ATV PROJECT: PROWL OF THE BLACK CAT

One quick Honda TRX 450R By Collin Duffy

Generally, a more powerful engine is a plus in the sand, but Heidi’s slight build and bolt-on power parts let her quad take her anywhere she needs it to with speed.

What does it take to be a racer? It takes passion, dedication, perseverance, resilience, time and dedication to the craft. Heidi Coleman embodies the essence of a true competitor. Her favored series is the World Off-Road Championship Series (WORCS) that travels all over the West Coast, offering wheel-to-wheel action on Grand Prix-style courses. Heidi is somewhat new to racing but not to riding.

“I started riding at the age of 12 on a 1986 Honda ATC 250R with my brother. My brother was always my biggest fan and, most important, someone I looked up to. I was always the little sister tagging along doing all the ‘guy stuff’ with them.” 

Like Heidi, most of us started with similar roots—learning how to ride with family and friends and cultivating that itch to ride that never goes away. Eventually, Coleman had three children with her husband and business partner at Sentry Welding & Exhaust, where she runs her own powdercoating business. Heidi told us, “After I had my third child I decided I wanted to give racing a shot and see how far I could go with it.” That brings us to her rad Honda TRX 450R build that she races and rides out in the desert of Barstow, California, and beyond.

Cornering this TRX 450R is smooth and easy with a wider footprint than stock. Roll A-arms and a Lone Star Axcaliber axle provide the width.

SETTING THE PACE

Heidi understands winning a race isn’t purely about how powerful her engine can be. Her “Black Cat” (as we dubbed it) Honda TRX 450R has mild engine work done and some bolt-on power parts that help expand the engine’s range. A Stage 2 camshaft from Hot Cams was installed to aid the engine’s breathing.

Elka Stage 5 shocks are mounted to a set of Roll Design A-arms. This pairing is close to unbeatable on the WORCS circuit, and Heidi’s Honda was very smooth in the rough.

An FMF Powerbomb head pipe and PowerCore 4 muffler were bolted up to allow more exhaust gases to flow out of the Honda. For the power equation to summarize correctly, Heidi installed a free-flowing Pro Design Pro Flow intake kit with a K&N air filter. This system works wonders for the Honda, but a K&N filter can require more protection from dirt, mud and debris than traditional foam filters do. She installed a Pro-Tec Moflow airbox lid cover that is constructed of an aluminum framework with a mesh screen that halts bigger debris from attaching to the air filter. In conclusion, great airflow and more protection for the engine. Finally, the carburetor was gone through and provided the proper jetting required for the power upgrades, meaning more fuel, more power and more fun!

LS4 offers seat covers with varying levels of grip, and they can stitch them together with custom colors to match your graphics.

HANDLING

Elka Stage 5 shocks combined with Roll Design’s Lobo II front suspension system are a lethal Honda TRX 450R combination in the off-road ATV racing world. Roll gains a lot of wheel travel with their A-arm geometry, while also widening the quad for more stability in corners, over fast sections and just about anywhere on a track or trail that isn’t a tight fit. Elka’s Stage 5 shocks have a triple-rate spring setup that allows a progressive action, and their high- and low-speed compression and rebound damping are top of the line. The stock brake lines had to be replaced with an extended set from Streamline Brakes to fit the wider suspension. Heidi has had good luck with an Elka/Roll setup on her first Honda race build, so she stayed with what works for her.

Fourwerx Carbon makes one of the best-looking Honda hoods on the market. The stock headlight is generally removed to run their hood due to how long the nose is.

The rear of her ATV runs a stock swingarm, paired with a Stage 5 Elka shock and Elka’s long-travel linkage. This allows the swingarm to droop far more than stock and provides more bottoming resistance and a plush feel out of the rear end. Lone Star Racing’s sturdy Axcalibar Pro Racing axle provides more width in the rear to match the front end. It is adjustable as well to help the rider dial in their machine for their favorite racing. Power to the axle is provided by a Caltric chain to the sprockets. TM Designworks parts provide the chain slider and chainguide on the swingarm. A DRW Performance case saver was bolted up in case the chain breaks so the engine case has less chance of getting cracked. A B.C.C. skid plate and sprocket guard offer protection from abuse.

