We’ve all seen them—those badass custom builds that make your mouth water and turn your skin green with envy. In a perfect world, every one of us would have an unlimited budget when it comes to aftermarket parts and accessories. But the reality is, most riders have to be conscious of how much they spend on machine upgrades in order to not go broke (or get in trouble with the significant other).
So whether this is your first build ever or your first time building on a budget, we’ve got some tips and suggestions on how to make your money work for you. We’ll talk about how to get started, which aftermarket parts to prioritize, and how to get the most out of your machine—all without dropping a ridiculous amount of dough. Happy building!
No matter what direction your build ends up going, you’ve got to start with the basics: a machine (duh). If you’re trying to limit your spending, you obviously don’t want to throw down money for a brand-new rig. A budget build has to start with something used. Whether it’s slightly used or a total hunk of junk depends on how much work you’re willing to put in to get it running.
And you’re going to have to put some work in, no matter what. The key to saving money is to do most of the work yourself. Power washing, painting, lining the bed if you have one—these are all things that are going to cost you a little elbow grease, but they won’t cost you a lot of money.
As far as the technical and mechanical aspects go, only attempt to do those yourself if you know what you’re doing. If you don’t have a ton of experience working on engines, we don’t recommend experimenting on your budget build. Not that we’re assuming you’ll make mistakes, but you might, and fixing those mistakes might cost more than paying a professional to do it in the first place.
If you don’t trust yourself to take on the more technical fixes single-handedly, no worries. Just grab a few buddies who know their way around a side-by-side and bribe them with beer and/or pizza. We’re sure they’d be happy to help out.
Now for the fun part: shopping for parts and accessories! After drooling over others’ custom builds, it’s hard not to jump right in and order one of everything. But sometimes our eyes are bigger than our wallets, in which case it’s important to choose your purchases carefully and stick to your UTV build cost plan.
But don’t be too disappointed that you can’t buy everything at once! For most of us, our machines are constant works in progress. So don’t fret—you can always go crazy and add that wild 10” lift kit at a later date, once you’ve saved up some more dough.
Here are the “must have” parts we recommend budgeting for. We’ve divided these suggestions up into categories, so you can either shop for them all or pick and choose based on your personal preferences. If you go with everything on this list, you’re looking at an investment of just over $1,500. Not bad for a top-to-bottom overhaul! Everyone’s budget is different, though, so you can always nix the accessories that don’t seem essential for your purposes.
Whichever route you take, we’re hoping this list will help you buy everything you need for this build without going overboard and spending too much.
It’s nice to be able to hit the whoops hard without your personal belongings flying everywhere. For that reason, we feel that having a place to put your wallet, phone, and other small belongings is something to consider when completing a build. Sure, some storage options can be expensive, but they don’t have to be. We’ve got bed enclosures and insulated cargo boxes that will run you a pretty penny, but sometimes all you need is a simple door bag or overhead storage bag. You can snag a new one for $50 or less.
We strongly recommend upgrading your seat belts, especially if you’re working on an older machine, because your safety should come first. New harnesses will make you feel more comfortable while you’re tearin’ up the trails, too. SuperATV has two options when it comes to seat belts: this three-point harness starting at $89.95 and this five-point harness for $139.95. You really can’t go wrong with either option—we guarantee both are more comfortable than what that old stock machine is packing.
You’re working hard to make this machine “like new” (to you, anyway), so you want to take what measures you can to keep it in good, working condition. There are lots of options when it comes to machine protection: skid plates, front and rear bumpers, and fender flares, just to name a few. It’s easy to jump in and take one of everything, but even starting with one of these products can make a difference. We suggest getting a new set of nerf bars to keep your bodywork protected from flying rocks or low-hanging branches. This will run you around $300 but we highly recommend it, especially if your build has a new paint job and you want to keep it looking fresh.
This is where most people blow it with the whole budgeting thing, because going big with your build’s suspension can be really freaking fun. Portals on top of a big lift kit? Yes, please. The problem with all of those modifications, though, is that they get pricey. And the solution is remembering that you don’t have to blow your entire budget to get a noticeable lift. Our high-clearance A-arms give you up to 1.5” of lift for an average cost of $600. Not too shabby for someone needing a little extra ground clearance.
