Off-roading
Overview
 
Off-roading is a term for driving a vehicle on unsurfaced roads or tracks, made of materials such as sand, gravel, riverbeds, mud, snow, rocks, and other natural terrain.

In most cases off-road terrains can only be traveled by vehicles designed specifically for off-road driving such as ATVs
All-terrain vehicle
An all-terrain vehicle , also known as a quad, quad bike, three wheeler, or four wheeler, is defined by the American National Standards Institute as a vehicle that travels on low pressure tires, with a seat that is straddled by the operator, along with handlebars for steering control...

, heavy-duty pickup truck
Pickup truck
A pickup truck is a light motor vehicle with an open-top rear cargo area .-Definition:...

s, truck
Truck
A truck or lorry is a motor vehicle designed to transport cargo. Trucks vary greatly in size, power, and configuration, with the smallest being mechanically similar to an automobile...

s and equipment, sport utility vehicle
Sport utility vehicle
A sport utility vehicle is a generic marketing term for a vehicle similar to a station wagon, but built on a light-truck chassis. It is usually equipped with four-wheel drive for on- or off-road ability, and with some pretension or ability to be used as an off-road vehicle. Not all four-wheel...

s (SUVs), snowmobile
Snowmobile
A snowmobile, also known in some places as a snowmachine, or sled,is a land vehicle for winter travel on snow. Designed to be operated on snow and ice, they require no road or trail. Design variations enable some machines to operate in deep snow or forests; most are used on open terrain, including...

s, motorcycle
Motorcycle
A motorcycle is a single-track, two-wheeled motor vehicle. Motorcycles vary considerably depending on the task for which they are designed, such as long distance travel, navigating congested urban traffic, cruising, sport and racing, or off-road conditions.Motorcycles are one of the most...

s or mountain bicycles. These types of vehicles often have extra ground clearance, sturdy tires, and front and rear locking differential
Locking differential
A locking differential, diff-lock or locker is a variation on the standard automotive differential. A locking differential may provide increased traction compared to a standard, or "open" differential by restricting each of the two wheels on an axle to the same rotational speed without regard to...

s, Low gear etc.
Encyclopedia
Off-roading is a term for driving a vehicle on unsurfaced roads or tracks, made of materials such as sand, gravel, riverbeds, mud, snow, rocks, and other natural terrain.

Off-road vehicle


In most cases off-road terrains can only be traveled by vehicles designed specifically for off-road driving such as ATVs
All-terrain vehicle
An all-terrain vehicle , also known as a quad, quad bike, three wheeler, or four wheeler, is defined by the American National Standards Institute as a vehicle that travels on low pressure tires, with a seat that is straddled by the operator, along with handlebars for steering control...

, heavy-duty pickup truck
Pickup truck
A pickup truck is a light motor vehicle with an open-top rear cargo area .-Definition:...

s, truck
Truck
A truck or lorry is a motor vehicle designed to transport cargo. Trucks vary greatly in size, power, and configuration, with the smallest being mechanically similar to an automobile...

s and equipment, sport utility vehicle
Sport utility vehicle
A sport utility vehicle is a generic marketing term for a vehicle similar to a station wagon, but built on a light-truck chassis. It is usually equipped with four-wheel drive for on- or off-road ability, and with some pretension or ability to be used as an off-road vehicle. Not all four-wheel...

s (SUVs), snowmobile
Snowmobile
A snowmobile, also known in some places as a snowmachine, or sled,is a land vehicle for winter travel on snow. Designed to be operated on snow and ice, they require no road or trail. Design variations enable some machines to operate in deep snow or forests; most are used on open terrain, including...

s, motorcycle
Motorcycle
A motorcycle is a single-track, two-wheeled motor vehicle. Motorcycles vary considerably depending on the task for which they are designed, such as long distance travel, navigating congested urban traffic, cruising, sport and racing, or off-road conditions.Motorcycles are one of the most...

s or mountain bicycles. These types of vehicles often have extra ground clearance, sturdy tires, and front and rear locking differential
Locking differential
A locking differential, diff-lock or locker is a variation on the standard automotive differential. A locking differential may provide increased traction compared to a standard, or "open" differential by restricting each of the two wheels on an axle to the same rotational speed without regard to...

s, Low gear etc. Examples of vehicle manufacturers notable for producing types of off-road vehicle
Off-road vehicle
An off-road vehicle is considered to be any type of vehicle which is capable of driving on and off paved or gravel surface. It is generally characterized by having large tires with deep, open treads, a flexible suspension, or even caterpillar tracks...

 (ORV) include AM General
AM General
AM General is an American heavy vehicle manufacturer based in South Bend, Indiana. It is best known for the civilian Hummer and the military Humvee, that is assembled in Mishawaka, Indiana...

, Land Rover
Land Rover
Land Rover is a British car manufacturer with its headquarters in Gaydon, Warwickshire, United Kingdom which specialises in four-wheel-drive vehicles. It is owned by the Indian company Tata Motors, forming part of their Jaguar Land Rover group...

,and Jeep
Jeep
Jeep is an automobile marque of Chrysler . The first Willys Jeeps were produced in 1941 with the first civilian models in 1945, making it the oldest off-road vehicle and sport utility vehicle brand. It inspired a number of other light utility vehicles, such as the Land Rover which is the second...

