Taylor Motorcycles service manager Dale Walker with a new Kawasaki Mule. The popularity of side-by-sides continues to climb among ag clientele.

Gone are the days when one-person ATVs dominated the scene on farms and ranches. Nowadays, side-by-side versions offer more flexibility and go-power for taking care of chores.

Whether for farming, off-roading, hunting or just cruising around, the 10-year trend toward side-by-side all-terrain vehicles as opposed to single-rider models continues to rise.

These sturdy vehicles have bench seats, a pick-up bed and fill the bill for a wide range of uses.

“With what a farmer pays for a utility vehicle he could buy a little pick-up truck and use that on the farm,” Dale Walker, service manager at Taylor Motorcycles in Woodburn, Ore., said. “They like the side-by-side utility vehicles because they’re simpler, lighter and easy to wash out.

“I’ve heard over and over again from farmers, ‘If we were to buy a pick-up truck these guys would beat it up, break it and it wouldn’t take long before the interior’s all torn out of it then we’ve got all these problems to fix.

Taylor Motorcycles has ATVs ranging from kids’ 50cc Kawasaki and Honda models to the 750cc Kawasaki Brute Force.

Side-by-sides range from a Honda Pioneer 500 to the Kawasaki 610 Mule. Taylor sells pricey sport models all the way up to the Honda Talon with a 1,000cc engine.

“For farms, the largest one we sell is a Kawasaki Pro-FXT,” Walker said.

Whether a utility vehicle lasts two years or 20 depends on what it’s used for and how it’s cared for.

“We see so much variation in how people use them,” Walker said. “If it’s used every day, it’s especially important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions in maintaining it, things like how often to change the oil filter.”

If an ATV is stored for the winter, certain steps should be followed, he said.

“If you know it’s going to sit for a long period of time, we recommend filling it with race gas or aviation fuel, which is much higher quality fuel,” Walker said. “When you take it out of storage, drain it, put in regular gas and the machine will start right up and run.”

If a rig will be stored a month or more, disconnect the battery or get a battery tender, and be sure to check the tires before and after putting it away.

“A lot of farmers take care of their own stuff during the year and then bring them in before and/or after their season’s done for a thorough going-over,” Walker said. “We see a lot of these guys that have 20-plus-year-old machines they’re still using on a regular basis.”

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