A Quick Look at the Powersports Industry and A Very Special Introduction

For as long as humans have been motorizing buggies and bicycles, we have been powering through the wilderness away from roads, streets and civilization.  From humble beginnings, the powersports industry has grown to represent over $40 billion in sales, service and parts in just the U.S.  Today, the powersports industry offers a large line of diverse vehicles to meet any need or activity for off road motoring enthusiasts.  ATV’s, or All-Terrain Vehicle, are still king of the powersports industry by sales, out-selling off-road motorcycles last year by more than 45% with just about 730,000 units sold.  The vast majority of those units were made up of side-by-side vehicles like the popular Polaris RZR or John Deere XUV.

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At first, motorized off-road powersports were just modified motorcycles, purpose built Jeeps, and cars redesigned into dune buggies.  Starting around the 1950’s, the motorcycle industry would see a transformation, and motorcycles designed for powersports would start to be sold intentionally for off-road use only.  Development of off-road aftermarket parts and equipment started to boom and quickly dirt bikes and dual sport motorcycles grew into its own powersports category.  With a massive boom in consumer excitement for powersports, dune buggies built around the Volkswagen Beetle and sandrails would start to take off in popularity.  In the mid-60s, a small California company began development an off-roader based on the Volkswagen Beetle called the Meyers Manx, which was a hit for off-road enthusiasts the world over. In fact, the kits designed to retrofit the VW Beetle are still in production today and remain popular among enthusiasts.  For many, the capabilities of an off-roader like the Meyers Manx just isn’t enough though, and thus a market for more powerful and more rough-terrain capable sandrails and rock-crawlers was born and flourishing!.  Prebuilt tube frames and kits are sold a la carte for buyers to install suspension and engine options of their choice into, and allow people to build something capable of high speeds on sand, to crawling slowly over boulders.

Off-road powersports dominated by buggies and motorcycles came to an end in 1970 when Honda introduced the first commercial ATV, the ATC90.  Starting with a more modest three-wheel design that used balloon tires in place of a suspension, the ATC90 saw commercial success for Honda and started a new industry of powersports vehicles.  The 1980’s would see many manufacturers enter the ATV market and compete with more powerful and capable models.  It was in 1988 that the first UTV, Utility Terrain Vehicle, would come to market from Kawasaki.  The 1988 Kawasaki MULE 1000 was built to be an all-terrain utility vehicle centered around getting work done.  With a 454 cc two-cylinder engine and CVT transmission, the MULE 1000 was built to seat two and get work done.  This would kick off 25 years of development for improving both ATVs and UTVs leading to the latest extreme off-road side by side offerings like the Yamaha YXZ1000R.

Yamaha built an unmatched side by side with the 2016 YXZ1000R SE, which brings us to why Clarion has selected the 60th Anniversary Special Edition for its unique off-roader build. With its powerful 998cc three-cylinder engine, 5 speed sequential shift gearbox, and on-demand 4WD system, Yamaha has built a machine with no equal. Combine that with a purpose-built chassis and FOX 2.5 Podium® RC2 Shocks® the YXZ1000R is ready to conquer the terrain ahead of it.

Follow along as we upgrade this YXZ1000R as part of a very special Clarion Builds “mini build” to make this already capable off-roader an even more extreme machine!

Alyson Yarberry