Wow what a tire...Got Mud
It’s gonna happen. Sooner or later a CV boot on your four-wheel drive ATV will tear. Whether caused by brush, rocks, ice, sticks or dried mud, something will pierce the part that protects those greasy CV joints on your machine’s drivetrain.
Grease on the outside of a CV boot is a sign that it’s been punctured. If left unchecked, water and mud will wash away the lubricating paste and destroy the joint or shaft, leaving you with a repair that could exceed $300, for the parts alone. But if caught soon after the damage is done, your wheeler can be back in the woods or on the trail for about $50 in parts.
Replacing a CV boot might seem intimidating, but it’s a relatively simple repair that took us about an hour to complete. We replaced the inner boot on the left-rear axle-shaft of a 2007 Arctic Cat 400 4×4. This story covers the service on that particular machine, but the steps and basic principles here can be applied to most other makes and models.
Step 1: Set the ATV on a stable jackstand to elevate the wheel that you’ll service. Place the stand under a secure spot to support the machine, such as the frame or gearcase housing. Test the machine’s stability before moving on to the next step.
Step 2: Remove the wheel and unbolt the upper and lower A-arms from the knuckle assembly, which contains the wheel bearing. Let the axle-shaft hang while you perform the next step.
Step 3: Remove the CV boot clamp with a sidecutters, tin snips or similar tool. This will allow you to pull the boot off the CV joint and access the shaft’s retainer clip, which is explained in the next step.
Step 4: On our Arctic Cat, the axle-shaft was held in the gearcase with a metal retainer ring. We scooped out most of the grease to find the ring, and then pried it out with a small screwdriver. With the retainer out, the shaft can be removed from the vehicle.
Step 5: With the shaft on a workbench, now is a good time to inspect the knuckle assembly’s mount bushings and bearings. If the machine has a lot of miles or a few hard ones, this is the best time to replace the worn parts.
Step 6: Now the CV joint needs to come off the axle-shaft so you can remove and replace the damaged boot. Use a finger to scoop out the grease and expose the circlip that holds the joint on the shaft; use a small, snap-ring plier to remove the clip and slide the joint off the shaft. Note how the joint goes on the shaft (for our machine, the tapered end pointed toward the wheel-end of the shaft). Be careful when handling the CV joint as the ball bearings might fall out. A few fell out of our Cat’s CV joint, but we pressed them in place by hand and smeared some fresh grease over the joint to help retain them.
Step 7: We purchased an Arctic Cat CV boot replacement kit that included the boot, clamps, new clips and a packet of grease for less than $50. Remove the damaged boot and slide the new one on the shaft, then reinstall the joint with a new circlip. The small-end boot clamp can be installed at this time, but we left ours off in case we needed to adjust the boot while reinstalling the axle-shaft on the machine. If you’re confident you can install the shaft without trouble, go ahead and tighten the clamp while the shaft is on the bench because it’s easier to do there than when it’s on the machine.
Step 8: The shaft is ready to slide back into the differential, but make sure the case is clean before reinstallation. Shine a flashlight inside the cavity to verify the gunk and debris has been cleared away. Wipe the cavity with a shop towel, or you might need to use contact cleaner and a scraper to loosen stubborn dirt and mud that’s mixed with grease. For illustration, the large clamp is pictured on the boot in this step.
Step 9: With the shaft in the case, install the new clip to retain the axle-shaft inside the differential. Fill the CV joint cavity with grease and be sure to smear some on the joint itself, too.
Step 10: Now fill the CV boot with grease and then carefully position it over the joint, making sure to slide it all the way against the shoulder on the case. Set the clamp in place over the boot and hook the tabs to prepare it for final installation. Hook the tabs so the clamp’s tapered end will sit inside the recessed portion when the clamp is compressed.
Step 11: Specific orientation of the boot’s clamp is dictated by things — A-arms, brake components, the frame, etc. — that might interfere with the CV boot clamp compression tool you’ll use to lock the clamp in place. With some trial and error, you’ll determine where to position the clamp on your machine. On our Arctic Cat, we put the clasp at about 10 o’clock for the inner boot and locked it.
Step 12: If you didn’t install the outer clamp in Step 7, put the tapered end of the boot in position on the axle; there should be a shoulder or clamp-groove to indicate correct installation. Make sure the boot is correctly installed before you lock the clamp, otherwise the boot will suffer damage when the suspension cycles through its travel.
