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SMASH THAT LIKE BUTTON | TACOMA TRD OFF ROAD 4X4

SMASH THAT LIKE BUTTON | TACOMA TRD OFF ROAD 4X4

WORDS/PHOTOS: JESSE RIZO @_JESSERIZO

2020 TOYOTA TACOMA TRD OFF ROAD 4X4

What’s up, guys, my name is Jesse Rizo, and I’m 29 years old. Many of you may know me from YouYube as the guy who does installs, reviews, and vlogs to help others create their rigs. I love to answer everyone’s questions, especially beginners because I once was in their shoes and just completely lost on what direction to take with my Tacoma build. Others would give me false information or just flat-out ignore me. As time passed, I started being the one who got asked questions about my rig. That’s when I told myself I would do my best to answer in detail and never ignore because I didn’t want to be that guy that ignored me. I’m just a kid at heart who loves to help others and goes out of his way to do so. Growing up, I always played with Hot Wheels. As I got older, I modified the Power Wheels that my sisters had. I then built a go-kart out of a lawnmower engine and added speakers. As a young kid, I always loved building off of something, and when I got my first car at 16 (it was an Acura Integra), I modified it, too. I put on wheels, lowered it, and installed a sound system. The older I got, the better and faster I got at modifying cars. I could never keep them stock. I always had to get my hands dirty and modify them somehow. In 2014, I bought a new Subaru WRX hatchback that I modded from the ground up. I filmed videos with it here and there until I blew the motor. After too many repairs, I decided it was time to give up the car scene and try something different.

THE NEW ADVENTURES

My daily gig is being a parts advisor for a luxury car manufacturer, where I spend most of my time, Monday to Friday. YouTube is not my career, I see it as my hobby for now. But, I endlessly work on it throughout the week, whether it’s filming a new video or editing. In 2018, I looked at the Toyota Tacoma. My friend Chris owned one and used to take me off-roading at a popular local spot called Cleghorn. For those who know, it’s awesome with lots of articulation and offshoots. From the first time we hit that trail, I loved the adrenaline of knowing we could possibly roll over a $40,000 truck. I was sold. That’s when I purchased my first 2018 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road (yes, it was a 4×2). That was also when my YouTube channel “JESSE RIZO” officially started. And this was also after my friends Chris, Nate, Kristian and I started a truck club called Syndicate Yotas. We never knew what this would be, but we started doing events with our partners, Syndicate Jeep Club, and they were always a big success. It was a great experience, meeting so many different people in the off-road and overland community. After going to many events and trying various trails during the past couple of years, I knew I wanted to give owning a 4×4 a shot despite never really wanting one in the first place. In 2019, a friend who worked in sales at a Toyota dealership said he was able to get me a 2020 Tacoma TRD 4×4 in the same color as my 4×2, magnetic grey, for a steal of a price. I went and traded in my old Tacoma, started learning all about “budget” mods, and then progressed to the more expensive ones. Some of the first mods on my Tacoma were ditch lights, headlights, and a Bilstein 5100, 5160 Lift kit. After some research and talks with other off-road friends, I focused more on armor and bigger tires to be able to handle off-roading. My Tacoma has come a long way since then, but I honestly don’t think I will ever finish modding it. I continuously change parts, and it’s always evolving because I get bored fast or find something better. But I would say it’s close to where I’ve always wanted it, especially with my rear suspension. I love the travel it gets, but I want to do a solid axle swap eventually.

ALWAYS LEARNING, ALWAYS EVOLVING

My YouTube started way back when I had my other vehicles, including my 2014 Subaru WRX hatch. At that time, my catchphrase was, “Stay wrenching, inspired.” But now, my catchphrase is “super simple,” but in those videos, I would post mainly install or review videos on cars. These early videos taught me that attention to detail is what gets more views and feedback from viewers. That’s when I told myself to strive for more detailed install videos that were easy to follow for anyone. I started to take it all more seriously when I got the Tacoma. I didn’t care how long it took me to record a video, and all I’d care about was how easy to follow they were. I hated when I’d watch tutorial videos and they’d skip over the important steps and never show how they did it or what exactly to do. I told myself that I’d never be like that. I always make detailed videos for the Tacoma community and always want them to be good. I also invested lots of money in new camera equipment and a new computer to push out quality content. But my channel, and I, are still growing. I’m still learning as I go.

