When it comes to upgrading your ATV, there is always the question of where to start. Your riding style and the type of terrain you ride will determine how to set up your ATV. There are many different variables that can make your machine handle better, go faster and last longer. Performance mods can help your ATV go faster or give it more torque for climbing. When you start changing suspension components, they help your ride become more plush for both high- and slow-speed riding. Before you start tearing apart your machine, think of the end product that you want your ATV to be. We have been in contact with multiple pro racers and questioned them on what the first five improvements would be to their ATVs, whether it be for race or play.
ADAM McGILL, Age: 28
West Union, West Virginia
Honda TRX 450R, #521
Adam McGill is your current points leader in the GNCC XC1 Pro ATV class. Adam has been racing his Honda TRX450 this season with great success. In 2006 he started his pro career, and this year is his best shot of becoming a pro champion.
Tires: The first thing I would do to make an ATV better is change out the stock tires to a set of CST Pulses. With better traction, a six-ply rating, and they are more predictable for aggressive trail riding.
Suspension: I would add Lonestar DC-Pro components. They consist of long-travel A-arms, spindles, a steering stem and linkage to make the Honda hug the ground better. They have pretty much everything you need to make your bike a championship contender
Shocks: Adding the best shocks in the world—custom Axis shocks. I have ran many different shocks in my career, and these work the best for me and my style of riding. They have coil -spring shocks all the way up to the super-trick air shocks that I race in GNCC.
TireBlocks: You have no worries when you come to a rock section. You can just hammer down and let it eat it up if you know what I’m sayin’. So if you have to run from a bearded mountain man, you can do it with no issues
Wheels: Last but not least, you always have to keep everything strong and light as possible, and that is where Hiper wheels come in. They are the strongest, lightest, best-looking wheels on the market.
CHRIS BITHELL, Age: 27
Suzuki LT-R450, #7
Chris Bithell races professionally in the GNCC series aboard his #7 Suzuki LT-R450. Chris has been racing in the Pro class for the past 10 years. Chris still loves his Suzuki LT-R450, and after many years of racing them, he knows how to build one correctly.
Maxxis tires: The first thing I swap out once I start a new build is put on a set of Maxxis tires. It is very important to have great traction while ripping through the woods. You can have all the motor in the world, but if your tires don’t hook up, it means nothing. I run Maxxis Razr 2 front tires and Razr rears.
Precision stabilizer: I run a Precision Pro stabilizer on every single one of my quads. The Precision Pro is the best at absorbing impact and reducing the amount of chatter I feel through the quad. It is also very easy to adjust.
Fox shocks: Suspension and handling are key to having a successful race. I have been running Fox shocks for eight years; they are durable, adjustable and continue to deliver high performance. I run the Fox Float Gen 3 fronts and Fox Podium rear shock. They are easily adjustable with the Fox air pumps, which I appreciate, because although my body weight doesn’t change day in and day out, the conditions I ride do, and it’s great to have a perfectly dialed-in ATV no matter the situation.
Hiper wheels: Durability and performance are two of the main reasons I run Hiper Tech 3s on my ATVs. I run dual beadlocks on the rear and single beadlocks on the fronts. Running Hipers ensure that I don’t pop tires off the rim or run into any other wheel issues. The design also makes them easy to service during my pre-race prep.
Walsh Race Craft components: A-arms, tie-rods, tie-rod ends, steering stems and swingarms are all Walshbranded on my ATVs. Handling is a key component to having a successful ride, and Walsh makes all the components to set up a quad perfectly.
BEAU BARON, Age: 35
Honda TRX450, #1
Beau is one of the top riders in the WORCS races, piloting his Honda TRX450. He has also made the transition to racing UTVs as well and is a top contender in the Pro UTV class. He also races in multiple series—from the National Hare and Hounds to select MX races.
Maxxis tires with TireBlocks: Razor 2 front, XC rear. I need tires that will provide traction in all types of terrain and hold up through all the different obstacles and ground cover that you will encounter in a WORCS race, and my Maxxis tires never let me down. TireBlocks not only deaden the hit on choppy bumps, but give me added confidence that I can hit sharp rocks and sticks and still get to the finish line even if I manage to get a puncture.
Roll Design A-arms and Elka suspension: Adding wider A-arms and more suspension travel, there is a huge difference noticed in the ease of riding and improved cornering speed. It takes an unbelievable amount of energy out of you if you do not have good suspension.
Dominator II axle: It is convenient that it is adjustable for increasing or decreasing the width and rear-end traction.
Sparks motor/exhaust: Good starts are really important, and a Sparks motor makes it a lot easier to get to the front quickly. Pairing a Sparks motor and a Sparks exhaust is a winning combination for making the quad fast enough to grab the holeshot and reliable enough to run long-term. The exhaust also allows me to use a spark arrestor when I need to head out for practice in an OHV area that requires them.
Fasst Co. Flexx bars: With all the inevitable wear and tear that happens to your body from racing offroad, especially your arms, the Fasst Co. Flexx bars make it a lot easier on yourself and have made a night-andday difference in my stamina during long races.
DUSTIN NELSON, Age: 38
El Cajon, California
Yamaha YFZ450R, #94
Dustin Nelson has a good background with racing as a professional, starting as a dirt bike racer for 10 years, then making the transition to ATVs for another 10 years. Dustin has made the transition from ATVs to UTVs, racing his SR1 in the Lucas regional races. He has also helped develop the last few Yamaha YFZ450R models.
Exhaust/fuel controller: The YFZ450R is surprisingly fast off the showroom floor, but adding a competition-style pipe like the ones I run from Dubach Racing Development, along with a fuel controller, will easily add about 5 horsepower and give the machine much better throttle response.
