THE CHAMP’S HONDA TRX450R
— CT Racing builds a “Best In The Desert” winner —
By the staff of Dirt Wheels
CT Racing has been a dominant force in off-road endurance racing since the 1990s, winning three SCORE off-road championships and 11 Best in the Desert (BITD) championships. Seven of those BITD championships were in a row! For two years, CT quads placed first, second and third in the championship.
All of the BITD titles have been won on Hondas—a TRX250R, TRX450R and a hand-built XR650-powered Laeger quad. Eight championships, including the last six, have been on a 2004-based 450R like the one we rode. For BITD competition CT runs a short-course-spec’d motor. It has high compression, big valves, big carb—all the stuff it takes to make a ripper. CT does not use a short-course cam, as they need torque to pull high-speed gearing.
The 2004–2005 TRX450R transmission has wider, larger, tougher gears than the TRX450Rs built from 2006 on. For the race bikes CT hunts down—clean, low-hour 2004 or 2005 TRX450Rs—they then blow them apart. The frame is sand-blasted and has a Teixeira gusset kit installed before it goes to Central Powder Coating. Central is very good with the three-layer (flake, tint and clear) candy colors.
Starting at the front, CT Racing bolts on Teixeira Tech A-arms, Streamline brake lines, a Fastway steering stabilizer and a bar-position-adjustable, anti-vibration Teixeira Tech steering stem. Teixeira A-arms are caster- and camber-adjustable, and the caster adjustment is very easy to change. Desert quads typically run a lot more caster to slow the steering down for improved high-speed stability. Most of the time this quad travels at high speed. The speed average on most BITD races is around 50 mph, with some being as high as 52 mph. Remember, “average” includes all of the time from start to finish, including pit stops, rider changes, speed-limited areas and stopping at road crossings. You know this rig has to get down the trail to have those kind of averages.
WARNING, ROUGH ROAD
CT has spent a lot of time with Elka Stage 5 shocks to make them the best in the desert. The suspension has to be plush to preserve rider energy and hold traction on chatter bumps, and yet be able to take an unexpected hard hit and keep the rider on the quad going the right direction. The Elkas have proven themselves in durability and performance. The team has won seven of their BITD titles with Elkas.
Working with top manufacturers like Elka and Teixeira, they tweak geometry and settings constantly, searching for improvement. Teixeira helped them develop rear linkage adjustments, and Elka improved the shocks to match.
The swingarm is stock 2004. Many teams opt for the inch-longer 2006 swingarm. CT feels that their TRX rear end is so well-tuned, they give up the inch to tighten up the handling and get out of corners a little better. The swingarm has a DuraBlue Eliminator axle, along with a tough DuraBlue billet-axle bearing carrier. Streamline brake lines are strung to the brake calipers, and inside the calipers you’ll find Streamline brake pads. Motul brake fluid keeps the brake fluid from boiling during high-speed stops.
You won’t find Streamline or any other wave-style rotor on the quad. Wave rotors offer better stopping power, but CT has had the rotors collect pebbles and lock up the wheels. The rider has to get off and unjam the situation, so only round rotors are used. Teixeira’s three-piece modular rear skid is tough stainless steel with welded gusseting, and it offers more ground clearance than anything else on the market. Modular means you can change out parts. The polyurethane brake guard gets changed regularly, but the main body will last a full season, and then the Teixeira shark-fin rotor guard is inspected and changed if needed. The rotor guards were developed for GNCC racing, where you’ll get hung up in the mud if you run much of a skid. They are proven in the desert.
Drive System USA supplies the light, durable, premium Superlite RS7 Series steel sprockets and high-strength D.I.D. X-ring sealed chain. Drive has a full line of sprockets and chain, even offering a quick-change split sprocket.
CT CNC-ports the head and installs copper-based valve seats to wick heat away from the valves, keeping the power up during a long race. Del West oversize titanium valves go in the head with Pac valve springs, CT/Faction retainers and a Web performance CT-spec cam. CT machines a stock cylinder to a 97mm bore, then has it Nikosil-plated to its exacting spec, with more plating than you would find on an aftermarket cylinder. CT has a custom JE 13.5:1 compression piston made for them. This package has been very well-developed, and it delivers over 60 rear-wheel horsepower and massive torque, helping pull big speed.
To get endurance-race-winning power to the ground, CT uses every Hinson clutch component available for the TRX: basket, center hub, pressure plate and complete clutch topped off with a high-oil-capacity clutch cover. Ricky Stator supplies a stator with a floating ground, and they have a very small battery and regulator in the air box. The battery keeps the radio and/or lights working if the motor is not running.
To feed this beast, CT uses a 41mm FCR Keihin carb based on a 39- or 40mm carb, with added taper and in-house mods to enhance flow. It mounts to a stock intake boot, but runs a Velocity adapter to the front of the air box that also allows an oversize ’06 TRX450R filter. The air box is then topped with a K&N air box lid. The K&N is a must for desert racing. Before it was released, motors were junk from silt passing through the filter after a single-long race like Vegas to Reno or the Baja 500 or 1000. With the lid, the motors are still producing good power and are in good shape after the race. The inner filter is never changed during a race. The lid does such a good job of pre-filtering that; they merely change that several times during a race. It doesn’t take much more time than fueling.
