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TWO-STROKE HOP-UP: BANSHEE REVIVAL

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March 20, 2017
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A blast from the past By the staff of Dirt Wheels

 

In our minds, one of the best upgrades you can add to your Banshee is the 5.6-gallon tank from IMS. We had hours of fun without refueling.
In our minds, one of the best upgrades you can add to your Banshee is the 5.6-gallon tank from IMS. We had hours of fun without refueling.

 

You can’t live in sport ATV land without hearing, seeing or knowing what the infamous Yamaha Banshee is. The Banshee blasted onto the scene in 1987 and blew everyone’s mind with its two-stroke street -bike twin-cylinder engine and that signature sound that everyone loves.

It was a dominant force racing with the best quads on the track, in the dunes or across the desert. Banshees were produced from 1987 to 2006 here in the states, and some countries continued sales until 2010. One of the coolest attributes of the Banshee was that it remained largely unchanged during those years, aside from small changes like going from upper J-arm suspension to a regular upper A-arm. That consistency allowed for a raft of aftermarket parts that made the Banshee one of the most versatile ATVs ever built.

Lucky for us, we rebuilt a co-worker’s 1990 J-arm Yamaha Banshee with the help of some great aftermarket companies. It needed a lot of love after being ridden hard for many years. We were stoked for the opportunity to revive this bad machine, and here is how we did it.

 

Luckily, we had Streamline brakes to slow us down after this sweet wall ride. It may or may not have gotten a little sketchy on this attempt.
Luckily, we had Streamline brakes to slow us down after this sweet wall ride. It may or may not have gotten a little sketchy on this attempt.

 

A LITTLE TENDER-LOVING CARE

Like we mentioned, this ol’ girl needed a lot of attention. It was a full tear down, starting with cleaning the frame and engine. We then handed the engine to legendary Banshee engine builder Teddy Boyko of Boyko Racing. Boyko and his trusty sidekick Casey went to work rehabbing the twin cylinder. Boyko bored the cylinders and ported them to make it run better. We went with a Wiseco piston kit and ProX connecting rods. Conpetive Crank Shafts then welded and balanced the crank, which creates a truer crank and better performance. Boyko also sandblasted the engine cases and right side case. They added a fresh coat of high-temp paint to the cylinders and right side case cover. A Pro Design Cool Head with 16cc domes was added to keep the engine cooler, and the polished look is killer. Another cool product from Pro Design, the EZ-Drain, was added in case we ever wanted to drain the coolant easily. Primary Drive offers a great all-in-one sprocket and X-ring chain kit that we installed as well.

 

The STI tires laid down some great traction and helped avoid the wheelspin. FMF Turbinecore 2 silencers put out a great exhaust note even with spark arrestors installed.
The STI tires laid down some great traction and helped avoid the wheelspin. FMF Turbinecore 2 silencers put out a great exhaust note even with spark arrestors installed.

 

Other performance parts we added were FMF Fatty pipes, FMF Turbinecore 2 silencers, an FMF jet kit, a full Hinson clutch kit, and a Uni Dual Stage air filter. The front end had a lot of play in the bushing, so we changed every bushings and bearing on the quad with new All Balls Racing products. The Banshee had old, beat-up shocks on it, so we added some modern Elka Stage 3 shocks to the front and a Stage 4 shock to the rear. Flexx handlebars were also added, along with Streamline lock-on grips and a Works Connection Elite clutch perch setup. The stock axle was bent and so rusted that we needed a giant hammer to remove it. We were happy to install a new DuraBlue heavy-duty axle. STI tires and polished wheels give this baby a classic look and modern traction. The front and rear brake calipers and master cylinders needed a complete rebuild, and we did that with All Balls Racing parts. Streamline wave brake rotors and pads were a much-needed upgrade. The Banshee also had an outdated stick stabilizer. We installed an 11-way stick stabilizer from Streamline. For the body parts, we went with Maier plastics, a Jettrim seat cover, TM Designworks poly skid plate, TM Designworks Slide-N-Guide chain slider kit, Alba front bumper, Alba nerf bars, a Fuel Star petcock and a 5.6-gallon IMS fuel tank for those long rides.

