WHAT'S TRENDING IN THE OFF-ROAD WORLD
What SEMA taught us about the future of 4WD trends
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”.
Poor workmanship just seems to always follow SEMA.
Thankfully, the act of mounting dozens of lightbars is starting to fade.
What can we say; this is a trend that scares us.
Patina when done right is always a favourite.
Attention to detail will always be a trend we support.