— Upgrades to get you to the finish first —
By the staff of Dirt Wheels, Photos by staff and Harlen Foley.
The Yamaha YFZ450R is a fierce track-battling machine with race-inspired technology that the Japanese mega-company continues to create and build upon. The rest of the sport ATV industry has taken a turn for the worst, while Yamaha motors on and upgrades their machines. The YFZ is an impressive ATV out of the box, but Logan Huff knows that there is a lot to be improved upon to handle the harsh-desert, Grand Prix-style WORCS courses that he competes on. Huff incorporated parts to help increase his riding speed and endurance for the Pro-Am class while only upgrading what is needed for him to win.
OUT OF THE BOX
The 2017 Yamaha YFZ450R sports a fuel-injected, 449cc, liquid-cooled engine that is a dual-overhead-cam four-stroke. It puts out a lot of torquey ponies. In the suspension category the front shocks have 9.8 inches of travel, which is considered long travel for a quad. The piggyback reservoir shocks have a progressive spring, which acts similar to a dual-rate setup. The rear shock provides 11 inches of travel that also has high-/low-speed compression, rebound and spring preload adjustability like the fronts do.
The YFZ is 48 inches wide out of the crate with wide A-arms and a wide axle. Yamaha has bred this machine for racing, and the wider footprint allows better handling in corners and longer suspension travel in the front.
UPGRADING THE POWER
A lot of racers are under the impression that power equals speed. While that can be true, too much power causes reliability issues and reduces control over the machine. As a mechanic, Logan knows the right course of action when building a new ATV. Instead of diving into motor work, he decided to bolt on power for now and save the head work, cams, and valve work for when his new engine had some solid racing hours on it and it needed the maintenance.
To start, Huff installed a FMF PowerBomb header, mid-pipe and stainless 4.1 muffler to open up the exhaust for higher flow out of the engine. Installing an exhaust can provide more power, but if the air-to-fuel ratio isn’t right, it will make less power. A Sparks Racing Super Charger air-filter kit was installed so this Yamaha could breathe better. Rounding out the power upgrades is a Vortex ECU that is tuned by Leonard Duncan of Duncan Racing. The new exhaust and intake combined with fuel-injection remapping created a lot more power for Logan to win races.
INCREASING THE HANDLING
There are a lot more parts that can be upgraded to aid the control of any machine, but shocks aren’t a bad place to start. The stock shocks are adjustable, long-travel units; however, they are designed to be adjustable for a wide range of conditions, rider sizes and weights. When you compete in Pro and Pro-Am classes, you want suspension that is set up specifically for you. Logan went to Elka to get Stage 5 shocks all the way around on his Yamaha. The front shocks have triple-rate springs and damping set up for Logan’s weight, the bike he rides and the terrain he competes on. Elka recently included a higher-flowing reservoir on the front shocks so they won’t fade with heat as quickly as stock shocks will. The rear Elka shock has better damping over stock and a spring, compression and rebound rate that is set up specifically by Elka for the owner of the shock.
Comfort and control in the steering department is more important than suspension in some cases. Logan went to Walsh Race Craft for a +1-inch-taller and +1-inch-forward, anti-vibe steering stem, along with their anti-vibe handlebar clamp. These products reduce vibration from the engine and suspension to the rider, which helps with endurance. A set of Fasst Co. Flexx ATV low handlebars were also installed that have an anti-vibration system as well. A Precision Racing steering stabilizer rounds out the major handling upgrades. The YFZ has very quick and light steering from the showroom floor, which helps with turning but hinders the machine at speed. The Precision stabilizer has dual adjustment settings to help you tune it just right.
A sweet steering stem and handlebars aren’t the only important ATV control upgrades you can make. Logan went to Rath Racing for Signature Series nerf bars with Pro Pegs that reach the end of the nerf bars and provide insane traction for your feet. The only downside to these pegs is that you might be going through the soles of your boots quickly. Logan picked up a front bumper and a rear grab bar from Rath as well. Finally, a new seat cover was needed to keep Huff in the proper position at all times, so he went to FourWerx Carbon to get a seat cover that is ribbed in the rear and has his name and number designed into it.
