Dirt Wheels HomeDirt Wheels Latest NewsDirt Wheels, Subscribe & Save Only $19.99 for 12 issues.MachinesDirt Wheels ATV, UTV Tests & Product ReviewsDirt Wheels Featured StoriesDirt Wheels Technical & How-TosDirt Wheels Where to RideDirt Wheels Racing News & FeaturesDirt Wheels Photos & Videos GalleryDirt Wheels Have a question? Ask the Editors
Bookmark and share



You can find a ton of good deals on used ATVs out there. Some are in near-showroom condition; these will command the highest asking price. Others are well taken care of but show signs of use; these are the “normals” of the used ATV bargains. Good reliability at a decent price. You can also find those with blown or seized engines, and that dramatically reduces the asking price. But what about the basement end of the for-sale community? We set out to find a clapped-out, stripped-down and barely running ATV to show you that you can bring it back to life with relative ease. What we found was a 2008 Can-Am DS450 that looked like it had been lit on fire and rolled down a dune.


When we first picked up the DS, it was in shambles. No bodywork on the front half of the machine, no heel guards, pegs that were welded back together, and a mess of wiring and missing bolts. With a few days’ worth of work and a little cash, we turned it into a beautiful dune tourer.

We found this DS on Craigslist. The ad read as follows: “2008 DS450—Runs, Clean Title, Needs TLC.” When we picked it up, the only plastics on the machine were the rear fenders, and they were painted with a strange, peeling, dead-skin-esque, textured black coating. There were no front plastics, the stock shocks were blown, the bars and levers were bent, the wires cut and missing, the exhaust was falling off, and many bolts had decided to commit mutiny  and jump ship. All in all, it was a wreck.

While the DS was missing a ton of bolts and basically falling apart, the motor was still good, at least for a while!

The machine did run. It was in dire need of a valve adjustment and an oil change, but it started and ran well. This was the only thing that kept the price above $1000; we ended up paying $1800 cash for it and driving it back to Cody’s shop. Then came the rebuild.

Even the levers were committing mutiny.


We meticulously inspected the DS after we got it back to the shop, checking every bolt, nut, and bearing for wear or failure. Surprisingly, all the bearings were still good, and the grease Zerks for the suspension pivot points all worked. We pulled the stock shocks off and sent them out to our friends at Race Tech Suspension to get a full revalve/respring treatment, as this budget kit would allow us to have great suspension at a fraction of the full-aftermarket replacement cost. Here is a breakdown of the cost:

Front race spring kit 
                   $369.99 (triple rate, both fronts)

Front gold valve kit                      $229.99 (both shocks)

Rear spring kit                              $114.99

Rear gold valve kit                        $179.99

The Race Tech Suspension and FMF pipe were a great package. With the extra power and suspension, we could ride the DS pinned without worrying about bottoming out.

With this setup, you can revalve and respring all three shocks for $894.96, which is far less than the price of one rear aftermarket shock from Fox, Elka or Race Tech. If you don’t know how to revalve your own shocks, Race Tech, or any of their qualified centers, will provide the service for $200–$250 for all three shocks. You can find a list of qualified installation centers on Race Tech’s website: www.racetech.com.

After inspecting the chassis and replacing all the missing bolts, tying up all the loose wiring, and thoroughly cleaning the machine, we adjusted the valves, performed an oil change (using Maxima’s Pro 4T Racing engine oil), and aligned the front end. Then it was time to replace the rest of the missing parts!


Since the DS had so many broken, bent or missing parts, we enlisted help from quite a few aftermarket companies. Can-Am supplied new rear fenders in the DS’ signature yellow color, while Motoworks supplied the front fenders, as Can-Am was backordered on those parts. Motoworks is the premier race team for DS450s, and they know how to build a machine. Josh Frederick’s DS (tested in the October 2012 issue) was a full-WORCS Motoworks build, and it was phenomenal. Motoworks also manufactures high-quality exhaust systems for a very good price. Their DS450 slip-on exhaust system retails for $209.95!

Dirt Fiend Racing hooked us up with this sweet Dirt Wheels-branded graphics kit. The full-coverage kit can be found on their website: www.dirtfiend racing.com.

Once we had the plastics installed and cleaned, we installed a custom Dirt Wheels graphics kit from DFR (Dirt Fiend Racing). DFR makes multiple graphic designs and custom kits for most popular sport ATVs. The kit we ordered for our DS was $149.99 and included logos for all the companies that helped us out with the project. On DFR’s website, you can customize your own kit with numbers, names, custom colors and graphic options. A good graphics kit really completes the look of any machine, and the DFR kit is downright beautiful.

The combination of Renthal bars, ODI grips and Works Connection accessories like this Elite clutch perch make the DS feel comfortable and ergonomically correct.