Heidi’s Honda touches the ground with 21×7-10 front and 20×11-9 rear ITP Holeshot tires. Their tread designs have been proven in GNCC woods racing, as well as differing terrain all over the globe. The tires are wrapped around a set of Alba Racing beadlock wheels. Beadlocks allow you to push your tires to the edge of performance without them slipping off a standard-style wheel bead. Popping a bead could easily end a race.

A stick-style steering stabilizer is a great addition to the suspension system on this quad. It helps keep your handlebar from getting out of hand.

RIDER COMFORTS

Coleman isn’t on the tall side, so her Honda is outfitted with Fasst Company’s 15-degree Moto Low Flexx handlebar. The Flexx bar offers great vibration and shock damping that is adjustable to a rider’s needs. The bar is connected to an Alba Racing anti-vibration bar mount and steering stem. A Streamline seven-way-adjustable stick-style steering stabilizer keeps hard hits to the wheels from turning into unrequested turning of the handlebar.

Her controls are set up in a very neutral way, so her adjustable F4 ASV levers are easy to reach with small and large hands. She kept the stock Honda thumb throttle and mounted a pair of ProTaper Pillowtop ATV grips that are soft and easy on the hands. A set of PowerMadd Star Series handguards with their ATV/MX mounting kit helps protect Heidi’s hands from roost during a race. A Pro Armor ATV tethered kill switch is required by WORCS, as well as many other racing series. In case of a get-off, the engine will cut out once the tether is pulled off the switch, so your ATV won’t go wandering off under its own power.

Nerf bars are required to race WORCS, so Coleman installed a set from Alba Racing after powdercoating them herself.

A gripper seat is a must compared to the OEM TRX 450R seat cover. LS4 Fibers offers customizable seat covers, so Coleman picked one to complement her style and grip needs. This specific seat cover has ribs stitched in for added grip compared to the gripper cover material. 

Remaining secure in your saddle is just as important as foot traction and protection. Heidi mounted a set of Alba Racing’s Pro Peg nerf bars that help keep other competitors’ tires from getting inside of hers during tough battles.

Coleman is running a FMF PowerCore 4 muffler with a Pow-erBomb header pipe on this build. It helps the power and has a good sound. It can be a spark arrestor as well.

TEST

We invited Heidi out to ride in the wide-open, rocky, sandy and technical trails of Dove Springs in Southern California for a shoot and test of her Black Cat build. One of our freelance editors is no stranger to building, racing and riding built Hondas, so we had him put some serious miles on it. His take was similar to what we felt on the steed. The suspension was the cherry on top for the build. The Elkas soaked up chatter bump, pumped through whoop sections and flowed over rock gardens. Heidi has a slight frame compared to our much heavier editor, so he noticed that the shocks were a bit on the soft side and blew through the stroke on some pretty hard landings. A different spring rate and setup on a set of Stage 5s can be adjusted right for any type of riding or racing.

Ground clearance on the Roll Design A-arms is ample due to their gullwing shape. They are adjustable to let the quad corner quicker or slower, or be stable over high-speed sections. The Streamline stabilizer works well enough to take away a lot of the high-speed wiggles and cut down on unwanted handlebar movement. The Flexx bar, in combination with Alba’s anti-vibe stem and bar clamp, gave the already-plush Honda an even smoother feel.

The custom Cycle Works graphics and color scheme of Coleman’s quad is dark and subtle. She personally did the powdercoating on this machine.

Heidi’s engine didn’t get the full-blown power treatment, but it has enough gusto to get the job done. Ditching the stock exhaust for a system like FMF’s will open the engine up with a higher-flowing air intake and some carb work. A Stage 2 Hot Cam is a nice addition to the equation to get the TRX to claw through dirt faster and with more torque. It felt very playful on trails and potent enough to win races with aid from the enhanced handling.

The LS4 ribbed seat cover kept our behinds in place during hard acceleration but allowed easy movement across the seat when diving into corners. Overall, Heidi’s Black Cat Honda TRX 450R racer was a blast to ride and well-built. Our finishing gripe is that the Alba Racing nerf bars could have had some sharper teeth on the footpegs. Occasionally, our boots would slip around on them, but not often enough to want to banish them from the build by any means!

