— Nothing runs like a Deere — By the staff of Dirt Wheels, Photos by Pat Carrigan.
Have you ever sat down and wondered how cool it would be to see the famous farm-equipment company John Deere make a sport quad? Yeah, we haven’t, either. But, if you come from horse, cattle and farm country like Dirt Wheels associate editor Colt Brinkerhoff does, you might just ponder such mysteries. A Deere sport quad would supply a whole new meaning to the company’s slogan “Nothing runs like a Deere.” Even though John Deere once made snowmobiles, we’re going to say that a John Deere sport quad might not ever happen. However, no one ever said you couldn’t build an already-stellar ATV to look like one!
Brinkerhoff already completely transformed a racing Honda TRX450R to look like a John Deere tractor back in 2013. Colt won his first AMA National Hare and Hound desert championship aboard that Deere-themed TRX450R. Then, it transitioned into a practice quad for several years. Two frames and 150 hours later, he decided to revisit the machine and the concept once more to make it even better. Introducing the John Deere 2.0!
NOT YOUR EVERYDAY FARM IMPLEMENT
Obviously, Colt wanted it to have the same feel as far as the graphics and powdercoat go, but he wanted a very different racer this time. He wanted to make a durable yet lightweight desert quad. People just accept that a full-desert build weighs much more than stock or even a motocross-built quad. But, hey, if you shed weight from the desert quad, it will still effectively feel more powerful and fatigue the rider less, right?
Colt lightened it by using FourWerx carbon fiber radiator shields, hood and roost guards for the front Elka Stage 5 shocks. Then he selected titanium bolts for the swingarm pivot, shocks, A-arms, engine and other fasteners. The FMF 4.1 RCT exhaust is also made from titanium and carbon fiber. He went as far as using Works Connection’s titanium bolt and nut kit option for his Elite perch assembly just to shed some grams. When weighed against all the OEM fasteners and plastic pieces, it shed close to 15 pounds! It doesn’t sound like much, but we know every 10 pounds is the same as gaining one horsepower.
Other upgrades to this Deere are front and rear Maier fenders wrapped in Dirt Fiend Racing’s full-coverage John Deere TRX450R graphics kit. The no-slip custom FourWerx seat cover is comfortable, and the gripper material mated with the seat bands keep your behind glued to the quad.
There is a method to Colt’s madness and one reason why he has won national championships—he protects the quad. Installed under the frame is a 3/4-inch-thick poly skid plate from Campbell Racing Fabrication. Protecting the rear aluminum Sprocket Specialists sprocket is also a 3/4-inch poly sprocket guard. It’s thick and light compared to its aluminum counterpart. The poly works great for extreme terrain, as impacts spread across the plastic instead of denting like most metal plates. However, he chooses to run a billet Hess Motorsports rotor guard. It’s simple in design yet effective at protecting the rotor. The chain slider, chainguide and case saver are from Glann Innovations, and they are unique in that they are designed to keep a chain from derailing or losing a countershaft sprocket.
A front Rath Racing aluminum bumper and grab bar protect the frame and exhaust from harm. Colt also runs Rath’s Cross-Country heel guard/peg setup instead of running a full nerf bar. Luckily, the stainless steel pegs are sharper than Crocodile Dundee’s knife and keep the rider’s feet firmly planted.
To finish these treacherous races, Colt trusts Tire Blocks, GBC XC Master 23-inch and 22-inch tires, and Goldspeed beadlock wheels. Even if the XC Masters get punctured, the Tire Block flat-prevention system allows him to finish the race at full speed.
Colt prefers a soft suspension setup, as he mainly races in rocky and whooped-out terrain. The Elka Stage 5 shocks are fully adjustable, but throughout the test we didn’t have to touch any settings. We would mash the throttle through nasty whoops, and it soaked up the abuse easily. It was much the same feeling in the high-speed rocks or stutter bumps as it flew over them with ease and with not much getting transferred to our bodies. However, when jumping some larger hits, it did bottom out on occasion. The Flexx handlebar was also hand-friendly, as Brinkerhoff prefers the softest elastomer setup. The Fastway Stage 3 stabilizer kept our hands from flying off the handlebars when we would hit unexpected surprises like rocks or rain ruts.
Even with the larger tires, the Deere 2.0 corners like it has MX tires installed. The Teixeira Tech WX A-arms not only provide this TRX with huge ground clearance, but they are camber- and caster-adjustable, which helps the Deere turn quickly and precisely. It doesn’t have “tractor braking,” but the Galfer brake rotors and pads make for quick stopping power.