I treat it as a hobby, though, but it can feel like a job some days. As far as where the channel is headed, I’ll always stick to what I know best, which is how-tos, installs and reviews. I do want to add in more off -roading footage and interviews with people. People always ask me what the positives of having a YouTube channel are and honestly, just being able to meet such an awesome off -road community. Another positive would be the opportunities this channel has given me. I’ve gotten to meet some people that I don’t ever think I ever would without the channel and just the experiences overall that it has given me. As for the negative, there’s hate from some that don’t even own a rig or are from the off -road community. Plus, there are endless editing nights, and the behind-the-scenes stuff can be very stressful. Things like constant weather checks, not enough sunlight to film in, figuring out what positions to film in and so much more. There are a lot of frustrating parts to this that people don’t see. But I do it all for the fans (who I call friends).

The only advice I can give for someone wanting to start their channel is don’t give up if you want it, stay consistent, find your niche and stick to it, make it a hobby, not a job and ignore the people who try to bring you down. Yes, I do watch a lot of YouTube and I squeeze in time to watch my favorite channels and continue to be a supporter of theirs. I would have to say I’m a huge fan of Maxx Powell because of his style. It’s more natural, not scripted, and I truly enjoy that he makes it very entertaining as well with all his real-life experiences. My other favorite channels would be TacomaBeast, Runnin4Tacos, Last Line of Defense, Litebrite Nation, Matt’s Off -Road Recovery and Trail Recon. I still remember seeing Brad aka “@TrailRecon” at one of our Syndicate Yotas events in San Diego, and I fan-boy’d out… I’m not even going to lie.

A FAMILY AFFAIR

I got my parents into off -roading/camping after showing them videos of all the places I would go and the things I would see. My mom instantly got hooked and would ask me to take her out to see these places, and when I did, she enjoyed it. As far as my dad, I had to just push him into it and bring him saying it would be an easy trail as he wasn’t too fond of what I’d do with my truck when I’d go play. But he ended up enjoying it after a couple of scares. I believe my dad enjoys the camping aspect more. He loves cooking and being by the fire. As a kid, my family used to go on camping trips, but the normal type like where you pay for a spot and have restrooms, so for them it was a change of scenery. But it’s been awesome to be able to show them the passion I have and what Tacomas can actually do on the trails.

WHEELIN’ AND DEALIN’

A local spot that I frequent a lot is Cleghorn. I love it there because of the variety of terrain. It can be easy or hard depending on the offshoots you want to do. When I’m feeling on the edge, I do all of the difficult offshoots, but if I just want to hang out and cruise, I stick to the fire road. I also like Gold Mountain and Pilot Rock, and they’re also local. If I have time, I’ll make a weekend trip to Broken Arrow Trail in Sedona, AZ. There was this one time that I almost rolled my first Tacoma at Cleghorn. It was a 2WD with only a rear locker, but I still decided to push the limit in one of the crazier offshoots. I put myself in a steep and off-camber situation where both passenger side tires were in the air (at least that’s what it felt like).

Luckily, I quickly steered to the driver’s side which instantly dropped me back down on all four. I definitely puckered up for that one. With that said, It doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie or experienced; never go wheeling alone. I’ve learned over time that if something were to happen, you always want a buddy. I can’t tell you how often I went at it alone and thought back on how silly that was of me. Another thing is to ask a bunch of questions from people who have hit the trail you want to try or have experienced the type of terrain you want to wheel. Always ask, so you know what to expect. Always take a lot of water with you wherever you go. Don’t forget that first aid kit because trust me, someone will need it. Also, recovery gear. I’ve helped out many people before in trouble and it’s such a good feeling afterward. Be kind out there because chances are, you may need it someday. When planning for a trip, I get a notebook and write a checklist. I prep all my goods first, and then I continue the list with my gear. I also like to get my list together with the type of food and drinks I’m taking out there in my portable fridge/freezer.

THE CALI SCENE

I have to say and truly believe Southern California has probably one of the biggest and best off-road scenes compared to anywhere else besides the “Moab area.” I feel like everyone here just does it frequently, like every weekend whether it’s going on trails with friends, camping, or just off-road events. The people you meet here in SoCal, in this offroad community, usually all share the same passions. You can literally make friends almost anywhere on the trails. You connect on the trails, get to talking and before you know it, you have a new friend and go wheeling with them the following weekend. It’s happened to me many times. I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s been supporting my channel for so long, it means the world to me. I will continue to try my best to reply to every single comment. I want to give a shout-out to my wife Stefany, my friends Chris, Nate, Steve H., Jerry from Beast Fab, the CBI Offroad team, Mateo at TacomaBeast, and Tuan from Runnin 4 Tacos; without you guys, I wouldn’t have had the experiences and opportunities I have had to this day. Thank you all for that and for always being there for me.

