WHAT'S TRENDING IN THE OFF-ROAD WORLD

What SEMA taught us about the fu­ture of 4WD trends

4WDrive - - Contents - WORDS AND PHOTOS BY BRYAN IRONS

Roam­ing through the SEMA Show aisles of 2,500 new prod­ucts from over 2,400 ex­hibit­ing com­pa­nies, fill­ing over a mil­lion square feet of the Las Ve­gas Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, then ex­press­ing that ex­pe­ri­ence in a con­densed form to you, can be com­pared to life from Archie Bunker’s arm chair. He non­cha­lantly sum­ma­rized the world around him in anec­dotes de­scrib­ing meat­head ma­noeu­vres, ex­cit­ing changes, dy­ing fads and the cur­rent state of the world. So we bring you our view of the off-road scene as we en­ter 2017, through our eyes with only Edith, er, ed­i­tor Mack to fil­ter our com­men­tary us­ing his au­to­mo­tive big­otry me­ter… but we’ll still try and sneak a few through.

Walk­ing onto the scene we eye­balled a lot of Side-By-Sides… we’re not to­tally against them but it’s kinda like hav­ing mom tell you that your lit­tle sis­ter is go­ing to play on your hockey team… or else. Be­fore you sharpen your pitch­forks, hear us out; we like them, and they can be a lot of fun, but with no chance of ever be­ing street le­gal in Canada and the cost to en­close one for com­fort­able winter trips ap­proach­ing new truck ter­ri­tory, we’re just play­ing on a dif­fer­ent field. The ones we did scope out with mas­sive axles and mon­ster tires looked like a swing set our lazy-eyed un­cle once built when he wasn’t cook­ing meth.

Another eye opener is the supreme seg­re­ga­tion be­tween the “Bro” and “nonBro” trucks. In years past, dur­ing our cat­tle car flight back to the fresh breath of air we call Canada, Ed­i­tor Stanley and I would fil­ter through pic­tures hap­haz­ardly taken to en­sure you only got the best in real world 4WD’s that could take a day on the trail and not just play “Su­per­model”. Of all the trucks we saw on site this year, only a few strad­dled the line be­tween form and func­tional; it was very clear which rigs would never see dirt, and what rigs were go­ing to be beaten within an inch of their lives on a trail soon af­ter the show lights dimmed. Fab Four’s el­e­gant Kymira was an ex­am­ple of jaw drop­ping de­tails, with the heart of a trail de­mon.

Flat black ev­ery­thing has fi­nally taken a rest along with bed lin­ing any­thing that

may see a mall… we ap­plaud this from the deep­est re­cesses of our soul. Not only is any­thing black a PITA to shoot pic­tures of, but it’s a sure-fire way of scream­ing “I never get wheeled!” As for the bed liner, we have seen a few taste­fully done jobs on site this year and last, but it just seems like the “easy way out” of fin­ish­ing a show rig. Dented and bat­tered body pan­els are harder to re­pair, and if the prep work isn’t done cor­rectly, it will peel off like cheap linoleum.

Fake pati­nas are a theme we have ob­served slowly creep­ing into the off-road world in the last few years. We’re not bored of it yet, as it seems to evolve, un­like the pre-men­tioned black paint schemes. We stum­bled across Hauk de­signs func­tional show­piece in the Pit­bull Tires booth. With his world-renowned at­ten­tion for de­tail, ev­ery­where we looked on this Cum­mins-pow­ered, Pit­bull Rocker-shod du­ally, was another small de­tail that makes this rig magic. In ad­di­tion to his in­te­gra­tion of an­tiq­ui­ties and firearm re­lated ar­ti­cles, was the use of the al­most lost art of en­grav­ing… and he was not the only one. Scat­tered through­out the pavil­ions were en­grav­ings and etch­ings the likes of which we have never seen be­fore. An etched Ford alu­minum body panel was one of many ex­am­ples. We ex­pect this trend to con­tinue…

While dodg­ing show girls and gawk­ers alike in the tire and wheel sec­tions, we felt a lit­tle on the cramped side… it may have been the bur­ri­tos, it may just be all the 40” tires star­ing us in the face. Yes folks, 40 is the new 37 as dis­played by of­fer­ings from Cooper tire and Mickey Thomp­son as well as many oth­ers. Big meats were in abun­dance at SEMA and we felt sorry for all the Dana 44’s that may have felt ad­e­quate in the past. This trend seems to be ex­pand­ing with wheel di­am­e­ters as plenty of the bro-doz­ers were run­ning 26” wheels with min­i­mal side­wall. Ugh, so close. Luck­ily, the tire man­u­fac­tures we grav­i­tate to are still of­fer­ing big guns in 17” and 20” rims.

Along with our big rub­ber ex­pe­ri­ence, bead­locks seem to be com­ing out of the wood­work for the off-road only mar­ket. Dirty-Life wheels showed us their of­fer­ing

with an im­pres­sive lock­ing ring clamp sur­face and beefy spokes hold­ing it all to­gether on a mas­sive mount­ing flange. Plans are for hav­ing these stocked in their Cana­dian ware­houses and we can’t wait to beat on a set to keep you in the loop. Other bead­locks from our friends at Amer­i­can Force show what a full on cus­tom wheel can be ca­pa­ble of; ul­ti­mate strength, amaz­ing bead re­ten­tion and an as­tound­ing weight sav­ings. Pro Comp also had their new and highly an­tic­i­pated Va­por 2 Pro on dis­play for us to ogle over with great dura­bil­ity and at­ten­tion to de­tail.

Last year we wit­nessed the peak of ve­hic­u­lar light­ing mad­ness, but the ridicu­lous quan­tity of light­ing prod­ucts was re­duced this year to ve­hi­cles that fea­tured fewer in num­ber, higher qual­ity units. Rigid In­dus­tries re­leased the new line of ad­justable fix­tures that can have their beam pat­tern al­tered at the touch of a switch. There were still a few over­seas com­pa­nies spew­ing look-alike units down the aisles, one even proud to dis­play that they are “afraid of the dark”.

Elec­tron­ics and other wid­gets seem to be gath­er­ing speed with con­nec­tiv­ity and com­pat­i­bil­ity to hand held de­vices you may al­ready own. We’re ex­cited to see that Su­per­winch’s new soon-to-be-re­leased line is Blue­tooth com­pat­i­ble to con­trol mul­ti­ple aux­il­iary ports and run the winch con­trol. We had bet­ter en­sure our phone is charged be­fore hit­ting the trail. Re­mote mounted real time cam­eras and tire pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing de­vices are also go­ing to keep you strapped to you phone.

This year gave new hope to the of­froad and au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try; you just need to squint re­ally hard to blur the wreck­age out of your pe­riph­eral vi­sion. Poor engi­neer­ing and rolling train wrecks will al­ways be part of the scene as those with no vi­sion try to push bound­aries that never ex­isted… it’s fine, ev­ery­one needs a laugh. Next year we plan on see­ing the new Jeep JL hit the scene like a bad fart in a small car. Rest as­sured we will again be there pro­vid­ing com­men­tary from our trusty lounger, com­plete with a scented pine tree and per­haps an adult bev­er­age for our own well-be­ing. We have a pre­scrip­tion for that, oh, no the bar­tender says it’s a re­ceipt. Un­til then “we gots big­ger fish to fly”.

What can we say; this is a trend that scares us.

Poor work­man­ship just seems to al­ways fol­low SEMA.

Thank­fully, the act of mount­ing dozens of light­bars is start­ing to fade.

Patina when done right is al­ways a favourite.

At­ten­tion to de­tail will al­ways be a trend we sup­port.

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