Magnum Offroad – The Shop Tour
Magnum Offroad – The Shop TourWords by Joey DiGiovanni Photos by Vincent Knakal
As many know, UTVUnderground.com and Magnum Offroad go a ways back. Its accurate to say that without the support of Magnum Offroad and their initial investment into UTVUnderground.com that I would have never launched the site. The story starts back in 2007 when we would all gather for lunch periodically during the week. Magnum Offroad’s crew and Rusty Baptist (another site founder and friend) and I would meet a couple times a week at a local lunch spot to eat and catch up on the happenings in and around our world and the world of UTV’s. All of us were forum junkies, I was always the biggest and it wasn’t long before Dan Rosenzweig (owner of Magnum Offroad) would finally say to me that I should create my own site with my own ideas. For the sake of attention span I will leave out all the little details but it was around November of 2008 that Dan said to me that he bought me the software needed to create the site, all I had to do was figure it out! Easy enough right? Well fast forward to today and this little lunch time idea has turned into a full time career for me and has literally set me on a path that I never would have dreamed I would be on.
UTVUnderground.com has grown tremendously since our launch, and made a lot of important changes over the years but one thing that remains true for us is our gratitude for those companies who supported us from day 1, companies like Black Rhino, Rugged Radios, and Magnum Offroad. So it’s a “no brainer” that as we introduce an entirely new site and a new style of feature article that we pay homage to the company and people that gave us the initial investment and push to become the greatest all inclusive UTV site on the web! So its with great pleasure that we introduce our first full feature shop tour on Magnum Offroad. (While we call it a shop tour, this will be more like a company profile since we have so much history.)
Magnum’s roots are buried deep into the dirt that we as off-road enthusiasts all share and enjoy. Its safe to say that if Magnum’s staff wasn’t in business building off-road machines they would all still be out playing with the rest of us in the dirt. Like me, they just happen to have made their hobby their work and while some may say that doing so is a bad combination its obvious to guys like us that the combination can and does work! Magnum Offroad was officially founded in 2006. The goal for brothers & company owners Dan and Mike Rosenzweig was to pair their skills and create a business that produced products that they themselves could be absolutely proud of. It wasn’t long after moving into their first location in Vista, CA that the products they would be known for today would start flowing through the doors. Mike’s 15+ years of fabrication and mechanical experience was the foundation of the company. Mike’s designs for Hummer H1 roof racks, tire carriers, bumpers, brush guards, etc would be the backbone of the operation leading to contracts with the US government while Danny’s keen eye for design would allow for Magnum to separate themselves from the competition. While Mike’s focus came from behind the lens of a welding mask and from across the table of Government Officials, Danny’s would zero-in on the cutting edge of the off-road industry, thus focusing his attention on UTV’s. So while Mike created the products that would pay the bills, Danny would begin forging relationships and product designs that would propel Magnum Offroad into the future and to the ever so elusive “next level”.
In 2006 the Yamaha Rhino craze was taking hold of the off-road industry here in Southern California. Buggy and Truck guys like myself were flocking to dealerships to swoop up on Yamaha Rhino’s to build as our next off-road projects. Only a handful of companies were established at the time to help guys like me with our newly discovered UTV addictions. Local companies like Mason Motorsports, Rhinocraft, and So-Cal Fab were designing some pretty amazing stuff for the Rhino racers, but for guys like me who strictly wanted a custom play Rhino the options were usually limited to a suspension kit or bolt on cage. It was during this time that Danny and Magnum Offroad were setting their sites on building and designing custom UTV’s. Danny and one of Magnum’s early partners went out and purchased their very own Rhino’s and started designing and developing the products that would eventually put them on the map in regards to UTV’s. First came the standards for fab companies at the time – a bolt on cage, then a Long Travel suspension, some bumpers and light bars. Not one to settle and follow the crowd Dan insisted on cutting his Rhino down to the frame, thus laying the foundation for what would become Magnum’s legacy to the UTV world, the famed “Milk Truck” Yamaha Rhino. I call it the “game-changer” because it literally shifted the way people looked at UTV’s. Sure there were some pretty amazing Rhino’s built at the time but it wasn’t until Magnum Offroad unveiled the Milk Truck that people really began to respect the potential of what a UTV could become. It wasn’t just a golf cart anymore, it was a legit off-road machine capable of taking on whoop sections that buggies and trucks costing 2 times as much to build weren’t capable of handling. Its low top and dropped down seating position gave it the look of a hot rod while the width and stance screamed mini trophy truck. The Magnum Offroad “Milk Truck” propelled them to the top of the list when it came to companies to consider when wanting a complete frame up custom built UTV. The Milk Truck changed the game for good!
