UTV Safety: All You Need to Know about the 4-Point Harness
In the world of UTVs, all enthusiasts know they need some of the best side-by-side UTV aftermarket parts to upgrade their vehicles' safety and performance. Whether you use your UTV for agriculture, farming, hunting, trailing, or racing, you know safety is crucial. One of the biggest gifts the side-by-side industry has offered us is the chance to add UTV aftermarket parts and rebuild our machines just the way we want them. Today, we will talk about replacing your standard vehicle seatbelt with a 4-point harness.
Are 4-point harnesses safe? Should you get a safety harness for your UTV this year? Do such aftermarket parts improve your comfort? How do you shop for a 4-point harness? Let's answer these questions (and more) today!
Are 4-Point Harnesses Safe?
When you get a 4-point harness for your UTV, you know you invest in safety. Such harnesses are safer than stock seatbelts. Ask side-by-side pro users, and they will tell you to change the seatbelts on the first occasion! When it comes to harnesses, UTVs and race cars do not differ much. All riders and drivers want safety warranties.
Of course, harnesses are not enough no matter what ferocious sports vehicle you ride. However, we have talked about UTV safety accessories before, and we may dedicate a couple more guides to this topic shortly. Now, we are talking about 4-point harnesses to boost safety and comfort at the same time!
Those of you who work on challenging terrains, travel across them, race on them, etc., know that good seats and aftermarket 4-point harnesses will not magically upgrade the vehicle's horsepower, fuel consumption, or suspensions. They will improve your comfort levels, riding skills, safety, and support – especially when you are into aggressive rides.
How Does a 4-Point Harness Look and Work?
A 4-point harness features two shoulder belts and two lap belts. All four belts join in a central location (point) that holds them together.
With a 4-point harness installed on your UTV, you can be sure the system will brace both of your shoulders and the hips (left and right sides) to offer you what experts call "containment." When you ride hard and fast, the last thing you want is to watch your passenger clenching the regular seatbelt for dear life.
In other words, instead of having you and your companions sliding and bobbing around in the vehicle trying to remain centered, you can get a 4-point harness and keep everybody in place.
Such harness types are especially valuable when you plan family travels on some of the country's most scenic UTV trails. No matter how "unbeaten" the path is, you do not risk having your kids shaken and stirred like Martinis in the back of the vehicle.
How Do You Choose Safe 4-Point Harnesses for Your UTV?
Are all 4-point safety harness models the same? Of course not. The level of security offered by a 4-point harness correlates with some crucial features you need to consider before buying such a UTV aftermarket part. So let's see some criteria to factor in your selection decision.
1. The 4 Point Safety Harness Latching Style
UTV harness latching systems usually come in two types:
- Latch-and-link harnesses. They are the most common and widely present with side-by-sides these days. Image a hook-and-loop type of closure, with the hook latching onto the loop, holding everything tight in place.
- Cam-lock latches. They look and function like standard seatbelts, where the shoulder belts and lap belts click into place into the cam latch.
When it comes to having a positive riding experience, you have to know that the latch-and-link harnesses are the most trustworthy. If you consider UTV racing, experts do not recommend you getting cam-lock latches for your 4-point harness. While they are the easiest to use, they are susceptible to damages from grit, mud, etc., elements that might lead to their malfunction.
For this reason, most professional UTV racing organizations will not allow them in competitions.
On the other hand, if you use a strong, reliable side-by-side for work (on your farm or ranch), cam-lock latches may be your go-to choice due to their smooth, straightforward operation.
2. The Harness Straps' Width and Features
When you shop for 4-point harnesses, you usually find 2" and 3" straps. Does the harness width matter? It is a question of comfort, stability, and habituation if you like. Sometimes, 3-inch harnesses look and feel like life vests. Many users complain about them rubbing off against their necks and even injuring their shoulders.
However, look at some of the best 3" 4-point harnesses on the market.
You will see that manufacturers took note of such grievances and designed the straps for comfort. For instance, the YXZ 1000R 4 Point Harness 3" set for your Yamaha YXZ 1000R features leather patches to avoid pinching, an adjustable sternum strap to hold together the shoulder straps, and more.
On the other hand, 2" straps on 4-point harnesses are the most common. You can get them from specialized UTV parts shops. Try both types and learn which works best for you. Evidently, the 3" sets provide you with more safety. Still, comfort is an essential issue to consider as well. You should consider the 3" width if you consider a racing harness.
As contentment goes, we always recommend you look for memory foam shoulder pads and adjustable sternum clips, whether you go for the 2" or the 3" straps.
3. Quick Release Harness Mounts
One of the most popular modifications UTV owners make is taking out the stock seatbelts and replacing them with 4-point safety harnesses. However, the removal of harnesses themselves requires time, knowledge, and effort.
Enter Dragonfire Racing, which built an outstanding reputation among UTV racers and casual users with its quick-release harness mounts and kits. The quick-release allows side-by-side users to install and remove the harnesses smoothly and without any complication. If you wonder why anyone should remove the harness after mounting it, the answer is simple. You need to clean and maintain your UTV accessories in top shape, especially if you partake in racing or extensive riding on unbeaten paths.
Usually, Dragonfire Racing sells 4-point safety harnesses with quick release kits per seat of your UTV. In other words, you don't have to go through all the troubles of unbolting your harnesses or sliding them through the seat slots every time you want to take them out for inspection or fixes. They are excellent time savers, adding to your safety and comfort as well.
