much fun as what we were having so until you’ve experienced it you don’t know what you’re missing and as they say variety is the spice of life so side by side wins again all right number three this is very important to me is how I look at a lot of this stuff is the dollar to fund ratio I’m obsessed with dollar to fund ratio no matter which vehicle you choose off-roading is not a cheap sport right you guys know there’s the vehicle there’s everything that goes along with it there’s the expense of going and taking it on trips the travel the gas money it’s not cheap and I do see a lot of YouTube comments for a lot of the jeep guys just can’t get over a 30 000 side by side they think it’s just crazy expensive and I do understand that you can buy a nice little use xj you can get a jeep that’ll do really really well for under ten thousand dollars for sure also side by sides on street legal in most places too so then there’s that issue for a jeep guys have a hard time justifying the price but again going back to the diversity of what a side by side can do you can tackle a lot of trails side by side with a lot of these jeep guys in environments like I said moab sand hollow etc johnson valley side by sides are generally a little bit lighter weight generally easier to fix maybe my personal experience if you do break something to get them in and out of a sticky situation and easier to learn for sure now the sand car guys would argue that for 35 to 45 000 you can buy a really nice va buggy and they’re not wrong you know that’s about the same price as a set up side by side like my razor dynamics and they’re also right there is no replacement for displacement having horsepower in the dunes is is what it’s all about but you can be a die-hard duner you can pick up an x3 you can take it to a one of these guys like jeffrey’s performance who can squeeze a ton of power out of that thing you can be running 225 250 over 300 horse in a car that weighs less than 1700 pounds so with that kind of power to weight ratio honestly guys from what I’ve seen you could probably hang with 98 of the people out in glamis if you know how to drive and I would also argue that that x3 is a lot more fun to drive in a lot of scenarios like maybe smaller tighter choppier dunes like the type of dunes you see over by the wash area and glamis or even tighter and more nimble stuff like um coral pink sand dunes so you guys yes the v8 yes I’m going to own a v8 car one day but that’s not to say that you can’t have a ton of fun and be incredibly fast with a tune side by side okay reason number four I alluded to this a little bit but I’m calling number four is your social group now side-by-sides as you guys know are becoming by far the most popular off-road vehicle there’s far more people that own them and it’s going to be easier for you to find a writing group or connect with a group if you own one of those as well if you have a sand car you might not be able to go on as many types of rides as your your buddies with side by sides same thing goes for jeeps right people have different speeds different paces different interests and once you’re figuring out what you like you know a big part of having a great offer experience is having a fun group to experience it with it’s a very social sport it’s a family sport so making sure that the spouse the kids all have people that they like to have fun and connect with can make for an amazing weekend whether you’re going fast whether you’re cruising slow but with the side by side you’ve got far more people that you can meet and interact with to find that group and you can try these different types of groups I’m lucky enough where I’ve got some friends that are really into the adventure rides and it’s really fun to go do a couple rides a year with them I have some friends that are just hardcore duners and they live for glamis and it’s fun to go try and hang with them and then I’ve got some buddies that are um in the middle they like doing a little bit of everything so it’s really cool guys like going to utah guys like doing the rock crawling stuff everyone’s got a little bit different interests and passions and it’s it’s fun to interact with all the different types of people and you’re gonna kind of get a better idea of what you like and maybe find the group that that fits your needs and you have some certain places and trips you guys like taking together so hard to beat the side-by-side for the versatility to help you find the crowd and experiences that can lead to you overall having a great experience next time you head out to the desert alright so moving on to my fifth and final reason why side by sides are the best is the lack of maintenance cost now all you have to do is keep up on your maintenance and you will have a side-by-side that will run very good for thousands of miles um we recently shot a part one of a maintenance review video of my car my turbo s has 2 000 miles on it made it that far with the stock belt other than keeping your air filters clean blowing out your belt housing and blowing out the dust drop in your fluids every 25 hours these side by sides can be very reliable even if you do tune them as long as you know how to clutch it correctly you’re not going to have that many belt issues I’ve heard of a lot of guys over 200 220 horse that have very reliable belts because they’re tuned and clutch properly so my race car is very similar to what a lot of sand car guys should be doing in terms of how they think about maintenance if they’re pretty easy on their car they can probably go a whole season on their heims a whole season without checking their cvs but still something that you have to do in the off season to make sure your car is running good so you’re not that guy on the desert trips come your first trip in October another big expense santa car guys have to deal with is transmission issues now if you have to pull your trends and have it rebuilt that’s a lot of money that money adds up quick plus the time and the labor to do it maybe you can get lucky have your buddy come help you hopefully those guys don’t have motor issues they can’t happen they are very expensive from what I’ve seen with a lot of my friends that own side by sides even with some tunes the motors are extremely reliable as long as you maintain them like I said some guys they burn a lot of belts that those costs add up but I think when you learn how to drive with momentum if your car is clutch properly or if you leave it stock these things can be really reliable you know it’s really hard for me to comment on the jeep reliability I mean it just really depends on how hardcore you get running bigger tires you’re going to need beefier everything you know bigger obstacles etc what I know about jeeps I know a lot of those parts and accessories are not inexpensive and you know if you want to go do certain hardcore trips like going to rubicon going to moab you got to be prepared with all the tools and the beefy setup if you’re running 37-inch tires for instance you know same old thing we’re pushing these vehicles things can break things are heavier on the jeep but I’m sure when you brake parts they’re more expensive to replace you know axles for side-by-sides are pretty ubiquitous and expensive belts 180 bucks I’m a big fan of the cvt for that reason a cbt does definitely prevent a catastrophic issue with a transmission not that it can’t happen but you know again I think that happens pretty rarely from what I’ve seen so let me know what you guys think in the comments let me know if you agree with what I’m saying or disagree again I think as side by side guys we take a lot of flack that it’s for rookies a lot of us don’t know how to drive anybody can go finance one and some of that stuff could be true but if you guys have seen the YouTube channel you’ve seen the content we’ve been putting out I’ve been all over the place I’ve been lucky enough to be in all these situations and at the end of the day I’m still super excited and happy about my side by side do I wish I had a sand car I won’t go to glamour sometimes yes I do I get a little bit jealous of you guys the jeep guys not so much like maybe one day or if we’re out in the cold weather their air conditioning here it’s pretty cool but as a whole I don’t think there’s a better way you can spend your money the people I’ve met are amazing um had a lot of great experiences with not that much prep not that much maintenance not that much hassle not that many times getting stuck and all that build momentum to just have an overall great experience and excited to head back out to desert on the next trip so so thanks for watching if you guys like the content please like and subscribe and we’ve got a whole lot more coming your way.


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