When it comes to custom builds the Milk Truck was only the beginning. Soon followed Bill’s Rotax Rhino, the Orange Crush Rotax Rhino, and my personal favorite the Fatrod! The Fatrod was UTVUnderground.com’s very first project build and it was the first project I was able to work on with Magnum. We brainstormed for months on what we wanted, and it seemed that just when we had a plan I would have another kid! It forced us to take our concept to the limit building the very first chopped and dropped 5-seat Yamaha Rhino. We spared no expense on this build and it not only turned out to be everything I had ever wanted, it also gave Magnum yet another notch on the belt when it came to fully customized, frame up built, one of a kind UTV”s. While the bulk of the industry focused on turning out production on cages and accessories, Magnum adopted the slogan “Going Beyond Bolt-on”.
Fast-forward to today and you will still find Danny and the crew at Magnum cutting up their own UTV’s, designing and fabricating NEW products, and yes – still playing in the dirt. Walk into the shop and you can still find Mike hard at work fabricating a new Mil-Spec under armor skid protection system for a Government 4×4 and Danny nit picking the lines of a cage they are designing for a new UTV. While many of the UTV companies who launched at the same time as Magnum have folded or shifted focus away from the UTV, Magnum has stayed true to their goals and roots. The same employees that were welding and installing parts back in 2006 for Magnum are still there today which to me speaks volumes for a company in the off-road industry. While the people they employ and many other things have remained the same a new location and some new blood has been injected into the Magnum mold. In 2010 they instituted their own in-house shock program. No longer would Magnum rely on outside tuners to valve and set up their dampening systems. Together with the help of one of the best shock tuners in the world (he will remain nameless) Magnum has developed some of the best custom valved Fox Shocks for UTV’s the industry has ever seen. These shocks have complimented their line up of long travel systems for all makes of UTV’s. In 2011 Magnum brought in an in-house CAD/SolidWorks Engineer to help them with their larger fabrication projects such as their design of the EPIC EV called the Torq. It should be mentioned that all of their new suspension systems are also now first designed in CAD/SolidWorks. In 2011 they moved into a new 5500 SqFt facility in San Marcos, CA giving them more space to build and fabricate, a showroom for which to sell out of, and the office space needed to grow the business.
So we have brought you up to speed on the brief history of Magnum but what about today and beyond? Well when we stopped by Magnum with UTVUnderground’s new Director Of Photography Vincent Knakal we found some pretty cool new and existing projects that were being worked on. In sitting down with Mike and Dan it was made clear that Magnum has no intention of just simply putting the company into cruise control and continuing to build products and vehicles that are within their comfort zone. This shows true in a couple of the vehicles we saw at their shop, one of which we already featured on UTVUnderground, the Magnum MOX Can-Am Commander 1000X. It also shows true in the previously mentioned EPIC EV “Torq” machine that Magnum designed and developed with local manufacturer EPIC. The EPIC Torq is a 3 wheel electric vehicle that when pitched to Magnum was only a rendering on paper. It would take every bit of design and fabrication experience the 2 brothers would have to turn this drawing into a working reality, and with some serious blood, sweat & tears it would be brought to life. The EPIC project would also open yet another chapter for Magnum as a company, as they were now being looked upon as chassis developers and being considered for large scale production fabrication work.
To be the best in the industry you have to beat the best and no better place to do so then in sanctioned competition. Magnum took criticism head on in 2011 when they found out that a couple local shops were saying that Magnum’s products had not and would not have any success in racing, they were simply a novelty shop building “play grade” products. So to set the record strait they partnered up with and fully sponsored Luke Rodgers and his Yamaha Rhino in the WORCS Racing Series, ironically putting his machine heads up against one of the trash talking companies race vehicles and racers. What would ensue would be a 4 race win streak, putting Luke and his Magnum Offroad Yamaha Rhino on top of the podium, taking the points lead and putting them in a position to win a championship. Ultimately this argument of being race proven not only was squashed but also was now putting them on the radar for other companies and racers to consider when building a new race machine. It was this early success in racing that prompted UTVUnderground and John Deere to seek out Magnum to then build and develop products for the then unreleased John Deere Gator RSX 850i and a 2 car race program for the 2013 seasons at WORCS and BITD. The WORCS RSX 850i was introduced last week while the BITD car is still being built. Both machines utilize Magnum’s newly designed suspension systems, in-house shock tuning, and custom chassis designs. As I type it makes me think that these 2 machines are the culmination of 6 hard years of paying dues. Everything Magnum has become is being poured into this project and I can’t imagine anything but success.
Outside of UTVUnderground.com there isn’t another company I know more about, have spent as much time with, and been able to watch grow as much as Magnum Offroad. Its crazy to think that the ideas that bounce between those shop walls in San Marcos, CA are influencing the ideas that are developing future UTV’s from the factory floor. Who would have thought that a couple of brothers with a love for off-road could do so much for such a new industry in such a short amount of time? To say we can’t wait to see what Magnum does next is an understatement; now that I think of it, it’s probably easier to speculate what Magnum won’t do next.