4. The Harness's Purpose
Now, things get a little more interesting. Most people consider that the stock seatbelts are just fine for their needs. As we all know, utility terrain vehicles bear this denomination because people use them for work. If you need to carry resources or people around your farm or ranch, those seatbelts might be what you need regarding safety for you or your passengers. Few people expect to roll over on flat terrain, no matter how bumpy and challenging the land is.
Nevertheless, suppose you consider a 4-point safety harness to upgrade your UTV. In that case, you should focus on a 4-point racing harness to keep you contained, safe, and stable during an off-road race or outdoor adventure.
The purpose of your UTV and your new harness does not exclude safety and comfort, however. Even if you want a harness for practical purposes, we recommend you get one. Seasoned hunters, for instance, know how crucial it is to get the right harness when they explore new hunting grounds in secluded areas, mountains & hills, less-visited forests and fields, and so on.
The very name of the vehicle – side-by-side – tells us why UTVs are different from ATVs. They can carry many passengers in safety and comfort conditions similar to cars. Nevertheless, if you want to safely transport your work companions, family, kids, or friends, getting harnesses for passengers is the least you can do. UTV riders know they have a handful of safety accessories they can use to upgrade their vehicles to offer a positive experience to whoever rides with them.
Dragonfire Racing also offers 4-point safety harness kits for kids and young riders. You will not probably take your kids racing with you in the same UTV, but for safe family adventures in the summer, we recommend you shop for these too along the strap ratchets you use to tie your side-by-side onto your trailer.
5. Limp Mode or No Limp Mode
UTV manufacturers care a lot about your safety, and so should you. Whoever rode a UTV before knows that you cannot go over a certain speed limit without wearing a seatbelt. Entering limp mode with your UTV can happen because of many technical reasons, but not fastening your seatbelt equals moving like a snail.
As you can quickly figure out – even if you are a UTV beginner – you can bypass such manufacturer specifications. In UTV racing, trailing, outdoor adventuring, etc., speed is crucial. For this reason, the most reputable 4-point harnesses on the market also come with free seatbelt overrides, connectors, and plugs to turn off the limp mode function.
6. The UTV Make and Model
Before you buy any 4-point harness for your UTV, we recommend you do your homework. Granted, some SXS seatbelts, harnesses, and safety gear work for multiple UTV brands and models. However, if you have a Polaris General, get dedicated harness mounts. If you just got a Polaris RZR side-by-side, it is best to install a Polaris RZR auto-latch harness.
Reputable manufacturers like Dragonfire Racing, Trinity Racing, etc., indeed make UTV parts and accessories compatible across brands. On the other hand, if you get dedicated aftermarket parts for each UTV to make and model, chances are you will enjoy smooth, streamlined installation, maintenance, and features.
As a short conclusion to this chapter, let's summarize what we learned so far:
- All 4-points harnesses improve your safety and comfort. In turn, they improve overall performance and riding experience;
- You don't need a 4-point safety harness exclusively for racing or aggressive off-road challenges. You can equip your work UTV with such accessories as well, especially when you ride with companions.
- Some harnesses match multiple UTV models. However, our recommendation is to get model-dedicated aftermarket parts to ensure smooth installation & maintenance, together with optimal performance.
Now, let's move on with our guide, shall we? There is not just one type of UTV harness available on the market after all!
What's The Difference Between 4-Point And 5-Point Harness?
You will hear the most talk about 5-point harnesses in racing contexts. The difference between a 4-point racing harness and a 5-point one is that the latter comes with an extra belt and attachment point. The fifth belt is the "submarine belt." It goes between the riders' legs and into the crotch area, preventing them from slipping or sliding down from their seats in certain rollover/crash situations.
Here are some other things you should know about 5-point UTV harnesses:
- You might have to buy a 5-point racing harness kit together with compatible UTV seats. Most side-by-sides do not feature seats compatible with such type of safety accessory, so plan your budget wisely;
- Most 5-point and 6-point racing harnesses receive SFI Foundation You will not get SFI-approved 4-point harnesses, but you need that grade if you are looking for 5-point sets. Most racing organizations will check these approvals.
- As you can imagine, 5-point harnesses are more expensive and more specialized than 4-point kits.
How to Mount a 4-Point Harness
As we are about to wrap up this guide, we want to show you how to mount a 4-point harness. For this part, we chose a video instead of a written guide for efficiency purposes. You will see how to mount a 4-point harness for safety and comfort in your Polaris RZR 1000 XP since we mentioned this model earlier. While you will not mount all harnesses models the same way, this video teaches you the main principles and key points of installing a 4-point harness on your UTV.
If you also own a Polaris RZR, check out our RZR 4-point harness from Dragonfire!
As you can see, mounting a 4-point harness is not very difficult if you have some skills and tools. In case you did this at least once with your UTV, we'd love to hear how it went and how fast did you install the kit!
Are 4-point harnesses safe for casual UTV uses? Yes! They are among the best safety accessories to upgrade your UTV, no matter why you use them. Accidents happen even when you carry cargo on your farm or explore nature with the family on vacations. As we said, a 4-point harness is a step in the right direction for safety, comfort, and performance. However, you have plenty of things to add to your SXS for safety, from better seats to advanced GPS tracking systems.
Now it is your time to share your thoughts and experiences! Do you have a 4-point harness installed in your UTV? How do you feel about it? Did you go for the 2" or 3" models? If you have suggestions, advice, or even funny stories about your experience with 4-point harnesses, now is the time to share them with our community!