, though many vehicle manufacturers have some sort of off-road vehicle in their current range. Trucks are often fitted with these extras by default. Military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 forces usually design their vehicles with off-roading in mind or buy them from off-road manufacturers such as AM General (Humvee), Jeep, and Land Rover, who have produced vehicles used by the armed forces of many countries.

Different uses of the term throughout the world

In some parts of the world, off-roading is the normal form of transportation. In tropical countries unsurfaced roads can attain off-road aspects during the rainy season when extra gear ratio
Gear ratio
The gear ratio of a gear train is the ratio of the angular velocity of the input gear to the angular velocity of the output gear, also known as the speed ratio of the gear train. The gear ratio can be computed directly from the numbers of teeth of the various gears that engage to form the gear...

s and four wheel drive
Four Wheel Drive
The Four Wheel Drive Auto Company, more often known as Four Wheel Drive or just FWD, was founded in 1909 in Clintonville, Wisconsin, as the Badger Four-Wheel Drive Auto Company by Otto Zachow and William Besserdich.-History:...

 can become necessary. In Western countries the term "off-roading" is frequently used more for recreational pursuits.

Recreational off-roading

Recreational off-roading is popular among a sub-section of the owners of four wheel drive or all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles. There are numerous categories of recreational off-roading, with something suitable for all levels of experience and equipment.

Some of the major categories of recreational off-roading are listed below:

Dune bashing

Dune bashing
Dune bashing
Dune bashing, also known as desert safari, is a form of off-roading, using an off-road vehicle to explore sand dunes. Whilst in some parts of the world, such as the fragile coastal dunes of Australia, it is illegal, in others such as the Middle East, it is a booming attraction for tourists...

 involves driving over sand dunes, frequently associated with tourism in the Middle-East. There are also many state parks in the United States that allow ORVs to drive on them including the Silver Lake Sand Dunes
Silver Lake State Park (Michigan)
Silver Lake State Park is a state park in Michigan, located on Lake Michigan near Mears.It is composed of mature forest land and over of sand dunes. The park is wide and long and is divided into three segments: The northern area is an all-terrain vehicle park, and is the only dunes area east of...

 in Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

 and the Imperial Sand Dunes
Algodones Dunes
The Algodones Dunes is a large erg located in the southeastern portion of the U.S. state of California, near the border with Arizona and the Mexican state of Baja California. The field is approximately 45 miles long by 6 miles wide and extends along a northwest-southeast line that correlates to...

 in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

. A specialized type of Dune-bashing is Tatees which uses highly modified vehicles with modified engines and sand-tires to climb a single slipface of a Star dune or so which usually are a hundred meters high or more. Tatees (Arabic: تطعيس) is derived from Taas (Arabic: طعس) which is usually a Star dune commonly found in the Empty Quarters (Arabic: ربع خالى) in the south of Arabian peninsula.

Cross-country

By far the most common recreational offroading in North African Sahara desert. Because of vast uninhabited expanses of desert, this remains to the moment a legal activity unlike possible similar 4x4 trips in Europe. And unlike localized Dune bashing that tends to revolve around a single Star dune or one obstacle, Cross-country is a several days desert safari that navigates through largely unchartered terrain. Such expedition-like safaris tend to use skills rather than highly modified vehicles to cross one obstacle after another over large distances that usually exceeds 200km of pure offroading.

Greenlaning

Greenlaning (or two-tracking) is one of the least extreme categories. It is generally suitable for any four wheel drive vehicle, even with factory tire
Tire
A tire or tyre is a ring-shaped covering that fits around a wheel rim to protect it and enable better vehicle performance by providing a flexible cushion that absorbs shock while keeping the wheel in close contact with the ground...

s and equipment. The term greenlane refers to the fact that the routes are predominantly along unsurfaced tracks, forest tracks, or older roadways that may have fallen into disuse. For a lot of greenlaners the main emphasis is on enjoying the countryside and accessing areas that may be seldom traveled by motor vehicles, rather than exploring the performance envelope of their vehicle.

Greenlaning is popular among All Wheel Drive (AWD) SUVs with limited off-road capabilities, being designed for only light off-roading in normal use.

Mudding (or mud bogging)

Mudding involves finding a large area of wet mud or clay and attempting to drive as far through it as possible without becoming stuck. The stock tires supplied with four by four vehicles are typically inadequate for this type of off-roading and Mud-terrain tires are required. Strongly attached recovery points are also recommended to enable the vehicle to be towed out if it becomes bogged down. Traction
Traction (engineering)
Traction refers to the maximum frictional force that can be produced between surfaces without slipping.The units of traction are those of force, or if expressed as a coefficient of traction a ratio.-Traction:...

 and momentum
Momentum
In classical mechanics, linear momentum or translational momentum is the product of the mass and velocity of an object...

 are important factors in success.

This activity has a competitive form known as mud bogging
Mud bogging
Mud bogging is a form of off-road motorsport popular in Canada and the United States in which the goal is to drive a vehicle through a pit of mud of a set length...

.

Rock crawling

Rock crawling
Rock crawling
Rock crawling is an extreme form of off road driving using vehicles anywhere from stock to highly modified to overcome obstacles. In rock crawling, drivers drive highly modified four-wheel-drive vehicles such as trucks, Jeeps, and "buggies" over very harsh terrain...

 is a highly technical category of off-roading. Vehicles are typically modified with larger than stock tires, suspension components that allow greater axle articulation
Articulation
Articulation may refer to:In linguistics:* Topic–focus articulation, a field of study concerned with marking old and new information in a clause* Manner of articulation, how speech organs involved in making a sound make contact...

