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Yamaha Rhinos are very versatile vehicles when they come from
the factory. To take them out into the dunes like you see them being used
probably wasn't what the Yamaha design engineers had in mind.
In the first phase of our Rhino Buildup, we decided that making
the Rhino a bit safer in the dunes is the number one priority. Since we were
making our Rhino into a four seater, we decided to do a few things that aren't
needed for a two seater. For example, in order to add a rear bench seat, we
needed to have a new roll cage installed. The new cage came with a bar behind
the seats that allow for proper harness installation. If we were going to
keep it as a two seater, we could have just added a harness bar to the stock
And since we were adding a bench seat in the back, we went ahead
and replaced the front seats to match.
So here is the list of modifications we made to our Rhino to
make it safer:
The stock Rhino is very easy to get in and out of, but it is not
built with a rollover in mind. The entry door area is wide open and during a roll, your first instinct is to try and stop the
roll with your leg. Bad idea. No matter how strong that you think you are, your leg will
not stop a UTV from tipping over.
The solution is to add a barrier that will not allow your leg to
get out of the vehicle. Lots of options to solve this are available from nets to aluminum leg minders, to steel tubing and full doors with aluminum.
We decided to go with a bar that is just high enough that you cannot
easily get your leg out in a hurry, but low enough so that getting in and out
of the Rhino is still pretty easy.
The second problem with the stock Rhino is the " roll
cage". Yamaha doesn't even call it a roll cage for liability reasons, and
either do most of the aftermarket cage guys. In our lawsuit happy society, calling
it a roll cage would then somehow mean that you would be safe in a roll-over
accident. For simplicity, we are going to call them roll cages - just try not to
roll because protecting occupants in a roll-over isn't what they were
designed for. Silly, huh?
cage is probably just fine for the most likely intended use of cruising around
the farm doing odd jobs, but in the dunes, a bit more strength and cross bracing
would be nice. New cages also add a bar behind the seats where harnesses (seat
restraints) should be attached (see photo below under Restraints).
Since we are going to use the Rhino to haul around two adults
and two kids, we went with a four seat cage built by PDS. The cage is made from
1 3/4" DOM and bolts up to the lower part of
the stock cage and a few locations in the bed. The cage looks great and adds corner gussets at key locations.
Seat belts that come with the Rhino from the factory are real
nice for getting in and out quickly, but fall way short of adequate
if you really want to take your Rhino on dune rides. 4 or 5-way restraints are
needed to keep occupants safely in place.
Mounting new harnesses: Deciding to put a set of
harnesses in your Rhino is a great step, but it is very important to make sure
that they are properly mounted in order for them to work properly.
You can add 4 or 5 point harness
with your stock cage, but the stock cage doesn't give us a good spot to mount
the shoulder harnesses. Mounting the harnesses to the floor makes the harness
much too long and in turn, not as safe. The best solution if you want to keep your stock cage,
is to add a shoulder harness
mount bar behind the seats so that harnesses can be attached just below shoulder level.
Enterprises Installation Tips for more info).
Harness bar added to stock roll cage
If you are having a new cage done, just make sure that there
is a bar behind the seats:
Inner lap belt mount point also needs a bit of work. The
bracket from PDS Fabrication moves the harness mount point out where it should be.
In addition to normal 4-point restraints, we also added arm
restraints from Crow Enterprises to make sure our arms stay in the vehicle.
Rhino Seat Mounts
Although the Yamaha Rhino was only made for two people, lots
of folks turn their Rhino into a four seat vehicle. Modifying your Rhino to
seat four will drastically affect how it will handle, but that is what the
boss wanted so we will do our best to make it safe.
Make sure that seats are securely mounted to the bed and/or
roll cage with quality hardware. The rear bench mount from PDS Fabrication
does the trick.
We also decided to change out the stock front seat mounts for
new ones that are stronger and lower the seats by almost two inches. This will help lower the
center of gravity, and make the Rhino more stable.
Front seat bases from PDS Fabrication
Since we were adding rear seats and new seat mounts all the way
around, we decided to also add new front seats at the same time. The new seats
are much more comfortable and look much better. We went with seats from
In stock form, the Rhino is a bit narrow when you get out into
the dunes. A full long-travel kit is in our future, but we want to make it
a bit more stable until then. Wheel spacers are a bolt-on addition that
will quickly add about 4 inches to the track width and really help make the
Rhino more stable on side hills.
We chose a set of billet aluminum spacers from Dirt Demon
Racing. The spacers were designed to be light and strong. The automotive
grade wheel studs are
pressed in so they won't turn while you tighten the nuts. Dirt Demon also
provides tapered lug nuts too ensure the proper location and fit.
Rear View & Side View Mirrors
On rides through the dunes, it is real important to keep an eye
on what is around you. Yamaha didn't put a mirror on the Rhino, so we
will. There are several billet aluminum mirrors that bolt on with no drilling
and look pretty sharp at the same time.
We all know how inadequate OEM lights are for real night
riding. If you want to ride at night and would like to drive more that
15mph, more lights are a must. And when it comes to adding lights to a Rhino,
the easiest solution is HID. HIDs provide tons of light with little power
draw. Perfect solution.
Lighted Whip Flag
Having a whip flag is not only the law, but common sense tell
you it is very important that other duners be able to see you while riding. A
lighted whip is another step above a normal whip flag. The pole lights up
making the vehicle visible from all directions at night.