So just to give a bit of background we have a few acres where I live and about 10 miles of logging roads. My son and I for the last few summers have been riding quads on the logging roads but we have gotten a bit bored with them. We have a five month old and a two year old as well as our eight year old son. This summer we decided to get a campsite in northern New Hampshire and ride coos county. Our first weekend up my son and I did a 100 mile trail ride, coos country has over a thousand miles in connected trails, and it was a real eye opener. We both came back exhausted from the manual steering on our quads and pretty beat up. I also spent a lot of time pulling him out of the mud.
What I noticed on the trails was almost everyone was in a side by side of every make and model I did not see a gator however. I did a lot of research and test drove Polaris, Can Am, Artic Cat, and many others. What I did not like about most side by sides is how loud they were. My wife did not like it either and neither did my 2 year old. In the end we got a 590I S4.
The last three weekends we have done trail rides over 100 miles long. We can't take the five month old out yet even in a good seat it is just too bumpy for his little head. My two year old goes between being asleep or yelling wheee and my son loves riding shotgun. The 590i is a very capable trail rider.
I do bottom out occasionally sometimes just operator error not picking the right path through the rougher areas and sometimes we are bouncing on the shocks and go down to low and bottom out.
I was looking for some advice on the following.
1. What happens if I use the spanner wrench to stiffen the shocks. I realize less bounce but will it mean feeling every bump even more? On all three trail rides I only bottomed out due to bounce once or twice per trail ride. However with the shocks on a the factory setting it is a pretty smooth ride over all the bumps. I can probably avoid most bottoming out as my skill level increases and I get better with the machine.
2. Is there a lift kit for the gator? If so what effect does it have on the machine itself? The Gator was designed to ride at a certain height I am afraid adding a lift kit may interfere with it's performance or make it dangerous to operate.
3. Do the off road tires offer more clearance? The turf tires have had no problems running the trails, mud, and sand. The official gator off road tires are $1500 bucks that seems like a lot to spend to replace tires that work really good. Is there a better choice of tires where I can just get the tires online somewhere and pay a mechanic to switch the tires and not the rims as well?
Finally next year we will need a second side by side as my five month old will be able to ride, he can't right now even in a good seat too many bumps for his little head, I was thinking of getting an 825i RSX two seat model. However after doing some research a new outfitted 825i starts getting into the price range of 1000cc RZRs. The RZRs have better ground clearance and more power than the 825i so if I am in the price range of one of those I might as well go with an RZR. My son and I can deal with how loud they are but my wife and younger ones do not like it.
I like the idea of sticking with Gator because I only have to learn one type of machine in terms of parts, dealers, etc. However the RZRs seem like a more capable machine in terms of trail riding.
Any advice is appreciated.