, and changes in the differential
Differential (mechanics)
A differential is a device, usually, but not necessarily, employing gears, capable of transmitting torque and rotation through three shafts, almost always used in one of two ways: in one way, it receives one input and provides two outputs—this is found in most automobiles—and in the other way, it...

 gear ratio in order to provide the ideal high torque
Torque
Torque, moment or moment of force , is the tendency of a force to rotate an object about an axis, fulcrum, or pivot. Just as a force is a push or a pull, a torque can be thought of as a twist....

/low speed operation for traversing obstacles. It is common for a rock crawler to have a "spotter – an assistant who will go on foot alongside of or in front of the vehicle to provide information to the driver on obstacles or areas of terrain that the driver may be unable to see.

Rock racing

Rock Racing is very similar to rock crawling in the fact that the vehicles are driven over rocks, the difference is that there are no penalties for hitting cones, backing up or winching as is done in rock crawling. Rock racing also involves a degree of high-speed racing not seen in typical rock crawling.

Competitive trials

Trials are probably the safest form of motorsport. All progress is made at low speed and the emphasis is on skill, rather than finishing first although trialing can be highly competitive. There are three traditional forms of off-road trialing.

RTV trialing

RTV (Road Taxed Vehicle) trialing is the most common form of trialing. As the name suggests, it is for vehicles that are road-legal (and thus required to pay vehicle excise duty
Vehicle excise duty
Vehicle Excise Duty is a vehicle road use tax levied as an excise duty which must be paid for most types of vehicle which are to be used on the public roads in the United Kingdom...

). This excludes vehicles that are highly modified or specially built. RTV-class vehicles can carry a wide range of suspension modifications, as well as off-road tires (provided they are road-legal), recovery winches, raised air intakes etc. Vehicles on RTV trials are usually best described as "modified from standard"—they use the standard chassis, drive-train and body that the vehicle was built with. Whilst modification is not necessarily required for an RTV trial, at the very least the vehicle would be expected to have some under-body protection such as a sump guard, differential guard and solid sills. RTV courses are intended to be non-damaging and driven at little more than a walking pace and a course properly laid out would be drivable without damage. However, the terrain usually includes steep slopes, water, side-slopes, deep ruts and other obstacles that could potentially damage a vehicle if mistakes are made or poor driving technique is used, and vehicle modifications increase the chance of success.

RTV trials usually take place on farmland, a quarry site or at a dedicated off-road driving center, and are usually organized by a dedicated trialing body (such as the All Wheel Drive Club or The Association of Land Rover clubs in the UK), or by a vehicle owner's club. The course consists of 10 to 12 "gates" marked by two garden canes, vertically placed. The gates are just wide enough to get a standard vehicle through. One vehicle attempts the course at a time, and is deemed to have cleared a gate if at least one of the front wheel hub passes between the canes. The vehicle's attempt ends when it comes to a stop (depending on the exact level of skill the trial is aimed at, any stopping may end the attempt, or a few seconds may be allowed). Long-wheelbase vehicles are usually allowed to perform a three-point turn if needed, providing the driver declares where the turn is going to be made before they attempt the course (this puts a strong emphasis on ground-reading ability).
This can also be called a "shunt" where the driver has to attempt a gate and then shout shunt. they are then allowed a space of 1 and a half car lengths to reverse and line the car better to enter through the gate

The course between the gates is a "section": between the start line and the first gate is "Section 1", the part between the first and second gates is "Section 2" and so on. An RTV course is often laid out so that each section is progressively more difficult, although this is not always the case. If a driver fails to complete Section 1 they are given 10 points. If the attempt ends in Section 2, 9 points are awarded etc. A clear round results in gaining only 1 point. A day's event will consist of many different courses and the driver with the lowest score is the winner.

Since the terrain covered in RTV trials should be well within the capabilities of any reasonably capable vehicle (even in standard form), these trials place the emphasis on driver skill and ground-reading abilities. A good driver in a standard specification vehicle can easily win over a modified, highly equipped vehicle driven by a less competent driver.

CCV trialing

Cross Country Vehicle (CCV) trialing is the next step up from RTV trialing and is open to non-road-legal vehicles, which greatly increases the scope for modification. The terrain covered will be of greater difficulty than that found on an RTV trial, and will usually require more judicious use of speed to get the vehicle across certain obstacles, so increasing the risk of vehicle damage. Whilst no trial is intended to be vehicle-damaging mistakes and accidents are inevitable. A standard-specification vehicle would not be expected to be able to complete a CCV course.

The event is run along the same lines as RTV, with a course made up of cane-marked gates. The rules are also the same as an RTV trial.

CCV trialing differs greatly from RTV trials in the vehicles used. Since "anything goes", CCV trials rely on having the correct vehicle to a much greater extent than in an RTV trial. Competitors are able to design and build vehicles that are much more optimized for off-road use than in the lower ranks of trialing. CCV vehicles have powerful engines, high ground clearance, light, minimalist bodywork and good approach and departure angles. For many years, in the UK, the ultimate CCV vehicle could be built by taking the chassis of a Range Rover, removing the body, cutting the chassis down to an 80-inch wheelbase and mating it to the body of a Series I Land Rover
Land Rover Series
The Land Rover Series I, II, and III are off-road vehicles produced by the British manufacturer Land Rover that were inspired by the US-built Willys Jeep...

