Since I've traded the role of occasional racer for full-time photographer at ATV Rider, I don't spend nearly enough time getting my speed fix on the moto track as I once did. Don't get me wrong, being a photographer has its own perks, but I do miss banging bars with a dozen or so of my closest friends. One of the pluses for this job is staying in contact with all my racing associates-albeit on friendlier terms than when we were fighting for that one spot in front. And after chatting with John Gregory at Goldenwest Cycles about the upcoming 2006 race season, perk number two popped up. I can ride any of the machines now-in fact, it's even my job to test the handcrafted creations used by the top riders in the business to make a living. After Gregory informed me about Jeremy Schell earning the '05 ITP QuadCross title, my urge to burn laps overcame me and I blurted out a request to sample Schell's YFZ. After all, it has been a while since Schell and I duked it out on the track, so it would be an interesting perspective to see just how well his championship-winning ATV worked.
Of course, I couldn't just show up and knock out a few laps, hand the machine back to Schell and call it a day. I had to get in the mood first-with my camera, of course. Only after cranking out some sick imagery with Schell was I ready to try this racer myself-albeit Schell's never-before-touched backup machine (which is identical, except in color). ATV Rider Editor Bryan Nylander did the photo honors while I hammered the Yamaha around the never-smooth Glen Helen Raceway Park track. The SoCal locale is such a good place to test because of the mix of wide open and tight, along with the thoroughly suspension-taxing ruts, bumps and jumps.
Stab the throttle and it's readily apparent this engine isn't stock. Barking out a Sparks X-5 race series exhaust, the Curtis Sparks-built motor delivered lots of torque throughout the broad powerband. It let me park it in one gear and forget about shifting. Glen Helen's large hills were just a blip on the radar as this thing ate up the track. Schell's YFZ450 allowed me to simply motor up and around Glen Helen with the greatest of ease. The number of ponies churning out of this mill made it obvious Schell wasn't working with a handicap when he captured the title last year.
All the power in the world won't help if the suspension isn't up to the task and doesn't allow the tires to translate horsepower into traction-try doing that while keeping the pilot isolated from the bumps and harshness of the track. Schell's machine did just that, and the quad felt as plush as it gets and it tracked nicely through even the heaviest of braking bumps. Never once did I ever feel as if it were going to do something weird. As for landing from large jumps, the Elka suspension felt as though it could soak up even the nastiest of touchdowns-something I didn't try-without a whimper. Overall, the Goldenwest quad was plush and predictable and set up quite similar to how I would set up my own racer.
And speaking of getting power to the ground, the ITP tires really helped in this department. I could hit the high-speed turns at Glen Helen as fast as I was willing to go without having the quad feel as if it was going to come out from underneath me. Alas, I finally had to call it quits from cranking out lap after lap. It was a ton of fun riding this well-setup machine, and I sorely wanted to load it up into my truck at the end of the day. Not to take away anything from Schell, but this YFZ450 does make his work a lot easier, and I can clearly see how he can go so fast. Maybe I'm glad in a small way not to be squaring off against him on the starting line anymore.
Schell's Yamaha YFZ450
EngineMechanic: John Gregory and Tim TestaCurtis Sparks National 450cc Motor Kit: Sparks ultralight piston kit, Sparks cam, porting/valve job, oil mod and a complete disassembly and reassemblyCarburetor: Stock with Sparks jet kit (needle/pilot/main jet)Radiator: PWR large-capacityIgnition system: Vortex X-10Air filter: GWC Pro-Flow with K&N filter and prefilterExhaust system: Curtis Sparks X-5 Race SeriesOil: Maxima Premium 4 10w40
Clutch basket: HinsonPlates: Hinson 9-plate with pressure plate and inner hubClutch cover: Hinson Racing
A-arms: Epic Racing Swoop long-travel black with chrome upperShock: Elka Quad Rate Comp/Reb withhigh/low speed
RearSwingarm: StockShock: Elka dual-rate Comp/Reb withhigh/low speedLinkage: Stock
Frame: StockFrame mods: Epic gusset kit powdercoated gloss blackSteering stem: Tag Metals +1Axle: Lonestar Axcalibur 2+2Axle locknut: Lonestar pinch boltCarrier: Lonestar Twin RowFootpeg: IMS with Kick-UpNerf bars: AC RacingBumpers: IMS IntimidatorGrab bar: AC Racing
Tires & Wheels
FrontTires: 20x6-10 ITP Holeshot SXWheels: Douglas Ultimate 10x5 4+1 rolled lip standard center
RearTires: 18x10-8 ITP Holeshot SXWheels: Douglas Ultimate 8x8 3+5 beadlock standard center
BrakesRotors (f/r): Streamline BladeLines: Streamline stainless steelBrake pedal: IMSBrake Fluid: Maxima 350 Hi-TempMaster cylinder: TRX450
Controls & Misc.
Handlebar: Tag Metals T-2 CR high-bendGrips: Tag soft/mediumHand guards: Powermadd (when needed)Steering stabilizer: GWC 7-positionClutch levers: Works Connection EliteThrottle: TRX450 thumbShifter: IMSBody: Maier Mfg. gloss blackHood: Quadtech NACA DuctSeat cover and foam: Quadtech HumpGraphics kit: GWC Schell ReplicaNumber plate: GWCNumbers: One IndustriesTotal cost (approximate): $9000