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How Off-road Vehicles Work


Custom Off-road Seats
Rough road? Make sure you have off-road seats to stay safe and comfortable.
Rough road? Make sure you have off-road seats to stay safe and comfortable.
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You may be tempted to make your butt a footnote when it comes to outfitting your off-road vehicle. Don't do it. A good seat can keep you comfortable and safe through even the roughest rides. These days, serious truck, SUV and buggy drivers rely on suspension seats, which suspend the driver in a web of elastic cords. The webbing lies beneath the seat cover and acts to reduce the force applied to the driver as the vehicle slams down or wrenches to the side. This keeps the driver focused on driving instead of trying to stay upright.

As with any piece of off-road equipment, the devil is in the details. Everything begins with the frame. It should be made of mild steel tubing, which gives the seat a strong, lightweight foundation. Next, check the quality of the suspension system. The webbing should be fabricated with military-grade cords, with secondary rubber straps added for extra support in the tailbone area. A high-quality liner will cover the suspension in one seamless piece and tie to the frame with extra-strong parachute cord. The foam that attaches to the liner offers the best choice for customization. Some seat manufacturers will custom-fit the foam cushion to your body contour and driving position. Finally, the seat cover should be made of vinyl-coated fabric for extra durability and include slots for 3, 4 or 5-point harness systems.

When it comes to ATVs and UTVs, your decisions about seats will focus as much on configuration as composition. The traditional ATV form features a motorcycle-type seat for a single rider. Newer ATVs, however, come in two-up models that seat two riders comfortably. And some switch from one-up "work" mode to two-up "play" mode using a quick-switch process in which the passenger seat folds up and out of the rear dump box.

A UTV may be a better choice if you routinely carry two or more passengers. Utility type vehicles come standard with side-by-side seating for two, and a few models offer seating for four. You can usually choose between bench and bucket seats, with the latter affording a bit more support and protection on rough terrain.


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