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by Jacob Layton

Feb 3,2023 Will the Speed be the best thing since sliced bread? Will the drivetrain be reliable? Will the handling be exceptional? With so much hype, will it live up? Well, we are about to find out. Master #6 here, about to take delivery of my 2023 Speed UTV El Jefe in Lake Havasu, with Robby Gordon and his team. I wanted to make this video, to throw out some predictions. I'm excited, I hope it's all that I am expecting, I could be wrong, but either way it will be an interesting ride. Who's ready?
















(0:01) [Music]

(0:28) The colors that I picked out. What's happening, everybody? Welcome back to the channel. It's Nick Olson, Chupacabra Off-Road. Ear-to-ear grin. I was excited when I first put the deposit down on this thing many moons ago, but as you guys can imagine, I'm very excited now. I'm holding my golden ticket. The whole side-by-side industry, as you guys have been known, if you don't know, if you've been following Robbie Gordon's team at Speed, 12 cars came over, landed in Havasu, Arizona. 10 of those are going to go to consumers, and I'm one of those lucky customers, master number six. That's right. So very fortunate to be in this position. I'm super excited to be one of the first on the block to take ownership of this vehicle. And as you can imagine, I got some pretty high expectations, as I should. It's taken a long time for this car to come to market. Been patient, got in at pre-COVID pricing, which if you guys can remember a couple short years ago, things used to be reasonably priced. So now it's about to be here. I'm about to pick it up here this month and just kind of want to talk about some thoughts and ideas. Of course, I hope it's going to be the best side-by-side I've ever owned, but to do that, it's going to have to be better than my Can-Am X3 that I own right now that I've been tuning and driving for the last year. It's going to have to be better than my old Best in the Desert spec RZR race car, which was tuned and worked amazing. Better than my old Turbo S, which is a car that I absolutely love that ran like a top all over the place. And to do that, the speed is going to have to be a really good car. So let's get into it. I'm going to kind of predict what I think the car is going to be like compared to those vehicles and also kind of give some ideas what I think it's going to be compared to where I could also go buy today, which would be a brand new Turbo R or a brand new RZR Pro R. So let's get into it.

(2:12) All right, let's start off with what's most important. That's the suspension and the handling of these vehicles. So starting off, let's kind of talk about what I have experienced already, starting off with my Can-Am X3. Now, if you guys have seen the channel, seen some of the videos, you guys will know that I'm a huge fan of the X3. I think it's very plush and very lively. You've got long shock stroke. The car is pretty lightweight, and that's going to have to be something that I consider as I try to give you guys honest feedback. The speed is a heavier vehicle. It lines up very closely in weight to the Pro R 4-seater, about 2450-2500 pounds. So, you know, as I think about how that relates to the X3 tuning-wise, I've sorted the X3 out quite a bit. I recently joined a tuning session with MTS Off-Road. Those guys are very knowledgeable. They've tuned thousands of cars, and they gave me some insights on how to tune my car even better. We made a couple changes to the ride height, crossover ring height, some compression clickers, and got the thing very plush. Just with an upgraded spring kit, it's getting revalved as we speak. That was the third time I've had a tuning session with professional tuners. So all this type of stuff is stuff that I really enjoy, but also stuff that, you know, leads to my book of knowledge and experience and how I can hopefully relate and articulate how the speed is going to feel. So the speed is going to weigh a lot. That's something that also should help it feel stable and composed in really rough terrain.

(3:38) Now, I wouldn't necessarily use those words lively and plush to describe the dynamic suspension when I own my RZR Turbo S, as well as the little bit of time I did get to spend driving the Turbo R and the Pro R. Now, I do love the dynamic suspension. I used it all the time when I owned it and switched it multiple times per ride. It's awesome for somebody like me who likes to go all over the place, all different types of terrain, but I wouldn't have called it plush. Now, it's almost like the technology's gotten too smart for its own good, and it's hard to feel what the vehicle is doing or feel the ground better might be a better explanation for it. So honestly, after driving the Can-Am and some of the Polaris back-to-back, I will say that I'm pretty stoked that the speed doesn't have live valve suspension. I hope it's something they do come out with maybe in the future. I think it's technology that a lot of you guys have also experienced and you love it. It's good for a lot of reasons. I particularly think it's helpful on a heavier four-seat car to prevent some swaying when you're going fast or harsh G-outs in the dunes and then keep it light and soft when you're doing some slow riding or some technical rock crawling of that nature.

(4:41) So all those things kind of lead up to, you know, how is the speed going to fit in. I do think it's going to lean towards the plusher side like the X3 because it does have the longer shock stroke. It's very adjustable, which is something I like about my X3 and something that I didn't like about the RZR with the lack of clicker adjustments. There's never been any rebound adjustment on a RZR for the most part, those type of things. So to be clear, I don't want to say that all RZRs that I've driven have not necessarily been plush and lively. When I did have my Best in the Desert spec RZR race car, we had that thing professionally tuned by a suspension magician, Wayne Israelson at All Tech, and he had that car working amazingly well. It was surprisingly plush on the small bumps, and the faster you drove it, the better it felt. The more it ramped up, the more composed the car felt. I thought that tuning a full spec race car was going to unfortunately require me to give up some of that small bump suppleness. We also didn't have a sway bar on the front of that car, just a bigger rear sway bar. It handled amazing. It was very plush. It had a lot of other things going on with the driver's compartment moved back, a bigger fuel cell. The weight was centered, but as a whole, it handled extremely predictably, extremely well, and it was plush as well as ramping up beautifully when you're pushing it at full race pace.