 

Boyko Racing completely overhauled the engine with Wiseco pistons and ProX connecting rods. Is there anything sweeter than a Cool Head and chrome FMF pipes?
Boyko Racing completely overhauled the engine with Wiseco pistons and ProX connecting rods. Is there anything sweeter than a Cool Head and chrome FMF pipes?

 

THE SOUND, THE POWER & PURE JOY

The Banshee was finally finished, and it was time to put it through its paces. We tested it at high-desert altitudes with the FMF jet kit installed, and it ran like a top! The Boyko-tuned engine sounded very crisp and ran amazingly on the top end. It had decent bottom-to-mid power as well, but just like any Banshee, it liked to be ridden on the pipe. The FMF exhaust system sang through the mountains, and of course we had to stay on the gas to keep our adrenaline rushing. The STI tires created great traction coming out of the corners, enough to pick the front end up if we weren’t careful. The modern Streamline brakes gave this Banshee a new and improved brake feel that made it easy to slow down, apex a corner, and ride out in a hurry.

 

We believe the best Banshee upgrade is modern suspension. These Elka Stage 3 front shocks and an Elka Stage 4 rear made a huge difference in comfort and handling.
We believe the best Banshee upgrade is modern suspension. These Elka Stage 3 front shocks and an Elka Stage 4 rear made a huge difference in comfort and handling.

 

HANDLING AND COMFORT

We can tell you from experience that the stock Banshee shocks were terrible. The biggest upgrade we made to this already stellar machine was the Elka Shocks. With the Stage 3 front shocks having preload and compression adjustment and the rear Stage 4 having compression, rebound, and preload adjustment, it made a world of difference in the plushness of the suspension. It went through the rough chop and whoops like a dream and made us wish the Banshees of yesteryear had the same setup. The most fun we had was carving around the switchback mountain road, where the quad shines.

The only gripe we had with this Banshee was turning the beast. It took a lot of body language and arm strength to turn it, even when we had the Streamline stabilizer completely turned off. We’re sure that once we put more time on it the new bearings will break in and it will get better. The Alba foot pegs worked well and gave good traction for our boots to stay planted. We recommend going with the more modern Jettrim gripper seat cover, because your butt will need traction when riding a Banshee.

 

Boyko Racing made a great-running engine that is a rocket-ship thrill ride. Riding controlled wheelies like this made us confident of the rideability of this legendary quad.
Boyko Racing made a great-running engine that is a rocket-ship thrill ride. Riding controlled wheelies like this made us confident of the rideability of this legendary quad.

 

WHAT A RIDE

Reviving this 26-year-old Banshee was fun. It brought us back to when two-stroke quads were still being produced and smoking everything they came across. There’s nothing like throwing a leg over a Banshee like this and hitting the trails with your buddies. We’re all jealous that our co-worker has such an awesome machine to take home. But, we’re proud that we could build it for her, just like her father did so many years ago. The great thing about the Banshee is that anyone could pick up a decent one for cheap these days, and there are more Banshee parts being made than for any other quad on the market. If you’re looking for the biggest thrill ride of your life, you may want to consider purchasing this legendary ATV.

 

The Jettrim gripper seat isn’t just sick looking, it also keeps your butt planted very well. Maier provided some great-looking plastic, and it mounted up like a dream.
The Jettrim gripper seat isn’t just sick looking, it also keeps your butt planted very well. Maier provided some great-looking plastic, and it mounted up like a dream.

