There's no disputing the overwhelming popularity of Yamaha's almighty Raptor. Its aggressive appearance and 700cc powerplant are just a few of the reasons the Raptor ranks number one as America's top-selling sport ATVs. Its smooth power delivery and overall ease of operation have given the Raptor the reputation of being the perfect machine for enthusiasts, but what you may not realize is that like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Raptor also has an inner monster that's just waiting to be unleashed.
And unleashing is exactly what occurred when we decided to transform a stock 2009 Raptor into the ultimate big-bore cross-country racer. We know the Raptor's potential is virtually limitless and chose to push this build as far as our East Coast terrain would allow. Once we had consulted with the Raptor experts at Team Rocket Factory our game plan was prepared and set into motion. This beast would be transformed into an 804cc earth-shredding Raptor with 80 horsepower to the rear wheels. The beauty of this beast is that it wouldn't be receiving high-compression pistons therefore will not require the use of expensive race fuel. Eighty horsepower on pump gas sounds great with current fuel prices in limbo and the possibility of another increase sending the cost per gallon through the roof. To make this possible the engine had to take a road trip via UPS to Fernley, Nevada, home of Team Rocket Factory. Upon arrival the cases were split to install an 8mm Barker's crank and replace the stock cylinder with a custom White Knuckle/CP 105.5mm cylinder, bringing the total cc to 804. Without proper airflow this kind of horsepower would be impossible, so Barker's CNC machine was put to use as the head was machined to Team Rocket Factory's +1 Stage One specifications. Once the TRF custom 11:1 piston and head had been installed, a Barker's-made billet cam replaced the stocker. TRF then worked some magic on the valves and buttoned this beast up. Sounds simple, right? Not exactly, this process is extremely labor intensive, and while I am a formidable mechanic, I'll leave this task to the professionals.
If I were to receive the motor at this point, it would serve as a very expensive anchor because my stock fuel injection system wouldn't even begin to fuel this rocket. This is why enlisting a Raptor specialist such as TRF is a good idea. To simplify my life TRF installed the engine into their shop Raptor chassis and, utilizing Dynojet's new Power Commander V, designed a custom fuel/tuning map that is specifically tuned to my very engine. Barker's Performance was heavily involved with Team Rocket Factory for this project and supplied a wicked dual pipe setup along with the engine components. This pipe and the much-needed K&N high-flow filter assembly that I would be using were on hand at TRF to ensure a perfect tune. This makes my engine a plug-and-play component when it arrives.
With this kind of power a high-tensile-strength chain will put the power to the rear wheels without unwanted stretch or breaking. Broken chains have been known to shatter engine cases, and with the extensive work by TRF, I don't plan to take any unnecessary chances. Sidewinder makes some of the strongest chains and sprockets known to man, and this is the perfect opportunity to try out the company's new self-lubricating 16,000-pound smart chain and lightweight tool steel sprockets. I know what you're thinking, and yes, this chain actually lubricates itself. The O-rings are impregnated with aerospace synthetics that are released as the chain is heated. This means no sticky lube to scrub off of the underside of the fender and swingarm after each ride. This chain is available in a triple-nickel silver finish and double gold-plated, but we figured the standard finish would better serve our needs.
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.
After several months of having this beast on an ATV stand and watching it slowly come together, I don't have any fingernails left to bite. I waited in suspense as the day finally came to top off the fluids, install the trick new custom G4 graphics and race to the ATVR testing grounds. Photos come first, and since I was going to be operating a camera, John "The Serbian Sensation" Jovanovic, our trusty photo monkey, would be the first to throw a leg over the Raptor. I had already taken a few short test runs to make adjustments to the controls and such, but I didn't give any indication of what was in store for John. He fired up the Rocket and headed to our first photo location where we met up with him and found a huge smile on his face. His response was just as I expected when he said it was the fastest ATV he'd ever ridden.
