Project: Blue Horn Goes Camo
2006 Yamaha Rhino SE
This month we’re adding a windshield, a coolant gauge, and some great new tires to the Blue Horn, so grab your favorite wrench and join in on the fun…
In the recent months I’ve received several inquiries concerning windshields for the Rhino, so here we are! Now it’s time to address some of the issues surrounding this see-through shield.
I’ve witnessed a few side by side vehicles in the past with full windshields and each of these machines seemed to have problems with turbulence and/or extreme dust in the cab that had not been apparent before the addition of the shield. With these thoughts in mind I chose to locate a half windshield, hoping to eliminate any dust problems while still receiving the proper amount of air movement in the cab area. With a product in mind, I contacted Extreme Metal Products and they were kind enough to send me one of their windshields designed specifically for just this type of application. As with any of EMP’s products, installation of the windshield was simple and straightforward. The box I received from EMP contained everything a rhino owner will need to install the windshield single handedly…The bottom of the windshield itself is pre-formed to meet the plastic half way between the dash and the hood, for this point of contact EMP has supplied Velcro to fasten each of the mating surfaces together. The sides of the shield are pre-drilled to line up with rubber coated steel straps that secure the shield to the crash bars. Once installed, the windshield is very sturdy, but it is also easily removable for those rides when it isn’t desired.
Now that the work is over, it’s time to find out just how well this windshield is going to perform. One aspect that I notice immediately is that I no longer have to rely on my glasses or goggles to protect my eyes from the blast of wind that used to barrage my eyes while moving. The pre-formed angle on the top of the shield deflects the incoming air high enough so that it just hits the top of my head (my height is 6’), completely missing my entire face. In the cab I still receive plenty of air movement with the shield in place to remain comfortable.
The next test was performed on various rough dusty trails behind a pack of other Rhinos so I could get a real taste of how this windshield performs in a dirty environment. We didn’t seem to notice any turbulence or dust clouds lingering in the cab, most of the air we received was coming from the sides or overhead. At times we would experience warm air flowing up from behind the engine cowling, but this was intermittent and mixed with the cooler incoming air so it wasn’t uncomfortable. By the end of the day the windshield actually seemed to have less dust on it than the rest of the vehicle. I am pleased with the performance of this windshield, it was easy to install, matches the body lines of the vehicle, and it lives up to its name.
A gripping tale…
Since it was time for the stock Rhino tires to finally re-tire, I was searching for some replacement treads that would look good and perform great in just about any terrain that I could place them in. Fortunately for me, I was in the right place at the right time to see another side by side sporting a set of Innova Tires. When I got home I looked them up on the web and discovered that Innova not only built ATV and cycle tires, but they also manufacture them in several colors! It’s refreshing to see a manufacturer finally giving us off roaders some colorful choices when it comes to our vehicle tires. Besides looking and functioning great, I love these Urban Camo colored Mud Gear tires because they don’t mark up my driveway with that unsightly black tread residue (a big plus).
When it came to size I chose to remain with the stock Rhino wheels to retain adequate clearance when traversing large rocks and rutted areas, I also made the decision to stay with the stock tire sizes of 25x8x12 for the front and 25x10x12 for the rear. The day I received these eye catching tires I put them in the bed of the Rhino and drove to the Discount Tire store down the street, and within just one hour I had the new Innova Urban Camo tires mounted on the project and it was ready to roll! The first thing I noticed when the new Mud Gears were installed was that the amount of tread contact with the ground is substantially more than the rounded shape of the stock tires and many other aftermarket tires built for the Rhino for that matter. I drove away from the tire store pleased with how smooth and straight the vehicle steered, it was like driving a new Rhino all over again! The added tread contact with the ground gives the vehicle an added feeling of stability, especially when sharp turns are involved. In the past month I had noticed that the vehicle had been slightly pulling to the left, and now I realize it was the worn stock tires causing this issue. The timing is perfect for the installation of these new tires; I have a rocky ride planned that will put these new treads to some real work…
During the entire ride the tires performed flawlessly whether we were on the paved roads, steep rocky trails, or scaling the large rolling boulders. I felt no slipping or spinning of the tires on this ride, these Mud Gears just gripped and rolled! I did discover on this ride that I could run these tires at a much lower air pressure than I ever could have with the stock tires, a lower tire pressure on this type of terrain provided greater traction and a smoother ride than I ever experienced with the stock tires, even when they were new. I firmly believe that Innova Tires not only manufactures a better looking tire, but one that also performs great in any condition!
You’re getting warmer…
How would you know when your Rhino’s motor is getting too hot? By the time the coolant temperature light on the digital dash lights up it’s already too hot. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…Prevention in this case comes in the form of a coolant temperature gauge by J&T Products. I was introduced to this very useful product by a fellow Rhino enthusiast in Texas that uses a J&T gauge on his Rhino 450.
J&T Products sell 3 different styles of coolant temperature gauges to meet the needs of just about any ATV under the sun. The unit we will be installing on the Blue Horn is a solid state, waterproof, 12volt gauge with LED backlighting. This 12volt gauge is designed for water cooled ATV’s with a lighting system (that’s us). For me, the most difficult portion of the installation was determining exactly where I was going to mount the gauge. After locating a large enough flat area in plain view, I drilled a 2” hole in the dash with a holesaw, and then slipped in the gauge body. I then installed the rear gauge bracket on the back side of the dash and connected the three wire pigtail to the screws on the back of the gauge.
The next portion of the install requires a cut to be made in the radiator hose to install the machined aluminum inline coolant adapter. I installed the inline adapter about 3 inches from the radiator hose on the driver’s side of the vehicle. I cut the hose only once, then slipped on the hose clamps and slipped in the inline adapter, tightened the clamps, and then refilled the radiator with what little coolant I had lost during the procedure. After connecting the wires to the coolant adapter and to the ignition hot wire I plugged the harnesses together and the install was complete.
The first ride I took with the temperature gauge installed on the Rhino was a night ride where I found that the led backlight is more than bright enough for viewing anywhere around the vehicle. The next ride was a long hot ride with little air flow in most of the areas; during the ride I intermittently watched the gauge rise and fall within the safe zone while one of our friends experienced a coolant warning light on his vehicle. Fortunately, after a short break his vehicle had cooled down enough to be able to continue on our journey. For those of you who often ride alone, this convenient gauge could be the difference between a great exploration and a seemingly endless walk in the wilderness. So do yourself (and your passenger) a favor and prepare yourself with a gauge from J&T Products.
J&T Products offers a one year warranty on all 3 of their waterproof gauges. Also keep your eyes peeled for a digital gauge from J&T Products that should be available later this year.
If you have any questions, feedback, or ideas pertaining to his project please e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org we look forward to hearing from you, until next month…
I would like to thank Extreme Metal Products, Innova Tires, and J&T Products for their contribution and support of this Rhino Project.
As always, ride hard, tread lightly, and travel often…
Mud Gear Urban Camo Tires
12V Backlit Coolant Gauge