If you know about the Mahindra Roxor, you’ve no doubt heard of Project Woodrat. Ryan’s latest adventure brought him to Sabine ATV Park, a 3,000-acre playground in Burkeville, Texas. It’s something the Roxor community has been waiting patiently for: the day the Internet’s hottest Roxor gets down and dirty on some proper UTV trails.
And it’s everything we hoped it would be.
Let’s walk through some of the highlights of this 17-minute saga, then we’ll take a look at the Woodrat’s parts list, and we’ll end with Ryan’s goals and plans for the future of Project Woodrat. Be sure to follow Project Woodrat at the YouTube channel Red, White, & Roxor for weekly updates as it takes over the Internet one video at a time.
Breaking Necks Everywhere
Now is a good time to remind you that despite being the same size and being capable of the same performance as a vintage Jeep, the Mahindra Roxor is legally classified as a UTV. It ships to North American powersports dealerships with a speed restriction of just 55 MPH, and although the Roxor hasn’t passed federal safety and emissions standards for roadgoing passenger vehicles, it looks a lot more like a Jeep than a Polaris RZR.
As you would imagine, that might cause some confusion at a rural UTV park in Texas where roadgoing vehicles aren’t allowed on the trails under any circumstances. Ryan told Dirt Legal:
People were like, “Is this thing even supposed to be out here?”
We were breaking necks everywhere.
With every eye in the park watching them, Ryan and his wife decided to let some of their fellow off-roading enthusiasts have a little fun behind the wheel of Project Woodrat. Early in the video, Can-Am driver Justin swaps his Maverick for some seat time in the Roxor. His reaction? “It's bad ass!”
Judging by the mudding action that begins around 6:27, Justin was spot-on in his analysis.
I sense that’s around the time when Ryan started to realize that despite being on open diffs, stock axles, and the wrong gearing (we’ll come back to that in a minute), Project Woodrat wasn’t getting stuck anytime soon. Regular side-by-sides would crawl their way through a section of tough mud and the Roxor would plow through with ease, making for some of the best off-roading footage on YouTube of late.
Well-Equipped for Danger
Everything was going smoothly until around 10:50, when the Woodrat finally succumbed to what can only be described as a pit of mud soup.
Justin scouted the route in his Maverick and once through, gave Ryan the go-ahead. But the fact is, you can skip all the meals you want and a Roxor is still going to be way heavier than a Maverick. The subtitle says it all:
Open diff got me. When this tire stopped, we were done.
But getting stuck is part of the fun, and Project Woodrat is well-equipped for situations like this. Ryan promptly put the front-mounted Warn M8000 winch to work, making a self-recovery look like a walk in the park. That’s a factory winch, mind you – Mahindra knows people aren’t just using these Roxors to haul firewood to the shed.
Watching Woodrat drag itself through the slush shows just how impassible that section really was, even with those giant 35” tires. Once he got up and running again Ryan went straight into a full send at 12:25, wading through what might as well have been a river of mud.
Roxor Rescues a Maverick
Fast-forward to 12:40, where Can-Am owner Justin submerges his rig in a pit of muddy water. Time for Woodrat to break out Winch #2.
This time, Ryan uses the mechanically-operated KFI TigerTail to pull the Maverick out. It’s a neat piece of kit that mounts on the Roxor’s receiver hitch, and it’s entirely mechanical. No battery, no remote, just good ol’ fashioned cable tension. And with a weight limit of 12,000 pounds, it was no trouble for the TigerTail to yank this Can-Am free in its time of need.
That’s a handy little winch.
A Man Loses His Croc
Eagle-eyed viewers will have noticed Ryan’s footwear of choice throughout this video, but you may not have noticed when one came off.
There it is.
I can’t walk five feet down a dry sidewalk in Crocs and maintain a reasonable comfort level, so the fact that Ryan wheeled and waded through muddy pits all day without losing one is a testament to his sheer willpower. It’s a reminder to us all that anything is possible if you set your mind to it, and it’s also strong evidence that those $150 pairs of Oboz and Keens are about $145 more than you need to spend.