TECH SPECS
2020 TOYOTA TACOMA TRD 4X4

EXTERIOR/ARMOR

• CBI OffRoad Adventure front bumper 
• R4T TRD Pro-Style front grille 
• Aspire Auto Accessories tri-color front grille badge emblem
• Weathertec Low Pro hood protector -front
• Lensun 85W hood solar panel complete kit- front
• CBI Offroad full skid plates
• R4T lower control arm skids
• CBI Offroad gas tank skid
• R4T differential skid
• Beastfab kickout sliders
• CBI high-clearance rear bumper w/ dual can carrier and dual ARE tables
 
SUSPENSION
• Camburg Performance X-joint upper control arms
• Front KINGS 2.5 EXT w/ADJ remote reservoir coilover
• 14” Eibach silver springs
• Rer KINGS 2.5 Smoothie shocks w/ADJ 
• Remote Reservoir 12” travel 
• Archive Garage shock relocation kit 2.5×12”
• Archive Garage Hammer Hangers + 3.6” shackles
• Old Man EMU Dakar heavy-duty leaf pack
• Active Off-Road rear bumper stops 
w/U-bolt flip kit
• Wheelers Offroad Superbump front set
PERFORMANCE
• Tacomabeast drilled and slotted rotors/brake pad combo
• R4T high-clearance cat-back exhaust
• Regar 
• Sibitune
ENGINE BAY
• The Brite Box Fogster
• CBI Offroad battery tray
• Baja Designs engine light w/switch
MISC
• Suparee LED side mirror turn signal lights
• Spotter mirror with BSM
• TheDecalGarage door decals
• Tacomabeast emblem overlay kit
• Tuffskinz Tacoma tailgate inserts
• Tuffskinz rear window accent
• Custom logo push-to-start button
ROOF
• Prinsu cab rack
• Prinsu wind deflector 
• Prinsu grab handles
• Winde deflector decal black topon
• Summit Offroad windshield banner
• Tacomabeast awning 79”
• Kickass Camping Shower tent awning
• Bubbas Garage bolt-on roof rack grab handles
WHEELS & TIRES
• Toyo Open Country MT 35×12.5×17 tires
• 5 Summit Offroad Stryker wheels
• SIBI-built fender trim 
• Tacoma cab mount relocation kit
LIGHTING
• Diode Dynamics 18” Amber Combo light bar
• Diode Dynamics SS3 Pro LEDYellow fog light kit 
• 10 Diode Dynamics SS3 pods for roof
Diode Dynamics SSC2 Pro pods side camp lights
Diode Dynamics SSC2 2” Pr ” Pro pods chase o pods chase lights – rear
• Tacomabeast Alpha Rex TRD LED projector headlights
• Headlight amber delete tint kit
• KC Flex Era 4 combo
• Bed lighting kit genuine OEM – rear 
• Pro Series LED taillights – red smoke
RECOVERY
RC 9,500lb Pro Series Winch synthetic rope – front
ACCESSORIES
• TheYotaGarage 4×4 snorkel kit
• Sy-Klone Series 9001 air pre-cleaner snorkel upgrade 
• Pitman Outdoors Soft Shell rooftop tent 
• RC Molle Panel Bed mounting system
• Lil BS FAB Bed stiffeners
• Kick Ass Premium heavy-duty fridge slide
• Mountain hatch tailgate insert
INTERIOR
• Tuffskinz door sill projectors 
• Bubbas Garage TV paracord grab handles
• Meso Customs dome light
• Meso Customs map light
• AUXBeam 8 Gang switch panel
• Tacomabeast center console dashboard trim
• Screen protech kit
• Custom push-to-start button
• Dashtop multi mount and accessories
• Midland MXT 275 with Ghost antenna
• Midland Ghost antenna
• Azdome Mirror dual dashcam
Rough Countrough Countr y seat covers double cab OEM OEM AAudio Rudio Reeffererence 500 w/ dual subs, dedicatdedicated amps, speaked amps, speakers and tweeters TTufufffskin skin TTacoma gloacoma glovve boe box ins
 

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