What are Portals and Why Should You Run Them?

Every trail offers excitement when you’re cruising in a RZR or cutting through the brush on Can-Am Defender. However, not every trail is meant to be tamed by a stock rig. Some rocks are just too tall, and some mud bogs are too deep (even with a snorkel kit). When you want to find new paths to tread, a portal gear lift is what you need.

What are portals for UTVs?

With a set of portals replacing your wheel hub and giving you 4, 6, or 8 inches of lift, you get extra clearance to a crucial part of the UTV. 

Pros of running portals on your UTV

The added ground clearance isn’t the only benefit. Portals were designed to offer performance advantages that regular lift kits can’t. Engineered for optimizing how your CVT clutch performs, High Lifter portal users tout serious enhancements in the right environments.

How a portal upgrades your ATV or UTV

  • Allows for larger wheels and tires
  • Improves torque
  • Adds width to vehicle
  • Maintains correct A-Arm and axle geometry
  • Improves vehicle longevity

Portals help run larger tires 

By adding a larger tire, that means you now travel further down the road with each rotation, making everything more economical… right? Almost. When you install larger tires on your vehicle and don’t change the gearing at the same time, the gear ratio isn’t going to be optimal. 

A larger, heavier tire means you travel farther with each rotation of the axle. But, your engine must work harder to turn it. Basically, your ATV or UTV now accelerates slower but has a higher top speed than before. Anyone who’s been out on the trails knows that’s the opposite of what you need when offroading!

Portal lifts for proper gearing 

Low-end power or torque for your UTV is crucial offroad. Whether you are climbing hills, rock crawling or blasting through mud holes, you need low-end power — not top speed. Without proper gearing you require more throttle to move your vehicle through these conditions, thus burning more fuel and creating more strain on your engine and driveline which may lead to premature component failure. 

Component failure becomes a lot more likely if you’re running larger tires and wheels. A CVT transmission that’s tuned to stock wheels isn’t going to know how to deal with the change and usually the belt will be the first thing to go. 

A portal gear reduction happens directly at the wheels — not in the transmission. So, without tinkering for days trying to get your clutch perfect to run bigger tires, adding a portal can get you the torque you need faster. 

Portal gear lifts can reduce part failures 

The gears within the portals move the “load” of turning the larger, heavy tire from the transmission itself as close to the tire as possible by replacing the hub. The stress on your axles gets reduced, and your transmission benefits from the gear reduction the portals provide. With most UTVs running a CVT transmission, you may find the clutches unable to grip the belt tightly enough when the engine is under load. This causes belt slippage and is the cause of what we call a “glazed” belt which slips even more. In some cases, the belt can simply get shredded within the transmission. 

By installing a portal gear lift and reducing transmission load, you reduce the chance of axle, belt and even the more expensive and dreaded transmission failure.

Cons of running portals on your UTV or ATV

A lot of High Lifter fans love their portal gear lifts because of the added torque they get for mudding. Others love the additional width they provide. But, there are some riders out there who think these aren’t benefits at all! 

Here are some of the drawbacks of a portal gear lift:

  • 4” of added width: This one is a toss-up for many. Some like the added stance and cornering ability, but other UTV riders are already trailing in places that are tight enough.
  • Expense: Portal lifts cost a bit more, but it’s offset by improved engine health. Either way, they are more of an investment up-front.
  • Lower top speeds: If you’re competing in UTV races, there’s a certain throttle-down speed you need to reach. With a portal, you might not get the same response from your ride.
  • Less customizability: Portals are less complicated than traditional lift kits, but won’t let you customize the more minute details in the same way.

The cons of a portal gear lift are important to know before you buy. But, if you’re not looking to race, don’t need a narrow UTV, and are willing to invest a little more for a less complicated lift, portals are still very appealing.

The right lift for every rider

If you need clearance, torque and stance — a portal’s your perfect pick. At High Lifter, we love them because we can run our big Outlaw Max Tires, climb rocks and make it through almost any mud. Anyone with an instinct for getting out there, powering through the trails and going farther than ever before should at least test drive with them. 

High Lifter makes all its UTV portal gear lifts from 4”-8” right here in the USA. We make products for real riders — because we’re real riders. Battle-tested and tough, we trust our portal gear lifts through the worst conditions. Now it’s your turn. Get a set today!