A set of ITP Holeshot tires propel Heidi’s Honda forward with great traction on a multitude of terrain. Alba beadlock rims don’t allow the tires to come off with the wheel.

WRAPPING UP

Heidi Coleman and her troop of cherished ones can be seen wandering around the WORCS races. Her husband and three kiddos offer her all the support she could want while she battles on the track in the hunt for championship wins. Her Black Cat build was given the name due to her black plastics, which are adorned with a Cycle Works graphics kit that has a black and leopard print design. All the bronze and black powdercoating was personally performed by Heidi. She spends her working hours laying down paint on everything from customer home projects to go-fast race parts. We are excited to keep watching Heidi get faster on her Honda!

PARTS LIST:

ALBA RACING: (619) 562-0188, www.teamalbaracing.com

+2 chromoly steering stem $120

Anti-vibe handlebar clamp $45

R2 front bumper $64.99

Grab bar rear bumper $52.99

Beadlock wheels $109.99 ea.

Pro Peg nerf bars $209.99

ASV INVENTIONS: (714) 861-1400, www.asvinventions.com

F4 off-road clutch lever $110

F4 off-road brake lever $100

B.C.C. SKIDS: (931) 505-3407, www.bccskids.com

TRX 450 skid plate $69.99

1/2” poly sprocket guard $44.99

CALTRIC: (888) 888-8217, www.caltric.com

O-ring drive chain $31.01

CYCLE WORKS: (321) 443-1096, www.cycleworksgraphics.com

Kits $189.99 to start

DRW PERFORMANCE: (903) 372-5721, www.drwperformanceatv.com

Case Saver $49.99

ELKA SUSPENSION: (800) 557-0552, www.elkasuspension.com

Stage 5 front shocks $2,089.99

Stage 5 rear shock with linkage $1,999.98

FASST COMPANY: (877) 306-1801, www.fasstco.com

Flexx handlebar/15-degree low $399.99

FMF RACING: www.fmfracing.com

PowerCore 4 muffler $379.99

PowerBomb header $249.99

FOURWERX CARBON: (262) 501-9696, www.fwcarbon.com

Carbon hood $185

GPI RACING: (909) 589-4805, www.gpiracing.com

Silicone radiator hose kit $28

ALL BALLS RACING GROUP: (515) 402-8000, www.allballsracinggroup.com

Stage 2 Hot Cam $310

ITP TIRES: (800) 827-1001, www.itptires.com

Holeshot fronts (size 21×7-10): NA

Holeshot rears (size 20×11-9): NA

LONESTAR RACING: (800) 457-7223, www.lsracing.com

Axcalibar Pro racing axle $495.60

LS4 FIBERS: (419) 768-2643, www.ls4fibers.com

Custom ATV seat cover:

starting at $$75.00

POWERMADD: (651) 462-8465, www.powermadd.com

Star series hand guards $35

ATV mount kit $45

PRISMATIC POWDERS: (866) 744-7628, www.prismaticpowders.com

Highland bronze $starting at $18.11

PRO ARMOR: (888) 312-7667, www.proarmor.com

Universal ATV kill switch $39.95

PRO DESIGN: (714) 534-0620, www.prodesignracing.com

Pro Flow K&N air filter intake kit $225.90

PROTAPER: (951) 736-5369, www.protaper.com

ATV pillow top grips $13.60

PRO-TEC: (951) 698-8988, www.pro-tec.us

Moflow airbox lid cover $94.95

ROLL DESIGN: (760) 731-5920, www.rolldesign.com

Lobo II A-arm set $1,595

SENTRY WELDING & EXHAUST: (760) 253-2737, www.sentryweld.wufoo.com

Custom key switch holder $N/A

STREAMLINE: (909) 987-4213, www.streamlinebrakes.com

7-way steering stabilizer $189.99

+2 extended front brake lines $32.99-$71.99

TM DESIGNWORKS: (541) 772-4161, www.tmdesignworks.com

Front chain slider $54.95

Rear chainguide $59.95

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