What Are UTV & ATV Portals? Gear Reduction Made Easy

Ok so if you are here then you may have an idea of what portals are but you may not know anything more. I know when I first heard the term, it sounded like something that had nothing to do with UTVs and ATVs. Portals serve several functions at the same time and are a must have accessory if you plan on adding larger tires or if you want to lift your vehicle without adding any of the complications a traditional lift kit can offer.

Portals, or portal gear lifts, allow you to lift your vehicle and provide gear reduction to run larger tires, gain torque, and keep your factory steering geometry. Adding a standard lift can cause you to do extensive work to change the gear ratio.

Well I just want to lift my UTV or ATV. So what do I care about gear reduction? Well gear reduction is actually a very important part of lifting a vehicle above a certain amount of inches and can cause serious complications if not addressed at the time of lifting the vehicle. If you already know what portals are and you want to take a look at some, then head over to Amazon and look at their selection of portal gear lifts. Keep in mind they are very expensive but read on if you are just dying to learn more about them.

What Is A Portal Lift?

A portal lift is a hub that replaces all of your OEM hubs. Each hub has an hole where you can insert the outer portion of your axle and a shaft that is 4 or 6 inches lower where your wheel attaches. This allows you to get a higher lift at the wheels, instead of the frame, which provides several more inches of ground clearance. If you are in the market and considering purchasing a portal lift, here a few you should probably take a look at:

SuperATV 4" Portal Gear Lift (30% Gear Reduction) for Polaris RZR S 800 (2009-2014) - Cast Aluminum - 30% Gear Reduction
SuperATV 4" Portal Gear Lift (30% Gear Reduction) for Polaris RZR S 800 (2009-2014) - Cast Aluminum - 30% Gear Reduction
SuperATV 4" Portal Gear Lift (30% Gear Reduction) for Polaris RZR S 800 (2009-2014) - Cast Aluminum - 30% Gear Reduction
SuperATV 4" Portal Gear Lift (30% Gear Reduction) for Polaris RZR S 800 (2009-2014) - Cast Aluminum - 30% Gear Reduction

This allows you to keep your stock A-arms, axles, and tie-rods. The suspension geometry is unchanged and you won’t face the complications like drivetrain wear and tear that lifting the traditional ways can cause. They also provide gear reduction which can help you gain more of the lost torque from adding larger tires.

What Are Portals Used For And How Do UTV Portals Work?

Now to address what are these portals that I keep mentioning really do. First of all they provide lift for your vehicle. Lifting your vehicle will allow you to traverse larger obstacles and more terrain. The most popular gear reduction kits come in 4 inch, 6 inch, and 8 inch variations depending on how high you want to lift your vehicle. As I mentioned, using standard lift kits to reach 4 or more inches of lift will cause problems with your CV axles like vibrations, axles getting into a bind, and can cause premature wear or even failure.

The second thing that portals do is to provide gear reduction. Gear reduction helps to create more torque for your vehicle when adding larger tires. Tire size plays a large role in robbing your machine of torque which I will discuss in just a bit. Gear reduction is when the drive gear is smaller than the driven gear and allows the high RPM output of the engine to propel the slower moving wheels of your UTV or ATV.

How Does Gear Reduction Affect Torque?

Torque ultimately boils down to 2 different things, acceleration, and top speed. The more torque you have, the less top speed you will have and the less torque, the more top speed. You can use that same information with acceleration. High torque is more acceleration, and vice versa. 

AccelerationTop Speed
High Gear RatioWorseGood
Low Gear RatioGoodWorse

Basically, this means that smaller gears can turn one revolution faster than the larger gears. They don’t produce as much force during those revolutions, but they can go faster. Transmissions and portals actually have several gears but this was meant as an illustration to the concept.

Get More Torque In Your UTV & ATV

So why do you even want to get more torque out of your UTV or ATV? Adding larger tires means you will be able to scale rocks and climb over obstacles easier right? Well it isn’t as simple as that. Larger tires require more force (torque) from the engine in order to rotate because the gearing was designed for a certain size tire. Loss of torque means that you won’t have as much power to actually be able to turn your wheels to climb the terrain of your choice. 

Now adding larger tires AND doing a gear reduction kit will probably not get you any noticeable torque gain, but it will keep you from experiencing torque loss from the additional power needed for turning them. keeping the stock or slightly larger than stock tires with gear reduction can give you some more low end grunt that will definitely help you power through any tough terrain you come across.

Pros Of Portal Gear Lift Kits

With any product there are good and bad features or qualities and I want to make sure you have all the information before you make the decision to get a gear reducer kit.

Ease Of Installation

Transmission gear reducer kits require you to take apart your transmission and change the gears and this can be a time consuming process and if you are not handy with a wrench can cost extra money as well. Portal gear lifts are a much simpler process that just about any weekend warrior can do in a day with a friend. Gear reducers are attached to the end of the wheel axle at the hub box. This hub box has gears inside that reduce the gears and the hub also provides the lift by raising the mounting point of the wheels upward. This makes installation much less time consuming and accessible to all riders. 

Increased Ground Clearance

Installing larger tires will give you an immediate boost in ground clearance depending on tire size. When you use portal lifts, you can add 4, 6, or even 8 inches on top of whatever you just gained from your tire size increase. Portal kits serve a 2 in one purpose by giving you lift AND gear reduction benefits.

