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Yamaha Rhino

Rhino Safety

Yamaha Rhinos are very versatile vehicles when they come from the factory. To take them out into the dunes like you see them being used probably wasn't what the Yamaha design engineers had in mind.

In the first phase of our Rhino Buildup, we decided that making the Rhino a bit safer in the dunes is the number one priority. Since we were making our Rhino into a four seater, we decided to do a few things that aren't needed for a two seater. For example, in order to add a rear bench seat, we needed to have a new roll cage installed. The new cage came with a bar behind the seats that allow for proper harness installation.  If we were going to keep it as a two seater, we could have just added a harness bar to the stock cage.

And since we were adding a bench seat in the back, we went ahead and replaced the front seats to match.

So here is the list of modifications we made to our Rhino to make it safer:

Leg Minders

The stock Rhino is very easy to get in and out of, but it is not built with a rollover in mind. The entry door area is wide open and during a roll, your first instinct is to try and stop the roll with your leg.  Bad idea. No matter how strong that you think you are, your leg will not stop a UTV from tipping over.

The solution is to add a barrier that will not allow your leg to get out of the vehicle. Lots of options to solve this are available from nets to aluminum leg minders, to steel tubing and full doors with aluminum.

We decided to go with a bar that is just high enough that you cannot easily get your leg out in a hurry, but low enough so that getting in and out of the Rhino is still pretty easy.

PDS - Yamaha Rhino Leg Minder

Roll Cage

The second problem with the stock Rhino is the " roll cage". Yamaha doesn't even call it a roll cage for liability reasons, and either do most of the aftermarket cage guys. In our lawsuit happy society, calling it a roll cage would then somehow mean that you would be safe in a roll-over accident. For simplicity, we are going to call them roll cages - just try not to roll because protecting occupants in a roll-over  isn't what they were designed for. Silly, huh? 

The stock cage is probably just fine for the most likely intended use of cruising around the farm doing odd jobs, but in the dunes, a bit more strength and cross bracing would be nice. New cages also add a bar behind the seats where harnesses (seat restraints) should be attached (see photo below under Restraints).

Since we are going to use the Rhino to haul around two adults and two kids, we went with a four seat cage built by PDS. The cage is made from 1 3/4" DOM and bolts up to the lower part of the stock cage and a few locations in the bed. The cage looks great and adds corner gussets at key locations.

Rhino Four Seat Roll Cage - PDS


Seat belts that come with the Rhino from the factory are real nice for getting in and out quickly, but fall way short of adequate if you really want to take your Rhino on dune rides. 4 or 5-way restraints are needed to keep occupants safely in place.

Mastercraft Rhino Harness

Mounting new harnesses: Deciding to put a set of harnesses in your Rhino is a great step, but it is very important to make sure that they are properly mounted in order for them to work properly.

You can add 4 or 5 point harness with your stock cage, but the stock cage doesn't give us a good spot to mount the shoulder harnesses. Mounting the harnesses to the floor makes the harness much too long and in turn, not as safe. The best solution if you want to keep your stock cage, is to add a shoulder harness mount bar behind the seats so that harnesses can be attached just below shoulder level. (see Crow Enterprises Installation Tips for more info).

PDS - Shoulder Harness Mount Bar   PDS - Shoulder Harness Mount Bar
Harness bar added to stock roll cage

If you are having a new cage done, just make sure that there is a bar behind the seats:

Rhino - Harnesses from Mastercraft, Roll cage from PDS

Inner lap belt mount point also needs a bit of work. The bracket from PDS Fabrication moves the harness mount point out where it should be.

 PDS - Inner Lap Harness Mount

In addition to normal 4-point restraints, we also added arm restraints from Crow Enterprises to make sure our arms stay in the vehicle. 

Rhino- Arm Restraint from Crow Enterprises

Rhino Seat Mounts

Although the Yamaha Rhino was only made for two people, lots of folks turn their Rhino into a four seat vehicle. Modifying your Rhino to seat four will drastically affect how it will handle, but that is what the boss wanted so we will do our best to make it safe.

PDS - Rhino Rear Bench Seat Mount   PDS-BenchMount-2.jpg (34191 bytes)

Make sure that seats are securely mounted to the bed and/or roll cage with quality hardware. The rear bench mount from PDS Fabrication does the trick.

We also decided to change out the stock front seat mounts for new ones that are stronger and lower the seats by almost two inches.  This will help lower the center of gravity, and make the Rhino more stable.

Rhino - Seat Mount from PDS   PDS - Rhino Front Seat Mount
Front seat bases from PDS Fabrication

Rhino Seats

Since we were adding rear seats and new seat mounts all the way around, we decided to also add new front seats at the same time. The new seats are much more comfortable and look much better. We went with seats from MasterCraft.

Rhino Seats - Mastercraft   Rhino  Bench Seat - Mastercraft

Wheel Spacers

In stock form, the Rhino is a bit narrow when you get out into the dunes.  A full long-travel kit is in our future, but we want to make it a bit more stable until then.  Wheel spacers are a bolt-on addition that will quickly add about 4 inches to the track width and really help make the Rhino more stable on side hills.

We chose a set of billet aluminum spacers from Dirt Demon Racing. The spacers were designed to be light and strong.  The automotive grade wheel studs are pressed in so they won't turn while you tighten the nuts. Dirt Demon also provides tapered lug nuts too ensure the proper location and fit.

Rhino Wheel Spacer - Before  Rhino Wheel Spacer - After   Rhino Wheel Spacer - Dirt Demon Racing

Rear View & Side View Mirrors

On rides through the dunes, it is real important to keep an eye on what is around you.  Yamaha didn't put a mirror on the Rhino, so we will. There are several billet aluminum mirrors that bolt on with no drilling and look pretty sharp at the same time.

Rhino - Rear View Convex Mirror from ASC   Rhino Side View Mirror from Machine Trix Unlimited   Rhino Side View Mirror from Machine Trix Unlimited


We all know how inadequate OEM lights are for real night riding.  If you want to ride at night and would like to drive more that 15mph, more lights are a must. And when it comes to adding lights to a Rhino, the easiest solution is HID. HIDs provide tons of light with little power draw.  Perfect solution.

Lights from Baja Designs - 4" Fuego HID   Baja Designs - HID Cornering Light   Baja Designs - HID Spot Light

Lighted Whip Flag

Having a whip flag is not only the law, but common sense tell you it is very important that other duners be able to see you while riding. A lighted whip is another step above a normal whip flag.  The pole lights up making the vehicle visible from all directions at night.

Rhino - LED Whip Flag from - LED Whip

Parts List

Other Rhino Resources

Back to Sand Dune Guide



Long Travel:
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Yamaha Rhino Long Travel Kits

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