Step 13: After the clamps are installed, remount the A-arms and wheel. With the transmission in neutral, spin the wheel forward and backward by hand to make sure everything works correctly before taking the ATV for a test-drive
As we’ve written before, Ontario has some of the best and most diverse ATV trails we’ve ever ridden, so it didn’t take much convincing for us to check out the Can-Am Spring Jam, which just happens to be the largest ATV jamboree in all of Canada.
Parry Sound is only about a two-hour drive north of Toronto so it couldn’t be easier to get to. As the highway inched closer to our destination we started to see quite a few trucks loaded up with ATVs and UTVs making the same pilgrimage.
Our first order of business was checking into the Comfort Inn, which is located conveniently between the highway and downtown Parry Sound. Upon walking up to the desk late Friday morning we were greeted by a half dozen ATVers who were caked in mud and grinning from ear to ear. The Spring Jam Poker Run was taking place and the Comfort Inn was one of the stops. After the riders got their stickers we grabbed our room keys and prepared to hit the trails.
Before heading to the Spring Jam headquarters at the Foley Fairgrounds in the town of Seguin, we decided to make a quick stop at Wal-Mart (where we saw more Poker Run participants) next door to the Comfort Inn to pick up some rain boots. The week prior had been fairly rainy and since the Poker Run participants we saw earlier were decked out hip waders and rain gear we figured the trails might be a little muddy.
The first thing we did upon arriving at the Can-Am Spring Jam was take the always fun Can-Am Renegade around the demo track.
The drive to the Foley Fairgrounds, which was known as The Village for the weekend, was just a few minutes from the hotel. It’s a great space for an event like this because it’s got trails nearby, an indoor facility and plenty of outdoor space for the vendors to shop their wares. Can-Am is the title sponsor of the Spring Jam and its display area was huge. A fleet of Can-am ATVs and UTVs was being used for demo rides and that was the first thing we checked out.
The demo vehicles were covered in mud, which was a harbinger of things to come. We grabbed a Can-Am Renegade 800R and started to tear around the demo track, which wound around the back of the fairgrounds and into a wooded area. The Renegade is such a fun machine to play around on, but it was a struggle to get through the muddiest parts of the track so we switched to a Can-Am Outlander 800R X mr. This was our first time on Can-Am’s mud machine and it was an eye-opening experience. The massive Gorilla Axle Silverback tires made short work of even the deepest mud sections we could find and left every other machine in its wake. We can’t wait to spend some more time on this fantastic ATV.
Can-Am’s Outlander 800R X mr made easy work of the muddiest trails. We want to ride this one again…like right now!
As much fun as the demo rides were, the ATV Village was buzzing from all the vendors and event partners. Honda Canada is another key partner and had an impressive display of machines on hand. As well, local Yamaha, Arctic Cat, Dinli dealers were showing off a wide array of new machines. Grilled hamburgers and hot dogs awaited hungry riders, as well as one truck selling the most delicious and hot-from-the-fryer miniature donuts we’ve ever tasted. If we weren’t already happily married the wonderful woman making those donuts may have had to turn down proposal from us. This was not a good weekend to count calories!
While we were at the Village we chatted up some representatives from the Parry Sound ATV District Club about Ontario’s trail system. For $120 you can ride the trails around Parry Sound, as well as Elliot Lake, Mattawa, Cochrane and Haliburton for an entire year. Daily and weekly passes are also available if you’re just visiting or want a taste test of Ontario’s marvelous ATV trails.
If you scrape away the mud, you’ll see a bright pink Can-Am Outlander belonging to TraX 4 Breast Cancer. It was one of the stars of the Spring Jam.
A quick glance at the participants of the Can-Am Spring Jam revealed a lot more pink than we normally expect at an ATV rally. This was due to the involvement of TraX4 Breast Cancer – a group that raises funds in support of the Kelly Shires Foundation. This group directly supports women and men who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. TraX4 Breast Cancer held a fundraising ride and put together a hot breakfast on Saturday morning. The group was also riding around on a pink Can-Am Outlander. It can be difficult to stand out at an ATV rally, but not when you’re riding a bright pink ATV while wearing a feather boa!
