Top Five Affordable Polaris RZR Performance Modifications

While the Polaris RZR is an excellent UTV right from the factory, many owners choose to improve its performance even further with the use of after-market modifications. Have you ever lined up with your buddies getting ready for a great run – only to get smashed right off the bat and wind up eating their dust the rest of the way? If you usually blame your weak right foot, take it easy on yourself – they have probably modified their RZR for crazy performance. With a few simple – and inexpensive – mods you can be keeping up with the best of them. And if you still are lagging behind after these mods? Well, then you might want to get that right foot looked at. You don’t have to be brilliant with a wrench to put these modifications in place, either. Most of them are well within the grasp of most DIY mechanics, and even if you have to take it in to a shop the work should be pretty cheap. There is no need to lag behind the group riding your stock RZR. Check into the five modifications below and get the absolute best out of your UTV experience.

Exhaust System

Adding a new exhaust system is one of the most popular RZR performance mods. It is relatively inexpensive, and provides immediate results. Instead of choking on exhaust that the engine is trying to get rid of, the exhaust is expelled more efficiently, and the engine doesn’t waste any of its power pushing that junk out of the tailpipe. With that modification in place, you can expect a gain of 2-3 horsepower on your RZR 800. In addition to the boost in horsepower, you will also experience an engine that is more responsive to the throttle. If you love the feeling of tapping the throttle and being rushed forward as if out of a cannon, an upgraded exhaust system is a great idea. Another great feature of an after-market exhaust system for your RZR is that most of them are easy to install. With only basic knowledge of the RZR and some common tools, an average home mechanic can have the job done in an hour or so. However, the design of various exhaust systems do vary, so make sure you read the install directions and consult with a pro if you have any questions. One other factor to consider is the noise generated by a performance exhaust. Some models are designed to keep the noise level about the same, while others are extremely loud. If you ride in an area with noise restrictions, make sure to look into the noise levels of all exhausts you are considering before making a purchase. While a blaring engine is music to the ears of many die-hard riders, everyone else might not find it so soothing.

Performance Air Intake System

On the opposite end of the air flow, another affordable modification is adding a performance air intake system to the engine of your RZR. The stock intake will not do as good of a job at screening particles and dust from getting into the engine. Think of it this way – the air intake is like a bouncer at a bar. Where the stock intake would let in all sorts of losers (dust), the performance intake will tell them to hit the road and only let the air pass through. Okay – so that was a stretch…but you get the idea. When installing an air intake you can expect to achieve gains of 1-2 horsepower. Among owners of the RZR 800, upgrading the intake is considered one of the first steps that should be taken to boost RZR horsepower. Whether you should install your performance air intake system yourself or take it to a shop depends on which model you choose and your level of expertise. Many of the units are relatively simple to install, but still require a moderate amount of mechanical knowledge. You may be required to make small adjustments in the engine area to fit everything together, so you should be comfortable knowing what you are looking at. Also, it makes most air intake jobs easier if you remove the bed off the RZR for access. As always, when in doubt take your UTV to a shop. Paying a few bucks for professional install will cost less than damaging parts inside the engine if you do not know what you are doing.

Clutch Kit

One of the best ways to make RZR faster is to install a clutch kit. While a clutch kit can improve your top end horsepower slightly, the more noticeable improvement will be in the acceleration of the UTV. A performance clutch will help transfer all of the potential power turned out by the RZR engine and get it down to the wheels faster. If your current performance is like a grizzly bear (slow start, solid top speed), the performance with a new clutch kit will be all cheetah (damn fast right out of the gate). There are a wide variety of clutch kits on the market, each with a different intended purpose. Think about where your RZR will be used most (mud, sand, pavement, etc.) and find a clutch kit that is designed to optimize performance for those condition. Altitude also plays a role in clutch kit installs, so pay attention to the specs on any unit you are considering. The biggest factor when deciding if you should install the clutch kit yourself or take it to a shop is the tools you have available. A compression tool is needed to install the springs with most clutch kits, and that is not something that many average UTV riders have in the garage. If you don’t have one, you will probably be better off spending the money to have the kit installed than buying the rather expensive tool. If you do happen to have one, or know where you can borrow one, the install process itself is typically pretty straightforward.  

EFI Control Module

There are a couple reasons you may want to consider an EFI control module for another addition to your RZR. For one, you can see a boost of a couple horsepower after installing the fuel controller. Also, the fuel controller is an important step to make sure your air/fuel ratio is optimal after making other adjustments to the UTV. For example, if you have added an exhaust and performance intake, you will have changed the air flow into the engine from its original factory settings. By adding an EFI controller to your setup, you will be able to fine tune the ratio at all different RPM levels. While it may not be NASA-level stuff we are talking about here, it is still important to have all parts of your engine on the same page. With that done, you can be sure that you are getting maximum horsepower out of your engine, as well as running at a level that is safe for the long-term health of the UTV. In addition to being an affordable way to increase RZR speed, EFI controllers are also super-easy to install. They simply get plugged in to the existing wiring harness between the ignition and fuel injection control. Most units you will find in the market have a simple control interface that allows you to make the needed adjustments and get your engine running at the perfect levels.

Cam & Lifters Kit

The final affordable performance mod you should look into for your RZR is adding an after-market camshaft and lifters kit. Simply adding such a kit will quickly improve the overall power of your RZR for less out-of-pocket expense than many other modifications. After-market cam & lifters are often more rugged than the stock installation and will be able to run for longer in the higher end RPM ranges. If you are someone who likes to push hard on their RZR all day long, and don’t want to worry about wearing down internal parts, a cam & lifters kit is a great option. This is one modification that can stand on its own without doing any other work. Just get the kit installed, test it out, and start smoking your friends run after run. For most DIY mechanics, the cam and lifters install is fairly straightforward. There may be some slight adjustments needed to your engine, so proceed carefully and follow the directions of the parts you decide to purchase. Since the camshaft is such an integral part of the engine, don’t do any guesswork with this process. If you are at all unsure of how to proceed, take it to a shop and make sure it is done correctly.


Right out of the factory, the Polaris RZR 800 is a great machine. It can, however, be modified for even better performance and customized to your particular needs. All of the above ideas are great because they bring solid gains in performance for a minimal amount of investment. A good place to start might be with the air system because those are the easier jobs for most people to complete. Putting on performance exhaust and intake system will optimize your air flow from start to finish. Even just by doing those two modifications you will have a RZR that responds even better to the throttle and reaches a higher top end. If you are inclined to seek out more performance from there, the control module is a logical step. Using an EFI in tandem with the modifications you have made to the air system will optimize the overall effect on your performance. Clutch kits and cam & lifters kits are a little more advanced than the other options, but also will give you excellent performance gains for a moderate price. Always keep in mind when doing any modification that it should make sense for your needs. If you are out there battling in the ever-growing UTV racing community, you will want to optimize your RZR for pure speed and acceleration. If you are more apt to take your rig in the backwoods hunting than drag race it on the pavement, consider mods that play well in dirty conditions. Whatever your needs are, you don’t have to accept the performance of your RZR as is. Check out all of the great after-market products available and tap into the incredible potential of this great machine.

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