What Are SXS Portals And Is It Worth Installing Them?

what are sxs portals

So, you’ve bought a bone stock side by side and now it is time to start upgrading, but what exactly is the right avenue to go down when you are upgrading. There are so many different options, how do you know what is the right option for you? In this post we will have a closer look at portals, what they are exactly and whether or not their worth the hefty investment.

So what are SXS portals exactly?

SXS portals are a common way to be able to add more ground clearance and change the gear ratio in your side by side without having to tear into your transmission or affect your factory steering geometry.

Now let’s dive more in depth as to what portals are and whether or not they are the right option for you and your side by side.

Are Portals The Right Choice For Your SXS?

Being as there is a bit of an investment involved in running portals on your SXS this should be the first thing you ask yourself. Is your riding style going to make it worth the investment?

If you just like to use your machine for riding trails and aren’t getting too hardcore into mud, rock crawling or hill climbing, then you might find that portals probably aren’t the right fit for you. You may better off looking at a small 2″ lift or some arched a arms.

But if you are someone who is looking to put bigger tires on your machine, play in the mud, rocks and hills, then chances are pretty good that you will benefit from running a set of portals on your SXS.

Another thing to keep in mind especially if you ride trails is the fact that portals will actually add an additional 8″ to your overall width. So if you ride tight trails, then portals may not be for you.

What Sizes Of SXS Portal Lift Can You Buy?

Of course this is something that every hardcore off road enthusiast is going to want to know, how big can I go? As of right now there are two different sizes of SXS portal on the market there is a 4″ lift portal and a 6″ lift portal.

Each the 4 and the 6 inch are geared accordingly in order to give you the proper gear reduction that you need to be able to run larger tires without sacrificing low end power or too much top end power.

Keep in mind, if you are looking to go with a bigger lift than 4 to 6 inches, portals can be used in conjunction with a regular lift or arched A-arms. The sky is the limit really!

SXS Portal Lift Benefits

Now that we’ve deciphered whether or not portals are the right fit for you, let’s have a look at the benefits of running a portal over a regular lift or no lift at all.

Built In Gear Reduction – If your looking at portals then chances are you are also wanting to run larger tires. Without some sort of gear reduction you will find that you will run into issues with bigger tires. Your machine will feel under powered and sluggish.

That’s where gear reduction comes into play. Gear reduction portals will compensate for the bigger tires by reducing the gear ratio going to the tires. Ultimately offering you close to the same amount of power as before you added the larger tires.

So how much gear reduction do portals offer?

Typically 4″ portals have about a 30% gear reduction, which means you can run roughly 30% bigger tires than stock without noticing too much loss of power. And 6″ portals typically have about a 45% gear reduction meaning you can run about 45% larger tire.

Retain Factory Geometry – With a regular lift the bigger you go the more you start to effect the geometry of things like your axle shafts and steering components. This can cause a ton of stress and result in breaking parts.

Whereas a portal lift does a great job of not effecting any of that factory geometry due to the fact that everything mounts to the portals very close to their factory locations.

Added Ground Clearance – If you are a serious off road enthusiast, then chances are you are looking to get a little more ground clearance under your side by side.

Who wouldn’t want more clearance for crawling over taller obstacles, chewing through deeper mud holes or simply looking like a bad ass while you ride.

With portals you instantly add 4 to 6 inches of clearance without having to do any other upgrades to your suspension. And the best part, you aren’t reeking havoc on your suspension and drive-train like you do with a regular lift

Common Portal Gear Lift Problems

Let’s look at a couple of the most common issues that people run into when the run portals on their SXS

Leaking Seals and Gaskets – This is probably one of the most common issues that I have found with portals. Many people are complaining of their portals leaking form gaskets, seals and even bolt holes. This is probably due to the fact that the cases are made of aluminum in a attempt to minimize the added weight to your machine.

Personally though I would not say that this is a deal breaker because for one it’s not super common and secondly depending on the manufacturer they do warranty any leaking issues.

Chain Drive Portals – When UTV portals were first introduced into the market there was a ton of negative feedback on them. This was due to the fact that they were originally chain drive and not as strong as todays gear drive portals. So keep in mind if you happen to come across chain drive portals, STAY CLEAR!!

Additional Upgrades Needed To Run Portals

Now comes the question of whether or not portals are a simple plug and play upgrade fr a stock SXS or if there are a ton of additional upgrades that you are going to need in order to run them.

Let’s have a look at each of the portal sizes and what upgrades are needed.

4″ Portals – If you are going to run 4″ portals you will need a minimum of a 14′ rim, which most stock side by sides already run 14″ or larger rims anyways. This is the only requirement of running 4″ portals. Otherwise you are good to run all stock parts otherwise.

However it is a good idea to look at going with heavy duty tie rods and ball joints as the additional weight of the portals can put a little stress on these parts depending on your riding style.

I did talk to a guy on Facebook with 4″ portals, running 33″ tires who said that he has over 2000 miles on his portals with all original stock parts. With that said, you need to make the decision depending on your riding style whether you need to upgrade your tie rods and ball joints.

6″ Portals –  Much like the 4″ portals the biggest requirement is the rim size. You will need 18″ rims in order to run 6″ portals. Also you can get away with running stock everything else, however is not recommended.

With 6″ portals you will be adding way more weight to your tires which will cause more stress on your tie rods, ball joints and control arms. So, it is highly recommended to do yourself a favor and switch to heavy duty parts when you are installing the portals.

How Much Do Side X Side Portals Cost

For most people looking into SXS portals this is usually what it all comes down to, the almighty dollar. And this is really going to differ depending on the make of portals that you purchase and of course the size.

So let’s have a look at he cost of each of the 3 major contenders in he UTV portal arena.

SXS Gear – These portals are only available in one size. The 4″ SXS Gear lift will run you in the arena of about $3000 to $3500

Rock Crusher – These portals are also only available in one size. The 4″ Rock Crusher portals are also in the $3000 to $3500 dollar range

Super ATV – To the best of my knowledge Super ATV are the only manufacturer carrying both the 4 and 6 inch portals. The 4″ portal lift kits are around $2500 to $3000 and the 6″ portals are between $3000 and $3500.

SXS Portals Conclusion

Hopefully now you have a better understanding of what are SXS portals!

We covered exactly what their purpose is, who would benefit from portals, the available sizes on the market, their benefits and common problems, the upgrades needed in order to run portals and last but not least we looked at he cost of them.

Are there any other questions or concerns that you had involving portals? If so I would love to hear from you in the comments section below!

So what are you waiting for? Go out there build your side by side into the beast you want it to be and tear sh!t up…



Chris has always had a love for 4X4ing whether it be mudding, hill climbing, trail riding or accessing remote fishing locations that can't be accessed any other way... So, when Chris drove his first side by side he knew that he had found the perfect vehicle for such an occasion! In Chris' spare time, if he is not out riding with his family and friends you will usually find him immersed in further educating himself with side by sides and writing or brainstorming a new post or video for UTV Junky readers.

Recent Posts