ROUGHING IT ON THE RUBICON TRAIL

By Eric Anderson, Winch Monkey

The snow is approaching Tahoe and the new ROXOR A/T (automatic transmission) sits in my driveway waiting for the next adventure. The time is now for the ROXOR to take on the Rubicon Trail: 22 miles of boulders, slabs, steep inclines, and sharp declines - a true test in durability. Let it begin.

Initially excited, reality hits — with 9” of clearance, 30” tires and a desperate need for some rock sliders, will everything be ready in time? As soon as I began questioning the difficulty of this adventure, Kyle Maki — known as Mahindra’s “ROXOR Service Guru,” race car driver and mechanic “par excellence,” caught wind of the trip and volunteered to help. His eagerness to join me drive the Rubicon Trail in our new A/T model kicked our planning into high gear.

We knew this was not going to be a walk in the park with a bone-stock ROXOR. Most drivers taking on the Trail have monster lift kits, 37” tires, rock armor, and aftermarket coil-over suspension kits. The new automatic tranny was going to be thoroughly tested in rough conditions at slow speeds. But Kyle and I knew that the strength of the ruggedly constructed ROXOR with its boxed steel frame could endure even the roughest off-road conditions. With 70 years of Mahindra heritage behind it, we were confident the ROXOR would last. Sure, some may say our ride makes us David against the Goliaths, but Kyle and I felt ready to accept the challenge.

The standard equipment for the ROXOR includes an oil pan and tranny skid plates, which put our minds at ease and allowed us to focus on driving, logistics, and gear. Our packing list included camping supplies, spare parts, radio, weather gear, and winching tools.

Gear and more gear along with reading materials.

Packing List:

Camping Gear

  • Tent, sleeping bags
  • Stove + dehydrated food
  • Gas lantern, headlamps
  • Tarp, chairs, shovel, toiletries
  • Mosquito repellant
  • 5 gallons of drinking water

Spare Parts

  • Leaf spring shackles
  • Oil, hypoid, hydraulic fluid
  • Full tool kit + crowbar
  • Steering rods

Winching Gear

  • Standard ROXOR Warn Winch
  • Bubba Rope + nylon tow strap
  • Tree saver, recovery kit, pulleys
  • Remote, Bluetooth winch controller
  • Heavy-duty gloves

We loaded up our gear and stood back to look at the packed ROXOR A/T. It seemed like too much stuff for only 2 people and one night out on the rocks, but we preferred to be over-prepared, so we didn’t underperform.

Kyle ready to take on the Trail!

The first 20 minutes out on the Rubicon Trail were eye-opening until he realized how important it was to spot and “angle” across the rocks versus approaching them head-on. Kyle had never seen rocks—er, boulders the size of small houses like these before. He went in cold and came out hot! The mighty ROXOR and Kyle motored on with the boulders, seemingly getting larger around each corner. Then came “Big Sluice” — a downhill granite staircase peppered with big trees on each side. Drop-offs were taller than the ROXOR, which is why the fuel tank and rear bumper took a beating, but never gave out or leaked. Our confidence began to grow with each obstacle crossed. By the time we reached Rubicon Springs and paid our $15 to camp, we were both spent—Kyle from mental exhaustion and me from spotting, hiking backwards, stacking rocks, and occasionally, photographing.

Standard ROXOR skid plates on the sump and automatic transmission worked as they should!

Camp was set up pronto on a giant, flat slab ‘o rock, overlooking a gorgeous waterfall and pond for washing up. We slammed some delicious dehydrated Pad Thai (no, really) and conked out in the tent for 8 hours of rest before doing it all over the next day… anticipating how we would do on the dreaded Cadillac Hill. From what we had heard, our final “push” to the finish was going to feel – and look – like climbing a granite-faced, boulder-strewn Empire State building with crocs and snakes snapping at us from the hillsides. Whoa boy!

Gorgeous camping but bring a mattress!

As the sun peeked up from behind the rocks the next morning, we already had the hubs engaged and the low-range selected. We were ready! Good thing too because we were immediately greeted with vertical walls of stone and cavernous holes bigger than the luxury car for which this hill is named. The Mighty Maki and Rumbling ROXOR cleaned the entire day without a tug or a bump. I, however, still had some substantial rock stackin’ to do! The other specially-prepped vehicles on the trail were noticeably impressed with ROXOR. It left them wondering how we did it without fancy lift kits and bigger tires. A good question, but the answer was plain and simple. A ROXOR is a simple vehicle in an over-teched world. Essentially, an “analog” answer to a digital question. And yes, conquered the Trail with the ROXOR’s durability and simplicity: bare essentials in this gizmo-and-gadget-driven off-road world.

We even pulled a crawler that high-centered on a rock.

When all was said and done, Kyle and I were relieved to say, “We came, we saw, we conquered the Rubicon Trail with nothing more than a ROXOR.” In fact, this incredible machine grew on us more than we ever expected on this rocky voyage. There is “field testing” and then there is “field testing on the Rubicon Trail.” Nobody will ever truly understand the toughness that it takes to finish the Rubicon Trail in a stock vehicle, unless, of course, you go and see for yourself. Words, photos, and videos will never truly communicate the sweat, bumps, drops and hits the three of us took on this trip, but they’ll surely start to give you an idea. Enjoy!

Gear…and more gear just in case. No tools were needed.
Kyle had no idea it looked like…this.