You Bought A Side-By-Side: Now What? Common Side-By-Side Accessories For Your Vehicle
You did it! You took the plunge and bought a new (or new to you) side-by-side. So what now? While many owners have their own list of the accessories to add to their rig, many new side-by-side owners may not know where to start. With so many options it can be overwhelming as to where to start. We have put a list together of the most common and equally important side-by-side accessories available to give you a place to start. Of course there are so many accessories to offer both to increase your side-by-side’s capability, tailor your ride to the kind of riding you plan to do, and of course to make your side-by-side unique to you. We are always here to answer questions or help in any way, so just reach out to us. Let’s get started.
Nothing is more important or common on a side-by-side than a roof. Whether it's protecting you from the rain, hail, sleet, and snow, or just keeping the sun off of your back, a roof is a “must-have” for any and all side-by-sides. While many side-by-side models come standard with a roof, there are many roofs available for all models of side-by-sides. The two most common roofs available are made of either plastic or aluminum with most models offering each of these as an option. On occasion a steel model might be available for certain models though it is pretty uncommon. Aluminum roofs are in many cases available in a variety of colors to get the look you want. No matter what model side-by-side you call your own, and no matter what you use it for or the terrain you tackle, a roof is a must.
Of all the side-by-side accessories a windshield is by far the number one most common aftermarket accessory after a roof. There are many advantages to having a windshield strapped to those front rollbar pillars not the least of which is safety. Keeping you free from having a rock or other trail debris come screaming through the air and smack you encompasses just the beginning of the benefits a windshield offers. A windshield keeps the elements at bay, keeps the cold air from blowing on you keeping you warmer, and from our experience keeps the dust out of your eyes when following a little too close to the friend in front of you. A windshield just offers an overall better side-by-side experience in most cases. For those of you who want to feel the wind blowing through your hair during certain times of the year the good news is most windshields can be installed or removed in a matter of a couple of minutes. Side-by-side windshields come in both plastic and glass versions allowing you to choose what works best for you in addition to a variety of types including full, half, flip-up, and flip-down versions. A side-by-side windshield should be a top item on your list of accessories to add to your ride. Be sure to check out our Windshield Buyers Guide below which walks you through all the different considerations to choose just the right windshield for your ride. Did we mention there are back windshields available too?!!
This is such a small item but it is truly a game changer. Just think about how hard it is to swivel your head around when you are backing up, or worse trying to see if your friend is behind you while driving down a trail. It is not easy! A mirror makes this really easy. On our side-by-sides at a minimum we run a rearview mirror so we can see that side-by-side behind us, but we also like to run side mirrors. There are many different kinds of both rearview mirrors and side mirrors at all different price points from plastic to billet aluminum and everything in between. There are even side mirrors with built-in LED lights and also mirrors that “snap back” if they hit a tree. No matter what your budget or UTV a rearview mirror and/or side mirrors are a must-have item
We are bigger believers that a winch is a “must-have” aftermarket accessory for your side-by-side in most (not all) cases. A wise man once said “the only time you need a winch is when you need a winch”, which is exactly what we have experienced ourselves. Picture being out riding alone in a remote area on a remote trail sixteen miles from camp in the Rockies, crossing what looks like a shallow muddy crossing, only to find it is in fact a very deep in muddy crossing that buries your side-by-side to the frame. Then remember that you chose not to install your winch before this trip because you ran out of time. It is at this point that the wise man’s words come into your mind as you begin to walk back to camp and other riders who might give you a ride back.
A winch is not just a tool that can get you unstuck in the event you get stuck. Yes, it is a relatively inexpensive insurance policy for tackling the outdoors, but it is more than that. A winch is a basic tool in the off-roader’s tool box. A winch can come in handy in technical situations when the rock you are trying to go over has you hung up, or the hill you are trying to climb is just a little too tricky and a winch can help you up-and-over it safely. A winch can help you down trees or move trees out of the way on the trail. It can help you use a plow, or pull your side-by-side back onto your trailer after a mechanical failure. Oh, and yes, it can help you get unstuck from the mud, sand, or snow, or, better yet, help your fellow side-by-side owner get unstuck since that person didn’t have a winch! Everyone likes to be a hero. The fact is winch is a must for any side-by-side and for any off-roader. Winches come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and prices with different options. Be sure to check out our Winch Buyers Guide to help you choose the right winch for your ride.
