Quad Racer R450
In 2006, Suzuki introduced the closest thing to a true motocross race quad ever produced. All of its predecessors were universal quads aimed for general trail riding purposes. The Suzuki, however, was released at nearly 50 inches wide-too wide for cross-country racing and for most East Coast trail riding but the perfect width for unleashing on a motocross track. While not being a full-blown MX race quad right off the showroom . oor, it's the closest a mass-produced quad has come. If you're at all familiar with dirt bike racing, you'll know that you can purchase a bike and race it in completely stock trim at a relatively high level of competition. ATVs, though for sure heading in that direction, have fallen slightly short over the years. The Suzuki is only lacking a handful of items that prevent it from being a competitive local moto-cross quad. So what we wanted to do is show you just how inexpensively and easily you could turn your LT-R into a racer capable of winning at the local level and, possibly, even nationally.
The suspension on the 2006-'07 LT-R is just too painfully stiff! The rear shock is so rigid that it doesn't transfer the proper amount of weight to the rear tires so you don't get good hookup off of the corners. Aside from that, it's not very comfortable for long motos as it beats the crud out of the pilot. In 2008, the engineers addressed this issue by softening up the shocks' travel, and we admit that it's noticeably improved and a good enough performer for many recreational riders. The problem is that it still isn't good enough for competitive track use and can be a lot better even as a recreational quad. The travel is limited and the quality of travel is just not there. On a positive note, the LT-R's shocks are made with excellent hardware. Suzuki used a very long shock in the front, along with compression- and rebound-adjustable knobs and a very large-diameter shaft. Hardwarewise, this shock is better than 90 percent of the components offered in the aftermarket world. In order to inprove upon what we already had, we sent our stock shocks to TCS for some reworking and to maximize performance. TCS has the ability and knowledge to set them up for each and every rider's specific needs. We have worked and tested with TCS since the 2006 LT-R was released and have really been happy with the outcome. Here is what's needed on the LT-R: more travel and a multispring setup to give a plush, controlled ride, along with the proper valving to make it all work as it should. The TCS shocks do this and a lot more. TCS takes apart the stock shocks, then hard-anodizes the bodies to seal them. The aluminum bodies of the stock shocks can contaminate the oil when the piston rubs on the body wall wearing off some of the aluminum and throwing junk into the oil, which is a recipe for disaster. TCS then extends the shock travel to the same amount as you would run with an aftermarket shock, which puts you close to 12 inches of travel at each end. The shock is then valved and sprung according to each rider's weight, class of racing and type of riding/racing. Springs are also changed out and selected for rider application.
Race Tech worked a miracle...
Race Tech worked a miracle as it transformed our stock shocks into full-blown race-ready performers.
In the middle of this story and our testing, TCS was purchased by Race Tech. Race tech is known for its high-quality motorcycle suspension components. This will most likely prove to be a great program for the ATV industry. Race Tech offers do-it-yourself kits for suspension and valving kits for motorcycles and will most likely release packages for ATVs. Race Tech has hundreds of service centers so you'll be able to find a local shop to service ATV shocks. It also intends to offer the complete line of what was TCS shocks and expand that product line.
Almost any MX race series...
Almost any MX race series will require a set of nerf bars, and we couldn't think of a better setup than the IMS/Roll Pro-Series nerfs.
Nerf bars are mandatory for safety, and most MX tracks require them these days. So we slid on a set of IMS nerf bars along with an IMS front bumper to help prevent damage from collisions. We didn't go with any fancy Pro-pegs; we were trying to keep the cost at a minimum, and the stock pegs work very well. The stock pegs are in a good location and are wide enough. A good tip for the pegs are to sharpen the spikes for improved traction with a grinder and run 'em. Along the lines of things that are mandatory, we slipped on a Pro Design tether kill switch. This is all about safety and every racer should have one installed. We also yanked the headlight and slid in a Quad Tech nosepiece. It just gives it a better look and keeps you from breaking your headlight, as you might want to reinstall it if you're planning a night ride at some point.
The IMS/Roll front bumper...
