Photoshoots don’t usually require applying First Aid techniques. But when you’re hanging with Billy Slade, sometimes they do! Looking up at the sky from the driver seat of his freshly built Polaris RZR Turbo R 4, Billy warned me to back up a bit. “I don’t want to hit you if this thing decides to roll!”
The sound of metal and fiberglass scraping across a sandy rock surface followed, and then a substantial thud. Billy’s Turbo R, flat on its back like an upturned beetle struggling to right itself, lay on the desert floor below me. “You okay?!” I hollered from above. Billy’s arm popped out of the rig with a big thumbs-up to indicate that he wasn’t dead. It all happened so fast that I don’t think either one of us really knew what had happened. Onlookers in an older Polaris side-by-side drove over to put eyes on the carnage and offer their winch to help bring the Turbo R back on its wheels again.
As Billy climbed out of the rig, his hand grazed the shattered side mirror, and before we knew it a steady stream of blood was running down his arm. Luckily, there was a First Aid kit in the car, and after a few minutes and a thorough iodine scrub we had his hand bandaged and were ready to ride again. But how did we end up here, in the middle of the Utah desert, upside down in a Turbo R 4 that didn’t even have 500 miles on the odometer yet?
Well, like most things that end in disaster, it was my idea…
Billy Slade is a man of many talents. He’s made a name for himself in the UTV space by building some of the baddest rigs in the desert. His choice of materials, aftermarket parts, and aesthetics means his UTVs stand out in a sea of RZRs, X3s, and YXZs, among others. So, when Billy wrapped up his latest build project late last summer, I was tasked with documenting just what he’d done with his 2022 Polaris RZR Turbo R 4 when he and the rig arrived at Trail Hero, a week-long powersports festival in Southwest Utah.
His goal with the build? “To create the ultimate platform for any terrain. Rocks, dunes, trails, or even overland camping on the Rubicon, this one can do it all.” To prove this theory, Billy and I set out from the campground in his RZR, our front wheels aimed at the dunes and rocky terrain that surround the Sand Hollow Resort.
“With any of my builds, inspiration always comes from the least expected places and is applied at the least expected time. So when I set out to build the Turbo R, a lot of my vision was initially based on an idea I’ve been waiting for the right build to apply it to.”
Before throwing aftermarket parts and custom pieces at his RZR, Billy took the stock unit on a three-day camping trip along the Rubicon Trail. “It gave me a baseline of capability for the RZR as it sits fresh from the factory and a really good idea of how I was going to approach the build,” he noted. That trip proved that the Turbo R 4 was already wildly capable, but could use some upgraded components to survive the kind of riding Billy Slade is known for (see above).
Additional Rigid lighting was installed as well, including an Adapt 30” light bar, the Chase Series rear-facing LED light, and some Ignite Series LED rock lights. Factory UTV provided a full skid plate system with rocker protection and X-brace. Buggy Whips were mounted to ensure safety when riding in the dunes, while the Rockford Fosgate Stage 5 audio system with RSS (Rear Sub Solution) and dual woofers usually lets folks know that Billy is just beyond that hill.
Like most custom UTV builds, you start with the basics. TMW Off-Road provided the protection with a SHORTY RZR 4 Turbo R Cage, which sits 2.5” shorter than their standard height cage and is made from 1.75″ high grade DOM tubing with a .120 wall tube thickness. A TMW Off-Road windshield and winch bumper were also added for added comfort and safety. Mounted to the bumper was a WARN 55-S AXON Winch and Rigid Adapt XP Bumper Lights.
There’s no doubt that the stock RZR Turbo R 4 is a beast in and of itself. With a 925cc turbocharged twin-cylinder engine making 181 horsepower, 22 inches of suspension travel front and rear, a 74-inch-wide stance, and 16 inches of ground clearance, it can do just about anything you ask it to. But if you’re Billy Slade, more is, well, more.
Next came the suspension. Although the factory setup is more than adequate for most riders, Billy knew he’d be throwing his Turbo R 4 at some pretty tough terrain, so he turned to MTS Off-Road in Phoenix, AZ to re-valve the Fox 3.0 Live Valve X2 internal bypass shocks. HCR radius rods and a capture plate came next, along with ZRP sway bar end links. BFGoodrich 35” KM3 tires were wrapped around a set of Metal FX Hitman R wheels, which were custom powder coated to match the custom 1/2 wrap by Inion Graphics.
Starting with an Evolution Powersports XP Magnum exhaust, Billy dug into their catalog and upgraded to a billet blow-off valve and silicone charge tube, while also adding a V-Flow intake tube and EVP ECU Power Flash tune. TPR Industries supplied a billet valve cover with oilers, oil catch can, timing chain tensioner, and MSD coils, as well as a billet intercooler to round out the power delivery system.
All the accessories are controlled by Switch Pros Force Touch 12 system, and the dual Polaris RZR battery setup keeps everything powered up. Rider communication comes in the form of Rugged’s M1 Radio along with an RPR696+ intercom. Rugged also provided a pumper system, which is hidden in the cockpit. There’s also a Pro Eagle DS jack mounted behind the rear seats. Oh, and for added flash, and because Billy doesn’t do anything halfway, Four Werx carbon fiber dash accents and a Ride Command surround were installed. These also tie in with the Four Werx V2 carbon fiber hood, a nice touch.
Billy likes big noise, as evidenced by the stereo systems he’s installed in every UTV he’s built. But any audiophile knows that an epic stereo needs to live inside an epic cabin. So inside the RZR went a set of PRP custom suede seats with heat and lumbar support, a Stitch Girl, Inc. custom-wrapped steering wheel with a Metal FX PTT custom button, Dune Gear touch-activated dome lights, Pro Armor sun visors, and an Axia rear view mirror, along with a handful of Element E100 Fire Extinguishers.
Inside, rider comfort is king, and you could easily spend all day inside this RZR. Power comes on strong and seems to be endless, even when climbing the face of a massive dune. But at the same time, the Viper Machine gated shifter makes it extremely easy and quick to shift from Low or High to Neutral or Reverse when rock crawling or trail riding. Honestly, this thing can do it all. I guess if you’re going to build the ultimate rig, you need to address all of the shortcomings that a factory UTV suffers from: more power, more suspension, more protection, and most importantly, more sound! So, did Billy Slade build the baddest Turbo R 4? I suppose we’ll let the photos speak for themselves, and you can be the judge.
Once we had righted Billy’s Turbo R 4 and attended to his wound, it was like nothing had even happened. The RZR suffered only minor damage. A busted Sector Seven Spectrum mirror and a bit of body damage (that’ll buff out!) were the only markers that both he and the rig had been upside down that day. In the dunes, the Turbo R 4 is an absolute animal, and with the long list of upgrades that Billy installed, the performance is only matched by the sound coming from the stereo system. The chassis felt stiff, while the massive Fox 3.0 Live Valve shocks made quick work of anything in their way.