CT uses their Sonic Series pipe to get everything out of the motor. It has a multi-stepped stainless steel head pipe and an aluminum rear can. In long desert races they run a turn-down end cap. With any sort of restriction at the end of the pipe, extended full-throttle running will get the pipe hot enough to potentially damage the packing, core and even the outer can.
CT starts with a Fasst Co. Flexx bar to cut vibration and enhance the front suspension feel. Both are important for the long stints of an endurance racer. Streamline’s brake lines improve braking pressure with less hand fatigue. CT uses an ASV lever package with the hot-start lever and a hot-start cable from a CRF450R motorcycle. There is also a Rugged Radios push-to-talk button on the bars. CT uses a 25-watt waterproof radio on the quad for communication for more range than the common 3-watt radios most teams use. CT made a bracket to hold the radio under the nosepiece, and the antenna bolts onto the frame just behind the front bumper and sticks a few inches up through the plastic.
TIRES AND WHEELS
The quad runs GBC XC Master 23×7-10 front and 22×11-9 rear. The only exception is the Off-Road World Championship race at Laughlin. This race is more of a short course like a WORCS race. CT drops the tire size to 22x7x10 front and 20x11x9 rear. CT uses DWT G3 beadlock wheels front and rear. DWT makes tough wheels at a very reasonable price. Beadlocks are important in endurance racing. If you get a flat you don’t slow down. The tire can’t be pulled off the bead and ground your efforts. That’s if you’re running air in the tire. CT doesn’t run air; it runs TireBlocks. TireBlocks are a run-flat tire system. Basically, foam wedge inserts are packed inside the tires. To install TireBlocks, you need to run beadlocks so you can get them packed inside and then bolt it all together. With TireBlocks, it doesn’t really matter if you have a flat—just keep it pinned. For the last few years the Vegas to Reno team has finished on the tires they started on. There was a V2R race back in the pre-blocks era where the team changed nine tires through the race and still won.
The bottom of the quad has a full-length Delrin Teixeira Tech glide plate. Delrin skids glide over the rocks, while aluminum plates stick on the rocks. To race SCORE or BITD, you’ll need added fuel capacity. Pits can be spaced as far as 60 miles apart, and a stock tank with a hard-running motor will not make that distance. CT uses IMS tanks, as well as the IMS dry-break quick-fill receiver and matching dump can.
BITS AND PIECES
Teixeira builds the front bumper, so the riders can bash the competition out of the way! Graphics are by All Motor Graphics. Pick the scheme you like from All Motor, and it will install all the sponsor logos, numbers and names. They send you back a proof, and you okay it or make changes. You’ll end up with exactly what you want.
On final assembly of the race quad, after a chassis bolt has been installed and torqued or tightened to final spec, they run 3M weather-strip adhesive across the nut or head of the bolt and across the frame or nut. It acts as an added threadlocker, in addition to marking the bolt to signal the mechanic that the bolt does not need to be touched again. Red, blue and green Loctite are used throughout the assembly process.
Another little trick CT uses is running the radiator overflow line off the end of the handguard. The rider sees if the engine is getting hot and can ease up. You won’t see it in the photos. The team doesn’t run handguards for the Off-Road World Championship.
Remember that this quad is set up for races where you need to run a 50-mph average to be in the running for a Pro-class win. It has the torque and power needed for those speeds. The chassis sacrifices quick turning for stability, and the suspension must handle little chop and giant impacts. This is a true piece of engineering.
PART AND SUPPLIES
Dura Blue, Inc.: www.durablue.com, (949) 770-5533
DWT Racing: www.dwtracing.com, (800) Race-Rim
Ultimate beadlock polished front wheel $189 per wheel
Ultimate beadlock polished rear wheel $182 per wheel
Elka Suspension: (800) 557-0552, www.elkasuspension.com
Stage 5 front & rear shock kit $3,444
All Motor Graphics: (951) 200-4507, www.allmotorsportgraphics.com
450R graphics kit $165
ASV Inventions: www.asvinventions.com
F-4 lever set $162.00
Fasst Company: (877) 306-1801, www.fasstco.com
Flexx bar $360
IMS Products: (800) 237-9906, www.imsproducts.com
3.7-gallon fuel tank $274
Dry-brake 4-gallon dump can $446
IMS dry brake receiver $263
Central Powder Coating: (714) 672-9571, www.centralpowdercoating.com
Sand-blast and powdercoat $400
CT Racing: (562) 945-2453, www.ctracing.com
Short course motor package $1,350
Sonic exhaust with jetting $529
Keihin FCR carb. $839
Drive Systems USA: (714) 379-9041, www.drivesystemsusa.com
Gearing kit $149
Ricky Stator: www.rickystator.com, (760) 787-0094
DC charging system with battery $299
Rugged Radios: (888) 541-7223, www.ruggedradios.com
marine radio VHF $225
Streamline Brakes: (909) 987-4213, www.streamlinebrakes.com
Front SS lines $71.99
Rear SS lines $32.99
Brake pads $28.95 per set
Teixeira Tech: (209) 833-9160, www.teixeiratech.com
Gusset kit $135
Sprocket guard $65
Front bumper $129
Frame skid $129
SA skid $139