Once the photography was complete and Jovanovic received his unexpected rush of adrenaline, it was my turn to rip it up on the Raptor. I knew this wasn't going to be an ordinary test ride from the moment I released the effortless hydraulic clutch and the Raptor took off like a bat out of hell. The power was absolutely ferocious, easily pulling the front wheels off the ground in every gear. It's not like some machines that have awesome bottom- or top-end and lack in the other; this Raptor has the total package. The ridiculous speed this machine is capable of reaching in a very short amount of time quickly becomes obvious as turns approach and you must slow down. Impressive doesn't begin to describe the results that Team Rocket Factory accomplished with this motor, and remember it runs on 93-octane pump gas. Both the Yamaha Rhino 700 and Grizzly 700 use variations of this powerplant and TRF is also known for adding the wow factor to these units.
Even though the Raptor and the YFZ450 share the same front-end geometry I didn't know what to expect from the Raptor's handling. It weighs in at about 50 pounds over that of the YFZ450 and doesn't seem to share the same aggressive nature. This particular machine now sports the exact suspension setup as the GNCC podium regular, Taylor Kiser's YFZ450, and it wasn't long before the overall performance and comfort of the Raptor had me pushing hard. Again, I was impressed as this Raptor blasted through turns and soaked up gnarly, teeth-chattering terrain with ease. It had taken on the preferred handling characteristics of the race-bred YFZ which I'm very familiar with. Much needed stability for this powerhouse was improved across the board tenfold thanks to the Houser/hlins combination with help from GPR's phenomenal damping system. These suspension components work together like Bonnie and Clyde to overcome any obstacle that stands in their way.
I assumed traction would be a serious issue due to the massive horsepower output of this engine, but my assumption was incorrect. The Maxxis Razr is an easy tire to manipulate, and traction can be controlled with the throttle and a little body English. Making transitions between high-speed straights, sweeping corners or hairpin turns can be accomplished with perfection time and time again. Overly aggressive tires can provide too much grip making the machine tippy, while less aggressive tires often cause the Raptor to push through turns and be difficult to control. In my opinion, the Maxxis tire combination paired with DWT's G4 beadlocks provide unmatched quality and performance.
Predictability is essential for any machine to be competitive. If you know without a doubt how your quad will respond to your every action, you can push harder with confidence and ride smarter than the competition. This machine isn't a 405-pound YFZ450R that you can throw around with ease but it is extremely predictable with phenomenal handling and has unmatched speed. With a skilled rider at the controls it will be a tough competitor to beat. I guess I'd better start practicing.
Houser TricTrac System
An ATV's front-end caster setting greatly affects the machine's cornering ability and high-speed stability. The problem of the past is that a single setting had to be determined, and exploiting one function couldn't be achieved without compromising the other. The Houser TricTrac system has solved this problem by utilizing an ever-changing caster setting. This system places the upper ball joint in its ideal position in every possible situation by shifting the upper A-arm forward and back as it is compressed and extended. The caster is decreased as the front end is compressed providing exceptional cornering characteristics, and the opposite effect is achieved as the front end lifts under acceleration increasing the caster. This allows extreme stability during acceleration and at speed. For us, this was a killer innovation by Houser and we greatly enjoyed the benefits of a self-adjusting caster system. This setup comes highly recommended by the ATV Rider staff.
Parts: Yamaha Raptor 804
F3 Series unbreakable brake lever: $75;
front brake dust cover: $10
Alumilite Ultimate race kit, including two Ultimate Rok'N Lock front wheels, two Ultimate G2 wheels, four mud covers,
official DWT hat: $662
Billet kill switch (used as a start button): $39.95
Narrow +1/2-inch cross-country A-arms, long-travel: $874.99;
+11/4-inch steering stem: $230.00;
TricTrac kit: $249.99;
bar clamp: $85.00
21x7-10 Razr 2, front, 6-ply: $143.34 ea.;
20x11-9 Razr, rear, 6-ply: $122.03 ea.
