Product Test - All Weather Ranger
Written By:John Arens
There is very little that can stop the heavy duty, hard working UTVs of today and almost without exception, they are all terrain, all weather vehicles. The trouble is, we’re not. While we love the first frosts of fall, chilly mornings for deer hunting, and even the first snows that slowly parachute to the ground like a miniature airborne invasion, before long we’re tired of fighting the war. What starts as a pastoral, wintery marvel straight out of a Rockwell painting quickly becomes the party that went too long, with all the unbounded jubilance of a New Year’s Day hangover. It is time for some winter protection!
About the same time Mick Jagger was shouting, ‘”Give me Shelter,” Curtis Cab was working on exactly that but for entirely different reasons. Curtis Industries was founded in 1968 with the first products being winter protection for small tractors, and the new cabs didn’t take long to become very popular in cold New England winters. Since then they’ve expanded into all types of vehicles with products that cover golf carts, compact tractors, and most importantly in our eyes, UTVs! We tried a Curtis Cab with a John Deere Gator a little over a year ago, but we were still out in the cold with our Polaris Ranger XP800. That was about to change.
Cab Kit Installation
Curtis ships their cab kits to dealers, and although the dealer will certainly be happy to install it for you, we like to install any extra parts ourselves. After all, it’s our job! The Curtis PathPro SS cab kit came in an enormous crate with all parts well packed for protection, and along with the parts was a hardware packet and a set of instructions. It was time to get to work!
One thing we REALLY like about the Curtis kits is they build all the major assemblies at their plant. This saves a lot of time and effort, and rather than working with dozens of smaller pieces, all you need to do is bolt together large ones. Oddly enough, one of the first steps in the build process proved to be the most difficult. To install the front corner assembly, it’s necessary to replace two bolts on the front cab structure, and once the stock bolts are removed, there’s no telling which way the bars are likely to spring. We installed the new Curtis corner plates and spacers as directed, lined up the holes with a drift pin, and bolted it back together. Each successive step got easier, and it was actually very intuitive. We were only casually glancing at the directions and it was fun to watch our new cab come together. As usual for anything we install, we don’t fully tighten bolts on parts that may require a final alignment such as door hinges, latch plates, etc.
Attention to detail often makes the difference between a great part and a mediocre one, and the Curtis PathPro SS kit excels. We like the padded roof and headliner of our Curtis Cab kit. Rather than just bare metal over your head, Curtis has included a soft inner liner that presents a more finished look. The windshield is also hard coated for use with a wiper kit and is rubber mounted like nearly every part in the kit, greatly eliminating any vibration.
Hanging the doors couldn’t be easier. The door assemblies have been prebuilt and formed at the factory and the durable fabric cover is already installed. All you need to do is pull the shipping plastic off the door and set it in the hinges. Ours closed and latched PERFECTLY! We then tightened down the hinge bolts and latch plate adjustment. Both doors also feature double stage latches, and the windows can be opened for summer thanks to the heavy duty zippers, or the doors can simply be removed. We like how Curtis thought to build the doors with hinges at the rear. This allows the maximum opening where there is the most access on the Ranger. (Take note Honda!) It’s a clear sign the kit was developed from a well thought out design meant to work as a complete unit rather than a collection of mismatched individual pieces. Finally, the doors also come with an excellent cable stop that limits their maximum opening, preventing the wind from overextending them.
Installing the rear section of the enclosure is easy as well, and the top of the enclosure snaps into place just under the rear roof line. Velcro strips fasten the fabric to the Ranger corner posts in other areas and just about every part of the cab is covered. We left a couple of the smaller, lower trim pieces off since they weren’t really needed and you actually want some ventilation. We were done! Total assembly time was about three hours and it was time for a ride!
Curtis Trail Comfort
We were extremely pleased with how the PathPro SS kit fit our Ranger! The rubber strip along the bottom of the wind shield fit the hood perfectly, the doors sealed to the bodywork better than the ones on our truck, and it’s almost elegant inside! Thankfully, every nut and bolt head on the inside also gets a rubber cap which is both a great safety feature and gives it a more finished appearance. We really like the door latch which is the best we’ve ever seen on any UTV kit, and the handle is even rubber coated as well.
On the trail the Curtis Cab kit offers excellent vision. It’s easy to see out of the cab with almost no blind spots. The rear windows allow excellent access, and even the doors have clear panels all the way to the bottom. Because everything is enclosed and the engine is under the seat on a Polaris Ranger, it is a little louder inside but the extra comfort is worth it.
We can’t say enough about the quality of the Curtis Cab parts. Each part is precision cut and formed with no sharp edges or burrs to cut fingers or snag clothing. Bolt holes are properly sized and elongated where necessary for adjustment, and every part is well protected with a highly durable, matte black powder coat finish. We were also extremely happy to find Curtis uses Nylock nuts everywhere to eliminate the possibility of bolts backing off from vibration. Their attention to detail is excellent!
The Curtis PathPro SS kit didn’t require any drilling, cutting or modifications to the stock chassis which takes a lot of work out of installation. Luckily, the kit also uses a minimum number of common tools, and with a helping hand or two, it’s quite easy to install.
Curtis Wish List
As good as the Curtis Kit is, there are a few things that could make the kit even better. The first thing we would improve is the pictures in the instructions. Although the kit came with very thorough instructions, the corresponding photos looked like they came from an 80’s era copy machine. It’s time to go digital!
The other two suggestions are for the kit itself. Curtis uses both steel and plastic washers that are very similar, and it’s tricky to tell them apart since they are both black. If they’re injection molding plastic washers anyway, it would be nice to make them in a color other than black. Finally, rather than having to hold a washer and nut and then thread in a bolt, it would be easier if the nut was already spot welded in place. This would be especially helpful when trying to install the blind nuts on the bottom edge of the windshield where it is difficult to reach and hold with your fingers.
All Weather Protection
The Curtis PathPro SS kit has definitely improved our winter off-road adventures. From our first ride, we were wondering why we hadn’t installed one earlier! Even though Curtis offers a premium level PathPro RCS kit one step above our PathPro SS kit, we were extremely happy with the kit we had just installed and it almost feels like trail luxury. The vision is excellent, the protection is outstanding, and it looks great! Somebody needs to call Mick Jagger!