The engine package comes on strong from the bottom and screams to the top end. It’s smooth and rideable power, but when you twist the throttle, you better be holding on tight. Fastheads installed +1 valves and did a full-desert-style port job. Oh, and did we mention this is the same head lived through 150 hours of abuse since the last rebuild? That type of reliability is what a desert racer needs. Also, helping to create the power is a 13:1 high-compression Vertex piston and Stage 2 Hot Cam. Colt’s philosophy is that having more power allows the rider to traverse over obstacles easier. We would have to agree with that statement, because the Deere bounded through whoops like, well, a deer!
The Hinson BTL, which stands for “back torque limiter,” clutch system made the four-stroke feel more like a two-stroke on decel. It helped tremendously on braking bumps, corners and helped the rear shock prevent packing up on decel. The top speed is also impressive, as our GPS read 86 miles an hour on a flat fire road.
AS GOOD AS A DEERE
The John Deere 2.0 TRX450R is easy on the eyes and a blast to ride! Even though we really can’t tell the difference from the weight decrease, we know after riding it hard in the desert for hours that it will help with fatigue. The feedback from the test riders is that it made them feel confident to hit obstacles much faster than they would’ve felt on similar machines. This thing is built to conquer the desert, and it’s well protected to do so. It’s a rocket ship and remains reliable. It was hard to get off this machine and give it back to Colt, but luckily, with him working for Dirt Wheels, we’ll get to ride it again soon!
A’ME clamp on motorcycle grips $26.95
Frame/sub frame/swing arm/wheels powder coat service $600
Poly 3/4-inch skid plate $110
Poly 3/4-inch sprocket guard $50
Silicone radiator hose kit $64.60
Cylinder kit with 13:1 high-compression piston $599.95
John Deere graphic kit $269.99
Dyna FS CDI box $220.99
520 X-ring chain $160.99
Stage 5 fully adjustable front shocks $1,699.99
Stage 5 fully adjustable rear shock $1,299.99
14-degree Quad Racer
low Flexx handlebar $359.99
Rear brake clevis $39.99
Rear brake return spring: $19.99
Head porting $150
Extreme valve package $699.99
Factory 4.1 RCT full exhaust system $699.99
Custom seat cover $149.95
X7 carbon fiber hood $184.95
Carbon fiber radiator shrouds with air vents $399.95
Carbon fiber roost guards for Elka Stage 5 front shocks $128.50
Titanium A-arm bolt ki $149.95
Titanium motor mount bolt kit $169.95
Titanium motor mount bracket bolt kit $29.95
Titanium rear shock bolt kit $37.50
Titanium pivot bolt $114.95
Titanium front shock bolt kit $69.95
Titanium 6mm flange bolts $9.75 per bolt
Front wave brake rotor $98 per side
Rear wave brake rotor $112
Front brake pads $34.03 per side
Rear brake pads $38.40
Front +2 brake lines $71
Rear brake line $32
Front XC Master 23x7x10 $84.99 per tire
Rear XC Master 22x11x9 $109.99 per tire
Poly case saver $60
Poly swing arm chain slide $80
Poly rear chain guide $95
Front 10-inch 4+1 Victory-Lock wheel $160.95 per wheel Rear 9-inch 3+5 Victory-Lock wheelt $183.95 per wheel
Billet steering stem clamp $50
Billet rotor guard $150
Billet-proof clutch kit with BTL $2500
Stage 2 cam $269.95
Complete bottom-end kit
with crank $559.95
3.7-gallon tank with quick-fill receiver $501.51
Flightline shift lever $39.95
Axcalibar adjustable width axle $449
Billet front wheel hubs $349
Green front fenders $162.14
Green rear fenders $306.94
Vortex twist throttle kit $61.13
Swingarm bearing kit: $49.95
Steering stem bearing kit $34.95
Tether kill switch $34.95
Pro-Flow dual stage air filter $49.99
Stage 3 steering stabilizer kit $575
Flak handguards $49.95
Signature series bumper $124.95
Cross-Country heel guard/peg kit $264.95
Grab bar $79.95
Clutch cable bracket $49.95
Tank seat washer $19.95
Billet velocity intake flange $39.95
Aluminum rear sprocket $59.99
Steel front sprocket $15.99
WX long-travel max ground clearance A-arms $985
Long-travel rear shock linkage $445
Linkage skid plate $50
+2 anti-vibe steering stem $245
Adjustable 1 1/8-inch handlebar clamp $95
Front 23x7x10 Tire Blocks
flat-prevention system $135 per tire
Rear 22x11x9 Tire Blocks flat-prevention system $170 per tire
Carb mod $249.99
Elite perch titanium bolt kit option $27.50
Front brake reservoir cap $29.95
Oil-fill plug $24.95 per side
Rotating bar clamp $27.50
Tach/hour meter/clock with maintenance timer $44.95
Elite full-clutch perch assembly $195.85
Parking brake block-off plate $19.95