Building a Mud Machine – Behind the Scenes of the Polaris High Lifter Edition

by Scott Smith, originally written in 2014

For more than a decade our customers have been asking us to produce a High Lifter Edition unit.  It’s easy to understand that, given our small size, there was no way for us to pull off an endeavor of that magnitude, but hey, we could always dream….

When Polaris came to us a few years ago and pitched us the idea of a High Lifter Edition RZR 1000 XP we couldn’t say yes fast enough – but under one condition.  The unit had to be a real mud edition.  We didn’t want fancy stickers with our name on a RZR that wouldn’t hold up or perform in the conditions we thrive in.  Not surprisingly, Polaris didn’t just agree. They agreed and upped the ante.  They wanted to make the entire unit functional for the mud, not just the new parts added for the mud.  Throughout the entire process, we couldn’t believe the level of detail addressed.

From the beginning, there was a list of must haves and a list of wants.  The obvious must haves were the tires, snorkels, maximum clearance suspension, winch and tow points.  The wants were the lower door halves to keep out of the mud, the rear view mirror, the upgraded front mud riders winch bumper, better reverse chain and lower gears in the transmission.  We got all the wants we asked for!

Once the list of parts was agreed upon, we participated in video conferencing.  This is where Polaris showed models of the new parts on the computer that could be adjusted and spun around. This was even better than just talking about parts. We could actually see them.

After the parts were designed, test units started showing up down here in Louisiana to ride and evaluate.  That was the best part!  Now a lot of people talk about how cool it would be, or is, to be a test rider.  I have to agree, it can be the most fun part of the job.  Unfortunately, people don’t always realize that testing gets done no matter what.  Everyone always pictures a balmy 80 degree day with no clouds in the sky and perfect trails.  The stark reality is that those days are limited.  Most days are either really cold and raining or extremely hot and dry with lots of dust; Murphy’s Law always makes sure of that.  I’m here to tell you that this unit was mostly tested during a very cold and rainy season.  It was brutal.  I was actually glad on the days I went to work while they stayed to ride.  In addition to bad weather, there is the reality of broken parts.  While the good news is you have plenty of spare parts; the bad news is you’re replacing them in a cold rain, in the woods and in the mud.  I really need to write an entire blog about all the things we encounter while testing.

Those days make our typical days of mud riding look like child’s play.

After all the designing, redesigning and testing, it was time for the graphics.  Polaris is second to none when it comes to cool factor with colors and graphics, and they didn’t disappoint.  They wanted to do something that was a first, (High Lifter Summer Scavenger Hunt – The password has been found. Thank you for participating and try again next week!) a color powder coated frame.  This is way more complex than you may realize.  Think about every frame coming down the line in black with a recovery system in place for all the extra powder.  Now, tell the line that you want to mix some orange in the group.  You can imagine the discussions that ensued.  Beyond the custom powder coating, the graphics on this model are best yet.  We couldn’t be happier.

After the talk, the design and the testing, all that’s left is the waiting.  Waiting on the results.  The results that tell us if we did well or missed the mark.  That score card is given by you, the riders.  So far, you have spoken loud and clear.  There will not be nearly enough High Lifter Editions built to supply the demand.  All of the features we put into this unit and the level of quality and detail Polaris produced, hit the mark. Enjoy your RZR life, I know I sure do!