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Mini Test: 2005 Yamaha Raptor 80; A Raptor for the kids

 
(12/25/2005)


In 2002, Yamaha made a smart business decision and upgraded the outdated Badger 80 mini quad. Although the upgrades were cosmetic in nature only, it helped sales dramatically. What little seven or eight year-old wouldn’t want a quad that looks just like their parents’ machine?
Two years later, Yamaha also introduced a smaller 50cc version of the Raptor for the younger kids in the family. Actually the 50 is recommended for kids six years old and up and the 80 is only for those 12 and over.
Both units use the same chassis. However, the slightly smaller 50 has full floorboards instead of just heel guards, and the transmission is a single-speed instead of the auto clutch three-speed that’s found on the 80.

MINI RAPTOR

Underneath the Raptor’s bodywork sits the old Badger frame and engine. This is what is now in dire need of upgrading. Although the mini Raptors are two of the most reliable kids’ quads on the market, they need improvement.
The small air-cooled, four-stroke engines that powers these machines are not very exciting. However, they are very safe. The 80 is fed through a 16mm carb and utilizes a maintenance free shaft drive. Starting is electric and the thumb throttle has a built-in speed governor which is an extra safety measure.
A $2500 price tag comes on the portly 243-pound Raptor 80. That price and weight is right on par with other four-strokes but is a few hundred dollars and twenty or so pounds more than most 90cc two-strokes out there.

MORE ON THE CHASSIS

Suspension travel is limited to 2.2 inches at both ends. The rear movement is controlled by a standard single shock swingarm setup. The front is not so standard. It has what is called leading arm suspension.
It is a straight axle setup like that found on old Jeeps and big 4x4 pickups. It’s operated like a backwards swingarm and doesn’t offer independent movement of the front wheels. That means if you hit something with one front wheel the entire quad feels it. It does have a shock on both ends.
The 80 has a fairly low seat height of twenty-six inches and will fit smaller kids well. The measurement between the foot pegs and seat is less than sixteen inches. However, children with small hands may struggle with the long reach on the thumb throttle. Also, the rear handbrake on the left side of the bars is a strong pull. All of our testers shared these complaints.
On the good side, the hand lever is connected to a foot lever near the right peg and very is easy to operate. Front and rear brakes are ultimately controlled by mechanically operated sealed drums.

OPERATION

A keyed ignition keeps the Raptor from being ridden without a parent’s permission. Startup is easy. Just flip the choke lever, stab the start button, warm it up and you’re gone.
The Raptor and the Honda TRX90 are the only two mainstream minis with manual transmissions. Most of them are automatics with a CVT. The good thing about having a multi-speed tranny at this age is it gets the kid ready to step up to a larger machine sooner. Also, being able to downshift into a low gear is better for riding in the sand, mud or up and down hills. There are a lot of CVT minis that bog down and can’t make it through this type of terrain.
Any kid under 120 pounds will have plenty of power at hand with this machine. There is power for sand washes, mud and steep hills. However, the power isn’t very stimulating. It’s a very mellow powerband that offers little thrill. You don’t have to worry about junior doing wheelies on this thing.
In a drag race, the Honda 90 and most two-stroke 90s will smoke the Raptor 80. Our twelve year-old test rider was pretty bored with the lack of power. Less experienced riders that we let ride the machine found it fun to tool around on in tight areas, but out in the open, the Raptor could barely reach over 20mph.
White Bros. and Big Gun are two of only a few companies that make aftermarket hop-up parts for this machine. However, even with an exhaust and jetting, this engine is not very thrilling.

IN THE BUMPS
The just over two inches of travel the mini Raptor offers up front does a good job soaking up small stutter bumps on washboard types roads but the travel runs out quick if the quad leaves the ground.
On the back end, the shock is too stiff for most riders. It soaks up small jump landings well but is a little on the rough side when riding sitting down. Most kids probably wouldn’t notice, however. And there are no compression adjustments available in the front or rear anyway.
At the speed the Raptor can muster, the lack of standard front suspension doesn’t create much of a problem. The quad turns well even under acceleration. There is very little body roll or steering feedback. With a heavy thumb throttle, some of our riders could get the Raptor to powerslide, but it wasn’t easy.
The biggest downfall with this suspension is probably the weight it adds to the quad. Plus it makes the machine very hard to improve.
The most fun our testers had was when they would take the Raptor up to speed and then would slam on the rear brake and slide. We couldn’t get them to stop doing that.



WHAT NEXT
As for the fun factor, it is pretty low for any kid who has experience riding a quad or dirt bike. However, if your kid is riding for the very first time and is not too aggressive, the Raptor might be suitable. Or if you are an overprotective parent and want your kid to keep the speeds to a minimum, the Raptor will work for you.
Still the biggest selling feature of this quad is the looks, but we are hard pressed to find any kids between the ages of 12 and 15 that will get much use out of this machine.
However Yamaha is selling everyone of these minis they can build due to looks, brand loyalty and reliability, so you can’t fault them for that. But we would still like to see some manufacturer step up and release a true sport or performance kids quad.
Even if it has ten governors or restrictor plates that we would have to remove after purchase, we could deal with that. They do it with their off road motorcycles; why can’t the do the same with some of the quads they sell?



Topic: Tests

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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.
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