Originally, stripped enduro bikes the factories quickly responded with purpose designed racing bikes that were blindingly fast compared to the enduros.
Screaming 2 cycles and long travel suspensions have given way to 4 cycle thumper power and aluminum frames to further reduce weight and improve handling.
The fun little 3 wheeler gave way to the much safer quad. They have benefited from the development of the moto-cross bike and get the same benefits too.
The top models are blindingly quick in racer form. There are also work horse models with 4 wheel drive and winches for hunters and farm duty. They even have their own desert racing class and have run the famous Dakar Rally since 2009.
Originally built from stripped down type I VW beetles inspired by the Myers Manx. The first "tunnel" rails were nothing more than the Beetle's chassis stripped of the body. It wasn't long before the chassis was stripped away too.
The stock trailing design of the suspension and ease of mounting into a tube frame made these light weight cars into a serious beach fun machine. Soon, they too had their own off road racing classes and spawned several series becoming a staple in the desert racing series. Kyle Busch of NASCAR fame has taken the buggy to the extreme with his 1000hp dune runner.
The whole off road adventure stared with these cute little dynamos after WWII and the great army surplus sales of the 50s. Full 4 wheel drive and deep gear ratios allowed the little 4 cylinder engine to chug through almost any terrain after a few tries. My earliest memory is riding in the back of an old MJ eating an apple watching the road stretch away behind us. Now the venerable Jeep is fully optioned with luxury and convenience gadgets but the designers have not forsaken their roots and have retained their off road prowess over 60 years of design changes.
Originally designed to take advantage of the existing components the AMC designers fashioned a more capable station wagon and they called it the Wagoneer. It was a hit with the rural set who had kids and groceries to shuttle to and from town. The Blazer soon was add by GM on the pickup chassis and the segment took off. Millions of SUVs are produced annually and few actually see more than a few miles of off road over their life cycle however they remain an important staple for the manufacturers.
Side By Sides
With the capabilities of quad runners and the handling of a off road buggy, it was only a matter of time before a brave manufacturer attempted to make a factory of road competitor to the buggy. There was obviously a lot of pent up demand for a vehicle that would go almost anywhere while taking the wife and kids along. It didn't long for variants to come along. From full race buggies to farm yard workhorse there is a side-by-side for almost anyone at your nearest dealer. Something the sand buggy could never provide.
Special gear for special circumstances. If you're going off roading you'll more than a six pack (cans please, no glass) and an ice chest.
Always bring my tool bag filled with goodies. Then, toss in a the Hi-lift and a bottle jack. These few items will get you out of almost any tricky situation you can encounter. If you are going to the sand, invest in a couple of sand anchors and a 12 volt air compressor.
A buggy whip is required at most dunes these days and for good reason. If you are headed to the forest where there may be mud, be sure the tow hooks are tight, a good set of snow chains will help keep you moving if the going gets really difficult. Sliding off the trail into the trees will spoil a nice trip in the woods. A mid-day shower can change a trail drastically, be prepared to wait it out if you must.
It's always a good idea to plan on spending the night in the wilderness when you are packing for a day trip. Check the weather forecast where you are headed, rain gear is always a good idea in the mountains even when it's not in the forecast. Check the forecast overnight lows where you are going to handle those conditions. You just never know. A heavy coat, gloves, change of shoes and socks or better yet a full change of clothes is a good plan. You never know when you will have to crawl around in the mud to get yourself unstuck. A change of clothes will keep you fresh and the inside of your nice rig clean. Gone are the days to hosing out the inside of your Jeep on the way home from a day of mudding. Be prepared!