, retaining the Range Rover's V8 engine and coil-spring suspension in a light, easy to maneuvre body. In recent years the value of early Land Rovers and Range Rovers has risen to the extent that this is no longer practical. CCV triallers now usually base their vehicles around Land Rover 90s or a standard 100-inch chassis from a Range Rover or Series I Discovery
Land Rover Discovery
The Discovery was introduced into the United Kingdom in 1989. The company code-named the vehicle "Project Jay". The new model was based on the chassis and drivetrain of the more upmarket Range Rover, but with a lower price aimed at a larger market segment and intended to compete with Japanese...

. The Suzuki SJ series of vehicles also make good bases for CCV-spec vehicles. Some vehicles are specially built, taking the form of light "buggies" with tractor tyres and "fiddle" brakes for the best performance.

Vehicles are required to meet certain safety regulations. Roll-cages must be fitted and be built to a suitable standard, recovery points must be fitted front and rear and fuel tanks must meet certain standards. A 4-point harness for all occupants is required and a fire extinguisher is recommended.

Punch & winch challenge

This is the most recent, and usually the most difficult, form of course trialing. A course is laid out with either a series of punches or gates and vehicles must collect as many punches as possible or complete as many gates in a course as possible. These challenges often include a small number of special stages.

The events take place on very difficult terrain and vehicles are not expected to be able to complete the course without the use of a recovery winch. Winching is a definite skill in itself, aside from off-road driving, and brings elements of team-play into the trial, as a successful (and safe) vehicle recovery needs at least 2 people to complete. Some trials are for teams of 2 or 3 vehicles, each helping to recover the others through obstacles. A Winch Challenge may extend to other off-road driving skills, such as building a log bridge to cross a river.

At its most basic a winch challenge vehicle will be a CCV-spec machine with a front-mounted recovery winch. However, a distinct breed of vehicles adapted for Winch Challenges has evolved. The small, open-topped CCV vehicles are not well suited to carrying the often large range of equipment needed for winch recovery in difficult terrain. A larger vehicle with some form of protection from the elements is desired (the short-wheelbase Land Rover Defender, especially in "Hard Top" guise, is a typical and common basis for a Winch Challenge vehicle).

Vehicles often require extensive modification. Under-body protection is needed, given the severity of the terrain involved, enhanced suspension travel and reinforced drive train upgrades are used to get vehicles as far as possible before winching is needed. Roll-cages and "snorkel" air intakes are required to prevent vehicle damage. The vehicle's electrical system often needs upgrading with multiple battery banks and high-output alternator
Alternator
An alternator is an electromechanical device that converts mechanical energy to electrical energy in the form of alternating current.Most alternators use a rotating magnetic field but linear alternators are occasionally used...

s needed to cope with the large currents drawn by a winch. Hydraulic Winches are replacing electric winches in the most competitive vehicles. Vehicles increasingly sport winches mounted at the front and rear and often in the centre to right a vehicle that has toppled over to greatly increase the options available for recovery. The extreme demands on the vehicles have led to the evolution of hybrid trayback vehicles.

Other forms

There are other forms of trialing, usually based around one of the above types but with a slight difference. These are often used as more "fun" events within a vehicle club, rather than as a part of a formal championship. Examples include:
  • Punch-Card Challenge. Usually based around an RTV trials course. Instead of a series of gates around a fixed course, a number of single canes are placed around a site. Each cane is numbered and a hole-punch tied to the cane. Each vehicle has a card with numbered squares marked on it. The card is tied to the exterior of the vehicle (usually from the wing mirror). The aim is to get the vehicle close enough to the cane so that the hole punch can be used to mark the appropriate square on the card. The punches usually use a pattern of pins to prevent one punch being used to cheat by punching a number of squares on the card. Unlike a trial course, the vehicle does not have to pass through a gate, it simply has to approach a cane and leave the cane. This tests driver skill and ground-reading, as the most obvious way to approach a cane is often not the easiest. For example, with a cane situated at the bottom of a steep slope it may turn out that the flat terrain at the base of the slope is too soft or muddy to drive over. The only way to the cane is to drive across the slope, stop (whilst the vehicle is tilted), punch the card and then continue. The winner is the driver who has collected the most punches.

  • Tyro trial. The name derives from the Latin word "tyro" meaning "new recruit". "Tyro" trialing is intended as an introduction to the sport for newcomers or children and is the most basic level of trialing. These take the form of a course with gates, but the course is carefully laid out so that it requires definite skill to drive, but carries no risk of damage to the vehicle or injury to the driver. Vehicle modifications are not allowed. Some tyro trial organizers even ban the fitting of different types to tyres to those the vehicle left the showroom with.

Winch events

Winch events often involve attempting to access areas that would be impassable without the use of a winch
Winch
A winch is a mechanical device that is used to pull in or let out or otherwise adjust the "tension" of a rope or wire rope . In its simplest form it consists of a spool and attached hand crank. In larger forms, winches stand at the heart of machines as diverse as tow trucks, steam shovels and...

 – this can include traversing deep gullies, steep slopes and so on. Most off-road vehicles that have been prepared for this type of event will typically have two winches, one at the front and one at the rear of the vehicle, each with a rated pull of over 9000 lb (4,082.3 kg).

