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Modifying And Adjusting The Suspension On A Can-Am UTV For Optimal Performance

Optimizing the shocks, springs, and suspension setup in your Can-Am side-by-side is critical if you want that perfect ride. But the shock settings you run on your Can-am -- and even the type of shocks you use -- will depend on what type of riding you’re doing. It doesn’t matter if you have the Defender, the Maverick, or the Commander, if you’re suspension is set up to perform well on the terrain you're driving on, you’ll be much happier and much more comfortable as both the driver or the passenger. So buckle your 4-point harness, start your engines, and get ready, because we’re about to dive into everything Can-Am suspension-related!  

Adjusting Your Can-Am Suspension

The biggest reason some Can-Am editions -- and especially the Can-Am Maverick X3 -- ride rough at factory settings is because they are too low. As the shock is collapsed the valving inside makes it stiffer and stiffer. When riding trails, if you want it to smoothen out your suspension, your Can-Am must be riding in the upper end of the shock, which means the ride height is going to have to be raised. We got ahold of Fox's race settings and they require a substantial amount of raising and some adjustment of the slow and fast settings and rebound. We have found that this makes the car ride extremely smooth for trail riding and very responsive in the whoops at high speeds. But this is not a dune setup. A dune setup is going to require you to lower the crossover so that you get into the stiff spring early enough to keep it from bottoming out over larger jumps and adjusting the slow and high-speed adjustments to make the suspension’s response tighter. Keep in mind that the spring installed height measurement must be done with the wheels off the ground and the shock fully extended, which it will not do by itself. You must put some weight on it or have somebody hold the wheel down while measuring.

Take note, though, that the XDS shocks are not position sensitive. They do not get stiffer with a lower ride height like the XRS and internal bypass shocks. However, raising the ride height transfers the main spring weight further away from the crossover. Although this is not the same, to some small extent it has the same effect of softening the ride.

Of course there are far superior spring kits and valving options for all editions of the Can-am UTV. But the truth is that not everyone can afford a high-dollar suspension setup, so knowing your suspension options on your Can-am can help you make what you already have as good as it can be. Some Can-am riders will drive the whoops at 60 plus miles an hour, while some will only trail ride. But what’s the point of getting a machine like the Can-Am X3 and only trail ride.

It’s also important to note that even the factory suspension settings of the same exact machine are all over the place from the factory. We’ve seen machines on the dealership floor with the shocks on the slider, and others with the shocks 3” away from the slider. This can lead to dangerous situations, especially if one of the shocks is set up as if it belonged on a completely different vehicle than the rest of the three corners. But either way, if you want to change your ride but can’t afford new springs or a new suspension system, adjusting your Can-am suspension is a great and free option to try. 

Optimizing Your Can-Am Suspension For Jumps

If you’re looking to optimize your Can-Am suspension for jumping, but you don’t want to send your old shocks away to have them redone, there are a few adjustments you can make to the shocks to keep your back end from bouncing up as much off of jumps. You can try to take out the tender spring (top spring) and crank down on the lower spring. Alternatively, you can order new Eibach springs. For the X3, you can take out the middle of the three springs, torque down the top tender spring, and loosen up the bottom spring. Most jumpers will tell you that being level when leaving the lip of the vert is crucial. And if you’re not going into the woods that much and use your Can-Am exclusively on the flat track and oval, you likely don’t need a lot of suspension.

Can-Am Suspension Conclusion

We’ve been told that the Can-Am factory intentionally has the shocks lowered for cargo shipping purposes, and that they should be adjusted up once delivered to the dealers, but they seldom do. Truth or rumor? We’re not 100% sure. But it would make sense to have them low to the ground so that new side-by-side owners that don’t yet know how to drive won’t roll them right away. Either way, all Can-Ams need the ride height adjusted before being driven, so knowing how to adjust your Can-am suspension is important -- the ground clearance specs can be found in the manual. And it’s not hard, all you need is a ratchet strap to compress the springs and a jack to lift the machine up. A bit time consuming sure, but not hard!

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