OEM vs. Aftermarket Parts
Is one better than the other?

Are factory parts better than the aftermarket parts that practically look the same? Is it worth paying 3 times as much for what seems to be an identical product for your UTV upgrade? The answer to that is Yes…….. and No. UTV’s are unique in that many manufacturers build them to tough standards because they’re heavy and will go through some serious abuse. You also need to take into consideration that these companies are still looking to make the most profit possible and likely the quality of the material they use might not be as good as what you can find from the aftermarket companies that make similar products. We’ve scoured the internet for popular opinion and also tapped the knowledge of our own employees to see which parts we feel are your best purchase as a replacement. To give a fair price comparison basis, we’ve decided to choose the 2014 Polaris RZR XP 1000 as our vehicle of choice since it is an established platform with a huge variety of aftermarket products readily available. From axles to harnesses, we’re going to give our opinion on where your dollars are best well spent. At the end of this, feel free to comment whether or not we’re spot on or out of our minds.

OEM Engine Parts
When it comes to engine parts, you’re going to be limited as to what you can find. Sure parts like pistons and valvetrain can be found like most other vehicles, but when you’re getting into the internals of the motor you will be limited to OEM components. Fortunately enough, we’ve got the best prices you’ll find anywhere to find what you need in our OEM schematics and let’s get your parts ordered.

Harnesses are usually the first upgrade and you can get product from both the factory and aftermarket for the most part. We can usually get you both, but you’ll get better bang for your buck by going the aftermarket route.

4/5-Point Seat Harnesses
OEM: $179.95 Aftermarket: From $99.99
One of the first upgrades we see UTV owners make is to replace the stock 3-point seatbelts with a set of quality 4 or 5 point seat harnesses. These don’t only add to your comfort while off-roading, but they also add to the safety since you and your passengers will be more secure. Polaris offers their own 4-point seat harness as an upgrade (on some models it comes standard), that use a traditional style seat buckle for user simplicity. While they’re convenient and perfect for most, they are not competition legal for those that are considering any kind of racing. We offer different types of harnesses from Dragonfire Racing and Beard that have the more traditional latch system in both 2 and 3-inch strap sizes. These belts are usually competition ready if you’re interested in racing but double check just to be sure.

There are plenty of options when it comes to aftermarket drive belts for your UTV but the community of owners are pretty split on their preference of OEM or aftermarket. Whichever route you go, just make sure you do a proper belt break-in and keep an eye on belt temps to avoid premature failure.

Drive Belts
OEM: $179.95 Aftermarket: From $69.95
This is a tough call based on how many different variables there are in the stress of your drive belt. We’ll be frank and tell you that many people will choose to run the OEM belts because they seem to have fewer failures with them. There are still plenty of people who still like the fact that the cost of some aftermarket pieces is less than 1/2 the cost of an OEM part and are willing to buy double the backup in the event of belt breakage. There are plenty of brands available like EPI, Dayco, and Gates that aren’t the cheapest but do have a reliable track record for quality products. Other brands that you can find for less are Carlisle, QuadBoss and Moose Racing, but know that it doesn’t mean they’re not good. This really comes down to you…How much do you want to spend and take a chance on a lesser priced product? Just remember about the variables that cause pre-mature drive belt failure: Improper belt break-in, excessive belt temperature, and belt housing contamination are just a few to be extremely mindful of.

Brake Pads
OEM: $50.95 Aftermarket: From $17.95
Brake pads are one part that we never recommend on skimping to save a few dollars. Don’t get us wrong, because the BikeMaster pads we’ve got for $17.95 will stop your machine but because of the organic compound they might not bite as hard when you need it, may experience brake fade when the pads get hot and overall may just wear faster than other pads. Our recommendation is to stick with a brand that is known for manufacturing quality brake components, namely brake pads. When it comes to brake pads we would definitely put our trust in brands like EBC, DP, SBS, and others to ensure that we can stop our and your UTVs when you need them to and not a moment later.

You’ve got a ton of options for replacement air filters on your UTV. Aftermarket intake kits are a popular upgrade not only for their increased airflow but also for increased filtration.

