PROJECT ATV: Attack of the Super Raptors
There are two cards that should be hanging from the handlebar of every Yamaha Raptor 250 in every showroom across the country. One should have a list of the things the Raptor is, and the other should have what the Raptor isn’t.
Things the Raptor 250 is: Well-made, reliable, sporty, reasonably priced, incredibly fun.
Thing the Raptor 250 isn’t: A racer.
That isn’t to say you can’t race the little Raptor in stock form. People do it all the time. But if you do, you better be matched up against someone else with a stock Raptor, because there are guys like Anthony Martin at Triumph Motorsports out there who can make them into super Raptors. In fact, there are two of them sitting in his Corona, California, shop right now. Anthony built them for his own kids—Christian’s is the MX version and Jerry’s is the cross-country racer. Both are very fast, very specialized and very trick.
Much has been written about the Yamaha Raptor 250, virtually all of it sticky sweet. Even though it’s temporarily out of production, it will probably be back very soon because of its universal appeal. It’s a great machine for novices because of its light weight, mellow power and affordability. It’s also a huge hit with experienced riders because you can ride one for all it’s worth and come away with a smile. The motor is an old-world, air-cooled, two-valve four-stroke that is said to come out of some domestic Japanese motorcycle. It makes very little horsepower, and it’s mounted in a very good chassis, which means it’s hard to get in over your head.
As Anthony’s kids grew, though, they wanted something with sharper fangs (that happens with kids), and so “Project Super Raptor” began. For the MX version, more power would be at the top of the goal list, along with a wider track and better suspension. The cross-country one would need different tweaks in the same departments, with additional requirements for protection and ground clearance.
PLAYING POWER BALL
Getting more power out of the air-cooled motor isn’t that hard. But you have to be modest with your ultimate goal. If you try to make a 450-killer, you’ll fail and make a ticking time bomb as well. The Yamaha motor responds well to modest engine mods and desperately needs help in the carburetor department. Anthony found two Keihin FCR carburetors on eBay that were taken off Honda CRF150R motorcycles. This is basically the most advanced carb in the world. If you purchased one new, it would be around $800, but on the used market, they are sold for around $100 apiece. LMR makes a kit that allows the Keihin to be adapted to the Raptor, and it works with a thumb throttle.
As far as motor internals, both engines got CP pistons, but with different compression—12.0:1 for the cross-country and 13.0:1 for the motocross version. Stock is 9.5:1. The engines got two different Web cams. In the case of the XC, the spec was designed to provide more torque, while the MXer was aimed at peak power. NGR did the head work, and Triumph installed oversized valves. Full-competition exhaust systems from Sparks were used, but the airboxes were left stock. Triumph cuts the back of the battery box for a little more airflow. Uni Filter elements were used.
DIFFERENT CHASSIS DIRECTIONS
When it came to the chassis setup, Triumph took the two machines in different directions but used similar parts. Lonestar Racing probably has more development time on the Raptor 250 than anyone and offers front A-arms that can be customized to suit different requirements. So both machines got DC-4 A-arms from Lonestar Racing, which are 3 inches wider and 1 inch forward from stock and feature easy camber and caster adjustability. For the MX Raptor, Triumph set the caster, which is the angle between the top ball joint and the bottom one, to 2 degrees. For the cross-country bike, the caster was 5 degrees. For the camber, both were set up to 2 degrees and the toe was set to 3/4 inch. The DC4 A-arms are designed for longer travel and work well with LSR front hubs and Elka Stage 3 shocks.
Both rear axles are also from LSR. The Axcalibar Pro Racing axle is backed by a lifetime warranty and is fully adjustable by changing spacers. The MX axle was adjusted 3 inches wider than the cross-country one. Both bikes also had gusset kits installed by Triumph for all the added stress from racing. Hard use will eventually weaken the frame and cause premature cracks and breaks. Triumph’s frame mod even has a special plate welded in place for strength and a little element of style. Another important chassis upgrade is the LSR aftermarket swingarm bolt and gusset kit. This bolt is longer than the stocker and uses supplied pieces of metal to strengthen the chassis in that area. After all that, the frames got a fresh powdercoating from Seven S Powder in Riverside, California.
The biggest difference between the two is overall height. The cross-country version needs more ground clearance. The ride height was 10 inches in the rear and 10.5 inches in the front. This was done by putting more preload in the shock and running taller tires. Tire selection is key, and running the STI 21×7-10 Tech 4s keeps the chassis and swingarm from being pounded by roots or big rocks. Running a wheel like a DWT 9-inch G-2 allows you to have the beadlock and a rolled lip that acts as a reinforced inner ring. The wheels on the XC bike are beadlock front and rear; in desert racing and riding, most flat-tire scenarios leave you stranded two to three miles away from your truck. The front wheels are a 10×5 4+1 offset. DWT Racing puts an added screen on their wheels to keep out rocks and debris that can get lodged in your caliper. The rear wheels are 9-inch beadlocks with 20×11-9 STI tires, which are six-ply and built to last. The taller tires allow for more ground clearance.
The front wheels on the MX Raptor are from DWT Racing and are a double-rolled lip design to eliminate the additional weight from a beadlock. They have an offset of 3+2. Another thing the MX Raptor doesn’t need is front internal wheel guards due to less debris found on the track, so to cut weight and drag, these were removed. On both quads, the rear wheels are 8-inch beadlocks that clamp the tire directly on the wheel, so if you have a flat, you can still finish the race. Triumph is running STI 20×6-10 Tech 4s in the front and 18×10-8 in the rear. The rears are perfect for the Raptor 250, because they are a little narrower than most, which make it easier to break the rear end loose in a corner.
Triumph chose to use LSR steering stems for both machines. They are made from 4130 chromoly steel and have interior supports that offer superior strength over the OEM mild steel unit, and the LSR stem also features the anti-vibration handlebar clamp kit that helps reduce rider fatigue by taking out small chatter. Along the same lines, both got Fasst Flexx bars and Precision stabilizers to give the riders control and comfort.
You can easily put so much work into a Raptor 250 that it loses all the things that make the quad so wonderful. That didn’t happen here. Both machines only gained points on the fun scale. The motors have nearly double the modest output of the stock er, while the suspension and chassis mods allow the handling to keep pace. Remember, part of the Raptor magic is that the chassis is much more capable than the motor. The knee-jerk reaction to look for more power upsets that balance of nature. By paying attention to both sides of the formula, the Raptor is just as much fun as ever. As you might expect, the MX version has a little more power, thanks to its higher compression ratio and more aggressive cam. But both have excellent power delivery. The biggest difference between the two is how they ride. The MX version is low and likes to slide, and the cross-country seems to find more traction and hook up.
None of those results is particularly surprising. What amazes us is how two quads that were built for kids could be so much fun for grown-ups. Honestly, we love our 450 sport quads, but if all ATVs were like these two super Raptors, it wouldn’t be such a bad world.
If you’re interested in making your own Raptor 250 project, you can use all the same elements as the Triumph machines, or mix and match the most economical parts. Either way, it would be smart to give the guys at Triumph a call. They sell all the parts used here, and advice is always free (to a point). Contact them at (951) 898-0272, or visit them online at www.triumphmotorsports.com.
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