PROJECT HONDA RACER XR650: GREG STUART & NIC GRANLUND BUILD A LONG- TRAVEL RACE-READY HONDA
PROJECT “STUPID BIKE”
Southern Californian Greg Stuart’s wife Jamie had a catchy, if not flattering, name for their project Honda 650 racer. “Stupid Bike was what she would call it,” recalls Greg. “It was no secret she was not happy with the amount of time, money, and effort myself, my dad Ken (whom I call Big K), our pit crew, and fellow racer Nic Granlund, would spend on this machine,” said Stuart. “Pretty soon, all of us began calling it that too,” laughs the 34-year-old racer. Greg and his dad Ken Stuart own Skat-Trak, which custom builds paddle tires for the sand-slinging crowd of off-road duners throughout the country. “This was a project where we wanted to create something that Honda had not, at least not until 2008, anyway,” said Stuart. “We wanted a truly big bore Honda for the high speed desert events we like to ride, where power, handling, and top speed are keys to victory.”
CREATING PROJECT STUPID BIKE “The idea behind the ‘Stupid bike’ began at the ’Best In The Desert’ 2006 Vegas to Reno off road race,” recalled Greg Stuart. “We started twelfth off the line and had our work cut out for us. Trying to catch and pass competitors on the same quad, with the same horsepower, on a long graded road, was frustrating.” “You could literally see the guy in front of you, follow him for ten miles and not pull an inch closer. We needed more power and top speed,” said Stuart.
The Honda XR650 engine is basically what Honda will be using in their all new TRX700XX. That machine is set to debut later in 2008.
THEIR SOLUTION “We thought about it for a while and came up with a solution. A tried and proven powerplant in the desert races is Honda’s XR650R dirt bike motor. This motorcycle powerplant had easily won the last ten straight Baja 1000 races,” said Greg. “All we had to do was figure out how to get this thing in a quad frame. As it turned out, that’s easier said than done.” In the past, a few inventive riders had tried to cram this huge powerplant into an existing ATV frame. This took a lot of cutting and hacking to an already poorly designed OEM ATV. As many of you know, you cannot show up at a race and expect to win with OEM A-arms, stock shocks, stock axle, and a stock motor. Greg Stuart and his crew needed to design this quad from the ground up.
LAEGER CHASSIS “Our first call was to Laeger Racing. My father has a long history with Mark Laeger. They met each other in the early ’70s at sand drag racing events. Mark always had exotic Jeeps, drag cars, and three wheelers that he drag raced. His craftmanship and designs were always cutting edge and ahead of the competition,” says Stuart. “We had done many projects with Mark in the past. He had built the first Pro Trax front end for us in 1991 for competition in the Mickey Thompson Stadium Racing events. His chromoly frames were always superior to any others on the market at the time,” added Greg.
(Left) Fast Flexx handlebars are like adding extra suspension to your quads off-road abilities. They are a popular and useful addition on any quad. (Right) Almost everything on the “Stupid Bike” project has been custom built or fabricated. The Laeger swingarm and Elka shocks were dialed in for a lot of race sag and travel.
“With an empty canvas, we were able to design the suspension, shock length, geometry, travel, etc…to meet our needs for desert racing. I contacted one of the best in the business, Mike ‘Krash’ Hallock, to help with the suspension design. He helped us figure out our pivot points, upper and lower shock locations, and swing arm length to get the perfect ratio for optimal travel. We rounded out the setup with custom suspension from Fox Racing Shox,”
BUILDING FROM SCRATCH “From this point, it was a matter of plugging in all the missing pieces, and trust me,” said Stuart, “when you are building a quad from scratch, there are a lot of missing pieces. Brakes, foot pegs, skids, bumpers, cables, electrical, air intake…the list goes on and on.
A set of Laeger Racing A-arms, swingarm, and chassis gave the XR650 long legs and a stable platform to add the long travel suspension. “You can just pin it in the whoops on this thing,” says Stuart.