Wheels and tires: If you want to get serious around the track, you will need some beadlock rear wheels and Rok Out front wheels from DWT. I match them up with GBC tires on my rides and make size, tread pattern and air pressure adjustments for the terrain or track conditions
Nerf bars: These are mandatory for MX, and I would personally run them everywhere. The GYTR nerfs fit great, and besides protection they provide much more surface area for your feet to maneuver the machine around.
Shocks: Adding a set of Fox shocks to your quad can make you much happier and less sore at the end of a long day on the trails or track. Adjustability is key, as I always look for a setting soft enough in the early part of the stroke to not move the bike around too much and wear me out, but also firm in the mid- to end stroke to fight off bottoming and give me the confidence to hit every obstacle at or near full speed.
Handlebars/stabilizer: There is a lot of comfort and confidence to be gained in these two items. For me, there is nothing better than the Flexx bars on an ATV; they have great bar height and bend to make you comfortable on the bike, and the extra bump absorption is always appreciated. GPR stabilizers have always graced my bikes, and the amount of feedback to the handlebars from ruts, roots, rocks or anything else you can think of is minuscule compared to riding without.
MICHAEL SWIFT, Age: 37
Polaris Scrambler 850 EPS, #208
Michael has been racing as a professional for the past eight years. His main race series is in the GNCC events racing his Polaris Scrambler 850 in the Pro 4×4 class. Mike has the skills and knowledge to win races.
Shocks/suspension: Handling is the most important part of the ATV for the race. Having the correct suspension for your application is important, but what is more important than that is having it set up correctly—that’s why I run custom Axis shocks. Aftermarket A-arms can offer improvements to your ATV handling as well depending on what brand you ride. It can increase your corner speed and the smoothness through the trees at a high rate of speed; this is why I use Teixeira Tech A-arms.
Tires/wheels: ATVs come out of the dealers now with larger tires that are usually lightweight and will not take much abuse. I like the smaller 12-inch wheels, with a 25×8-12 tire front and rear. This helps in many areas—weight, ride height, cornering, handling and clutching. Yes, I use an 8-inch in the rear as well; this helps loosen up the back end. Maxxis Big Horn 2.0 25×8-12s mounted on an OMF 12-inch beadlock.
Skids/frame reinforcements: Protecting the engine, driveline and frame is very important to any racer/ rider. It’s very important to install a proven skid plate under your cases to prevent rock and other items from cracking a case and losing oil. The Ricochet Off-Road Armor also protects your frame rails and strengthens the ATV.
Brakes: Brakes that work are a must in our world, so one important thing to remember when you get a new ATV is to inspect and service your brakes. New OEM pads on some models will not last a two-hour race or long trail ride. Replace your pads with DP brake pads.
Bar setup: Being comfortable with your body posture and upper-body movement is also key. I install a set of Flexx bars onto a Rox anti-vibe 1 1/2inch riser. This gives me the height my bars need to be and two major pivot points to adjust. I can adjust to get my height and forward positioning correct for me. I also like the anti-vibe Rox risers with the Flexx bar for the damping they provide after a long day of riding over rough terrain.
JEREMY GRAY, Age: 28
Honda TRX 450, #Q66
Jeremy Gray has been a pro for the past seven years competing in the National Hare and Hounds and BITD among other AMA-sanctioned events. Jeremy has won championships in 2008 and 2009 in the U.S. desert-racing series.
Suspension: Elka, Fox, Noleen J6, Roll Design, Lonestar, Teixeira Tech— they are all comparable. When you get to a higher level of racing, stock just will not handle the abuse we put it through. Wider is not always better; it depends on the race.
GMZ tires, DWT rims & TireBlocks: Without a good tire package, it’s not even worth racing competitively, because the Pro class is so close, one flat or a smashed rim can cost you a race. Traction is also a big factor in a race; a good start in some races is the deciding factor.
Motor work: You need horsepower, but reliable horsepower. CryoHeat and micro-polish internals, port work on the head with a nice mellow cam for reliability—nothing too crazy. The extra horsepower helps when you’re coming out of a berm and need to grab that next gear to huck that 100foot jump. It helps to pull holeshots and, in some cases, put dust between your competition.
Handlebars and controls: Fasst Co. Flexx bars, A’ME grips, a twist throttle and good levers—nothing fancy. You have to be comfortable when you’re racing. And when you have an endurance race, you want to keep your hands from getting blisters, and the bars help with harsh hits and big landings
Graphics: It’s important to have a good-looking bike to represent your sponsors on. It adds about 5 horsepower on looks alone too, but the main reason is to give the companies you are representing the credit they deserve.
JEFFREY RASTRELLI, Age: 22
Palm City, Florida
Can Am DS 450, #728
Jeffrey started racing at the age of 10 and quickly fell in love with the sport. Winning four youth championships started Jeff off on a good pace for his professional career. Jeff turned pro in 2012 and was the 2014 Pro-Am champion. The 2015 season has had its ups and downs for Jeff, but he is holding on strong to have a strong finish at year’s end.
Nerf bars: I would first put nerf bars on my quad, preferably Rath. I would say nerf bars first, because you could hurt your foot without them really quickly in motocross.
A-arms: I would put on aftermarket A-arms from JB Racing, because they are wider and give you better handling on the track.
Aftermarket suspension: PEP allows you to take the rough bumps and bigger jumps a lot easier than with stock suspension.
Steering stem and handlebars: These aftermarket parts make for a more comfortable feel on the quad. They can be made higher or lower and with many different bar bends to accommodate each rider.
Wheels and tires: I use DWT wheels and ITP tires, because the stock ones are kind of too big and bouncy for a dry motocross track, and you need beadlock rear wheels so you can’t pop the tire off the bead.