Riding red in the woods By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Over the years in ATV racing we’ve noticed that most of the privateers in the pro ranks end up on the trusty Honda TRX450R. Not much has changed with this Honda four-stroke from its release date in 2004, but one thing is for certain—this quad has the potential to win at any level and on any terrain. There are a multitude of OEM and aftermarket parts; also in general, the TRX450R is simple to work on. In GNCC racing we’ve been seeing a sea of blue as of late, with Yamaha being the only manufacturer that is still producing a sport 450 that is competitive. Adam K. McGill is one of the riders in the GNCC XC1 class that has made a big splash the last few years, and he trusts his Honda to get him to the top of the podium. We had the opportunity to test his TRX450R woods weapon in West Virginia, and here’s the scoop!
McGill is known for getting hole-shots in the GNCC series and local races. Obviously, it comes down to how quick his reactions are to the flag being thrown, but having a well-tuned engine is the other piece of the equation. With years of go-fast knowledge behind them, Baldwin Motorsports handles all of McGill’s engine mods, including the head work and custom cams. A standard-bore high-compression Wiseco piston helps give the Honda the necessary horsepower to keep Adam up front. Adam relies on Bel-Ray oil in his transmission and engine to keep his crucial parts lubricated. A full FMF RCT 4.1 titanium muffler combined with a FMF MegaBomb header is the go-to for McGill. With this much power you have to make sure the engine is getting the correct fuel. Renegade race fuel is used exclusively in the oversized IMS fuel tank. A Baldwin Racing-tuned Keihin FCR carburetor keeps it fueled properly and gives instant throttle response when Adam needs it most. McGill trusts in his Twin Air filter to stop all of the elements from entering his finely tuned Baldwin engine.
With all of this power, it’s crucial to have a good clutch installed. A full Wiseco clutch setup, including a basket, inner hub, pressure plate, fibers, steels and springs, does just that for the 521 machine. With how brutal the conditions can be in GNCC, especially with the mud and rocks in particular, having a good chain/sprocket setup is crucial. Adam prefers the Sunstar X-Ring chain and Sunstar sprockets to keep him finishing races.
SOLUTIONS TO A ROUGH RACECOURSE
Even with all of the power in the world, the quad still needs to handle the roughest terrain. The Custom Axis Pro Air front shocks boast 20 inches of wheel travel, are fully adjustable, lightweight and feel aggressive, but are plush enough to create an amazing ride. The rear Custom Axis Triple Adjust shock has 16 inches of wheel travel and complements the front end very well. We encountered zero bottom-outs or bucking from the front or rear end. In a word, it’s dialed! Lonestar Racing DC Pro A-arms, along with DC Pro spindles, make this rig turn on a dime. These A-arms offer added ground clearance, which is crucial to clear rocks and other obstacles.
The Lonestar Axcaliber axle offers strength and durability. It’s also adjustable. Like most XC racers, Adam prefers to keep his quad around 48 inches wide front and rear so he can carve through the woods unscathed. The Lonestar DC Pro steering stem and a Flexx handlebar enhance overall rider comfort by adding suspension for the upper body. ODI Ruffian grips offer great grip, even in the nastiest of conditions. Cycra kept our hands protected from the muck and trees that love to “jump out” at you when you’re barreling down the trail. A Works Connection Elite perch and lever combo is always a nice touch, as it helps with a smooth clutch feel. Stopping is important, and DP Brakes has Adam’s TRX covered with brake pads and rotors. This thing can stop as quickly as it can take off!
A big part of the McGill Mafia 521 TRX is the tire and wheel package. The CST Pulse tires offered amazing traction in all of the terrain we tested them in. Whether it was starts or climbing wet hills, the CSTs just kept eating! The Hiper CF3 carbon fiber wheels are strong and the rears offer a dual beadlock option for flat purposes. The Hiper mud inserts are also cool; they’re very simple to install or remove by three lock-on bolts. These tires/wheels combined with the Tire Blocks are one of the biggest reasons that McGill gets so many holeshots and why he continues to win. For quick pit stops, the IMS dry-break oversized fuel tank is a must on this TRX. Not only does it add fuel capacity, it also allows you to fill the tank within 10 seconds or less.
PROTECTION AND LOOKS
Installed on the frame is a VGR (Vanilla Gorilla Racing) plastic skid plate. The plastic skid plate offers more flex and won’t bend like aluminum skid plates. On the swingarm is a RJR (Ryland Johnson Racing) Black Water stainless steel skid plate that protects the rotor and the sprocket from any harm. RJR also has Signature 521 products that Adam helped design. The RJR 521-series pegs/heel guards kept our boots planted when rallying it through the woods. The RJR 521 front bumper has a cut-out MM521 (McGill Mafia) logo that has a killer look, and the bumper has great leverage points in case you do get stuck. Now to our favorite RJR 521 part—the rear grab bar. It is angled low so you can have more leverage when lifting the rear end.
McGill’s Mafia machines are always known for looking great with wild color schemes. Spider Graphix handles the graphics that show off their talents along with all of Adam’s great sponsors. The Spider Graphix material is durable and looks great on this machine. A full set of red Maier plastics offer the factory look for around the same price of OEM, and they look great on this machine. The final piece of the puzzle is the Quad Tech McGill Signature low seat. The Quad Tech gripper material is one of the best on the market with a side grip that will keep your butt planted in any situation.