Here’s one example of an upgrade that might seem costly right now, but we guarantee it will save you money in the long run when you’re not having to replace an axle after every wild ride. SuperATV’s Rhino Axles offer something for every ride style and every price range: Rhino Brand Axles go for $200 apiece and Rhino 2.0s are $230 each. (If you really want to invest in some super-duty axles, our X300s will run you around $500 each. They’re by far the best UTV axle you can get, but maybe not the best choice if you’re doing a budget build.)
A windshield is one of the handiest accessories you can add to your machine, and they’re not very costly, so it’s the perfect addition for a budget build. SuperATV sells a variety of windshield styles, all intended to keep you comfortable and make your machine look even cooler. Your most wallet-friendly option when it comes to windshields is definitely a half windshield, which runs anywhere from $100 to $225. Our half windshields have a tilted lip that diverts air up and over your head, so you keep that open-cab feeling without all the wind and debris flying at your face.
Quality lights are a must for safe and convenient night riding. And luckily, these aren’t going to take a huge chunk out of your budget! We’ve got plenty of options when looking at UTV lights, from light bars to whip lights. Our favorite budget lighting solution is a set of 3” LED Cube Lights for $100. They’re plenty bright, easy to install, and weatherproof—exactly what you need to navigate those trails after dark.
It doesn’t have to be all about the aftermarket parts and accessories, though. There are other ways to improve your performance without making huge modifications or putting a dent in your bank account.
Here are some of our suggestions for how to get the most out of your machine without blowing your budget out of the water:
To keep your machine running smoothly, don’t use anything except for the manufacturer-recommended fuel while filling up. It can be tempting to experiment with higher octane levels, but that usually leads to more harm than good, which can cost you in the long run. Check out this article on how to maximize your machine’s performance by using the right type of fuel.
There are no set guidelines regarding the best tire pressure setting for your UTV, because it (for the most part) depends on where and how you ride. A general rule of thumb is that high pressure works best for smooth surfaces and lower pressure works best for rocky surfaces, although there are more factors at play. Figuring out the right tire pressure for you can be an easy (and inexpensive) way to give your machine a little performance boost. Check out our tire secrets article to learn more about tire pressure.
And speaking of tires, the right set can make a huge difference in how your side-by-side handles. We’ll admit, this one’s not exactly a cheap or free trick, but it can help tremendously. So if you can squeeze it in your build budget, shop our selection of tires and find the set that’s right for you. We also offer wheels to complete your setup. SuperATV has something for everybody, no matter where you ride.
Got a little wiggle room left in your budget once all is said and done? Check out these “luxury” modifications! These aren’t things we would suggest budgeting for initially, but they can make your ride way more comfortable and fun if you’ve got the money left over.
This isn’t a necessity, and not something that’s going to make your ride any safer as long as you have the proper seat belts. But new UTV seats can totally change your ride experience by taking your comfort to the next level. Fancy ergonomic seats aren’t exactly cheap, though, which is why we wouldn’t recommend these for a budget build unless you’ve got some bonus cash left after all is said and done. Check out this UTV Seats Buyer Guide by Dirt Wheels Mag if you’re thinking about getting a set.
Another way to improve the way you ride is to give yourself a full cab enclosure. This is especially beneficial if you live somewhere with extreme weather—you know, really hot summers and freezing cold winters. Closing in your cab with a set of doors, a roof, and a front and rear windshield allows you to ride all year long and in all types of weather. It also makes your machine look extra tough.
While we’re on the topic of aesthetics, let’s talk bumpers. We’ve already recommended nerf bars so that you have some type of machine protection, but if your budget allows, why not throw some aftermarket bumpers on your rig, too? They don’t just protect your bodywork from trail damage. They’re also an easy way to completely change the look of your machine’s exterior. And if you get one that’s winch ready, you can consider getting a Black Ops Winch at some point. (But since we’re trying to stay within budget, we won’t push that too hard.)
So there you have it—all of our suggestions, tips, and tricks for building your dream rig on a budget. We know it can be hard to decide where to start with a new build, especially knowing that funds are limited and you can’t have it all. Hopefully this article helped to push you in the right direction.
If you’ve done a budget build in the past, or if you’re in the middle of one right now, share your story below! We’d love to read all about it.