Opening Up The Hood On The Polaris RS1 Single Seater

Oct 13th 2019

Some UTV enthusiasts say that the Polaris RZR RS1 is kinda thin with its 64” wheelbase. Others admit that it’s an impressive amount of machine for the money -- that is, if you don’t have a girlfriend or any friends. But if you’re never gotten a little solo throttle therapy, you don’t know what you’re missing. Sure it’s nice to ride with friends and family, but when you’re on your own in an RS1, there’s nobody there to wait on, nobody to nag you, and nobody to complain. There’s simply you, your machine, and the great outdoors, with nothing but raw power under your feet. 

It may have less power and inferior suspension than something like the RZR Turbo s, but it’s arguably way funner to drive with far better handling. The center of gravity gives complete control that makes you feel like you're one with it, giving you confidence as the driver with a fast and responsive bike firmly within your control. Although many hardcore UTV fans may install an aftermarket Turbo in their RS1 -- or perhaps a Dynamix clutch and tune for a little boost -- they are still impressive stock machines right out of the box. But enough of the overview, let’s open up the hood and see what really makes the RS1 a truly special feat of side-by-side engineering. 

Getting The Most Power Out Of Your Polaris RS1

Driving a Polaris RS1 is a totally different experience than other side-by-sides -- even those by Polaris. It is a machine for those who just want to go fast and have fun, without having the worry about a passenger. There are many things you can do -- from slight tweaks and adjustments to full-blown modifications -- to give your RS1 a little more giddyup and go. Companies like Packard Performance, Boondocker, and Treal Performance all make turbo kits -- some custom, some production -- for the RS1. And because they built the RS1 off the Turbo RZR -- using the Turbo transmission and front/rear differentials from the Turbo and Turbo S -- you don’t need much internal work to get a turbo installed. With sime wiring harnesses, a turbo motor, some plumbing, and a properly flashed ECU -- not to mention around $5,000 -- you can unleash the power of a turbo in your RS1

For those without the wherewithal to turbo their RS1s, there are other ways to increase power and speed without voiding the factory warranty. One way is to remove the stock muffler and install a slip-on exhaust. You will need a tune to add more fuel to compensate for the added exhaust flow, but you can use something like the PVCX and flash your ECU yourself. In this way you can flash your ECU back to stock anytime you want in the comfort of your own garage. The PVCX can also come with the correct tune from the manufacturer, and all you do is load it and remove the tuner. Iit can also be installed permanently, as it offers data logging and configurable gauges. Also with an exhaust, you can run spark arrestors in both outlets and even wear hearing protection if it’s too loud. Alternatively, you can also run a quiet core, which really quiets the exhaust down without compromising power. 

We know a lot of ATV guys out there who never had to add any type of tune after adding an exhaust -- whether it’s a slip-on or full exhaust -- as long as they still had the stock intake setup. But what they fail to understand is that the stock RS1 engine is tuned to run extremely lean because of the CAT in the exhaust. Remove the restrictive CAT and one must add fuel, hence the need for the flash.

Another thing worth considering is an aftermarket seat. There are a lot of good RS1 seats out there, but the Simpson is particularly good for two reasons. One is the added comfort, and the 2nd reason is heat. If you live in a cold climate, you can get twin heaters in the seat. Select this option and they build the seat with twin heating pads. Another trick that many riders don’t know is that the RS1 has a built-in “heater”. Just pull the cover off behind the seat and the belt exhaust air blows across the header and into the cab. It's factory heat, VW bug style.

Getting Further In Your Polaris RS1

For short- to mid-length rides, the RS1 gas tank has more than enough capacity. You might be asking yourself where people ride when they need to carry more than a full tank of gas, but you’d be surprised where an RS1 might take you. Some of these RS1 owners race 100+ mile desert races, but even for leisure riders, carrying an auxiliary fuel tank might be required for some rides. The jaunt from Kokapelli to Moab, for example, is a common trek that’s nearly 150 miles. You might be able to make it on a single tank, but if you’re ripping up your RS1, rock crawling, etc. you’ll likely be going through petrol as if you had a hole in your tank. 

Now there aren’t external gas tanks specifically for the RS1, but it’s definitely doable nonetheless. You can attach vent a hose to something like a dirt bike aux tank and then vent a hose out from there. On the right side of the RS1 there’s a spot where you can add a small tank. Pull the right side panel off and you will see that there’s plenty of room. We’ve seen guys carrying a little 3.5 gallon tank on the side. The roof is another place where riders sometimes store extra fuel, but the idea of gas overheating up there is a bit too sketchy for most. 

Running The Right Tires In Your RS1

The RS1 is a notorious sand machine, ripping up any dune you set it on. But regardless of if you’re in Tonopah Nevada or the salt flats in Utah, if you want to dune properly, you need the right sand tire setup. Paddles tires are the best, but stock Bighorns work very well. The 30" STI Sand Wedge tires works well on the rear with Pro Armor 10x14 wheels. Then for the front you can run Pro Armor 30" tires on 8x14 Pro Armor wheels. Riders like STI Sand Wedge paddle tires due to the reinforced paddle. If you ride in areas that have some hard pack trails between the dunes, paddle tires tend to get wrecked, so the wedge paddle is good for that. 

Run in 4 Wheel Drive is also a good idea. The RS1 tends to push in the sand. In 4 Wheel Drive, however, the front doesn’t push as much, so 4WD will help with steering. It’s not as common to see riders of other vehicles riding in 4wd on the sand, but the short wheel base of the RS1 doesnt let the front dig in hard enough and causes it to push in the corners. You can also add some preload to the rear shocks to help the front dig in more.

Another question we get about tires for the Polaris RS1 is size; 32s or 30s? Here we get into evaluating several factors, but the bottom line is almost always based on evaluating from stock. Consider the stock tire height vs. your desired height. Usually adding a taller tire equals a slight drop in performance. Consider the weight of the stock tire/wheel. Run larger tires and one could run a lighter wheel. Then there is the clutch to consider as well. UTV riders can always reconfigure for changes made. Another factor that one must consider when running taller tires is the surface that their going to be riding on. If it’s sand -- which sucks HP big time -- you might want a slightly taller tire than stock, but a tire/wheel weight that is considerably lighter than stock. Address the engine and exhaust and this will add about 10 HP, which really compensates for running a slightly larger tire unless they are really heavy.