Hey everyone, Josh Martelli here. As the COO of UTVUnderground, I wanted to take a moment to share our personal experience here at our shop, with one of the most significant technological advancements in UTV tech in the past few years – Polaris Ride Command.
When Polaris Ride Command first came on the scene, it was touted as a game-changer. This innovative GPS-based navigational tool promised to revolutionize off-road navigation and group ride organization. At that time most of us were using Garmin units and experimenting with iPads and tablets with various apps running. Today, as a seasoned off-road enthusiast and a member of the UTV community, I can attest that it has more than lived up to its hype and now taken center stage.
As we all know, off-roading is more than just the thrill of conquering rugged terrains. It’s about exploration, camaraderie, and shared adventure. Unfortunately, in the old days, managing a group ride was often a chaotic experience. Coordinating meeting spots, keeping track of group members, and sharing ride stats were persistent challenges. With the advent of the Ride Command app, these issues are pretty much a thing of the past – albeit, so long as everyone in the group is linked up.
Over the years, our team has embarked on 50+ group UTV trips to some iconic locations, including Moab, Glamis, Lake Tahoe, Mammoth, and Baja California. All of these trips have been significantly easier and more fun because of Ride Command. There are three key features I want to talk about today: the Group Ride feature, Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communication, and the detailed trail tracking and planning.
At its core, Ride Command is about connection – not just with the trail, but with your group as well. With its Group Ride feature, all members can see each other on the map in real-time. This has proved invaluable during our trips, ensuring no one gets left behind or veers off track. I remember our journey through Moab’s vast terrain, a few years back, where the Group Ride feature allowed us to maintain a coherent ride while soaking up the dramatic red rock landscape. Some of us were miles apart – but we still had radio comms and could see the entire group on our HUD – which took the pressure off constantly checking in with each other.
If you’ve been to Glamis, (the Sand Dune Capital of the World), you know how massive and exhilarating the dunes are there. It’s really easy to get turned around though. With the Ride Command app, we can share our routes instantly, allowing the entire group to experience the thrill of flat foot riding – without getting lost. And, during our Lake Tahoe and Mammoth expeditions, we shared trails, way points, and points of interest, elevating our collective adventure. That fear of losing each other, riding too close together, and eating each other’s dust was eliminated with Ride Command on all of those trips. It’s been a game changer.
One of our most challenging adventures was down in Baja California earlier in the year. Baja is known for its rugged landscapes and (poorly marked) treacherous paths. In such harsh environments, safety becomes paramount. Ride Command’s Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) feature ensured that all members were within a safe distance from each other, and we could notify the group about potential hazards in real-time. Plus, the weather alerts feature was especially useful, allowing us to adjust our plans based on real-time weather conditions.
Ride Command’s tracking feature has made trip planning a breeze as well. Our ride statistics, such as distance covered, time spent, and average speed, are all recorded. This feature allows us to plan each day on the trail, factoring in fuel stops and breaks based on our riding style and speed. Not only that, but we save and revisit our favorite routes, like the one from our Mammoth trip, and relive the excitement or share it with others in the UTV community.
Staying connected is crucial when you’re tackling the wild outdoors as a group. The robust communication capabilities of Ride Command have been a much needed addition to standard radio comms and cell phones. Through the app, we send quick messages and alerts, making it effortless to coordinate pit stops or to regroup. It was particularly helpful during our Lake Tahoe trip, where we had to navigate through dense forests and often lost line-of-sight with each other.
Ride Command has a few often-underutilized features that can significantly enhance the off-roading experience. One of these is the Social Sharing feature. Many users overlook the potential of this feature in creating and enhancing the sense of community amongst off-roading enthusiasts. It allows riders to share their favorite trails, photos, and experiences directly from the app to their social media platforms. Not only does this offer a fun way to relive adventures, but it also enables others in the community to discover new routes and destinations.
Another underutilized feature is Audio Integration. This feature allows users to control their mobile device’s music and phone capabilities directly through Ride Command’s interface, leading to a seamless and safe riding experience. By using this feature, riders can keep their focus on the trail and ride, without needing to stop and handle their device for music or call controls. It’s basically Apple Carplay for your UTV which is fantastic.
Making full use of these features simply makes for a lot more fun on the trail in groups. They not only offer convenience and safety but also makes the journey with friends more meaningful. As more users recognize the value of these underutilized features, Ride Command’s role as a comprehensive trail companion is likely to increase among RZR, General and even Ranger owners.
While Ride Command already provides a comprehensive suite of features for off-roading, Ride Command + goes a step further to enhance this experience with additional advanced features and capabilities. It builds on a robust foundation and introduces several advanced features, like Advanced Map Layering, which allows users to layer multiple types of maps, such as topographic, aerial, or street view, providing a more detailed understanding of the terrain and surroundings. This can be particularly helpful in navigating complex trails or planning new routes.
With Ride Command +, users can download maps for offline use as well, ensuring uninterrupted navigation even in areas with weak or no cell signal. This is a vital feature for off-road adventurers in remote regions.
While the regular Group Ride feature allows seeing group members’ locations, Ride Command + takes this further with additional details like the direction each member is facing or moving. This makes it even easier to stay together during group rides.
Then there is the Premium Trail Content feature which provides access to an exclusive library of professionally curated trails, complete with detailed descriptions, photos, and reviews. This library is full of awesome trails with tons of notes that allow you to venture safely into the unknown.
While both versions of the Ride Command offer substantial benefits, Ride Command + is designed for those seeking an elevated level of information, convenience, and connectivity. It emphasizes a more immersive and informed riding experience, making it a valuable tool for both casual riders and serious enthusiasts. So if you like Ride Command definitely check out RC+!
Polaris does have some competition in the navigation arena. Magellan offers an off-road GPS navigation system with the TRX and TR series. These units come with preloaded trails, a tracking feature, and the ability to add custom waypoints. Garmin has specific models designed for off-roading, like the Garmin Overlander and the Garmin GPSMAP 64st. These devices offer rugged construction, topographic maps, and multi-GNSS support. And Lowrance offers off-road GPS units like the Elite-7 Ti2. They offer features such as high-detail maps, waypoint marking, and tracking. However, they are generally more focused on off-road racing rather than leisure off-roading. While each of these competitors has its strengths, Ride Command stands out for its comprehensive feature set, user-friendly interface, and seamless integration with Polaris vehicles. And, the Ride Command app makes it more accessible for users, providing robust functionalities on your smartphone. There’s no extra mounting, wiring, software, etc to deal with.
All in all, Polaris Ride Command has been a major asset in our group UTV adventures, transforming them from merely fun experiences into organized, connected, and safety-conscious explorations. It is a testament to how technology can amplify the thrill of off-roading, ensuring that the spirit of adventure and camaraderie isn’t hindered by logistical challenges. In a world that’s increasingly digitally connected, it’s fantastic to see this connectivity enhancing real-world experiences, where the rubber meets the dirt.
Whether we’re pre-running for The California 300, OR hitting Baja for a big group adventure, Ride Command is always a big part of our planning because it helps guide us down new trails, keeps us connected, and allows us to spend more time actually off-roading. SO – if you’re new to Ride Command, dive in – and stay tuned as Polaris has some pretty major updates to the platform coming in 2024!