Off-roading events

In some countries off-road activities are strictly regulated, while others promote cross country off-road endurance events
Off-road racing
Off-road racing is a format of racing where various classes of specially modified vehicles compete in races through off-road environments.-North America:...

 like the Dakar Rally
Dakar Rally
The Dakar Rally is an annual rally raid type of off-road automobile race, organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation...

, Baja 500 & 1000
Baja 1000
SCORE Baja 1000 is an off-road race that takes place on Mexico's Baja California Peninsula in November. The Baja 1000 is part of the SCORE Championship Desert Racing Series that include the Baja 500, San Felipe 250 and the new San Felipe Challenge of Champions in place of the Primm 300 which had...

, Spanish Baja
Spanish Baja
The Spanish Baja is a Rally Raid event held in the region of Aragon in northern Spain.This event was launched in 1983, based on the popularity of the African Adventure rallies such as the Paris Dakar and the Pharaons Rally...

 and the Russian Baja Northern Forest which are a test of navigation skills and machine durability. off road park
Off road park
An Off-Road Vehicle Park is an area of land that may be accessed by all-terrain vehicles such as 4x4 vehicles, Pickup Trucks, ATVs, and many other types of off-road vehicles.-Off-Road Parks in the United States:* Black Mountain Off-Road Adventure Area...

s and motocross
Motocross
Motocross is a form of motorcycle sport or all-terrain vehicle racing held on enclosed off road circuits. It evolved from trials, and was called scrambles, and later motocross, combining the French moto with cross-country...

 tracks also host a number of events and may be the only legal place to off-road in the area. Events include jamborees, rock crawling competitions, Mud Bog races, Top Truck Challenges and sand racing as well as many other events, such as the Tank Trap.

Russia has very busy off-roading championship 5-7 starts every year. Also every club has it is own events, in Tambov
Tambov
Tambov is a city and the administrative center of Tambov Oblast, Russia, located at the confluence of the Tsna and Studenets Rivers southeast of Moscow...

 off-road club Сhernozem has 4 traditional races and the most popular off-road race in Russia is Ladoga-race in Karelia
Karelia
Karelia , the land of the Karelian peoples, is an area in Northern Europe of historical significance for Finland, Russia, and Sweden...

.

Off-roading organizations

Organizations and associations have been formed and many show a united front in the battle to keep public lands open to off-roaders. Some organizations, such as the Blue Ribbon Coalition and Tread Lightly!
Tread Lightly!
Tread Lightly! is a nonprofit organization in the United States with the mission "to empower generations to enjoy the outdoors responsibly through stewardship to further the goals of responsible and ethical recreation." It was started by the United States Forest Service in 1985, but became a...

, are not off-road clubs at all and are solely set up to fight land closures and to promote environmentally friendly off-roading.

Vehicle modification

While many off-road vehicles can Greenlane or "two track" most un-surfaced roads, the desire of many off-roading enthusiasts is to attempt much more challenging terrain. The following listings show the modifications that are done and why:

Vehicle lifts

A vehicle lift is when the normal height of a vehicle is lifted to increase the amount of clearance between the ground and the bottom of the body or frame of the vehicle. There are numerous types of vehicle lifts:

Body lift

A simple and cheap way to lift a vehicle that has a body on frame design such as a pickup truck or some SUVs. A body lift consists of larger spacers that replace the normal mounting points of the vehicle's body on its frame. These typically are between 1–4 inches. Any more than four inches (102 mm) will create a less sturdy set up. Body lifts are not possible on vehicles with a "Uni-body" construction. Uni-body vehicles have the frame formed into the body, such as on a late model Jeep Grand Cherokee
Jeep Cherokee (XJ)
The Jeep Cherokee is a unibody compact SUV. It shared the name of the original full-size SJ model, but without a body-on-frame chassis, it set the stage for the modern SUV. Its innovative appearance and sales popularity spawned important imitators as other automakers began to notice that this...

. Body lifts permit the fitting of oversized tires, but do not otherwise contribute to ground clearance.

Suspension lift

A suspension lift
Suspension lift
A suspension lift is a modification, often done by Jeep, truck, SUV and offroad enthusiasts to raise the ride height of their vehicle. Suspension lifts enable steeper approach, departure, and breakover angles, higher ground clearance, and helps accommodate larger wheels and tires...

 is when modifications are made to the vehicle's springs, shock absorbers, controlling arms and steering linkage. In this case small or short pieces of the suspension are replaced with longer or larger items of similar construction. Lifting a vehicle changes its driving dynamics and a suspension lift adds to the vehicle's handling capabilities in relation to the increased height (see lifting concerns below). Some examples of this are:
  • Larger arced Leaf spring
    Leaf spring
    Originally called laminated or carriage spring, a leaf spring is a simple form of spring, commonly used for the suspension in wheeled vehicles...

    s
  • Longer Coil spring
    Coil spring
    A Coil spring, also known as a helical spring, is a mechanical device, which is typically used to store energy and subsequently release it, to absorb shock, or to maintain a force between contacting surfaces...

    s
  • Coil spacer blocks
  • Leaf spring spacer blocks
  • Longer Control arm
    Control arm
    thumb|right|300px|Double Wishbone SuspensionIn automotive suspension, an automobile's control arm or wishbone is a nearly flat and roughly triangular suspension member , that pivots in two places. The broad end of the triangle attaches at the frame and pivots on a bushing...

