Now that the details for the powerplant have been ironed out, it's time to get started on the most important components on any high-performance ATV: the suspension. Stock suspension on any ATV is generic, to say the least. It's not a fault of the manufacturer but a physical limitation on the shocks themselves. It would be impossible to have a single shock that performs equally to the needs of a 135-pound rider and a 250-pound rider. To get my suspension up to par, I first installed a set of Houser Slicast +1/2-inch high ground clearance, long-travel arms with their unique TricTrac system (see sidebar). If this machine is as fast as TRF has implied, I want the best arms I can get my hands on, and with these bitchin' Houser arms this Raptor will look as good as it performs. I have installed my share of A-arms, but this would be my first installation of the TricTrac system. It was a straightforward procedure, and in a matter of minutes the arms were installed and ready for shocks. Houser has been working closely with Öhlins to achieve the ultimate combination for superior performance, so Öhlins was the obvious choice for both the front and rear of our project. Since shocks can put a dent in your wallet, I opted for some added protection and installed Quadtech shock guards on the front units. I hope to be in the front when racing this beast, but I'll take all the roost protection I can get just in case I'm not.
Stock brake lines come up short in the performance department and literally with the addition of +3/4-inch A-arms. Streamline's braided stainless lines will solve this problem and prevent any line swell as the fluid is heated and put under pressure. A spongy lever or pedal due to flex in a rubber line is not very reassuring when you're blazing down a fire road at what seems to be near Mach speeds. Streamline doesn't stop at brake lines (no pun intended), the company also offers a Billetanium hydraulic clutch with an unbreakable ASV lever that was a must-have for this Raptor. This eliminates the clutch cable leaving us with only one other and that's the throttle cable. It was replaced with an extended cable from Motion Pro to better suit the requirements of our taller Houser stem. Of course, we ordered a matching unbreakable brake lever direct from ASV to go along with the trick clutch.
Whether you plan to race or pound the trails for an extended amount of time alterations to the steering system is a must for comfort. In my opinion Flexx bars are the greatest thing since sliced bread, and I wouldn't even consider building a cross-country quad without them. I got my hands on a pair of low-rise, ATV-bend bars and mounted them to a Houser +11/4-inch steering stem, further reducing vibration. Now the height is optimal and I have no worries of bending a stem when the going gets tough. Cycra now makes hand guards that are specifically designed to work with Flexx bars and have the same great look and protection as the original Probend guards. This bolt-on installation proved to be much easier than the custom fabrication of the past. I've somehow managed to discuss rider comfort without mentioning Quadtech's eye-catching humped, gripper seat cover. I sent my seat directly to Quadtech for a professional installation, and it couldn't have turned out better. I was a little skeptical of the hump seat, but after a few laps through our secret test facility, I'm sold.
Any hard-core ATV racer will tell you that an ATV is incomplete without a high-quality steering stabilizer. Our GPR stabilizer is out of sight and out of mind but does its job to reduce unwanted bump-steer. I've endured multiple fractured wrists using cheap stabilizers but have since learned my lesson. A good stabilizer is an absolute must for riders wanting to go fast, will outlast your ATV and can be transferred to your new quad; so keep this in mind when you decide to bolt one on your machine.
Like most ATV riders, I always play hard, and if there's a trophy at stake, I'm not letting off the throttle unless I'm out of gas (I've got the X-rays to prove it). This mind-set has resulted in numerous bent axles, and there's no chance that I'll unveil this beast with a stocker. Aftermarket axles with lifetime warranties are abundant, and while this is a great feature, I'd prefer a product with a warranty that I won't have to use. Terry Wilmeth chose DuraBlue's X-33 axle for his 200-mph-plus world record run on board his Rocket Raptor, and I'm going to do the same. The X-33 is extremely strong, and the width is adjustable to accommodate any setup or wheel combination I desire. To eliminate the possibility of a hub working loose, DuraBlue has utilized billet hubs that are clamped onto the axle without the need of reducing the axle's overall diameter. Functionality is the goal here, but I must say that the billet hubs look awesome inside the new Douglas G2 beadlock wheels. I was always a huge fan of the Shamrock billet center wheel, but this new design incorporates the same style and DWT quality with a much lower price tag. They come packaged as a kit complete with mud plugs for muddy days and a DWT hat. I have to admit I do despise mounting tires on beadlocks, but the G2's mounting simplicity has changed my view.
Before we could take to the trails for a test session we needed to mount up some new meats and bolt on our battle armor. A four-ply tire is out of the question, so to get this Raptor ready for action I called on Maxxis for a pair of six-ply Razr rears and Razr 2s up front. I've had phenomenal results in the past with this combination and have never sustained any serious tire damage while hammering through the toughest terrain the East Coast has to offer. Having confidence in your tires allows you to focus on more important things like winning races, and Maxxis definitely knows what it takes to bring home a championship.
The armor of choice for this big-bore gladiator is none other than Pro Armor. We already know this Raptor will be fast but we want it to turn heads before the ferocious dual Barker's growl, and the look of Pro Armor components will undoubtedly make this possible. At first glance you can't help but notice the obvious works of aluminum art from the XC front bumper to the ProGrip nerfs and XC grab bar. With closer inspection you'll see the aluminum radiator guard, a trick billet shifter, billet brake pedal and billet E-brake block-off. The billet components do offer an awesome appearance, but it's their functionality and durability over stock that make them most desirable. On the underside of the Raptor you'll find the not-so-visible skids that easily go unnoticed until you hear the clash of rocks and debris being deflected. A smart cop never goes on duty without his Kevlar vest, and the same can be said for a racer and his skids.