SuperATV makes a lot of new parts every year. At the moment we have something like 2500 different parts on SuperATV.com that you can buy. That should show you that we have some experience in dreaming up new parts and bringing them to you to say the least.
We have that process down to a science: every part at any point in its development has specific checks and balances to make sure it’s the best part it can be. Dozens of people are involved with each new part. Every person has their own skill set and job to make sure it comes out right.
Here’s how we do it.
The original idea for new parts can come from almost anywhere. Often times our president, Harold Hunt, will think of something he wishes he had on his machine that would make his rides more fun. That’s basically how SuperATV got its start, by the way. A lot of different riders here at SuperATV make suggestions from time to time that are turned into real parts.
You guys frequently ask for something specific like a windshield for a certain vehicle. Once a part gets on our radar, we figure out if it makes sense for us to make that part or not and go from there.
We also see what everybody else is using. When we go to parks it’s hard to miss some of the cool stuff people are using. Every once in a while we say “hey, we like this thing but I think we can do it better.” That’s how we ended up making parts like the GDP Portal Gear Lift, which is now, undoubtedly, the best gear lift the off-road community can get their hands on.
And then there are the annual vehicle refreshes. Stuff has to be tweaked and changed to fit every new year model. And when there’s a major year-to-year redesign like with the Maverick X3, we have to start from scratch. With a new vehicle there are new problems that we can fix with the right parts and it still needs all the standard parts like windshields and A arms.
For this example let’s say we’re making a new 10″ lift kit for the Maverick X3. (For the record, I’m not announcing anything new. It’s just a good example!)
Before we commit to designing this lift we’d have to think about who would use it. The X3 is super popular so there are plenty of potential buyers. On the other hand it seems like it’s more popular as a race machine than a mud machine so maybe a big lift won’t be very popular on this vehicle. Let’s pretend like we did enough in-depth research to decide it was worth it (like maybe it turns out the X3 is exploding down south where they love going big in the mud) and move along with designing the kit.
Once we’ve committed to making the kit, our engineers get into the nitty-gritty of designing and building every last inch of it (including axles) in CAD. First and foremost, when making a 10″ lift kit, they have to make sure it will actually fit to the X3 and give it 10″ of lift. Then they have to make it incredibly strong and durable. But they’re also on the hook for making it look really good.
They start by scanning the relevant portions of the vehicle with our FARO arm. For our example kit, that would mean scanning the suspension all the way out to the hub and scanning all the shock and arm mounting points.
Once they’ve got every last bit of that lift kit designed down to the last millimeter, the lead engineer checks for any problems (it always helps to have a second pair of eyes) and makes sure it looks good aesthetically.
Once that’s done, the 10″ lift kit moves into the prototype phase.
Prototyping is the fun part. That’s when the ideas and drawings come to life with a little help from our prototype shop. With a big 10″ lift that might require a lot of help actually. The prototype guys have to fab up all the A arms, trailing arms, radius arms, axles, and brackets. We keep the basics like break lines and hardware in stock, but we have to make everything else from scratch.
For tube designs like A arms and radius arms, our guys bend and cut tubes to specifications using our tube bender. They use our CNC to make ball joint holes and the laser to make gussets and shock mounts. Adjustable pivot blocks are kept in stock for manufacturing. These pieces all come together on the fixture (also designed by the engineer) and are welded together.
This process is repeated for for the trailing arms (using the laser CNC, lathe, and tube bender), axles (they cut an existing axle in half and weld in a length of steel), and radius arms. This process looks different for parts like windshields, skid plates, portals, and clutch kits but you get the gist.
When it’s completed after a couple days, it’s precisely measured to the original CAD design and tried on the vehicle.
Everything is checked when it’s tried on: it has to install easily; the axle can’t bind at full drop or full compression or at a full turn with steering stops; it has to fit the desired tire size without rubbing anywhere.
If it doesn’t meet all those requirements the design gets tweaked and the part gets rebuilt. If it does meet those requirements then it goes out for a test drive. We have our own test track on the property, remember? We also have access to a few properties in the countryside for some more diverse riding conditions.
If the prototype passes muster then it is approved. That’s when we start making the parts to be sold.
This is when we start work on the final, polished product that can be boxed up and shipped to you. But first we have to make sure our final touches and our processes are holding up. So we make a complete, powder coated kit, box it up, and send it to our quality department.
They make sure every last part measures to print and is fully accounted for including each bolt and thread pitch. They make sure it’s boxed properly and the paint looks good. Once everything is OK, the part gets tried on again to make sure the production process will make the perfect part.
Then it’s done! Production goes into full swing with standard checks being made throughout the manufacturing process.
Then they’re all boxed up, put in the warehouse and put up for sale on the website.
And that’s how a part goes from an idea to your garage here at SuperATV. You can check out everything that we’ve dreamed up over at SuperATV.com.