HOW IT ALL WORKS
When comparing a stock YFZ450R to Logan Huff’s tricked-out Yamaha, the improvements are easy to notice and like. The most performance-enhancing upgrades are the Elka shocks, anti-vibe stem, Flexx bars and Precision steering damper. Speeds through rough sections increased by 5 to 10 mph, and turning is easier as well. The shocks have a lot more resistance to bottoming and less fade when they get hot. The stem, bar clamp and handlebars felt like they added another 2 inches of travel. Our endurance and stamina increased, which allowed us to ride faster and longer.
The GBC XC Master front tires assist Logan’s Yamaha with cornering and handling. They don’t push nearly as much as the stock tires do and keep the quad on track. The rear GBC Ground Buster III tires are more rounded than the XC Master rear tire, which lets the ATV slide better in corners instead of gripping too hard. They also help the YFZ corner in ruts better. Straight-line traction is a little diminished since there is less surface area than the XC Master rear tire, but they still grab hard in multiple types of terrain.
Logan started the 2017 WORCS season by earning himself a first-place finish in the Pro-Am class, along with remaining on the podium the next few races. That takes training, skill, dedication and a lot of hours building a high-performance race quad with upgrades that are well worth the money. Huff’s 2017 Yamaha YFZ450R is built to be a tool for winning races, and yet these upgrades are great for any recreational rider who wants to get more fun out of their riding experience!
PARTS & CONTACTS:
ANTIGRAVITY BATTERIES: (310) 527-2330, www.antigravitybatteries.com, YTZ7-8 OEM replacement lithium battery $179.99
CRF: (435) 632-4902, www.campbellracingfabrication.com, Skid plate $110, Sprocket guard: $65
CYCRA: (800) 770-2259, www.cycraracing.com, Pro Bend Handguards $82.95
DUNCAN RACING: (619) 258-6306, www.duncanracing.com, Vortex ECU tuned by Leonard Duncan $900
FASST CO.: (435) 674-8533, www.fasstco.com, Fasst Flexx ATV low handlebar:$359.99
FMF: (310) 631-4363, www.fmfracing.com, Stainless PowerBomb header $174.99, Stainless Factory 4.1 $699.99 (full system)
FOURWERX CARBON: www.fwcarbon.com, Custom ribbed seat cover $149.95, Rear number plate $89.95
GBC MOTORSPORTS: www.gbcmotorsports.com, XC Master front tires 21x7r10, Groundbuster III rear tires 20x11r9
GOLDSPEED: www.goldspeedproducts.com, Beadlock wheels with aluminum bead rings (VB-3 Victory Box) $651.95
IMS: (800) 237-9906, www.imsproducts.com, 3.8-gallon fuel tank $274.95, Dry-break receiver $189.95
PRECISION RACING PRODUCTS: (209) 365-1850, www.precision-rp.com, Steering stabilizer: $499
SSI DECALS: (877) 955-7446, www.ssidecals.com, Custom graphic kit $199.95
RATH RACING: (320) 234-7223, www.rathracing.com, Rear grab bar $119.95, Signature series front bumper $124.95, Signature series nerf bars $429.95 with monster pegs (add $25)
ROCKY MOUNTAIN ATV/MC: (800) 336-5437, www.rockymountainatvmc.com, Tusk kill switch $19.95, Hardline hour/tach meter $29.95
SNURE INTERLOCKING: (330) 345-1406, www.p4quads.com, GT thunder Rotor Guard $50
SPARKS RACING: (661) 872-4343, www.sparksracing.com, Super Charger air-filter kit $119.95
WALSH RACE CRAFT: (386) 364-4942, www.walshrc.com, Steering stem +1-inch tall, 1-inch forward $300, Anti-vibe bar clamps $100