    s
  • Longer Pitman arm
    Pitman arm
    The Pitman arm is a steering component in an automobile or truck.The Pitman arm is a linkage attached to the steering gear sector shaft, that converts the angular motion of the sector shaft into the linear motion needed to steer the wheels. The Pitman arm is supported by the sector shaft and...

    s
  • Air bag spring replacement
  • Longer leaf spring shackles
  • Reverse leaf spring mounting on the axle
  • Longer Spindles in the front

Axle lift

Unlike a suspension lift
Suspension lift
A suspension lift is a modification, often done by Jeep, truck, SUV and offroad enthusiasts to raise the ride height of their vehicle. Suspension lifts enable steeper approach, departure, and breakover angles, higher ground clearance, and helps accommodate larger wheels and tires...

, which only lifts the vehicle's body, an axle lift can either be achieved by fitting larger tyres or mounting portal axles. The downside of fitting larger tyres is the increased stress on the axle hubs, half shafts and the driveline. This always requires modifications to the latter, e.g. reinforcing drive shafts, differentials, etc.
The more suitable option is a portal axle. By adding a gearing to the end of the axle
Axle
An axle is a central shaft for a rotating wheel or gear. On wheeled vehicles, the axle may be fixed to the wheels, rotating with them, or fixed to its surroundings, with the wheels rotating around the axle. In the former case, bearings or bushings are provided at the mounting points where the axle...

 the centre of the wheel is lowered.
There are currently a few different approaches to achieve this. Most often in the past portal axles from existing vehicles, e.g. Volvo C303
Volvo C303
Volvo Cross Country C303 is the base model of a range of military vehicles produced by Volvo.The car was developed in the late 60s based on the successful L-3314 series and went into production in 1974. This version was produced both as a 4x4 and a 6x6. An 8x8 was planned but dropped. Engines were...

, Unimog
Unimog
Unimog is a range of multi-purpose auto four wheel drive medium trucks produced by Mercedes-Benz, a division of Daimler AG. The name Unimog is pronounced in German and is an acronym for the German "UNIversal-MOtor-Gerät", Gerät being the German word for machine or device...

 or other, have been modified to fit under the offroad vehicle of choice, e.g. Land Rover Defender, Jeep Wrangler
Jeep Wrangler
The Jeep Wrangler is a subcompact four-wheel drive sport utility vehicle and an off-road vehicle manufactured by American automaker Chrysler, under its Jeep marque – and now in its fourth generation. It is a successor to the famous World War II 'Jeep' vehicle by way of the Willys civilian...

.

An alternative is bolt-on portals which are fitted to the original axle flange. The advantages of this option are the limited work necessary, compared to modifying an axle to fit another vehicle.

Large tires

A quick and easy way to gain ground clearance is to increase the size of the tires on a vehicle. One advantage over body and suspension lifts is that larger tires will improve ground clearance under all parts of the vehicle, including the axles and differentials—typically the next lowest points after the tires. While some vehicles can have larger tires added without a lift kit, such as a Ford F-250/F-350 pick-up truck which can usually take 33 inches (838.2 mm) tires before lifting is required, most will require a lift kit in addition to larger tires and, in some cases, bodywork modification such as cut back wheel arches may also be necessary.

Many off-roaders will combine different aspects of each of these vehicle lifting techniques, with the more experienced combining all of these items for a vehicle that could be lifted over 12 inches (304.8 mm) from its normal ride height.

Traction control

One of the main aspects of off-roading is to be able to keep traction on different obstacles. This can be done with more aggressive tread on tires as well as with help from traction control devices in drivetrain.

Some traction control devices used are:
  • Locking differential
  • Limited slip differential
    Limited slip differential
    A limited slip differential is a type of differential gear arrangement that allows for some difference in angular velocity of the output shafts, but imposes a mechanical bound on the disparity...

  • Four wheel drive
  • "Airing Down" – greatly lowering the air pressure in the tires

Dangers of vehicle lifting

While lifting a vehicle to gain ground clearance is helpful to off-roaders, it can also make a vehicle dangerous as, when a vehicle has been lifted, its center of gravity
Center of mass
In physics, the center of mass or barycenter of a system is the average location of all of its mass. In the case of a rigid body, the position of the center of mass is fixed in relation to the body...

 rises making the vehicle more likely to tip over in certain situations. Other dangers include loss of visibility of smaller objects and bumper height as compared to other vehicles on the road. In the United States bumper and frame height laws are in effect in most states to make sure that the vehicles on the road are not too much higher than their car counterparts.

Vehicle protection

A danger with off-roading is that of damage to the vehicle from rocks and gravel dislodged by the wheels. A common way to deal with the problem is to install skid plate
Skid plate
A skid plate is a steel plate affixed to the underside of a vehicle to prevent damage to key components in the undercarriage. Skid plates are most frequently found on four-wheel drive vehicles designed for off-road use...

s, thick metal plates protecting vulnerable parts (such as the rear differential). Some manufacturers install skid plates as standard equipment on some of their vehicles. For many others this additional protection is available as an after-market accessory. Skid plates may be simple flat plates, but they may also be formed (by stamping or by welding multiple pieces) to protect shaped items like differentials. Fuel tank skid plates are a common factory option.