For the controls, we enlisted the help of Renthal, Works Connection and ODI. Renthal supplied a set of tall ATV Race Bend bars, which are a tall and semi-flat bar that we think pairs perfectly with the ergonomics of the DS. The Renthal bars are strong and lightweight, and you don’t have to get an aftermarket stem or bar mounts to use them, as they are standard size (7/8 inches). The bars retail for $74.95 on Renthal’s website or at your local dealership. ODI’s locking Rogue grips were used for simplicity, as they don’t use any glue to mount to the bar. Instead, two Allen-head screws tighten down billet-aluminum clamps that squeeze down on the bar, ensuring they never slip. The grips take about two minutes to install or swap out and are tough as nails. The price? $29.95. Rounding out the controls, we used Works Connection’s Elite clutch perch kit. The kit is customizable in color; Works Connection offers it in blue, red, black and silver. The kit sells for $155.85 total—yes, it’s expensive. What you get from the Elite clutch perch is perfectly machined, buttery-smooth action that features ball-bearing pivots to keep the clutch pull easy and consistent throughout the machine’s life.

FMF’s Factory 4.1 exhaust sounds great, looks fantastic and pulls hard.

To give the DS some punch, FMF sent us their full-Factory 4.1 MegaBomb exhaust system, which bolted right up to the factory mounts without issue. We cut the pink wire to access the DS’ secondary fuel map, and with the FMF exhaust system installed, it really pulls. The FMF system is lightweight, made of exotic titanium and stainless steel, and is as durable as they come. The asking price for this beautiful system is $599.99. FMF sent us an optional spark arrestor and quiet-core insert that brings the sound level down to 94 dB, which is what we ended up running most of the time.

The Pro Armor nerf bars offer a lot of support in the form of extended foothold capabilities, especially when you take into account the massive footpegs.

Pro Armor sent over their new Race Team Revolution nerf bars ($419.95), which feature grippy pegs that extend the full width of the nerf bar for maximum traction. The heel guards are netted, just like the nerf, which provides a stable, grippy and comfortable place for the heel of your boot to sit. We ordered them in black, but they also come in silver. The nerfs are high-quality, strong and light, and offer great coverage for your feet. Up front, they sent their new Pro MX bumper ($134.99), which is made from aluminum and offers bump protection, more grabbing room to wrestle the machine around and better looks. It also bolts to the upper A-arm mounts to strengthen the mount itself, which is a great feature.

The ITP Sand Star tires are built for traction in the soft stuff, and they work well. We think the fronts have too much bite; every twitch of the bars causes a direction change. The rears pull hard in a straight line, but give a little in side bite to allow you to slide the machine.

ITP supplied a set of their Sand Star paddle tires on T-9 Pro Series wheels. These can be purchased individually or as a kit. The kit retails for $150–$170 each for the rear wheel and tire, and $142–$150 each for the front wheel and tire. You can get the wheels in polished aluminum or black finish, and the Can-Am bolt pattern is the same as the Honda 250R/450R. The rear paddles hook up very well and slide decently, but the fronts track too well for our liking and led to a busy-feeling front end. Next time, we will keep knobbies on the front and paddles on the rear.


Once the machine was finished, we headed up to Pismo Beach to throw some sand.

When we were finally done putting the DS back together, we headed up to Pismo Beach, which is about an hour and a half north of Santa Barbara on California’s coastline. Pismo Beach is the only public beach in California that you are allowed to drive or ride on, and it features a small dune area to play in as well. The weather is fair year round, which is why it’s our summer dune-riding destination of choice. The DS loves the sand, and after the rebuild, we couldn’t wait to see how it would feel.

The first thing we noticed is how strong the power is with just the FMF pipe installed and the pink ECU wire cut. The DS pulls strong from bottom to top, much harder than the stock machine did. The sound is crisp and healthy, and the power hangs on up top until the rev limiter. The Race Tech suspension is the part that surprised us the most, however. Initially, the shocks feel plush and soak up sandy chops and ruts without channeling it to the rider. In the middle part of the stroke, the shocks firm up a bit to fight body roll in corners and keep the machine up in its stroke. When you get close to bottoming, it gets really impressive. The spring and valving ramp up in unison to keep the machine from bottoming. We were airing the DS out over a big razorback and landing flat from 7–8 feet vertical without issue. It felt progressive, plush and well balanced. When you order a revalve and spring kit, make sure you are completely honest about your weight; get on a scale with all your gear on and give them that number.

Pro Armor’s new bumper is definitely a looker. The stock shocks were revalved and resprung by Race Tech Suspension. The kit is inexpensive as far as shocks go and offered an incredible performance bump over the stock stuff. They refused to bottom out.

All in all, the DS restoration project turned out well. We picked up a very inexpensive machine that needed some work, and after a little elbow grease and TLC, we had a brand-new-looking ATV that performed better than stock for a fraction of the cost. You can do this with any machine—just make sure when you buy one that you know what you’re getting into. It’s a lot of work to revamp a machine, but it’s worth it when you finish your own project!

The DS feels balanced, light and fast. Here, Harley Comras-Sipes shows us the balance point.


Can-Am: (715) 848-4957, your local dealership, or www.can-am. brp.com
Dirt Fiend Racing: (888) 777-8068 or www.dirtfiendracing.com
FMF Racing: (310) 631-4363 or www.fmfracing.com
ITP: (909) 390-1905 or www.itp tires.com
MotoWorks: (951) 587-9222 or www.motoworks.com
Pro Armor: (888) 312-7667 or www.proarmor.com
Race Tech: (951) 279-6655 or www.racetech.com
Renthal: (877) 736-8425 or
Works Connection: (530) 642-9488 or www.worksconnection.com

Topic: Machines


- Subscribe
- Customer Service
- Advertise
- Contact
- Back Issues


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