JOSH ROW’S NOT SO FACTORY HONDA
This winning combination of Roll Design’s suspension arms and Elka shocks is very popular on the West Coast. The top three guys in the WORCS races are running this setup, along with Curtis Sparks power.
Josh Row first made headlines when he and his team won the Baja 500 back in 2012. If the race win wasn’t news enough, the fact that he did it on a Yamaha YFZ450R made it the headline. It’s rare that something other than a Honda TRX450 or 700XX wins a Baja event. Only a handful of Pro-class wins have went to any other brand in decades. Unfortunately, Josh’s success on Yamaha didn’t match that one Baja victory. He had success at a few local desert races, some podiums at WORCS and Quad X, but never made it to the top step.
The Elka/Roll Design suspension setup on this Honda works just as well on high-speed straights as it does in the corners. In the rough stuff, this combo makes the bumps disappear.
For the start of the 2014 WORCS season, Josh Row and his 417 Motorsports team have switched from the YFZ450R to the venerable Honda TRX450R. It’s incredible that so many pro ATV racers choose to ride Hondas, especially if they are faced to buy their own equipment. It says a lot about the reputation Honda has in the sport.
Josh Row is a second-generation pro quad racer.
Honda’s PR man Kevin Aschenbach explains, “Having racers choose to ride a TRX with money out of their own pocket says a lot about the proven track record of the product. It’s proven durable, reliable and an excellent platform for many different types of ATV racing. It’s something that Honda takes pride in knowing that we’ve done our homework to develop a machine that survives the abuse that the racers and weekend warriors put it through.” It doesn’t hurt that Honda’s contingency program for ATV racers is one of the best in the industry too. Only Can-Am’s X-Team comes close.
Kevin Avina builds all of Row’s race machines with meticulous attention to detail, so at the gate, the results are all up to the rider.
Row’s current race machine is not brand new. Row purchased the Honda from one of his main competitors, H&M Motorsports, for a smoking deal of $7800. Their race package is very proven and has helped riders Davi Haagsma and teammate Beau Baron win numerous races and championships in both WORCS and Quad X. Row’s Honda is typical of what you would see racing and winning events out West. It’s a very similar combination to what guys like Doug Eichner and Mike Cafro used before Baron and Haagsma.
Row’s machine uses the older, stronger and lighter kick-start Honda motor. Sparks gets as much horsepower as he can out of the powerplant without sacrificing an ounce of reliability.
When Josh got a hold of his new racer, his long-time mechanic, Kevin Avina, went through it and made it to his liking. What stayed are the basics. The Roll Design-gusseted stock Honda frame is complemented with a complete Roll front and rear end and controlled by an Elka Stage 5 suspension package. Avina equipped the quad with Maxxis tires mounted on DWT beadlock wheels. Inside those Razr 2 front and Razr X rear tires are the super-tough XC versions of Tire Balls. Flat tires aren’t a common thing in WORCS racing, but the time it takes to change a flat can be the difference between winning or losing. All the top WORCS racers either use Tire Balls or a product called Tire Blocks.
To get power through the Hinson clutch and D.I.D. 520 chain to the 21×11-9 rear tires, a Curtis Sparks race motor is used. Along with getting tons of power out of these Honda motors, Sparks makes sure he cools the engine as much as possible, which is key to reliability of a race engine. Sparks has all kinds of tricks, like wiring the fan to run nonstop. The radiator is stock, but the coolant lines are CV4, and Avina relies on Maxima Cool-Aide inside the radiator. VP Racing fuel is used inside of a quick-fill IMS tank.
The Maier bodywork fits as well as stock and has a deeper red color. An Outerwears cover is used as a pre-filter for the main foam element.
Roll Design also supplies the footpegs, heel guards, nerf bars, rear grab bar and front bumper. The steering stem is also Roll, and the handlebars are Flexx bars from Fasst Co. Even more dampening comes via a Precision Racing damper. Works Connection provided most of the controls, as well as the little bling trinkets like the timing-plug covers and reservoir caps.
One of the few things Row’s mechanic had to change when they purchased the quad is to add a Motion Pro twist throttle. Like many top West Coast quad riders, including Baron and Dustin Nelson, Row is a skilled dirt bike rider, so a twist throttle is a more natural feeling to him than the stock thumb throttle.
DWT beadlock wheels are used on all four corners to hold the nearly bulletproof Maxxis Razr XC tires. Just in case the tires do suffer a puncture, Tire Balls are used as a backup.
A full set of Fighting Red Maier Mfg. bodywork covers the machine, along with custom race-team graphics from Fineline Grafix, and a Quad Tech seat and hood. The underside of the quad is protected with TCS slick UHMW plastic skid plates and a rotor guard. The handguards are from PowerMadd, and the kill switch is a Pro Armor product.
If you want to throw a leg over a machine of this caliber, you have to know what you’re in for. We race-tested this machine back when it was Davi Haagsma’s practice machine. It’s a rocket, to say the least. In fact, it’s very hard to hang on to with the throttle pinned wide open. It’s easy to see that the H&M team got a ton of holeshots last year. To be honest, an average racer would be happier with a Curtis Sparks cam and exhaust, but we know if you are trying to win pro races, you have to throw everything at it. And when your main competition is running Sparks equipment, you have to do so as well. In fact, Josh claims if he was able to race with a Sparks engine earlier in his career, his results would have been better.
The Maxxis RZR tires on this machine are filled with Tire Balls. They help prevent flats no matter how gnarly the track turns.
The Elka shocks, along with the Roll Design suspension geometry, on any Honda are amazing. It’s a perfect fit. We wouldn’t doubt it if Honda hires Roll to help develop the next-generation TRX450. Hopefully they already have. And, if it is close to as good as Josh’s new race machine, it will be a winner for sure. As for Josh’s results, in the first two races of the WORCS season, Row has finished on the podium, with his best finish coming at round one in Taft, California, where he led all but the last two laps. ❏
DWT www.dwtracing.com (760) 758-5560
Quadtech www.quadtech-atv.com (949) 859-7823
Sparks www.sparksracing.com (661) 872-4343
CV4 www.cv4products.com (800) 874-1223
Motion Pro www.motionpro.com (650) 594-9600
Maier www.maier-mfg.com (800) 33-MAIER
Elka www.elkasuspension.com (800) 557-0552
Roll www.rolldesign.com (760) 731-5920
Works Connection www.worksconnection.com (530) 642-9488
Fasst Co www.fasstco.com (877) 306-1801
PowerMadd www.powermadd.com (651) 306-1801
Maxxis www.maxxis.com (800) 4-MAXXIS
IMS www.imsproducts.com (800) 237-9706
K&N www.knfilters.com (800) 858-3333
Tire Balls www.tireballs.com (877)-TIREBA
Hinson www.hinsonracing.com (909) 946-2942
Maxima www.maximausa.com (619) 449-5000
TCS [email protected]
Fineline Graphix www.finelinegraphix.com (619) 996-9917
Precision www.precision-rp.com (209) 365-1850