 

PARTS LIST

All Balls: www.allballsracing.com

• Carburetor rebuild kit: $44.44 per side

• Clutch cable: $12.50

• Throttle cable: $25.90

• Lower steering stem bearing kit: $10.80

• Tie-rod upgrade kit: $110.52

• Master cylinder rebuild kit (front): $18.95

• Master cylinder rebuild kit (rear): $18.95

• Caliper bolt kit (rear): $9.95

• Wheel bearing kit (front): $14.25 per side

• Wheel bearing kit (rear): $24.53

• Front lower A-arm rebuild kit: $46.55 per side

• Front upper A-arm rebuild kit: $26.17 per side

• Swingarm bearing kit: $50.36

• Linkage bearing kit: $79.59

Boyko: www.boykoracing.com, 949-642-3275

• Engine porting: $325

• Cylinder boring: $65 per side

• Engine sandblast and paint: $150

• Carb mods: $150 per carb

• Welded and balanced crankshaft: $400 Labor: $500

DuraBlue: www.durablue.com, 949-770-5533

• Heavy-duty axle: $406

• Posi-lock nut: $60

Elka: www.elkasuspension.com, 800-557-0552

• Stage 3 front shocks: $999.99

• Stage 4 rear shock: $999.99

Fasst Co.: www.fasstco.com, 877-306-1801

• Flexx Handlebars (15-degree Quad Racer bend) : $359.99

FMF: www.fmfracing.com310-631-4363

• Fatty pipes: $379.99

• TurbineCore 2 silencers: $269.99 Power Up carburetor

• jet kits: $83.99

Fuel Star: www.fuel-star.com, 515-473-9655

• Fuel petcock: $34.95

Hinson: www.hinsonracing.com, 909-946-2942

• Complete billetproof clutch kit: $954.99

IMS: www.imsproducts.com, 800-237-9906

• 5.6-gallon natural fuel tank: $274.95

• Flightline shift lever: $29.99

Jettrim: www.jettrim.com, 928-855-1919

• Spike seat cover: $110

Maier: www.maier-mfg.com, 800-33-MAIER

• Race front fender: $123.94

• Radiator cover: $96.61

• Rear fender: $284.95

Moto Tassinari: www.mototassinari.com, 603-298-6646

• VForce4 reed cages: $258

Pro Design: www.prodesignracing.com, 714-534-0620

• Cool Head, engine head, with 16cc domes: $230

• E-Z Drain coolant drain kit: $34.95

Rocky Mountain ATV/MC: www.rockymountainatvmc.com

• Primary Drive chain and sprocket kit: $84.99

• Tusk billet aluminum gas cap: $29.99

• Tusk universal lug net set of 8: $7.99

• Tusk universal big bar clamp kit: $29.99

• Tusk 236-piece metric ATV bolt kit: $39.99

STI: www.stitireandwheel.com 

• Pro Lite polished 10-inch front wheel: $52.95 per wheel

• Pro Lite polished 9-inch rear wheel: $48.95 per wheel

• Tech 4 XC front tire 22x7x10: $79.53

• Tech 4 XC rear tire 20x11x9: $83.06

Streamline Brakes: www.streamlinebrakes.com, 909-987-4213

• Front wave brake rotor: $89.95 per side

• Rear wave brake rotor: $89.95

• Front brake pads: $28.95 per side

• Rear brake pads: $28.95

• 11 position stick steering stabilizer: $179.99

• ATV Pro-Lock grips: $23.99

Team Alba Racing: www.teamalbaracing.com, 619-562-0188

• Pro Peg nerf bars: $205

• Intimidator front bumper: $74.99

TM Designworks: www.tmdesignworks.com, 541-772-4161

• Slide-N-Guide chain slider kit: $129.95

• Plastic frame skid plate: $114.95

Uni: www.unifilter.com, 714-535-6933

• Foam air filter: $29.95

Wiseco: www.wiseco.com, 800-321-1364

• Piston kit: $314.57

• ProX connecting rods: $102.66

• Top end gasket kit: $35.57

• Bottom end gasket kit: $61.88

Works Connection: www.worksconnection.com, 530-642-9488

• Elite clutch perch assembly: $155.85

• Rear brake block off plate: $19.95

• Throttle cover: $32.95

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