We fired this TRX up, and it starts quickly with the 24-volt starting system. Starting quickly is crucial for the dead-engine starts in XC racing. The exhaust note from the full FMF RCT 4.1 exhaust system is very crisp and is not annoyingly loud like other systems we’ve tested. After taking McGill’s Honda for a test run, it became apparent that this was no ordinary 450R; this thing flat hauls the mail! We thought it would be violent, but it has very rideable power. Hills and mud holes were no match for this woods monster. You can pound whoops as hard as you want, and the Custom Axis shocks would soak them up like you were on a fire road. It corners like a theme-park roller coaster; it’s literally on rails. The CST tires and Tire Blocks combination offered ample traction and zero flats for the day. Being from the West Coast, we did notice the quad being narrower than a desert quad. We had to throw more body English in the tight corners, but after some time it became second nature to us. We were smiling from ear to ear riding this machine. McGill literally had to stop us from running the fuel dry and pry our hands off of the grips. We can now see why he can run a two-plus-hour race and look like he was just out for an evening stroll. This quad works extremely well, and it’s all because of the fine companies, time and products that are involved.
Being a privateer in the ATV racing world is a tough gig. You’re putting your own time, money, heart, blood, sweat and tears into running a program that may turn into a championship one day. The McGill program has figured out the parts and machine that might give him that honor one day. Baldwin Motorsports built a killer engine, and Mark “Mustache Mechanic” McGill built every bit of this machine to perfection. We can now agree that this TRX450R can handle the rigors of XC racing with the best factory machines it comes up against.
2014 HONDA TRX450R CONTACTS & PARTS LIST
Baldwin: www.baldwinmotorsports.com, 440-224-2734, Baldwin ported head and valves $1,200, Baldwin cam shaft $349,Baldwin FCR carburetor modification $120
Wiseco: www.wiseco.com, 800-321-1364,Wiseco high-compression piston $282, Wiseco complete clutch $930.37
Lonestar Racing: www.lsracing.com, 480-834-2990,Lonestar DC Pro long travel XC a-arms $840, Lonestar DC Pro steering stem w/ 1 1/8-in. bar clamp $265,
Lonestar DC Pro spindles $650,Lonestar billet front wheel hubs $299, Lonestar billet rear wheel hubs $236, Lonestar DC-6 rear shock linkage $300, Lonestar Axcaliber adjustable width axle $449, Lonestar billet axle bearing housing $185
Custom Axis: www.penskeshocks.com/axis/, 610-375-6180, Custom Axis Pro Air long-travel front air shocks (20 in. of travel) $2,495, Custom Axis triple-adjustable rear shock (16 in. of travel) $1,100
Bel-Ray: www.belray.com, 732-938-2421, Bel-Ray air filter oil (1 liter) $15.95, Bel-Ray 20/50 conventional oil (1 liter) $8.99, Bel-Ray Gear Saver 80/85 conventional transmission oil (1 liter) $11.49, Bel-Ray chain lube (6 ounce) $10.95, Bel-Ray brake fluid dot 4 (12 ounce) $15.95
Twin Air: www.twinair.com, Twin Air air filter $59.95
FMF Racing: www.fmfracing.com, 310-631-4363, FMF Racing Factory 4.1 RCT full exhaust system with Mega Bomb head pipe $774.99
Renegade: www.renegaderacefuel.com, 800-733-3381, Renegade Race Fuel Prices vary
Sunstar: www.sunstar-mc.com, 937-743-9049 (x1334), Sunstar X-Ring chain $100, Sunstar 13-tooth front sprocket $23.95, Sunstar 38-tooth rear sprocket $36.95
CST Tires: www.csttires.com, CST Pulse 21×7-10 front tires $86 each, CST Pulse 20×11-9 rear tires $106 each
Hiper: www.hiper-technology.com, 877-GO-HIPER, ,Tech3 10-inch front beadlock wheels $244.99 each, Tech3 9-inch rear dual beadlock wheels $459.99 each
DP Brakes: www.dp-brakes.com, DP front brake pads $38.95 per side, DP rear brake pads $38.95, DP slotted brake rotors $102.95 each
Streamline: www.streamlinebrakes.com, 909-987-4214, Streamline stainless steel braided front brake line $89.99, Streamline stainless steel braided rear brake line $39.99
Fasst Company: www.fasstco.com, 877-306-1801, Flexx Handlebar 14-degree Quad Racer Low bend $359.99, Fasst Company rear brake clevis $39.99, Fasst Company rear brake return spring $19.99
Cycra: www.cycraracing.com, 800-770-2259, Cycra Pro Bend full wrap-around hand guards for Flexx Handlebar $94.95
Works Connection: www.worksconnection.com, 530-642-9488, Works Connection Elite clutch perch and lever (CR style) $155.85
All Balls: www.allballracing.com, All Balls throttle cable $15.95, All Balls clutch cable $11.50
Ryland Johnson Racing: www.rylandjohnsonracing.com, 870-566-1276,RJR 521-series front bumper $140, RJR 521-series heel guards $220, RJR footpegs $130, RJR rear grab bar $90, RJR frame rub rail kit $70, RJR Black Water skid plate Call for pricing
Vanilla Gorilla: www.deminc.wix.com/vgracing, 336-608-8091, VG frame skid plate $85
Quad Tech: www.quadtech-atv.com, 951-487-6333, Quad Tech ATV McGill low-hump seat $189.99, Quad Tech Hi-Pro plastic hood $114.99
IMS: www.imsproducts.com, 800-237-9906, IMS 3.7 gallon fuel tank with dry break system $500.55
Maier: www.maier-mfg.com/catalog/atv, 800-33-maker, Maier front and rear plastic set $600.10