ATVs: The other work truck

Updated Jan 7, 2014

side--by-sideUntitled-1By Robin Walton

The guys couldn’t believe it when they were blasting across the dunes recently and heard a police siren. Sure enough, my brother-in-law and co-owner of our construction company were being pulled over for an expired off-road sticker on his quad.

The cool part, besides my brother-in-law being let off with a warning, was the state police officer wasn’t driving a pickup – he was in a matte-black Polaris RZR 900 XP side-by-side complete with well-disguised blue and red LED flashers, radios and a bed loaded with other gear.

A surprisingly sporty vehicle for the law enforcement fleet, yet perfectly suited for the job.

Contrary to what some may think, side-by-side ATVs are not just for the recreational rider or outdoorsman. They have found solid niches in many different ­aspects of the rugged work world.

ProPickup’s editor saw first-hand how side-by-sides were used after Katrina smashed into the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 2005.

When Georgia Power rolled into his town of Long Beach to help rebuild the power grid, guess what they used to transport their men and equipment around miles of broken concrete power poles and fallen trees? Polaris Rangers.

little-carUntitled-1And when one of Alabama’s largest heavy construction contractors, RayCon, and Alabama DOT need to get site managers and key personnel around when road building conditions turn sloppy they use side-by-sides instead of four-wheel-drive pickups.

Let’s face it: side-by-sides are efficient and effective tool for anyone who works in and around construction and road building.

As I write this, we have a Polaris RZR XP 900 4; a Yamaha 700 Grizzly; and a John Deere Gator RSX850i in the shop garage.

second-little-carUntitled-1Side-by-side ATVs are an efficient, multi-task vehicle for use in municipalities and DOTs, or construction and contracting firms.

While law enforcement in our area make good use of the RZR, it’s probably a stretch to say it has business applications for contractors and landscapers. But the Grizzly and the Gator certainly do.

If you don’t have a side-by-side in your company’s fleet of vehicles, adding one (or more) to your fleet makes good business sense.

After all, it’s a piece of equipment. Therefore if you are using it for business purposes then you may be able to deduct the cost of acquiring it through a depreciation deduction over the life of the machine. You can also deduct expenses related to running it.

Some things to keep in mind so this on the up and up what can be depreciated, per the IRS:

• It must be property you own.

• It must be used in your business or income-producing activity.

• It must have a determinable useful life.

• It must be expected to last more than one year.

The IRS requires that you are able to prove the business/investment use with adequate records or with sufficient evidence to support your own statements.

You’ll need to have documentation supporting all expenditures and the percentage the ATV or UTV was used for business (mileage or time are good measurements to use to determine business/personal use).

Don’t under estimate the value of a good tax accountant – and make an appointment to discuss this with him/her.

Items normally used for personal and recreational use, like ATVs and UTVs, may prompt an audit from the IRS.

If you have done your homework and consulted with your tax accountant, then you should be in good shape if that does occur.

When it comes to finding a side-by-side, start with Polaris Industries who offers the widest range of side-by-sides on the market today from the Ranger XP utility vehicles, diesel powered Rangers, electric powered mid-size Rangers, and a complete new line of commercial grade vehicles called Brutus.

The Brutus product line is an outcome of the strategic alliance formed between Polaris and Bobcat in 2009.

These co-developed vehicles leverage the strengths of both companies with Polaris’ expertise in utility vehicles and the powersports market, and Bobcat’s experience in work vehicle technology and attachments.

robin-waltonUntitled-1Manufactured at Polaris’ Spirit Lake, Iowa facility, the Brutus models leverage technology found in the Polaris Ranger line and are comprised of three models – Brutus, Brutus HD and Brutus HDPTO.

If Polaris and Bobcat aren’t your brand, check out the other manufacturers.

The John Deere Gator lineup offers a broad spectrum of machines from commercial to the sporty Gator RSX850i.

Check out the Arctic Cat ­Prowler, Can Am Commander, Honda Big Red, Kawasaki Mule, Kawasaki Teryx and Yamaha Rhino as well.

If your company can make good use of utility ATVs/quads, Honda has the best reputation for reliability among the farming and ranching crowd for decades.

Arctic Cat, Can Am, Honda, Kawasaki, Polaris, Suzuki and Yamaha all make very good, hard working “utes” with plenty of terrain taming traction to move personnel and tools around the jobsite with ease.

Keep in mind that the proximity and reputation of a good dealership in your area is an important factor in keeping the machines moving as you depend on them to get the job done.

Before turning employees loose on a side-by-side or ATV, make sure they are trained in the operation and uses.

Don’t laugh. Just because an employee rides one at home doesn’t mean you hand over the keys to the company machine.

It pays to have every operator using the company equipment to go through a training session with the dealer.

These machines are so capable in off-road situations that operators can get complacent and put themselves and others at risk on side hills or making sharp maneuvers at speed around the jobsite.

Making use of the latest in all-terrain vehicle technology can be a smart move that sets your company apart in efficiency and jobsite mobility.

Carefully outline the uses (including recreational use if applicable) and find the right machine to match your tasks.