(6:00) Now, one thing that I think the speed is going to have the biggest advantage at in terms of handling and suspension performance is the geometry, is the thoughtfulness that Robbie and the team at Speed put into the overall design of this vehicle. There's a lot of you guys that are skeptics of this car, but I think most all of us would agree that from an engineering perspective, geometry as a whole, this car is going to lead the industry. You've got significantly less track width change than a Polaris Pro R, less bump steer. It is all double shear. Almost everything about the chassis, particularly the front suspension, is basically what sold me on this car. The challenge, though, is I try to relate honest feedback to you guys. Can I feel that? Can I convey either a sense of confidence or I'm assuming that it's going to track really straight through really rough terrain? It's going to be easier to just kind of push it.

(6:53) And if you guys haven't already, make sure you watch a walk-around comparison video that Robbie did last week comparing a Pro R to the Speed. It shows how much track change exists on the Pro R, which is something that Shock Therapy brought up as well. It's just an unfortunate design flaw or a limitation when you have a radius rod setup, and that's something that isn't near as bad on the Speed. So I think for those reasons, I think you will be able to feel it. It should be easy to drive while we're really rough terrain. It should be predictable. Another thing in that video that's worth highlighting is that you can see side-by-side how low the Speed is, and it's great in my opinion because both vehicles have similarly sized tires. They both have almost the exact same ride height or ground clearance, but the driver's compartment of the Speed, all this, the driver and passengers are much lower. And when you go to the rear of the vehicle on this video, you can see how much lower the spare tire, all the storage is going to be in the Speed, and it's hard not to think that this is going to be a lot more predictable. Flat sweeping turns, tight washes, hopefully give it more of a lively feel even though it's going to be a heavier car. So hopefully some squirty sensation where it's not going to feel tippy. You do have some adjustments with the sway bars too.

(8:06) And seeking that kind of magical plush buttery smoothness that I like usually comes at the hindrance of having the car move over a little bit more. With that lower CG, I think that's something that the Speed is going to be as good as any vehicle we've ever seen on the market. And hopefully, that's something that I feel. That's what I'm going to predict I'm going to feel. And then hopefully, I can actually feel that as we drive these cars back-to-back. I got a couple buddies that own Pro Rs, of course Can-Ams, so we'll of course not only take my opinion because some of my close friends that I trust to drive back-to-back and give you guys some honest feedback about how we can hopefully convey that if we feel those things or if I'm just imagining things and it's stuff that maybe sounds good on a walk-around but doesn't really translate to the real world. So we're about to find out here soon.

(9:03) All right, so moving on from suspension and handling performance, let's talk about reliability and the drivetrain. Now, I think this, if you're like me, everybody else wants to know is the powertrain going to be reliable? Putting out stock 225 horse, that matches the highest horsepower side-by-side of the market, which is the Pro R. And some of you guys might argue that it's not a fair comparison. The Pro R has four cylinders, but I think ultimately with these comparison videos, everyone wants to know is it the top dog. They both cost a lot of money. Honestly, if you're thinking about buying a Speed, you're also going to be considering a Pro R or an X3. The X3 is not far behind at 200 horse. And while it might sound like on paper the X3 would be behind, I do think the X3 is quicker, going to be quicker a little bit out of the hole of a drag race than a Speed. I think it already is of a Pro R a little bit. But once the power gets going, it really starts cooking. So, you know, drag racing isn't off-roading. It's exciting for people to argue about online, but it's not, like I said, it's not real what this car was intended for. But it is a data point. It is a seat of the pants. How is it going to feel? And I think, I do think the Speed will be really comparable to the Pro R. They're similar in weight. They make similar horsepower in a totally different manner. And I think that the Speed will have a lot of horsepower, plenty for day-to-day off-roading.

(10:25) Now, one thing that is very exciting, if you're like me, if you're a Speed deposit holder, you went ahead and went for the speed key. So if you're not familiar, you add a speed key, all you have to do is essentially dump E85 fuel into your car, and you can bump it as high as 300 horsepower. So I'm not a huge horsepower guy. I'm not necessarily these guys that's going to do all these tunes and chase all this type of stuff. I think what I've experienced, the stock X3 is plenty of horsepower to have a ton of fun in the dunes. Do you always want more ring in the dunes? Of course, that's what's exciting. You know, once we see, get out there to Glamis, of course I'm going to throw some E85 in it and see how she performs. But I'm very interested to see what the belt temps are going to be like. Is it going to be reliable? And to answer that question, it's going to take me and hundreds of other Speed customers out running around, putting these things through the paces to find out did they build a reliable powertrain? Are the belts going to hold up? The Speed has a three-speed transmission that can..


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