A look inside a pro utility 4×4 racer By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Utility quads are not just for hunting or milling around the ranch anymore. Today’s high-performance 4×4 quads are doing much more than that! With 1000cc V-twin engines legal in their class, most of these machines are reaching close to 90 horsepower stock. That makes 450 sport quads tremble in their rubber boots when these bad boys roll up next to them for a drag race. GNCC 4×4 pro rider Bryan Buckhannon is one of the best when it comes to taming these beasts. He has eight GNCC 4×4 quad championships to back up this claim that he is the guy to beat on these monstrous machines. We had the chance to step on board Bryan’s Can-Am Renegade 1000R for a little test run, and here is what we think.
The first thing you notice when you start this bad boy up is the exhaust note; it made us smile. It sounds more like a Harley motorcycle than a utility quad. The big V-twin engine roars to life when you stab the throttle, and it keeps the thunder climbing through the entire powerband. The torque on this thing is unreal! From a standstill, you have to be careful not to wheelie this thing over. The engine easily picks the front end up (with a CVT!), and that’s weighing in at over 700 pounds fully race dressed! And what about mud? Forget about it! Bryan leaves the Renegade in four-wheel drive to get the most traction to the ground and to power through sticky situations. If we had to pop over a log, we would put some body English into it and feather the throttle; it was that simple! This thing just flat out performs.
CONTROL AN HANDLING
The stock Renegades already come with Fox Podium shocks from the factory. Those shocks work great for most riders, but not a pro-caliber rider like Buckhannon. Bryan needs something more to help him win races, and that is where Custom Axis comes in. The Custom Axis shocks offer a very smooth ride over the roughest terrain. We could slam whoops, rocks, ruts and ride through the mud without getting beat up from the shocks. It felt stiff when you needed it to be but plush at the same time. They are fully adjustable, with high-/low-speed compression damping, rebound damping and preload adjustments to make adjustments when needed. With this type of suspension, you won’t have to worry about getting tired as much during the two-hour race.
For rider comfort, a Fasst Company Flexx handlebar is mounted up. Bryan prefers to use the blue compression and yellow rebound elastomers—one of the softest setups Fasst Company offers. The Flexx handlebar was a nice addition to the Custom Axis shocks. It removes a lot of the vibration and helped with the nasty terrain we encountered on the trail. To help with hand fatigue, Spider A3 ATV grips were installed. The grips felt comfy and helped with the mud via a deep grip pattern. Full wrap-around Cycra handguards with giant mud gauntlets were a nice touch. This combo did a great job keeping the grips dry while playing in the mud holes. Bryan retained all of the stock start-button area and the four-wheel-drive switch. Bryan actually tapes the four-wheel-drive switch in the 4×4 position so he won’t accidentally put it in two-wheel drive.
Bryan’s Renegade retains the stock 5.4-gallon OEM tank. He doesn’t need anything aftermarket to finish the two-hour races that he competes in. In the wheel department, the Renegade has black STI cast-aluminum true beadlock wheels wrapped with Kenda Bear Claw HTR 25-inch tires front and rear. Rath Racing made a cool aluminum bumper for the front of this XC rig that has no issues taking a good pounding on some trees. For protection, it has full-aluminum skids on every inch of the chassis. This is a must if you plan on taking your utility quad racing. One of the newer products on Buckhannon’s Renegade is the Bike Master digital readout battery. It has a button that, when pressed, reads the current power output that it’s drawing. Covering that battery up is a comfy Quad Tech seat. It has a custom-pinned seat latch to ensure that the seat does not come off during the long race. If you’ve ever lost your seat during any type of ride, you know how taxing that is on your body—ain’t nobody got time for that!
The Renegade still has the adjustable electronic power steering equipped. This is such a nice feature to have, especially in four-wheel drive. It helps to fight the front end and fatigue. Bryan prefers to use the highest setting, so it makes it easy to dodge the trees that tend to move on their own. Utility quad racers have found a cheap and effective way to keep the radiator clean and free of any mud or debris. They use a blue air filter media material in front of the radiator that keeps it clean so the quad won’t overheat. Some racers even use this material on the top of their helmets so the mud won’t weigh on top of their domes for hours on end. An exhaust wrap is used on the headers to keep the heat away from crucial plastic pieces and help keep the exhaust heat contained for better performance. SSI makes the durable graphics. They look great and can take a beating in the harsh XC environments.
When you hear someone talking about utility quads, your first thought might be, “Those are meant for hunting,” and rightfully so. That’s been the case for years and continues to be so in some cases. However, with the introduction of the sport utility class, advancement of performance has skyrocketed through the years. To put it frankly, there are very few XC1 450s that would beat this Renegade in a straight-up drag race. More times than not in the GNCC a.m. race, the pro utility quads will dominate the entire overall race. That’s including some very talented racers that are involved in that same race time that are on sport quads. Bryan’s Renegade is not for the faint of heart or for the avid hunter. Everything about this Renegade is a pure race machine down to every square inch. We dare say that it is one of the most exciting quads we’ve ridden period!
BUCKHANNON CAN-AM PRICE AND CONTACT LIST
Bike owner: Bryan Buckhannon
Bike builder: DJR (David Jessie Racing), John Rogers, Melvin Buckhannon
Big Gun exhaust: $399.99
BikeMaster air filter oil: $8.99
BikeMaster brake fluid: $5.99
BikeMaster synthetic 4-stroke oil: $12.95
BikeMaster synthetic transmission oil: $12.95
BRP fender extenders: N/A
BRP Race ignition: N/A
BRP skid plates: $669.99
BRP Turbo Maverick secondary CVT: N/A
Custom Axis 11-inch-travel front shock: $999.99
Custom Axis 12-inch-travel rear shock: $999.99
Cycra Probend handguards: $94.99
DJR frame kit: Priceless
DJR powdercoating: N/A
DJR steering stem: N/A
DJR trailing arms: N/A
DP Brakes pads: $40
DPS steering stabilizer: N/A
Fasst Co. Flexx bars woods bend: $359.99
Kenda Bearclaw HTR radials: $138.99 each
Quad Works seat: $99.99
QuadBoss Cables: $14.99
Rath Racing front bumper/grab bar: $349.99
Spider Grips: $9.99
STI beadlock wheels: $125each
TireBalls: $200 each wheel
Big Gun: www.biggunexhaust.com, 714-970-0423
BikeMaster: www.bikemaster.com, 877-848-1320
Cycra Racing: www.cyraracing.com, 800-770-2259
DP Brakes: www.dp-brakes.com
Fasst Company: www.fasstco.com, 877-306-1801
Kenda Tire: www.kendatire.com
Penske Shocks (Axis): www.penskeshocks.com/axis/, 610-375-6180
Quadboss: www.quadboss.com, 877-847-1558
Rath Racing: www.rathracing.com, 320-234-7223
Spider Grips: www.spidergrips.com
SSI Decals: www.ssidecals.com, 877-955-7446
STI Tire and Wheel: www.stitireandwheel.com
Tire Balls: www.tireballs.com, 877-TIREBALL