Build Sheet: Project Woodrat
If you’ve just caught yourself daydreaming about building your own Woodrat, you’re in luck: Ryan has provided us with a full list of the parts he’s used in this build so far.
Here is the full parts list for Project Woodrat as it was in this video:
Fuel Sledge 18x9”
5x5.5” bolt pattern, -12 offset, 110mm center bore
BKT AT 171 UTV tires
Dirt Legal 2.5” Wheel Spacers
Hattiesburg Cycles 4” Lift Kit
RXR Performance 2.5” Full Exhaust
RXR Performance Hot Tune
95 HP, 195 lb/ft
RXR Performance HD Front Bumper
RXR Performance HD Rear Bumper
KFI TigerTail manual tow system
Dirt Legal Bumper Shackles
RXR Performance 2” Receiver Hitch
Dirt Legal LED Halo Lights
Anyone who’s built an off-road rig knows it’s best not to add up all the money you’ve spent on it, and definitely not while your better half is around. But building the thing is half the fun, and it’s a journey that truly never ends.
Believe it or Not, It’s Still Not Finished
As with any project rig, Woodrat will probably never be done. There’s always something to improve, a custom touch to add, or a new aftermarket part you just can’t live without. But if you’re lucky, the next steps will make themselves known.
If this video proves anything, it’s that stock Roxor parts like axles, U-joints, gearing, and open differentials can still get you pretty far when the parts around them are upgraded correctly. Granted, you could probably put those 35” UTV tires on a lifted Prius and get some impressive wheeling out of it, but the Roxor’s turbodiesel torque and manual gearbox are a huge help when the going gets tough.
Why run with open diffs and stock axles?
Ryan’s stance on this is fairly conservative. The Roxor is only a year old, so the aftermarket parts scene hasn’t had time to create some of the more intricate parts like hardened axles. They’re in the works, though, and Ryan doesn’t want to break anything in the meantime. Getting towed home means taking the Roxor off the road while repairs are made; he’d rather drive it 20% less aggressively if that means getting to go out every weekend, instead of going FULL SEND and risking something breaking.
This thing would probably be unstoppable with some locking diffs and a little gear reduction. But still a badass machine the way it is.
- YouTuber JEREMYWICKLUND
Those aren’t the only problems
Other issues with off-roading a Roxor are inherent to its design. Ryan told Dirt Legal that on some of the slushiest parts of the trails at Sabine, Project Woodrat was scraping its belly something fierce. He said the skid plates were scraping off a few inches of mud down the centerline, paving the way for UTVs with less clearance to follow behind. As another commenter pointed out,
Open diff or not, you're still gonna get it stuck.
That brings up a fair point. There’s always going to be a trail out there that can stop any rig you bring. You can sink tens of thousands of dollars into a custom machine, build your own frame and buy the best parts, and even that won’t get you everywhere.
And if going everywhere is your goal, you’re missing the point of off-roading.
What’s in Store for Project Woodrat
Building an off-road rig is about creating the right machine for your purposes, and the true reward is watching your knowledge and abilities improve along the way.
In terms of building the rig itself, every truck, UTV, or buggy is going to have its limitations. The key is to build everything up equally and then drive within the limits of the weakest parts – even if the weakest part is your skill level.
A wheeler’s skills grow with seat time, and as you gain a better understanding of the mechanisms and physics at play, the weaknesses of certain parts become evident and the reasons to upgrade them become clear. It’s a slippery slope to toss money at upgrades on a whim, and that’s why every part on Project Woodrat was chosen to satisfy a need.
That’s why Ryan has axles, diffs, and other upgrades on the way for Project Woodrat. Be sure to follow Red, White, & Roxor on YouTube to keep up with the action.
Ryan’s dream isn’t to build the most incredible off-road machine the world has ever seen. He’s not fabricating some custom tube-chassis buggy to run NORRA or King of the Hammers. He’s a regular guy out to have a good time on the weekends, and he’s bringing us along for the ride.
All images are courtesy of Ryan, Project Woodrat, and Red, White, & Roxor.