Well the First TeryxForums.net Long Travel Shootout went off without a hitch, and boy did it go off!!! About 35 minutes from beautiful downtown El Centro, California, lies the desert playground known as Superstition Mountain. It is nestled between El Centro’s Naval Air Station bombing range and Interstate 8.
I arrived at about 08:00 and was greeted by FuelUTV’s Chad Hines who was prepping his Standard Bore 2009 Teryx for the day. Chad has been in a collective effort with DASA Racing to build a complete long travel kit for the Teryx. Their kit has a tubular +5 Chromoly arm set-up, which is suspended on a set of Walker Evans Shocks. They were testing different axles at the time of the event to provide the best product for the final kit.
I also met up with Brian Bennet from Long Travel Industries who had two beautiful, as usual, cars for the event – a blue 2008 two-seat Teryx 840 car and a 2011 four-seat car unveiled at the Sand Sport Super Show. Both cars were on his +5 Chromoly plate A-arms kit with 2.0 King Coil over’s and in house LTI axles.
Also in the event was Jim “Sand Junkie” Urbano from www.teryxforums.net. He was behind the wheel of his 2008 840 powered Teryx, which he recently refinished for the Sand Sport Super Show, in a K2 concepts trademark orange and the new flavor dip camouflage. He was representing Custom Creations with their +6 4130 Chromoly Kit, with Sway-a-Way air shocks and Custom Creation in-house axles.
And last, but definitely not least, was Josh “Ali Baba” in his fairly stock 2009 Lime Green Teryx sport representing the Shawz Metal Fabrication +6 Tubular 4130 kit, Fox shocks with Shawz in-house axles.
The day started off by Chad Hines giving me the nod to come for a “ride.” If Jim is the “Sand Junkie,” then Chad earned the title of “Throttle Junkie” today, whipping that 840 beast around like a trophy truck through some of the roughest trails he could find. In the process, he nailed a huge rock with the passenger side lower rear arm at about 60 mph!!! But I will hand it to him, he sure can drive that little red car.
After that ride we gathered around the center of camp debating on a plan for the day. Everyone agreed on a long ride to hit up all the various terrain in the area to show the capabilities of each car. We headed north out of camp up a whooped-out section toward the first radio tower on the hill. I rode with Brian Bennet in his 2008 two-seat car with the impressive power of an 840, wailing through a set of Pro Circuit pipes. The car took the whoops like a champ powering through the mixed sand and dirt like a champ. The suspension really shined at the high speed that this car was capable of putting down! The suspension never seemed to bottom out even though Bryan appeared to be in a race with Jim and Chad for the front of the pack. After the long whoop section we crested the hill and moved into a canyon-like trail with several S turns and banks. The wider stance of the long travel car seemed to corner a little more hesitantly, but the added power fixed any resistance given by the sand. We punched out of the canyon into a clearing at the bottom of a mixed surface hill where everyone took time for some refreshments and some runs at the hill.
A group of Jeep drivers were there and were taken back at the huge flock of “sand lice” Teryxs that had just blew out of the canyon. After a brief stint running the hill and some chatting, we mounted up for some more fun. I jumped in the Shawz equipped car of Josh “Ali Baba”. We headed up the hill and through some more whooped-out sections and back into another canyon where I noticed the fine tuning that had been performed on Josh’s car. It seemed smooth over everything we went through and, even with a stock engine, the car was able to take the rough stuff at higher speeds to make the really big hills. At the bottom of the hills, the stock-suspended cars were circling to find an easier route.
After a few more berms and whoop sections we came to the top of the steepest sand hill of the day, where we would later find out how gracious the folks in attendance could be. Several of the stock machines gave runs at the hill only to back down in defeat. Chad Hines dropped down the hill and circled back. The Dasa pipes screaming with his foot to the floor, he almost topped the hill. But Brian was the man of the hour, cresting the top with a little cocky grin on his face. Another honorable mention is Marty from Fiber Skins, who was also giving it hell, but just couldn’t quite make her. It was down to Jim to make it next, 840 power and all. After seven really close tries, Jim finally crested the hill and just as he rolled over the top, the rev limiter kicked in and all motion stopped. After inspection there were no leaks and all clues pointed to the CVT belt. After about 15 minutes of severe teasing, Brian tore into Jim’s car and had the belt changed and on the trail in under two hours. Anyone who has changed their own belt knows the ordeal it is getting to the belt in the first place, but add the joking and the deep sand to that – an under two-hour belt change is Nascar speed. The title “Sand Junkie” was revoked and the new title of “Belt Junkie” was crowned. All teasing aside, Jim was determined to make the hill and, in a punk-rock fashion, he did.
After all the shenanigans had subsided, we decided to head back to camp and fire up the carne asada. Shannon from UTV Underground got down on the grill and plenty of tasty carne asada tacos were enjoyed. After about an hour or so, we decided to hit the whoops on the east side of the road for a true test of the Long Travel. The FuelUTV/Dasa car could not participate in this part of the event, but I rode through the course in his car earlier in the day with an open soda and did not spill a drop! So, once they have the axles, they should not be overlooked.
I asked a couple of people from the crowd to ride in the cars and give an opinion of the runs. First up was Bonnie Updike who rode up on a quad. She jumped in Brian’s car for the first run and boy was it a run! And in typical Bennet fashion, he took his hands of the wheel for the camera to illustrate the true performance of his kit. Next up was Jim in the Custom Creations car. With the new belt Jim seemed to have added horsepower, so, again, he mashed the skinny pedal and put on quite a show. With a big grin on her face Bonnie hit the whoops in the Shawz car, although not as fast as the other 840 car, since 50 mph was enough to show what they had to offer. Bonnie said the Long Travel car felt the best comparatively at speed, the Customs creations car was a lot stiffer but an even flow down the course and the extra power of the 840 make full use of the travel. She said the Shawz kit was the “Cadillac” of the bunch, feeling smoother than any of the others. “I like the combined power and feel of Brian’s car the best,” Bonnie said.
Also on the runs was Josh Genaw, who rode in the same cars down the same course. “I really like the smoothness of the Shawz car, but I think the Custom Creations Kit had the most responsive ride at the higher speeds,” Josh Genaw said.
At the end of the day, I was pleased at the results of the shootout. All of the cars gave a good showing and the kits performed as intended on all the terrain we encountered. I would give high marks to Long Travel Industries for their second to none workmanship and refined product, with the only drawback for some people being the $5,000 price tag. I have even heard stories of Brian personally meeting with customers late in the night at several locations to resolve problems so the enthusiasts’ trip would not be spoiled. Customer service is high selling point in my opinion. As far as Custom Creations, they build a nice light-weight kit that is ready to go right out of the box. Some people might not like the idea of an air shocks, but one ride in Jim’s car will squash any doubts. The fit and finish is outstanding, and Custom Creations owner Kevin can lay down some pretty welds. Plus, he is a family guy who is always ready to answer any questions and help dial in kits as needed. Finally, the Shawz car – wow, talk about a smooth ride! Some serious time was spent to get the valveing just right on Josh’s car. It felt like it was a factory set-up but with a lot more travel. The fit and finish looked good, with the only possible problem being the close proximity of the lower steering knuckle and the rim, which may interfere with offset wheels. But this kit performed, period. Bill Shaw of Shawz Metal Fabrication was also on hand and seemed up to answering any questions regarding his kit.
After all the runs during the course of the day I am still currently running stock sport suspension, but I am itching to jump to a long travel club. I personally would like to thank all the builders in attendance, without their innovation and dedication to the sport we all enjoy we would still be “stock.”
Article by: Chad Nelson