Probably the most common improvement for off-road use is the grille guard, which can be added with or without an improved bumper. These typically metal frameworks extend to protect the front grille, and potentially the headlights as well. One common type used on off-road pickups and SUVs is the "prerunner" style, with an angular, protruding front designed to sweep vegetation away from the vehicle centerline, and to deflect the vehicle from less movable obstacles. The grille protection system can be assembled piecemeal, or a one-piece winch-mount bumper with a prerunner bar and grille guard can be fitted. Bumpers designed for off-road use typically have added eyes or D-rings to assist in vehicle recovery.

Another common off-roading accessory, "rock rails" or "rock sliders", is a heavy metal rail which runs alongside the rocker panels and serves to protect the sides of the vehicle that are exposed to particularly rough terrain, so that there is a risk that lower edges of the vehicle between the wheels might come into contact with rocks below. This strategy can be extended to the entire vehicle, in which case it is referred to as an "external cage" or "exocage". External cages help protect the entire body of the vehicle in the case of a rollover or slide into an obstacle.

Environmental impact

Off-road vehicle use on public land
Public land
In all modern states, some land is held by central or local governments. This is called public land. The system of tenure of public land, and the terminology used, varies between countries...

 has been criticized by the U.S. government and prominent environmental organizations including the Sierra Club
Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892, in San Francisco, California, by the conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president...

 and The Wilderness Society
The Wilderness Society (United States)
The Wilderness Society is an American organization that is dedicated to protecting America's wilderness. It was formed in 1935 and currently has over 300,000 members and supporters.-Founding:The society was incorporated on January 21, 1935...

. They have noted several consequences of illegal ORV use such as pollution
Pollution
Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into a natural environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat or light...

, trail
Trail
A trail is a path with a rough beaten or dirt/stone surface used for travel. Trails may be for use only by walkers and in some places are the main access route to remote settlements...

 damage, erosion
Erosion
Erosion is when materials are removed from the surface and changed into something else. It only works by hydraulic actions and transport of solids in the natural environment, and leads to the deposition of these materials elsewhere...

, land degradation
Land degradation
Land degradation is a process in which the value of the biophysical environment is affected by one or more combination of human-induced processes acting upon the land....

, species loss, and habitat loss which can leave hiking trails impassable. ORV proponents argue that legal use taking place under planned access along with the multiple environment and trail conservation efforts by ORV groups is a solid step in avoiding these issues. Groups such as the Blueribbon Coalition advocate Treadlightly, which is the responsible use of public lands used for off-road activities.

According to the U.S. Forest Service the use of old-style two-stroke engines
Two-stroke cycle
A two-stroke engine is an internal combustion engine that completes the process cycle in one revolution of the crankshaft...

, previously common in vehicles designed for off-road use, also causes concerns about pollution
Pollution
Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into a natural environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat or light...

. This is because "two-stroke engines emit about 20 to 33 percent of the consumed fuel through the exhaust" (as the engine lubricant is a "total loss system" and is emitted by design) and "discharge from two-stroke snowmobile engines can lead to indirect pollutant deposition into the top layer of snow and subsequently into the associated surface and ground water".

Noise pollution
Noise pollution
Noise pollution is excessive, displeasing human, animal or machine-created environmental noise that disrupts the activity or balance of human or animal life...

 is also a concern and several scientific studies conducted by Montana State University
Montana State University - Bozeman
Montana State University – Bozeman is a public university located in Bozeman, Montana. It is the state's land-grant university and primary campus in the Montana State University System, which is part of the Montana University System...

, California State University
California State University
The California State University is a public university system in the state of California. It is one of three public higher education systems in the state, the other two being the University of California system and the California Community College system. It is incorporated as The Trustees of the...

, University of Florida
University of Florida
The University of Florida is an American public land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research university located on a campus in Gainesville, Florida. The university traces its historical origins to 1853, and has operated continuously on its present Gainesville campus since September 1906...

 and others have cited negative behavioural changes in wildlife as the result of some ORV use.

Some U.S. states have laws to reduce noise pollution generated by off-road and non-highway vehicles. Washington is one example: "State law requires off-road and other non-highway vehicles to use specified noise-muffling devices (RCW 46.09.120(1) (e) maximum limits and test procedures). State agencies and local governments may adopt regulations governing the operation of non-highway vehicles on property, streets, or highways within their jurisdiction, provided they are not less stringent than state law (RCW 46.09.180 regulation by local political subdivisions)".

Mojave desert controversy

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) supervises several large off-road vehicle areas in California's Mojave Desert
Mojave Desert
The Mojave Desert occupies a significant portion of southeastern California and smaller parts of central California, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah and northwestern Arizona, in the United States...

.

In 2009, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston
Susan Illston
Susan Yvonne Illston is a San Francisco, California-based judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in the Ninth Judicial Circuit.-Biography:...

 ruled against the BLM's proposed designation of additional off road use on designated open routes on public land. According to the ruling the BLM violated its own regulations when it designated approximately 5,000 miles of off-road vehicle routes in 2006. According to Judge Ilston the BLM's designation was "flawed because it does not contain a reasonable range of alternatives" to limit damage to sensitive habitat, as required under the National Environmental Policy Act. Illston found that the bureau had inadequately analyzed the route's impact on air quality, soils, plant communities and sensitive species such as the endangered Mojave fringe-toed lizard
Uma scoparia
The Mojave fringe-toed lizard , is a species of medium-sized, white or grayish, black-spotted diurnal lizard in the family Phrynosomatidae. It is adapted to living in sand dunes in the Mojave Desert. It ranges from Los Angeles County, Riverside County, and San Bernardino County in California to...

