We've been tossing around the idea of a "This Old Quad" feature for months now; the idea was to take applications from our readers, review which project had the most potential, and help one lucky soul bring their beat-up ATV back to life, kind of like "Extreme Home Makeover" or "Pimp My Ride" but for ATVs. Unfortunately, the economy, gas prices and procrastination have kept it at just that: an idea. The thought of taking some poor soul (like you) and helping them bring their old beater back to life was intriguing, and would allow us to bask in the rare "good guys" light for a while, but the logistics were too much of a hurdle, essentially putting the idea on "indefinite back burner" status.
As luck would have it, the perfect project to jump-start the feature was literally delivered to our front door. Without boring you with too many details, what happened was Greg Daube arrived at my home to replace a couple of windshields after a major storm. While inside my truck he noticed a stack of ATV Rider issues and mentioned that he had just recovered his 2003 KFX400 from Staten Island, New York; his KFX had been stolen and recovered in horrible shape. To make matters worse, upon recovery, it had been left neglected outdoors for years as Daube had since moved to Georgia. The KFX itself was beat up, the crooks had crudely hot-wired then abused it, and Greg was too heartbroken to face the task of bringing it back to life (not to mention the huge financial investment it would require). While Greg's story was infuriating, it was all too familiar to our staff.
You see, we've all been there, just about everyone on staff has had the displeasure of having their quad stolen. Shockingly, we've almost all recovered them and been faced with the heartrending task of restoring them back to our standards. So when Greg told us his story, it simultaneously pulled on our heartstrings and brought "This Old Quad" back to life.
As for the KFX400 in question, it was quite the undertaking. What the thieves didn't destroy, Mother Nature did. Rust everywhere, salt corrosion, missing and seized bolts, a busted ignition, dry-rotted tires, bent handlebar, worn clutches, broken and faded plastic and shot bearings were all part of our first impression. The only thing it had going for it was that it ran (more like crawled). It was immediately apparent that we were looking at an overhaul as opposed to a makeover. This particular KFX needed to be stripped down to a bare frame, sandblasted and built back up almost entirely. Damn those heartstrings.
For a project this extreme we would need to tap some serious resources. For starters, we went straight to Moose; they're not only softies like us, their product line is pretty amazing. Everything from skid plates, nerf bars, handlebar, hand guards, perches and bumpers to every single bearing we needed were available from one source. We remedied our front end woes (bent A-arm, tie-rod and shock) with a +2-inch HydroDynamics iShock 5500 kit; the i5500 retails for only $1849.95, and the new F8 shocks would greatly improve the handling of the KFX. In order to bring the rear end up to the front's width, we chose Rocky Mountain ATV's new G-Force axle, as the G-Force is beefier than most aftermarket axles at a fraction of the price. With the chassis components handled, we put the fate of the motor in the hands of Mike Walker at ATP (All Terrain Performance). Walker has done a variety of race motors for us, and we were curious as to what he could do to the barely running powerplant. Exhaust duties were handled by FMF's PowerCore 4 system, while clutch duties fell into Hinson's lap. The stock wheels were a bit bent and the tires were shot, so we opted for an ITP Holeshot GNCC wheel/ tire package. To top it all off (literally) we turned to a Fullbore Innovations plastic kit, and a hybrid of Adapt Racing's KFX seat cover with a custom-matched G4-Graphics kit. Fullbore's green plastic is so ridiculously bright that it would make the KFX look more like a show quad than an ATV on its death bed.
Break It On Down
It's a real shame that grenades aren't more easily available, because just one would've made this teardown a whole lot easier. This story would've been more appropriately titled either "This Old Rust Bucket" or "101 Ways To Complicate A Build." To be honest, had I seen this nightmare in person prior to committing to the build, I would've sent Greg and his sad story packing. No, I wouldn't have had an opportunity to bask in the previously mentioned "good guy glory," but then again, who am I kidding? Being a good guy is overrated. Holy rusty piece of garbage, what did I get myself into? Luckily for Greg, he was taking a very hands-on approach to this project, because had he not been there, I might've taken a Sawzall to his quad before burying it in my yard and reporting it stolen again. The photo shoot for our "before" pictures confirmed my feelings when Thad Josey simply asked, "What the hell were you thinking?"
I've honestly never wanted to take a sledgehammer to an ATV like I did this one. Every single bolt was rounded off, broken or seized with rust to the point that the 18-volt impact gun we were using wouldn't faze them. We were relegated to using an 18-inch-long -inch drive breaker bar with a 3-foot cheater to loosen just about everything. After countless hours of frustration, we got the KFX down to a bare frame. The motor was quickly drained of fluids and shipped to ATP along with a complete Moose gasket and seal kit and a Hinson clutch basket. At that point, we separated everything else into three piles: powdercoat, polish/derust and junk. You would be amazed at just how much was rendered worthless; the junk pile was roughly three times bigger than the other two combined.