Perhaps the highlight of our Can-Am Spring Jam experience was the Royal Rumble Ride on Friday evening. About 250 ATVs, led by a police escort, made the trip from the Village in Seguin to the streets of Parry Sound. The enormous convoy of ATVs toured through the city streets and wound up at the highest point in the city – the West Parry Sound Museum on Tower Hill. It was here that event organizers and the mayor of Parry Sound greeted the riders and the party began!
Seeing more than 200 ATVs and UTVs driving through the streets of Parry Sound was one of our favorite moments of the trip.
Hot dogs were grilled and music was pumping as the crowd of happy ATVers milled about. The more adventurous climbed the 131-step observation tower and were rewarded with a spectacular view of Georgian Bay at sunset. In order to get photos and video we ended up climbing those 131 steps three times in about an hour. We were exhausted and hungry, but at least we burned off a few of those miniature donuts.
Here’s a view from the top of the observation tower as the ATVs were completing the Royal Rumble Ride.
After cleaning up and getting changed at the hotel we headed over to Don Cherry’s for some dinner. While the menu had plenty of options, we decided to continue with our not so healthy diet and dig into some tasty chicken wings and a pint as we relaxed and watched some playoff hockey on one of the enormous TVs.
Saturday morning came awfully early, but we were greeted by the Comfort Inn’s complimentary breakfast. After filling our bellies and checking our email on the hotel’s free WiFi, it was time to head back to the Village for another day of off-road fun.
The trails on the Grand Trunk ride were surprisingly dry considering all the rain that fell leading up to the Can-Am Spring Jam.
Can-Am was kind enough to loan us a Can-Am Commander 1000 XT to use for the day and we decided to go on the Grand Trunk Ride. We thought about tackling the Georgian Rocks ride, but that takes you through a fairly advanced series of trails and we didn’t want to bang up our loaner Commander. Part of the Georgian Rocks ride takes place on the 1000-acre private trail system of Bear Claw Tours – an event sponsor. If you really want to challenge yourself those trails are not to be missed. Guided tours are available all season long.
Though it has a few challenges of its own, the Grand Trunk Ride is pretty easy going most of the way and takes you through some amazing scenery. Event organizers smartly sent riders out in small, staggered groups to avoid bottlenecks, but once you hit the trails you were free to go at your own pace. More than once we passed a group of riders sitting and relaxing by a secluded lake. We even saw one rider grab his fishing pole from his storage box and cast a line into the glassy water. It was that kind of day.
One smart rider brought along his fishing pole to cast into this secluded trail-side lake.
After getting so muddy on the demo track the day before, we were pleasantly surprised at the shape the trails were in. We had to deal with a little standing water from time to time, but the majority of the trail was in fantastic shape all the way to Sprucedale – about 40 miles to the east of the Village. The trail was dotted with many well-constructed bridges that took us over several meandering rivers. The quiet ride was only interrupted by a passing train that ran alongside the trail. We’ve ridden all over North American and it’s tough to think of a more beautiful ATV ride than this one.
About halfway to Sprucedale we ran into an odd sight – a truck and trailer parked just off the trail. Turns out it was our beloved donut angel, who was selling the sweet treats, along with coffee and hot chocolate, to grateful ATVers passing by. We couldn’t believe that fresh donuts were being cooked up in the middle of an ATV trail. If this is what ATVing in Ontario is all about you can sign us up!
Many well constructed bridges allow ATV riders to safely cross the many lakes and rivers along the trail.
Going at a fairly relaxed pace, including time for taking photos, the Grand Trunk ride should take five or six hours. If you really feel like pushing it you could probably do it in three, but in our opinion this is a trail best experienced slowly so you can take in all the surrounding beauty that Mother Nature was gracious enough to provide.
Following the Grand Trunk ride we returned to the Village to say our goodbyes to many of the great people we met at the Can-Am Spring Jam. Those who stayed a little later were treated to the Yamaha 5-Star Awards Dinner, Auction and Party on Saturday night. Also, Honda hosted another day of fun on Sunday with an early breakfast and the Honda Extra Jam ride that included a trailside lunch.
If you want to ride great trails and hang out with some really cool people, you’d be wise to make your way up to Parry Sound and Rainbow Country.
The organizers of Can-Spring Jam really did a great job of packing three days of fun into the event. It was our first time at this event, but you can bet it won’t be our last. See you next year!
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