ATV DUNE TEST: Modified Raptor 700; The ultimate in sand slinging fun

To make the Raptor a better duner, wider A-arms and an axle help it tremendously. For this project we used Leager’s products up front and Lonestar in the rear.

The Yamaha Raptor 700 has been the top selling sport ATV for a number of years now and for good reason. This machine is so well rounded, it can be ridden hard in the dunes, on tight trails or on a track, all in the same day.
For motocross, you can add an exhaust system, a set of tires and you will have a great open class machine. For the rough trails, install some skid plates and head out for a good time.
Dune riders can install a flag and be ready to ride. However, most dunatics like us cannot leave well enough alone and tend to trick their quads out to the nines. Our latest project quad is no different.
To turn this stock Raptor into the perfect dune rocket, we called on Kevin Avina of Avina Prep. Avina has assembled race and play quads for some of the top WORCS and Desert racers on the west coast. He knows how to make a machine last for the long haul without leaving out the all important bling components.
For this dune Raptor, Avina mixed just the right amount of chrome, powder coating and quality components that any finicky dune rider would be proud to throw a leg over. Plus, the machine is still strong enough to take on a trail ride if desired.

To build any race or play quad properly, it’s usually good to start with a complete teardown. This way you can check for cracks in the frame, add any strengthening gussets and then color coat it to match new bodywork.
Instead of chroming or powder coating the frame, Avina left the steel portion of the Raptor frame as is and polished the rear aluminum portion to a mirrored finish. The aluminum subframe was polished as well.
With the motor out of the frame, a high compression piston and a special $200 low-end torque cam was installed by J&M Motorsports.

As the engine was reinstalled, blue CV4 radiator hoses ($133) were attached, starting a blue and white theme. A $70 custom blue Regina chain was also draped over the countershaft sprocket waiting for the components to be installed in the rear.
More parts were chromed out back before their reinstallation. That list included a $658 Lonestar swingarm, a rebuilt (by Shock Therapy, $350) stock rear shock and the stock braking components. To continue the drivetrain assembly, a Lonestar axle ($450) was housed in the swingarm and received a set of ITP Sand Star tires mounted up ITP’s polished SS wheels with a price of $233 per side.
Up front, Laeger’s and PEP supplied the suspension components. The $675 A-arms are two inches longer than those found on a stock Raptor to complement the wider rear axle.
Not that the stock Raptor front shocks are bad, but the $650 PEP units added an inch more wheel travel and have a much bigger reservoir for improved cooling.
ITP Sand Stars and polished SS wheels were also used up front at $185 per side. To steer these wheels and tires, a polished, $350 stock length anti vibe Tag Metals steering stem was installed along with a set of $30 old school Dyco handlebars. These bars actually have a perfect bend for ATV riding. Spider grips ($13) and $140 Works Connection levers rounded out the list of new controls.
Next, AC Racing supplied their new $800 dual-muffler exhaust system and a set of polished $329 nerf bars with integrated heelguards and extra wide Pro Pegs.
To cap off the clean look of this duner, Maier’s white faux carbon fiber plastic replaced the stock bodywork. The $750 Maier skin was accented with a Yamaha/GYTR flame graphics kit and blue Quad Tech seat cover at $130.

We had Avina meet us out at oursecret dune area in the California desert to take the fully built Raptor for a spin. He brought local Pro racer Cyle Chislock along to ride for the photos, and we trucked out our stock Raptor for comparison.
To start off, we did several drag races against the stocker and consistently smoked the stock machine. The average was a three-quad-length advantage after only 100 yards. That’s saying a lot for a motor that still runs off of 92 octane pump gas.
We also went for a little trail ride across some bumpy dunes in and out of the native bushes. Even with the stock suspension dialed in perfectly, the PEP/Laeger’s combination was far superior. The two-inch wider quad carved like a lowered YFZ450 and soaked up the ripples like they were not even there. The Quad Tech seat was also a nice touch for the long trail rides.
Back in the dunes, this project Raptor was a blast to ride. It had the power to climb the steepest hills without ripping your arms out of their sockets or flipping you over backwards.
We launched the Raptor down in to the bowls with total control and zero bottoming. ITP’s new Sand Star tires provided just the right amount of traction for straight-line acceleration, with enough give in the rear for slinging a wall of sand into the sky.
We spent the day carving sand, riding the ridgelines and throwing sand all over the stock Raptor that was trying to keep up. We had zero complaints with the buildup of this machine. Avina’s product selection was right on the money.

If your looking for a quad to take to the dunes, any late model Raptor 700 is a good choice. In stock trim, that machine provides power and comfort to rival any other brand. In a modified state, the sky is the limit. There are thousands of parts available for the Raptor 700 and a carbon copy of this machine is well worth the investment.

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