, pointing out that the United States Congress has declared that the California Desert and its resources are "extremely fragile, easily scarred, and slowly healed".

The court also found that the BLM failed to follow route restrictions established in the agency’s own conservation plan, resulting in the establishment of hundreds of illegal OHV routes during the previous three decades. The plan violated the BLM's own regulations, specifically the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). The ruling was considered a success for a coalition of conservation groups including the Friends of Juniper Flats, Community Off-road Vehicle Watch, California Native Plant Society, The Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Biological Diversity
The Center for Biological Diversity based in Tucson, Arizona, is a nonprofit membership organization with approximately 220,000 members and online activists, known for its work protecting endangered species through legal action and scientific petitions...

, The Sierra Club
Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892, in San Francisco, California, by the conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president...

, and The Wilderness Society who initiated the legal challenge in late 2006.

Roadless area conservation

Many U.S. National Parks have discussed or enacted roadless rules and partial or total bans on ORVs. To accommodate enthusiasts, some parks like Big Cypress National Preserve
Big Cypress National Preserve
Big Cypress National Preserve is a United States National Preserve located in southern Florida, about 45 miles west of Miami. The Big Cypress, along with Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas, became the first national preserves in the United States National Park System when they were...

 in Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, were created specifically for ORVs and related purposes. However, such designations have not prevented damage or abuse of the policy.

Public statements

In 2004, several environmental organizations sent a letter to Dale Bosworth, Chief of the United States Forest Service
United States Forest Service
The United States Forest Service is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture that administers the nation's 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands, which encompass...

, and described the extent of damage caused by ORV use, including health threats to other people:
It is well-established that the proliferation of off-road vehicle and snowmobile use places soil, vegetation, air and water quality, and wildlife at risk through pollution, erosion, sedimentation of streams, habitat fragmentation and disturbance, and other adverse impacts to resources. These impacts cause severe and lasting damage to the natural environment on which human-powered and equestrian recreation depends and alter the remote and wild character of the backcountry. Motorized recreation monopolizes forest areas by denying other users the quiet, pristine, backcountry experience they seek. It also presents safety and health threats to other recreationists.


In 2004 the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 Justice Antonin Scalia
Antonin Scalia
Antonin Gregory Scalia is an American jurist who serves as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. As the longest-serving justice on the Court, Scalia is the Senior Associate Justice...

 listed several problems that result from ORV use in natural areas. From the Environmental News Service article:
Scalia noted that off-road vehicle use on federal land has "negative environmental consequences including soil disruption and compaction, harassment of animals, and annoyance of wilderness lovers.


A number of environmental organizations, including the Rangers for Responsible Recreation, are campaigning to draw attention to a growing threat posed by off-road vehicle misuse and to assist overmatched land managers in addressing ORV use impacts. These campaigns in part have prompted congressional hearings about the growing impact of unmanaged off road vehicle use.

The House Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands held an oversight hearing on "The Impacts of Unmanaged Off-Road Vehicles on Federal Land" on March 13, 2008. A second hearing on off-highway vehicle (OHV) management on public lands was held by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on June 5, 2008. The Senate committee hearing was convened for the purpose of finding out why the agencies are failing to grapple with the negative impacts of off-road vehicle use on US public lands and what the agencies might need to start doing differently. For the first time in perhaps a decade, members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee grilled leaders of the Forest Service and the BLM about why off-road vehicle use is being allowed to damage America’s national treasures.

Taking center stage in the discussion was the "travel planning process", a complex analysis and decision-making procedure with the aim of designating appropriate roads and trails. Both the Forest Service and BLM have been engaged in somewhat similar travel planning processes now for years, but some of the committee members didn’t seem to think those processes were going along so well. "The BLM has identified travel management on its lands as ‘one of the greatest management challenges’ it faces," stated committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman, D-NM. "Likewise, the Forest Service has identified unmanaged recreation — including ORV use — as one of the top four threats to the management and health of the National Forest System. Despite these statements, it seems to me that neither agency has been able to successfully manage off-road use."

"Existing rules for managing off-road vehicles are not being enforced," Bingaman added, and the agencies are ignoring unregulated use "with significant consequences for the health of our public lands and communities, and adverse effects on other authorized public land uses."

See also

  • Amphibious vehicle
    Amphibious vehicle
    An amphibious vehicle , is a vehicle or craft, that is a means of transport, viable on land as well as on water – just like an amphibian....

  • Baja Bug
    Baja Bug
    The term Baja Bug generally refers to an original Volkswagen Beetle modified to operate off-road , although other versions of air-cooled Volkswagens are sometimes modified as well.-History:...

  • Game viewer vehicle
    Game viewer vehicle
    A game viewing vehicle is a vehicle that is converted or modified to carry many people, seated in positions in which they can view game in game reserves. These vehicles are usually open and do not have roofs, the reason for this is to improve visibility and keep obstructions out of the way...

  • List of off road parks
  • Ramp travel index
    Ramp travel index
    Ramp travel index or RTI, is a way of measuring a vehicle's ability to flex its suspension, a property also known as axle articulation. The RTI rating is used mainly in the off-roading industry to test and describe chassis limits of modified vehicles....


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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