No doubt, HCR Racing Suspension is a big name in Powersports. With a focus on performance and reliability, they’ve made kits for just about every model under the sun. Perhaps more impressively, they are coming out with kits for newly released vehicles, like their XPEDITION kit that made its debut this October at Trail Hero.
We caught up with Brandon Twitchell, General Manager of HCR, at Trail Hero to learn more about this new kit for the XPEDITION, what goes into making a kit like this happen so quickly, and what else is going on behind the scenes for Brandon.
UTV Sports Magazine: First off, what were your first impressions of the stock XPEDITION suspension?
Brandon Twitchell: Right out of the gate, I was really impressed with how soft it was. It felt like it had a lot of travel compared to the Ranger. It feels really stable, even with hard cornering and stuff where a Ranger feels very tippy. So, in stock form, I was very impressed with how stable it was, and how well the suspension worked.
USM: How does the suspension geometry on the XPEDITION compare to the other sort of utility side-by-side already on the market?
BT: It’s very similar. It just has more travel.
USM: What tools do you have that let you make these kits so quickly after release?
BT: We were fortunate enough to have Polaris loan us a vehicle right out of the gate, and we had it for about two weeks. We got all the scanning and everything done that we needed, then we gave it back. And then it’s to the drawing board.
USM: You’ve been debuting the kit at Trail Hero. So far, how has it been performing?
BT: It’s been amazing. I was very optimistic in thinking we could rock crawl one of these because a Ranger is really not a rock crawler. The fun part about it is we went out and hit Double Sammi for the first round, and I was very skeptical and nervous. I’ve done Double Sammi a hundred times. I know it like the back of my hand, every single turn, hole, everything else. So I went into it being optimistic. We got all the way through the trail with little to no scraping.
I was very impressed with the breakover angles and everything else. Then we got to the end, and everything went so well. I’m like, well, we’ve got to do the Chute, so obviously I had enough confidence in it. I have to do this just to show it could be done. I wasn’t necessarily having fun at first. Then the next day we did it again, and it was totally different. I was 100% confident the whole time. I think it just took me getting used to the vehicle itself and having the confidence I need to have to put it in those situations.
USM: When will this kit be available for purchase?
BT: It is available now. We’re looking at our first batch of shipments probably in mid-December.
USM: Is there anything else consumers should know about the kit? Is it self-contained and all-inclusive, or are there going to be other upgrade options available on top of it?
BT: You’ll need to upgrade your springs and probably valving in the shocks. Aside from that, everything comes in the kit.
USM: Do you make your kits look so good because so many people can’t drive, and they end up upside-down?
BT: That’s what we’ve prided ourselves in for so long. As you know, a lot of people call them art. Our welders take such pride in their work and, and we’ve always gone after that boxy, trophy truck type of suspension. This one, we moved the mounting point on the shock on the front end to the lower arm instead of the upper arm. That really helps with stability, the front-end diving in corners, and most of all a ton of ground clearance.
USM: We noticed you moved the front shock lower mount from the upper arm to the lower arm. What was the reasoning behind that?
BT: It really helps with stability, the front-end diving in corners, and most of all a ton of ground clearance. With the Pro R and everything else, a lot of these vehicles are coming that way now. We just did it on a Pro R and were shocked at how much stability it gave it. Aside from that, an extra couple of inches of ground clearance was huge.
USM: We had an extreme rock-climbing competition yesterday, and we do know for a fact you are a badass rock crawler. Why weren’t you driving in it?
BT: As you guys all know, I like my stuff to look pretty. If I had a car that I could just go out and not care about, I would have 1,000,000% done it. I just like to keep my stuff fresh and clean. That’s the whole challenge for me. Rock Crawling is doing the most extreme things I can and look good.
USM: What medication do you take to hang out with Billy Slade for so long?
BT: We definitely go through the wringer. We really see eye to eye in a lot of things, and I appreciate his passion. We’ve become really good friends over the years, and we raced King of the Hammers together. We feed well off each other and have a really good time.
USM: Are you planning to do KOH this year?
BT: Probably not. We’re still kind of undecided, but it’s not in the cards right now. It’s a very fun but expensive learning experience.
USM: You guys are the first on the market with this kit, but there’s no doubt eventually other aftermarket parts will be coming out for the XPEDITION. What do you think sets your kit apart from the rest?
BT: Aesthetics, looks alone, I feel like that sells our kits, but we also went above and beyond in relocating that lower shock mount. We got a ton of ground clearance and strength above anyone else. We really pride ourselves in what we do and how strong it is. Typically, if somebody calls me and they have a broken part, well, if you break one of our parts, you’ve got way worse problems than a broken arm.
USM: Are you a music guy or a silent guy when you ride?
BT: It depends on the situation. I always love to blast some tunes.
USM: What kind of music? What’s on your playlist?
BT: I’m mostly a punk rock guy and a little bit of hip hop once in a while.
USM: What are one or two things you must have with you when you’re when you’re on a trail?
BT: I’ve become very fortunate in not having to fix stuff on the trail, but I’ve spent a lot of time in vehicles with a prototype suspension. Tools, a jack, and water are really my main ones, and a hat to cover the bald head.
USM: What’s your go-to trail snack?
BT: Ride Snack: it’s a little P2, like meat, cheese, and almonds.