Front and rear bumpers can add both vehicle protection and style to any side-by-side making them a very common accessory. Let’s face it, side-by-sides are expensive and so are the rear plastics in the event you back into a trail obstacle or kiss a tree in while turning. Strapping a front and rear bumper on your side-by-side puts something between your side-by-side and that tree offering a bit of protection. With all the different styles and colors of bumpers available allows you to add a customized look to your side-by-side. Bumpers can also create a place to mount a winch or additional off-road lights.
It seems no matter how little stuff you plan to take on the trail, there is never enough interior storage. Sure most side-by-sides have some interior storage, but stuff always seems to wind up in the cargo bed. However you cut it you want covered cargo space. That is where exterior storage comes into play. In most cases exterior storage comes in the form of a cargo box that can be closed up to protect things from the elements and secures itself to your side-by-side. Vehicle manufacturers produce cargo boxes, but there are also many additional options out there to consider. There are also additional interior storage options available to sqeeze every ounce of possible cargo space out of the interior. Whether you are working your ranch or taking a multi-day trail riding adventure adding additional storage to your side-by-side is something to consider.
Having a lot of light when riding at night is a great thing, and adding lights to your side-by-side is a very common thing to do. From light bars to cube driving lights there are a ton of different options for adding additional lights to your side-by-side including different shapes, sizes, colors, and lumination levels. The options are endless. Wiring aftermarket lights has never been easier both due to the lights themselves and side-by-side manufacturers making it easier to add aftermarket accessories to the electrical system in side-by-sides. If you want to shed some additional light on the trail ahead, or just make a statement, then adding additional lighting is an easy option.
8. Skid Plates
Speaking of protection, protecting your side-by-side is pretty darn important, which means having good skid plates is pretty darn important. Before doing anything it is vital to determine the kind of skid plates on your side-by-side and the amount of coverage the skid plates have to offer. To do this, you will have to get on the ground and stick your head under your side-by-side. Almost every side-by-side on the market has some form of skid plate, but most, not all, but most use a cheap thin plastic skid plate. A few use metal. Just knock on the underneath of your side-by-side and you should be able to determine the kind and thickness of your skid plate. Look at where the skid plate stops so you can determine the coverage. At the very least you will now know what is protected and what is not so you can keep that in mind when you are out riding. Depending on your side-by-side and the kind of terrain you tackle the stock skids may be fine. Many side-by-sides have huge ground clearance numbers and chances are you will never touch the skids. Other side-by-sides that is just not the case. If you have steel skids then that is a great thing, but if you have cheap thin plastic skids be aware they are weak and don’t stand up to much abuse. If you are going to do any kind of rock crawling or trail riding that requires straddling bigger rocks or going over bigger rocks then replacing your stock skids is certainly something to seriously consider, and a must if you have the cheap plastic skids. This is compounded if your side-by-side doesn’t have a lot of ground clearance.
When it comes to aftermarket skid plates there are two material options: high density plastic and aluminum. There are also a hybrid of the two available. Both have advantages and disadvantages but putting something between your side-by-side and the trail is a great move that offers protection and piece of mind. At the very least, no matter what skid plates your side-by-side came with, adding A-Arm and/or trailing arm guards is a great place to start. You don’t want to bend or dent either one of these suspension components. Then, you can determine if adding heavy duty aftermarket skid plates makes sense for you and your riding style. If exploring remote locations and rock littered trails is how you roll, then aftermarket skids are a good investment.
Of all the items on a side-by-side that prove to be mission critical tires are at the very top. Having good and reliable tires is paramount, and if you don’t have these then you need to get them. It used to be that tires were one of the highest selling aftermarket “accessory” there was, but that has changed in recent years because ATV and side-by-side manufacturers have started putting good tires on their side-by-sides from the factory. If you have bought a side-by-side in the last 6 or 7 years, unless it was a budget model, then chances are you have good tires. Knowing what you have is so important. If you go riding in places other than your own property where walking back isn’t a problem, then you need a minimum of a 6-ply tire. In many cases that is what comes on most side-by-sides now. Something that is durable and puncture resistant is critical no matter the riding style you practice. So figure out the plys on your tires, and if they are low, consider stepping up to a 6+-ply tire.
There you have it. The most common accessories to add to your side-by-side. Of course we carry all of these items to make your side-by-side adventuring all that much more enjoyable. We are available to answer any questions you have to help you choose just the right accessories for you.