Air Filters
OEM: $76.99 Aftermarket: From $24.95
Getting clean air to the engine of your UTV is almost as important as making sure the driver and passenger are safely secured inside the cab. No matter where you ride, you need to make sure that your filter system stops the smallest dirt particles from entering your engine and potentially causing catastrophic damage resulting in a hefty repair bill. We’re not saying that the OE filter is bad… In fact, you can actually get a NoToil Pre-Oiled Replacement Air Filter for $24.95, which means you can buy 3 for the price of 1 OE filter. That makes them practically disposable or perfect for long trips where a mid-ride filter change is required. You also have the option of running a K&N High Flow Air Filter, which is known for allowing more airflow and still filtering down the smallest amount of dirt. These filters are washable and reusable as well but have a price very similar to the foam OE filter. Which is better? Do you prefer apples over oranges because it really comes down to personal preference considering that even some of the replacement aftermarket foam filters like the UNI Multi-Stage Competition Air Filter are close in price to the OE.
If you want to take your performance and filtering up a notch, you might consider changing out the intake system altogether. K&N offers a great Aircharger Intake System that eliminates the OE airbox and replaces it with a tuned intake tube, K&N high flow filter and custom fit dry charger for an added level of particulate protection.

Stock exhaust systems offer good performance that are hard to beat unless you make significant modifications. In the event you do want to get a slip-on system, we carry some of the best in the business for an affordable price.

Exhaust Muffler
OEM: $491.95 Aftermarket: From $584.95
Much like exhaust systems found on today’s sportbikes, the mufflers on some UTVs are hard to improve on unless you’re looking to change the sound of your machine. Aside from sound, the benefit of an aftermarket exhaust system can be substantial weight savings and visual improvement since most OE systems look like ugly automotive mufflers. If you’re just a weekend warrior who has been happy with the performance of your UTV, by all means, save a few $$ and keep your OE muffler. If you’re looking to customize your ride, then it might be a worthy investment to pick up a Yoshimura, Two Brothers Racing or Trinity Racing slip-on exhaust system for that Polaris RZR. You might even take it a step further by completely replacing the entire exhaust system, which could drastically increase your performance by eliminating government mandated catalytic converters thus increasing exhaust flow. Just know with a modification like this you’ll be looking to make intake modifications and likely have to modify your fuel management system as well. BikeBandit also carries exhaust systems from brands like Gibson, HMF, and Big Gun so be sure to see if we’ve got an application that fits your machine.

UTV Axles
OEM: $244.95 Aftermarket: From $129.95
It’s not uncommon for UTV owners to break axles. These can be weak links when your wheel/tire has high traction and you’re hard on the throttle, and when you bust one it can ruin your day. The OE axle sits right around the $250 range and you can find a huge selection of aftermarket replacements priced anywhere from $129.95 to $231.95 on our site from brands like QuadBoss, Moose Racing, Open Trail and EPI. Both Dragonfire and QuadBoss offer Heavy Duty versions of their axles, which can include features like larger axle shaft diameters, heat treated CV components and increased angle ability over the stock units making them well worth their money. *Note that the pieces we’re discussing are for the 2014 Polaris RZR XP 1000. This means that we also carry axles from other brands like MotoMaster and that the prices listed may vary from your model, so be sure to double check.

Replacing wheels and tires on UTVs is another common thing we see owners do fairly soon. This gives you a chance to customize the look and even upgrade the wheel quality. Aftermarket wheels give you more options and features than OEM wheels and usually for a lower cost.

OEM Front Wheel: $256.95 Aftermarket Front Wheel: From $70.95
Many times UTV owners change out their wheels and tires not long after they take possession of them. It’s not that there is a problem with them, but many people want to give their UTV a unique look and going to an aftermarket set of wheels is a great way to start. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever break or bend your OEM wheels, but aside from styling, you will find that the aftermarket wheels on the market are far less expensive than the one that came on the car. Even more, you can upgrade and get wheels that incorporate a beadlock that not only offer a unique look but an additional level of performance by allowing you to run lower tire pressures without the worry of rolling a tire bead off the wheel. We carry the following brands like STI, ITP, QuadBoss and Sedona that have both regular and beadlock wheels for virtually every UTV on the market so regardless of what you own, we can get your needs taken care of.

There you have it. Looking at the comparison you may find that when it comes to UTVs, it’s a no brainer to go the route of buying aftermarket parts over the OEM. Is that a bad thing? Not at all, because it speaks to the quality of the parts that aftermarket manufactres are putting out. Sure there are some items that owners still choose to get from the OEM regardless of the availability from aftermarket suppliers, but again that can be personal preference and maybe you want to give it a test yourself. Just make sure you do your testing when you’re riding with friends in the event you find a part that doesn’t live up to your expectations. Till then have fun riding!

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