Wednesday, July 13, 2016

ATV Bags & Boxes

Whether you choose a hard box that mounts to your rack or a soft bag it feels nice to have the ability to bring things along with you and be prepared for what can arise when you are deep in the bush.

We've tried a number of different bags & boxes and I am going to cover a number of them and give my opinions on each.

1. The Cabela's Weatherproof Extreme ATV Bag

For at least two seasons now I have ran the Cabela's Weatherproof Extreme ATV Bag. This is my number one pick and the bag I recommend to everyone. There are a number of reasons I like this one:
  • It is just the right size, not too big or small
  • It keeps my stuff dry every time, even when doing a water wheelie and dunking it right in the water
  • It's a soft bag which is much more comfortable when attached to the rack behind you
  • It's made to attach to an ATV rack and has build in buckles that are easy to use
  • If you do puncture the membrane (which I have) it's easy to patch up with silicone and a piece of rubber
  • It fits perfectly in the rear lower storage compartment of my Commander
Cabela's Weatherproof Extreme ATV Bag

I love this bag so much that even it gets destroyed, I will be buying the exact same thing. The only negative I can say about it is that to get to your items you need to undo four buckles and pull a velcro strip apart which takes more time than the others but worth it in my opinion.

2. The Stanley Fat Max Toolbox

I'm pretty sure that it was not intended for ATV's when they built it but it works pretty good. Available at any home depot for around $30 it's claim to be water resistant makes it appealing. It may be good for casual riding but for the deep water riding I was doing at the time, the seal couldn't hold up.

I probably should have used u-bolts to attach it but I didn't want to make holes in it and therefore I had issues keeping it on my rack. I purchased the smaller of the two toolboxes Stanley offered at the time which I regretted as I found it was too small for all of the items I wanted to bring with me.
  •  Easy access to your items (two latches)
  • Affordable
  • Somewhat weatherproof with the lid seal
  • Not easy to attach to your rack (other than u-bolts or straps)
  • Hard surfaces, rattling

Hard boxes like the Fat Max toolbox are hard, and a downside of all hard boxes is that they rattle. Not only do they rattle on the rack but they also rattle everything inside. Another reason my preference is a soft bag.

3. Ogio Honcho Rack Bag

The Ogio bag was what made me realize that soft is where it's at. Ogio makes a high quality product, built well and it looks great

I chose the Honcho front rack bag as it was a bit smaller than the the rear bag and also less expensive. Price is big factor when it comes to bags and boxes and this Ogio bag is one of the more expensive options, and in my opinion the value just isn't there.

The red stripe around the outside of the bag is Ogio's dust seal
 Ogio makes no claims to this bag being waterproof, so I never expected it to be. But it's not even dust proof which it does claim to be.
  • Quality construction
  • Looks great
  • Absorbs water 
  • Doesn't keep out dust
  • Straps to attach to rack are too short to be useful
  • Expensive
  • Too small although larger sizes are available
I didn't realize before purchasing this bag, how much mud and water I would be going through and so I accept the blame for that. But I couldn't believe how bad it was. On the ride that I decided that it wasn't the box for me I got caught in a heavy rain. Not only did it not keep my stuff dry, it actually absorbed the water and all my stuff inside got wet. My tools were rusty and my dry towels were soaked. It took 3 days for the bag to completely dry out from that ride and it eventually developed a musty moldy smell.

4. Hard Box

I don't know the name or brand of this box, but it only took one or two rides before I decided it wasn't for me. I both love and hate how large boxes like this are, you can carry a lot of stuff but they are clunky and get in the way when riding. This particular box has a seat back for a rear passenger which is incredibly dangerous and I wouldn't recommend ever riding two people on a machine not built to take passengers.

Poorly planned, I needed to remove the jerry can to open the box
  • Lots of room
  • Rear seat rest
  • Latches rattle open
  • Not at all weather or dust proof
  • Big and cumbersome
  • Has to be attached with u-bolts
  • Becomes a liability if there were a roll over
There are many different designs of boxes and maybe I should have tried a different one but this one turned me off on the whole concept. It was very easy to access my stuff, although in my case I attached a jerry can holder to the back and the jerry needed to be removed before I could open the lid (my bad).

My friend Paul's supposedly waterproof box
 Many people like myself assume that boxes are waterproof, or at the very least weather and dust proof and find out the hard way that they are not.

Whats your favorite or what did I miss? Leave your comments in the comments section below.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Know How To Change Your CVT Belt

A typical CVT from a Can Am (Primary Clutch on left, Secondary on right)
In my younger years riding sport quads, we never brought tools with us. And to be honest, we rarely had break downs. Those machines were simple, less moving parts and less electronics. Although easier to ride, modern ATV's are much more complicated and the chances of breakdowns have increased.

You need to be prepared! For a list of tools and supplies to bring along with you are your rides check out our article "What's in your bag?"

One of the things that has made modern ATV's easier to ride is an automatic transmission called a CVT (Constant Variable Transmission). First used in snowmobiles as far back as the 1950's, CVTs are now the most popular transmission choice for ATV manufacturers. Even the automobile industry has seen the advantages of the CVT and many current models have them.

In a CVT you have one large belt, primarily composed of rubber which connects the engine (the primary) to the wheels (the secondary). It is a much simpler set up than a geared transmission and rather than just 5 or 6 forward gears, there are an infinite number of gears as the belt rides up and down the sheaves.  

This is a great video for understanding how a CVT works

There are many positive attributes to a CVT but one big negative is that a CVT belt will wear and eventually break as compared to a geared transmission. Any ATV with a CVT is prone to a belt failure over time, but even more so if the ATV has been modified with bigger tires. A CVT belt failure will result in a complete disconnect from the engine to the wheels and leave the ATV unable to move.

  This video is what happened to me when my belt broke
was at the Bruno Rally in 2015

The upside of a belt replacement is that it is a relatively easy part to replace yourself, even on the side of a trail. If you know what you are doing.


The key is to learn how to do it when you are under ideal conditions like in your garage when you have time, so that you know how when the conditions are not ideal like on the trail while all your buddies are waiting for you.

Make inspecting your CVT belt a part of your regular maintenance on your ATV.

The procedure to change a belt isn't much harder than it is to inspect it. If you learn how to remove the various body parts blocking the cover and remove it, you are 90% there.

Search on YouTube for how to change the belt on your specific ATV, I can almost guarantee you will find one.