Reduced Gear Ratios

With gear reduction portal kits you are able to reduce your gears way more than a normal transmission gear setup and can increase your reduction percentages to a whopping 45%! Reducing your gears by a very large amount like that will allow you to have way more torque to power your ATV or UTV over any kind of obstacle in its path. 

Retain Factory Steering

If you decided it was time to get some much larger tires then chances are you have put your axles at an angle that are not suited for them to operate properly. Your axles are designed to go the the wheel configuration that they have from the factory. Adding larger tires throws that off by shifting where your wheels and axles meet and causes stress, wear, and tear and can eventually cause your axles to bind or malfunction. With gear reduction portals the axle centerline is relocated so your steering geometry and angles are retained alleviating extra stress.

Power Is Applied Directly To The Wheel

Since the gear reduction portals are connected to the wheel hubs the power is generated closer to the source of the object that is needed to be turned. There is no power loss and there is significantly less stress on the drivetrain components so the power is much better transferred.

Portal Gear Reduction System Problems

Leaking From The Seals And Gaskets – The most common issue that people run into when running gear reduction portals on their UTVs and ATVs is leaking seals and gaskets. Just like all the other gears on your vehicle, these need to stay lubricated and require seals and gaskets to keep the lubrication contained. Many people have said that they experience leaks from these areas and because they are made of aluminum, a very soft metal, there could be gaps or anything else that could have happened to the units on the trail.

Price Point Is Very High – If you are looking for a cheap modification then portals are not the way to go.You can add a transmission gear reducing kit for $300 dollars or so if you are handy with a wrench and can do it yourself. If you have to take it into a shop to get it done, you will pay close to the same amount as if you were buying portals. 

Portals come at a hefty price of around $2900-$4000 for a set of four. With this price though, you are getting a lift kit, gear reduction kit, all in an easy to install package that will increase your ground clearance and torque in a simple day of installation. No extra work and no extra headache to worry about when you get a kit like this.

What Else Will You Need?

If you are contemplating whether or not you want to take the plunge and get a set of portals then you may be asking yourself “Will I need to buy anything else to go along with these things?” The simple answer to that is no

4 Inch Portals – If you are going to run 4inch portal kits you will need a minimum of a 14 inch rim. This is the only requirement of running 4″ portals. If all you want to run is the 4 inchers then you should be fine on all stock gear. Remember this will increase your torque and lower your high end speed if you do not do anything with the tires.

Heavy duty tie rods and ball joints are a good thing to invest in since you are adding extra weight to the machine in these areas. Extra weight can cause stress and wear and cause premature failure of the parts if not taken care of.

6 Inch Portals –  Rim size is the most important factor when getting a set of portals. The portals sit inside the rim for the most part and you need to have a rim that is big enough to fit the housing in AND still be able to rotate freely. You will need to make sure you have 18 inch rims in order to run 6″ portals. Also you can get away with running stock everything else, however is not recommended.

The weight increase will be significantly more with larger sized portals because they have much more beef and more gears inside them. All this added weight will definitely cause wear and tear on your tie rods, A Arms, and ball joints so it is recommended you replace these components with upgraded, heavy duty version to ensure you don’t get stuck on the trail with broken equipment.

8 Inch Portals – Rim size for 8 inch portals must be 22 inches or larger and can’t have more than 5 inches of backspacing. The same applies as with the 6 inch portals and you need to upgrade your tie rods, A Arms, and ball joints to heavy duty ones.

Do You Need Portal Gear Lifts? 

If you are still asking yourself whether or not you need a set of portals and my answer to that question is yes. Portals will serve their purpose in just about any situation whether it be on the farm where you need more torque to be able to haul around heavy loads, or you need to power through a huge mud bog with your friends cheering you on. Even for simple trail riding, the low end grunt will be a blast coming out of corners as you slam on the gas pedal.

Portal Gear Lift Pricing

There are a few players in the portal game and most of them are around the same price point but don’t offer anything more than 4 inch lifts. High Lifter, SXS Gear, and Rock Crusher all provide 4 inch portals lift kits for various models. Each of these companies products run in the $3000 range, plus or minus $500.

The company that offers the widest range and biggest selection is SuperATV and I have read tons of good things about their products online. The seem to be top notch and people love their products.

Super ATV’s 4 inch portal prices are around the same but let me break it down a bit more.

4 Inch PortalApprox $2,800
6 Inch PortalApprox $3,400
8 Inch PortalApprox $3,900

As you can see the prices are pretty steep but this is a mod well worth it if you need more torque, ground clearance, or you just want your UTV or ATV to look super cool when you pull up with it. Not to mention, you will be outperforming your old setup. Remember to go check out the selection of portals they have at Amazon if you want to get yourself a set. You can also check out my recommended products and gear here.

SuperATV 4" Portal Gear Lift (30% Gear Reduction) for Polaris RZR S 800 (2009-2014) - Cast Aluminum - 30% Gear Reduction
SuperATV 4" Portal Gear Lift (30% Gear Reduction) for Polaris RZR S 800 (2009-2014) - Cast Aluminum - 30% Gear Reduction
SuperATV 4" Portal Gear Lift (30% Gear Reduction) for Polaris RZR S 800 (2009-2014) - Cast Aluminum - 30% Gear Reduction
SuperATV 4" Portal Gear Lift (30% Gear Reduction) for Polaris RZR S 800 (2009-2014) - Cast Aluminum - 30% Gear Reduction