Long-travel, cross-country front shocks: $1800;
long-travel rear shock: $1000
Full chassis armor: $124.95;
swingarm armor: $146.95;
radiator armor: $72.95;
billet parking brake block-off: $20.95;
billet brake lever: $169.95;
billet shifter: $93.95;
billet front sprocket cover: $129.95;
Pro XC bumper: $118.95;
Pro race grab bar: $79.95;
kill switch: $30.95;
kill switch install kit: $22.95;
PowerGrip footpegs: $139.95;
PowerGrip heel guards: $169.95;
Sport series nerf bars (PowerGrip): $197.95
Smart Chain II, 520, 16,000 lb: $169.99;
tool steel front sprocket: $49.99;
tool steel rear sprocket: $109.99
Front stainless braided 3-line kit, clear: $92.99;
rear stainless braided line, clear: $42.99;
Billetanium hydraulic clutch: $249.99;
billet line clamps: $29.99 per pair
Team Rocket Factory:
Barker's 8mm crank balanced with Barker's connecting rod: $950;
TRF 105.5 custom 11:1 pump gas piston: $275;
White Knuckle/CP 105.5 cylinder: $820;
TRF/Barker's CNC +1 Stage One head: $950;
TRF spring: $240;
TRF/Barker's cam billet: $285;
labor for TRF engine build: $1080;
TRF custom fuel/tuning mapping: $250;
TRF HD stud kit: $175;
Cometic TRF gasket kit: $150
Quadtech has been manufacturing...
Quadtech has been manufacturing seat covers for ages, and its gripper seat cover with hump is the crme of the crop.
A dual pipe setup is an absolute...
A dual pipe setup is an absolute must for an extreme modified Raptor. These Barker's possess a terrifying roar that could possibly match a prehistoric Raptor.
DuraBlue X-33 axle mated with...
DuraBlue X-33 axle mated with the bulletproof Sidewinder sprockets and self-lubricating chain gives you peace of mind when chasing a 200-plus mph land speed run.
DuraBlue's billet hubs look...
DuraBlue's billet hubs look sick and quite a bit stronger than those stockers.
G4 graphics not only make...
G4 graphics not only make your quad look sick, but are durable and keep your quad from getting scratched up from debris on the trail.
Streamline's stainless braided...
Streamline's stainless braided lines are available in a multitude of colors to match your ride. I prefer the look of a clear coating that shows off the inner stainless braid.
If you've ever been knee-deep...
If you've ever been knee-deep in mud and racing to the checkered flag, you know how important it is to have pegs with grip. Pro Armor's ProGrip pegs offer traction beyond compare.
Pro Armor's billet components...
Pro Armor's billet components scream, "Look at me!" They're also lightweight and incredibly durable.
This engine may look like...
This engine may look like any other, but be assured that Team Rocket Factory has transformed it into something incredible. Team Rocket Factory owner Jason LaPoint is building these engines in excess of 1000cc and knows how to extract every available horsepower.
Fasst Co.'s Flexx bars are...
Fasst Co.'s Flexx bars are available in a vast variety of bends, rise heights and colors. We opted for the 14-degree quad racer low setup.
A simple setscrew on all ASV...
A simple setscrew on all ASV levers allows the user to adjust the lever's reach to accommodate the smallest to the largest of hands.
Cycra Probend hand guards...
Cycra Probend hand guards provide a large area of coverage and are reinforced with aluminum.
Mounting up Maxxis Razr 2...
Mounting up Maxxis Razr 2 front and Razr rear tires on DWT's new G4 beadlocks is effortless and offers the highest of performance.
Fly's billet, two-wire, completely...
Fly's billet, two-wire, completely sealed kill switch doubles as the ultimate start button. Simply said, it won't fail when the elements begin to take their toll on your equipment.
The design of Houser's Slicast...
The design of Houser's Slicast with extremely high ground clearance arms makes them perfect for any discipline of ATV racing. Pair them with a performance shock from hlins and you will have a winning combination.
A project of this caliber...
A project of this caliber would be impossible without the advanced Dynojet PCV electronics.
If you only buy one accessory...
If you only buy one accessory for your new quad, make it a high-quality stabilizer. The GPR's assortment of mounting hardware makes its applications virtually limitless.
Grab a handful of Streamline's...
Grab a handful of Streamline's effortless Billetanium hydraulic clutch and you'll never want to use a traditional cable again.
A factory filter will get...
A factory filter will get the job done, but if you're seeking more power, then you'll be in need of additional airflow and you can't go wrong with this K&N system. Building a machine like this can push your credit to the limit, and there's no way I'm going to let dust particles destroy its powerplant.