What Makes This The Greatest Off-Roader On Earth?

Car Culture / Comments

Meet the Sherp ATV and it's incredible abilities.

There are many specialized off-road vehicles out there, but it's not often we see something as well thought out as the Sherp ATV. It's the brainchild of Russian engineer and designer Alexei Garagashyan. The brief was to provide a reliable and low-maintenance vehicle suitable to operate in the most extreme of conditions. The result is an ingenious piece of engineering. You might think a Jeep Gladiator is the ultimate off-road truck, or the new Land Rover Defender is a go-anywhere vehicle, but this is something special.

The company was founded in 2012, and the Sherpa ATV debuted in 2015 at the Moscow exhibition of crossovers and off-road vehicles. While the Sherp ATV is manufactured in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Kyiv in Ukraine, it's offices are in Winnipeg, Canada. The Sherp ATV's reception has been warm, particularly by the media, appearing on a variety of TV shows. The extreme off-roader also features in Kanye West's music videos for Follow God and Closed on Sunday.

But the Sherp ATV is a serious piece of kit, featuring creative solutions to problems faced by off-roaders and explorers. In fact, we think the Sherp ATV is the greatest off-road vehicle on the planet. Here's why.


It'll Go Almost Anywhere On Land

Due to its short wheelbase, 21.65 inches of ground clearance, and huge tires, the Sherp ATV happily bumps over obstacles up to 27.5 inches tall and climbs gradients up to 35 degrees. Grip is rarely an issue either, as the low-pressure patented pneumocirculating suspension is connected to the tires, and when one tire bumps into an obstacle, the pressure is distributed evenly to the other tires. That means the tire encountering an obstacle can conform more to the obstruction and get more rubber on it for grip. The variable pressure on the tires and the nature of their design also allows the vehicle to transition from water to sheet ice without being fazed, or from rocket outcrops to soft sand, and anything in between.

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Floats Over Deep Water

Traversing deep water is not something the average off-road machine can handle. The Sherp ATV solves this problem by having giant self-inflating tires that can hold 800 liters of air and create 7,000 lbs of displacement so the vehicle can float and be propelled at the same time. The tires act as paddles to keep the vehicle moving, but even if the tires deflate, the body is hermetically sealed and can float on its own. That means that even in a worst-case scenario, everyone should survive if all the wheels fall off in the middle of a lake. If a wheel was to fall off anywhere, the Sherpa ATV will simply keep going due to its full-time four-wheel-drive system. It will only do 3.7 mph in water, but that's much preferable to sinking.

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Incredible Fuel Efficiency

If you're, say, a geologist exploring Greenland's rocky, ice-sheet coated coastline, the last thing you want is the possibility of running out of fuel. MPG is a useless metric here, but the Sherp ATV uses a 1.5 liter Kubota V1505 four-cylinder diesel engine, which uses an average of 0.52-0.79 gallons of fuel per hour. It only does 28 mph on land, but that's the trade-off for reliability, fuel efficiency, and saving weight.

The fuel tank holds 17.7 gallons of fuel, but the wheels also have embedded fuel cans that can hold an extra 15 gallons. In theory, then, the Sherp ATV can keep going for almost two days without stopping if someone dared. The fuel tank is also designed to keep providing diesel to the engine when it is tilted at an extreme angle, so fuel starvation should never be an issue.

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Highly Agile And Maneuverable

The low ratio of the gearbox combined with a skid-steer system gives the Sherpa ATV a turning radius of only 8.2 feet. As it's 11 feet long, that means it can turn inside its own length. The Sherpa ATV is also just 8.2 feet wide, so it can squeeze through tight gaps when navigating forests or rock-strewn ground. Its dry weight is also low, only 2,866 lbs, but its wet weight is going to be variable depending on the fuel load. Any which way you dice it, though, the Sherpa ATV is lightweight for the incredible ability it brings to the table.

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A Design Based On Simplicity

While having a simple design doesn't sound exciting, Sherp has taken things to the next level to ensure explorers and workers can depend on it in extreme conditions. There's hardly any electronic equipment used in the Sherp ATV, to the point that the engine doesn't need electricity to function. The suspension and transmission, a 5-speed manual, have been stripped to their base elements, so not only is there little to go wrong, when something breaks, it's easy to fix.

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It's Small, But It Can Haul

Only two people can sit up front in the Sherpa ATV, but its load capacity is 2204 lbs, and there's enough space for four full-size single beds in the back. If there's more equipment that needs to be hauled, then there is also a matching two-wheel trailer available. The Sherpa Ark has a six-wheel trailer that can carry "modules" customized to be anything from a dwelling compartment to a cargo compartment to a medical rescue trailer. The Ark model boasts a 7,500 lbs load capacity, 82 hours of fuel autonomy, can do 3.7 mph across water, and has a 40-degree grade ability.

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It Destroys Heavily Modified Mega Trucks

Mud bogging is a popular sport inparts of North America and involves a long mud pit and the competitors competing to see who can get travel the furthest through it. The vehicles range from mildly modified off-roaders to purpose-built mud pluggers, as we can see in the video below. As a demonstration of the Sherp ATV's abilities, it shows everyone up by making all the way to the end, and then turning around and going back again. Thankfully, the driver figured out how to steer for the return trip and even stopped to pick up a young lady on the way.

YouTube / ostacruiser YouTube / ostacruiser YouTube / ostacruiser

It's Expensive But Not Ridiculously So

The Sherpa ATV is a specialized piece of equipment that people entrust their lives to in harsh environments, and that's never going to come cheap. So if you're in an industry that requires venturing into hostile environments or have money to burn and want the coolest toy on the block, the Sherpa ATV will set you back $114,995 and can be had with a soft-top or removable hardtop. The Ark model with its trailer starts at $250,000. There's plenty of accessories and equipment available as well, like studded tires, auxiliary fuel tanks that also increase floatation ability, an independent heater, and even a boat style sled to tow.

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