The IMS/Roll front bumper will offer better protection and add a tricked-out look to the LT-R450.
Tire selection needs to be made depending on track conditions. When we were doing much of our suspension testing for this article, we spent two days at L.A. County Raceway. LACR is a very sandy track with some hardpack dirt. We just ran the stock tires and wheels, and arguably in these conditions they were working extremely well. When we tested at tracks with mostly hardpack dirt, we felt a different tire would be more appropriate for the conditions. We went with ITP MXR6 18x10-8 rear and 10x6-10 front which performed well and offered excellent traction in these conditions. We highly recommend a beadlock rear wheel for use with the 8-inch rim size. We didn't bother with beadlock fronts as it just adds weight, cost and a place for mud to collect. We ended going with an ITP rolled-edge front rim.
"The bottom line is that we...
"The bottom line is that we weren't looking for glitz or bling; our main objective on this project was to maximize function at a low cost."
Suzuki produced a very good stock package to work with, and it just hid the keys. In stock trim, the LT-R produced about 40 horsepower and doesn't rev. The only motor mod performed was adding the Big Gun M-80, pulling the plug out of the exhaust and removing the airbox lid. This bumped us up to nearly 50 horsepower and gave us the rev we needed to cut good lap times. It's an absolute night-and-day difference. What the Big Gun M-80 does is access a preprogrammed ignition curve along with a preprogrammed richer fuel curve. Once you get to the near 50-horsepower range, lap times are going to minimize for most riders. You could dump a bunch of cash into huge motor builds, but you won't drop your lap times much on most MX tracks. More motor may help in getting better starts, but that isn't necessarily always true. The 2008 model does have more bottom-end power and a little better power curve than the '06 and '07 models, but this entire package would work equally well on those older quads.
The bottom line is that we weren't looking for glitz or bling; our main objective on this project was to maximize function at a low cost. Suzuki built a great platform to work from and we just applied the essentials. Don't hesitate to build a racer the same way. Many get hooked into spending excessive amounts of money to build a cool-looking racer, but the name of the game is winning, not spending.
Tested And Approved
After our modifications were completed, the first time we hit the track, it became obvious our machine sat too low for a rough track. We were getting pounded everywhere. All we did was go back to our truck, flip the crossover spacer on the front, add some preload to the rear shock and our machine transformed into a phenomenal performer. We tested back-to-back against a $2500 set of aftermarket shocks, and our TCS/Race Tech reworked shocks were by far superior. We possibly could've spent more time trying to get the other shocks to work as well, but that wasn't our job for the day. The next day we headed out and spent time at a smooth well-groomed supercross style track. For this particular style of track, we lowered it and softened up the shocks a little. It's obvious that any suspension system will need to be tweaked depending on terrain and what track you're at, and our TCS/Race Tech reworked shocks offered plenty of tunability to dial them in for our needs. For $950 they're the bomb!
The tire choice was good and worked extremely well on our supercross test track. That track has a very hard surface, and the ITP tires hooked up as good as anything is going to on these hardpacked low-traction situations. The only thing we wanted to point out is the beadlocks. We got some dirt crammed into ours which caused the air to leak out. All we had to do was pull apart the beadlock and clean out all of the dirt and debris. We think it's a matter of the beadlock rings not being torqued properly. After running them a few times you might even want to retighten them along with all of your normal maintenance procedures.
ITP's MXR6 tires helped give...
ITP's MXR6 tires helped give us the traction we needed in order to improve lap times.
We think the additions that we made to our LT-R450 allowed us to have an excellent-performing machine at a very low cost. We also think the suspension works so well and provides such a plush ride that it would make a great addition to a recreational rider's or even dune runner's setup. We let several people who normally run the stock setup at the tracks where we were testing ride our project quad. All of them were highly impressed with our low-budget racer and were immediately headed to Race Tech to get their stock shocks a makeover. It was kind of like getting second, third and fourth opinions. We nailed down the basics. If you have more budget after these mods, the order to spend a few extra bucks would probably be for a bar-even though the stock ones are comfortable, they aren't strong or cool-looking-a graphics kit and a pipe.