Have you noticed that side by sides seem to be growing in popularity over the last few years? It’s not like side by sides are new thing. But they did seem to just start popping up on pick ups, trailers and on the trails out of nowhere. I remember when all you ever saw was ATV’s and Dirt Bikes and if you did see a side by side it was used for work purposes on construction sites, farms, acreages and parks.
That brings us to the question, why are side by sides so popular now? Over the last few years side by sides have evolved from being a workhorse into super sporty, ultimate off road machines. Also, unlike an ATV, side by sides can be enjoyed by multiple riders at once making them perfect for family fun.
I am a bit of an off road junky as I love riding any kind of off road vehicle in the mud, hills or trails. You mention off roading and I’m there…
And I must say, for years I didn’t understand why a person would waste their money on purchasing a side by side. My outlook was, buy a cheap 4Runner, Jeep, Samurai, Explorer, S10 etc and they would be just as capable as any side by side, without having to pay an arm and a leg. Oh boy was I wrong!
Benefits Of A Side By Side Over A Jeep
I want to touch on a few benefits that a Side by Side has over Jeeps for a minute. This is a topic that can cause lots of dispute just because a Jeep is rightfully crowned the best off road capable vehicle on the road by millions of people. And I am not disputing that was once true, but as side by sides have evolved and keep evolving I believe that this is no longer true. The side by side beats the Jeep for off road capabilities, hands down!
- Cost of ownership – The price of a new side by side ranges from around $10,000 to $30,000 depending on the make and model. The price of a new Jeep ranges from around $30,000 to $45,000 again depending on the model. It is important to note that unlike the Jeep if you spend $30,000 on a side by side you are getting a turn key race ready, trail ready, rock crawling, mudding machine.
- Better suspension – This is probably on of the biggest advantages that most people don’t even think about when they are comparing a side by side to a Jeep. I have rode my side by side down the roughest most uneven terrain at 60+ MPH and could have drank a glass of wine while doing so.
- Better handling – This stands especially true with the new EPS (electronic power steering) you find in side by sides. You no longer get any feedback from your drivetrain and suspension to your steering wheel. Pair the EPS with superior suspension and you get handling that Jeeps can’t compete with.
- No unnecessary electronics – Many of the built in safety features of Jeeps like ABS, ESC and Trac Control can actually put you in very dangerous situation if they engage while you are offroading. Unlike a Jeep a side by side does not come equipped with all of these unnecessary features.
Benefits Of A Side By Side Over An ATV
This article is not really a comparison to see which is better, ATV or SXS? But there are a few different benefits that a SXS has over an ATV that has contributed to the growing popularity of the SXS and slow decline in ATV sales in recent years.
- Ability to carry multiple riders comfortably
- Due to the steering wheel, many people feel more comfortable driving a SXS
- Added safety features such as roll cage and seat belts
- More space for carrying gear, firewood, rocks or beer (I do not condone drinking and driving;)
- Sporty long travel suspension provides a smooth ride
- Ability to add cab enclosures and heat or air conditioning
- Higher payload and towing capacity
- Typically higher resale values
Common Uses And Accessories For A Side By Side
The increase in popularity of side by sides could be due to their versatility. Side by sides have many common uses for both work and pleasure. With a vast selection off add ons and accessories you can equip your side by to do exactly what you want it to do. Here is a list of some of the most common uses and accessories for a side by side.
- Hunting – sure, you can get in many places your truck can’t but there are also endless accessories available such as gun racks, bow racks, camouflage covers, noise reduction exhausts, game hoists.
- Farming – not only can you haul or tow stuff around the farm but you can also get various farming attachments including sickle bar mowers, hay dollies, cultivators, plows, tillers, harrows, disks, sprayers, livestock feeders and even power loader attachments.
- Racing – there are many side by side races nowadays in various different terrain you could join with some add ons to your side by side like race seats, 5 point harnesses, roll cage, solid doors, fire extinguisher
- Rock Crawling – this is where you really want to equip your side by side as safer and stronger with seats, 5 point harnesses, tires, stronger roll cages, skid plates, rock sliders, high clearance A-arms, stronger axle shafts and of course a winch
- Mud Bogging – I have seen some pretty bad ass mud bogging machines out there with a great selection of mud tires, snorkels, lift kits, gear reduction kits, winches and portals
- Winter Riding – snow is always more fun to play in when you are staying warm common accessories for snow riding might be cab enclosures, heaters, windshields, snow plow, snow blower, chains, tracks
- Trail Riding – depending on the trail riding that you are into you might run across all types of terrain and want to all of the accessories listed above for winter, rock and mud but if your not going too extreme then a winch and a windshield should do the trick.
How Many Passengers Can Ride In A Side By Side?
It wasn’t long ago that side by sides were only meant for 2 passengers and you could find the odd side by side with a bench seat making room for a third passenger. But nowadays side by sides are available as a 2 passenger and all the way up to a 6 passenger.
Many people love this benefit because if you only have an ATV for example, then you are always limited as to who you can take riding riding with you. You can either take a single passenger or have to find other ATV owners to ride with.
With a side by side you can now take up to 5 of your friends and family with you when you head out to rip it up.
This was actually one of the biggest deciding factors for myself when I was in the air between purchasing a 2-up quad or a side by side. I loved the fact that I could enjoy the side by side with my friends and family beside me.
How Much Does A Side By Side Cost?
This is probably the biggest thing that most people have a hard time wrapping their heads around when they are first introduced to side by sides. They are not exactly cheap compared to an ATV and often times are comparable in price to a brand new small pickup or SUV.
I also has a hard time wrapping my head around the cost of my first SXS as well. I didn’t understand why they were increasing in popularity when they cost so much. It only took one ride though to understand that it was worth every penny.
Let’s have a look at the prices of some of the most popular side by sides in 2018.
- 2018 Polaris RZR 1000 XP – $17,999 USD
- 2018 Yamaha Wolverine – $10,999 USD
- 2018 Kawasaki Teryx – $12,999 USD
- 2018 Wildcat XX – $20,499 USD
- 2018 Polaris RZR XP Turbo S – $27,499 USD
- 2018 Can-Am Maverick X3 900 – $17,999 USD
- 2018 Honda Pioneer 1000-5 – $16,699 USD
Are Side by Sides Too Wide For Trail Riding?
This is another very common concern when people are on the fence about a side by side. And rightfully so, if you cant ride the trails then why bother purchasing a side by side, why not opt for a jeep instead?
If trail riding is your main purpose of owning a side by side then the 50″ trail riding side by sides might be exactly what you are looking for. Unfortunately, though I have yet to see a trail edition side by side that offers the ability for more than 2 riders.
Depending on the type of trails that you ride you can always run a wider side by side like the 60″ class, keeping in mind that although the width might be OK you need to account for the added length as well.
Personally, as a bigger guy I love my 60″ wide Kawasaki Teryx and I must say I have not come across too many trails that I could not navigate through. I have however found a quite a few overgrown trails, but if your not too worried about a few branches and leaves, its no big deal.
Note: Check your local laws before hitting the trails with a side by side wider than 50″. Some states or county’s do not allow anything wider than 50″ on their ATV trails.
Hopefully this article on why side by side are so popular helped you understand why so many people are jumping on the side by side bandwagon. They have many benefits over a jeep and ATV’s, they’re super versatile, endless selection of add ons and accessories, ability to carry up to 6 passengers, well worth the financial investment and they are great for trail riding as well.
Do you own a side by side? Or are you on the fence, don’t know whether to pull the trigger? I say, GO FOR IT!