THE STUPID PART “This is where the Stupid Bike comes in. As many racers know, there is a lot of time, effort, money, and energy spent on building and prepping a race quad. This means less time, effort, and money spent with your significant other. My wife Jamie would ask me ‘When is the stupid bike going to be done’ or ‘are you working on that Stupid Bike tonight? That’s how the Stupid Bike moniker began,’ recalls Greg Stuart. ”You don’t run down to Honda and order an air boot for a Honda FourTrax 450R that adapts to an XR650 R motor…you make it. There are many custom parts on this quad, and many of them were fabricated by Big K (my dad). He literally has hundreds, if not thousands, of hours on this project. Weekends were filled with designing oil reservoirs, battery boxes, and billet skid plates. Every week we would get one step closer. “We initially bought a brand new 2007 XR650R motorcycle in October of 2006. By May of 2007, once we dialed the motor in at CT Racing, things began to fall in line. “My race teammate, Nic Granlund, understands suspension setup like no one else I’ve ever met. It took two months of testing, changing spring rates, lengthening the shock, and revalving, but it was all worth it. We ended up with 13 inches of wheel travel and butter smooth suspension with the Fox Shox setup. Once we had it dialed in, I think this is the best handling desert quad I have ever ridden. It soaks up the rough like a trophy truck. We can actually sit on the seat and ride it through medium size whoop sections. It’s that good,” recalls Stuart. Once the testing was complete, it was off to polish and paint. Stuart and Granlund finished up the race look with Fullbore fenders, a Quad Tech hood and seat cover, and CT Racing graphics.
WHAT ABOUT THE 2008 HONDA 700XX? “We think it’s great that Honda is stepping up and releasing a long awaited big displacement quad,” says Stuart. “It seems like they are a little late on the market. Yamaha, Bombardier, and Kawasaki have had big bore quads out for a while. They do not seem to be dominating the desert racing scene, though. Most races are still won on Honda FourTrax 450R quads. “We have built a 450 killer,” claims Stuart. “We are not worried about the new Honda 700XX. Like any other quad on the market, it will be limited in suspension capabilities and handling performance. “The 500-pound dry weight is also a disadvantage too. Once that quad is set up for desert racing, it will weigh between 550 and 600 pounds. Most race quads need aftermarket shocks, swingarms, axles, linkage, and A-arms as a Bandaid fix for a poor design. You can get it working better with the aftermarket products, but is it the best it could be? Our XR650R was designed with one thing in mind…To be the best-handling and most powerful desert quad in existance.”
STUPID BIKE PRICE PROJECTIONS To duplicate what Greg Stuart and Nic Granlund have done would cost, they estimated, at right around $20,000 to $25,000. “Many of the parts on our ’Project Stupid Bike’ were bartered, sponsored, or custom fabricated. There is no way to determine the exact price,” says Stuart. “Let’s just say it’s priceless!”
Single cylinder, liquid-cooled SOHC, 4-valve, four-stroke
Bore & Stroke
Rev max by advantage Performance
Keihin FCR 41 CR Flat
Custom Skat-Trak 3 qt. cap
PWR YFZ 450 w/integrated oil cooling.
Stock Honda Trak 450 R
K&N Precharger lid with UNI Foam main filter
58 on wheel dyno
44.2 ft. on wheel dyno
Tsubaki Alpha Gold 530
Custom Laeger chromoly
17-4 Stainless custom, Skat-Trak with turn-ups
Rear Grab Bar
Laeger +3 Pro Traxa, adjustable caster
Laeger billet Honda Trax 450 R
Skat-Trak 5/8 4130 chromoly, Tie rod ends
Chromoly 12 mm ball joint end
Stock Honda Trax 450 R
Fox float X evol 13" travel
Laeger 450 Honda +1 No Link
Fox Shox Dual
Rate 13" travel
Trak 6061 T-6 Billet
Maxxis Razr 2, 22x7x10, DWT 10x5 4 on 144 4B+in, offset DBL IR BB
Maxxis Razr 22x11x9, DWT 9x8, on 110 3B+5N offset DBL IR BB
WARNING: Much of the action depicted in this magazine is potentially dangerous. Virtually all of the riders seen in our photos are experienced experts or professionals. Do not attempt to duplicate any stunts that are beyond your own capabilities. Always wear the appropriate safety gear. Copyright 2008 Hi-Torque Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Console Login