Off-roading is the activity of driving or riding a vehicle on unsurfaced roads or tracks, made of materials such as sand, gravel, riverbeds, mud, snow, rocks, and other natural terrain. Types of off-roading range in intensity, from leisure drives with unmodified vehicles to competitions with customized vehicles and professional drivers.
Traveling on off-road terrains require vehicles capable of accommodating off-road driving such as ATVs. These vehicles accommodate off road conditions with extended ground clearance, off-road tires and drive-train. Some manufacturers offer vehicles specifically meant for off-road use.
Rock crawling is a category of off-roading. Vehicles used for rock crawling are usually modified with different tires, suspension components that allow greater axle articulation, and changes in the differential gear ratio in order to obtain characteristics suitable for low speed operation for traversing obstacles. It is common for a rock crawler to have a "spotter", who is an assistant on foot by the vehicle to provide information to the driver about the areas out of sight to the driver.
Tires are often improved on off-road vehicles in order to better traverse rough terrain. Regular automotive tires don't provide enough traction to help a vehicle through sand, dirt, snow and ice, so specialized tires are normally used on off-road 4x4 vehicles. Large overall wheel diameter provides a better ride comfort and road clearance. Wide tires help to distribute the weight on sand, while narrower tires help get better traction in the snow or on ice. Each tire type has its own tread type to provide a proper grip in certain road conditions. Common off-road tire types are: Sand tires, Mud-terrain tire, Snow tires and All-terrain tire.
Probably the most common improvement for off-road use is the grille or bull guard, which can be added with or without an improved bumper. These typically metal frameworks extend to protect the grille, and potentially the headlights as well. One common type used on off-road pickups and SUVs is the "prerunner" style, with an angular, protruding front designed to sweep vegetation away from the vehicle centerline, and to deflect the vehicle from less movable obstacles. The grille protection system can be assembled piecemeal, or a one-piece winch-mount bumper with a prerunner bar and grille guard can be fitted. Bumpers designed for off-road use typically have added eyes or D-rings to assist in vehicle recovery.
Another common off-roading accessory, "rock rails" or "rock sliders", are heavy metal rails or tubes which runs alongside the rocker panels and serves to protect the sides of the vehicle that are exposed on particularly rough terrain, or where there is a risk that lower edges of the vehicle between the wheels might come into contact with rocks below. This strategy can be extended to the entire vehicle, in which case it is referred to as an "external cage" or "exocage". External cages help protect the entire body of the vehicle in the case of a rollover or slide into an obstacle.
Source: Off-roading from Wikipedia
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