The second ever WTF Off-Road Bounty Cour$e was this past weekend, June 11th-13th. And with six classes full of riders vying for the top spot on the podium and $3000 each, the competition was fierce.
It’s called a bounty course (or cour$e) for a reason. This is much more than your typical bounty hole. The course has mud for sure, but throughout are logs, hills, tires, and jumps that all make it more technical and way more treacherous than any mud hole alone. It’s a course designed for carnage and to make mud machines weep. It’s the ultimate test of machine strength and driver prowess.
This guy proves our point. He’s got a great machine, but one small slip up ended his run fast!
You’ll need to think about your whole machine. It’s not just a matter of picking good axles and tires—if you don’t beef up your whole suspension, you’ll get chewed up and spit out. We’ve got some suggestions to get you started on your own Bounty Cour$e build. You need a machine that’s tough and powerful—a machine that’s built for more than mud.
The 34” tire class is the most popular class for side-by-sides and happens to be our favorite. It’s one of the two classes that we’ve competed in at the Bounty Cour$e, and makes for some high-octane action… and massive yard sales. So let’s talk about how to prep your side-by-side for the 34” class.
Starting with high-clearance A-arms gives you the strength and ground clearance to survive. With 1.5 inches of extra ground clearance and 25% larger tubes than factory on most of our A-arms, they’re perfect for clearing logs and handling the odd hit without buckling.
If you’re so inclined, you can upgrade to boxed A-arms. Not only do the boxed A-arms add some sweet flair (they look awesome in case you hadn’t noticed), but they’re also incredibly strong. That’s due to the ultra high-strength steel alloy we use that’s even stronger than chromoly and the triple walled construction. Some of our boxed A-arms also come with threaded ball joints that are three times stronger than stock for an all-around bulletproof package.
Speaking of ball joints, it’s important to pair any A-arms you choose with a good set of ball joints. The world’s strongest A-arms don’t mean a thing without ball joints to match. For a course this crazy, we recommend our 300M Super-Duty ball joints. If you don’t want to shell out for the top of the line joints, you can still get very excellent performance out of our heavy-duty chromoly steel ball joints. The point is, don’t skimp on them!
The main problem with stock trailing arms is that they’re too low to the ground. Clearing a ledge or rock might be easy with the front tires, but getting the rears over is way more difficult. Why? Your trailing arms hit whatever you’re riding over before your rear tires do. When they hit, they lift your rear tires off the ground, you lose traction, and you stop going forward.
Get some high-clearance trailing arms instead, so you can keep your traction over whatever crap comes your way on the Bounty Cour$e.
You can’t have a mud build without GDP Portals. This part has single-handedly redefined what a mud machine looks like. But like we always say, they’re for so much more than mud. They’re used regularly at King of the Hammers where high speeds and rock gardens are the name of the game. That makes them perfect for a mud course peppered with obstacles. They crank out tons of torque to keep you moving forward, and they give you plenty of clearance both to make obstacles easier and fit bigger tires.
For this class, 4” portals with a 30% gear reduction really hit that sweet spot of awesome, face-melting torque and a well balanced speed curve. It’s also perfect for fitting the 34” tires you need to max out this class, too.
Tires are key in the Bounty Cour$e. Obviously you want to go as big as you can with 34” tires, but you’ve got to be a little more careful when you pick your tread pattern. Remember, this isn’t just a mud course. You’ve got to contend with hard, smooth logs and uneven rocks, too. All of which will be slathered in mud of course.
We like to roll with XT Warriors for this kind of terrain. They’re a good balance between gripping the smooth stuff and gripping the muddy stuff. You can go more aggressive if you’d like with something like Intimidators or Terminators, but you really need a good contact patch to get over some of these obstacles.
Watch the tape! You’ll see tons of people sliding all over the place with their overly aggressive mud tires.
Axles are the linchpin for your whole suspension, and when it comes to the Bounty Cour$e, it pays to go with the best. Rhino X300 Axles are built for carnage, which is why it’s our preference. These 300M axles combine unparalleled strength with an advanced design to make something that neither could achieve on their own. The shaft design allows it to twist when it needs to without breaking or deforming. That flex saves the CV joints and differential when a tire gets caught and lets you hit bumps as hard as you want.
If you don’t want to go with Rhino X300, Rhino 2.0 Axles are another solid choice. They’re made of all chromoly steel, but what makes them special is their oversized shafts and CV joints. Making them bigger gives them a huge boost to strength as you’d expect, but it also allows them to bend further without binding or breaking.
We don’t recommend going with anything less robust than a 2.0, though. At that point, you’re just asking for trouble.
After you’re done beefing up your suspension, you’ll want to make sure the rest of your machine has some damage resistance as well. Bumpers and nerf bars are the name of the game. While a dent to your frame or a cracked fascia won’t necessarily sideline you, a direct blow to one of your tires easily could. A little machine protection can reduce that risk significantly.
You also need to protect yourself with complete doors and a solid 5-point harness. And don’t forget: helmets are required. You don’t want to crack open that dome of yours anyway. Start your machine protection out by protecting yourself.
Check out Tyler making changes to his podium-topping Turbo S in preparation for the second Bounty Cour$e.
Preparing your machine is only half the battle. You’ve still got to get your butt in the seat and prove that you’ve got what it takes to get it through the course. You need skill and experience to survive. Luckily, that’s the best part of getting ready.
Once your machine is all put together, get out there and ride as much as you can on the nastiest trails you can find. And don’t stop riding until there’s nothing out there that will stop you.