PROJECT UTV: Kawasaki Teryx Racer

A beauty ready for battle

When you picture in your mind a super-trick UTV for racing, no doubt Can-Am Mavericks and Polaris RZR XP 1000s come to mind. It’s rare that we even consider a Kawasaki Teryx as a viable racer these days. The Teryx is well-known and is excellent as an exploring or adventure machine, and in the case of the four-seater, has room for the whole family. Fortunately, you can’t tell long-time SoCal racers David Lytle and Victor Herrera that. The pair, along with the help of Fabwerx, has built the trickiest Kawasaki Teryx to date.

The team dubbed this car “Low Fat,” primarily for the direction they went with the cage and driver’s compartment. Although, the machine may look exotic, there are a ton of stock components left intact, and most of the aftermarket parts are readily available as bolt-on pieces. Lytle has raced many different UTVs, including RZRs and other Teryxs, and has had success with both brands. He thinks the Kawasaki is a strong product and will no doubt be competitive in the 800–850cc class, if not the 1000cc class, in multiple disciplines. Herrera is also an accomplished dessert race car driver.

“LOW FAT”

The vehicle started life as a 2014 two-seat Teryx EPS. When it was delivered to Thad at Fabwerx in Burbank, California, it was basically chopped in half. To be more specific, they removed the stock roll cage and cut the top portion of the frame off. The bottom frame rails and center cross bracing all still remain. The drivetrain, including the engine, gearbox, drive shafts, and front and rear differentials, remained as well.

Fabwerx reconstructed the cage and driver’s compartment, giving it a much wider and lower “chopped” profile. The material used for driver protection and to hang the body was all seamless chromoly. Lytle tells us, “I spent hours cutting and grinding unnecessary pieces of metal, such as the trailer hitch, light tabs, etc. to make it as light as possible. That is quite the opposite of my past RZR builds, where the same amount of time was spent bracing and strengthening areas of the frame.”


When the cockpit was placed back together, the Teryx ended up being a full 8 inches wider than stock. The seat height was lowered 7 inches and moved back another 2. The custom dash was installed 10 inches further back from its original position. Inside the cab, PRP seats ($300 each) and belts ($139 each) were used, along with a pair of custom window nets at $165. The steering system remained stock, except for the addition of a trick Momo quick-release steering wheel. When we asked Fabwerx to put a value on the actual time spent fabricating the top half of the chassis and installing the sheet-metal dash and body panels, they told us $8500. If you have that kind of money, Fabwerx can do this kind of treatment to any machine. Contact them at (818) 438-0791.

On Low Fat, the stock A-arm mounting points all remain, as do the OEM CV joints. To widen the suspension, Lytle bolted on (LTI) Long Travel Industries’ Plus 5-inch suspension kit. The A-arms are made out of strong chromoly plate and feature an encapsulated Uniball attachment at the top and bottom of the spindle instead of the much smaller, stock ball joint. Up front, he used 2-inch-diameter King internal bypass shocks offering 14 inches of wheel travel. Out back, 2.5-inch Kings are used moving a full 16 inches. Stock wheel travel is only 8 inches. Five-inch-longer Summers Brothers 300m axles were fitted into the stock CV joints. Kawasaki probably has the strongest CV joints in the industry. The stock sway bar was removed too. The complete suspension kit from Long Travel Industries sells for $5000. LTI specializes in Kawasaki products, but does offer components for other brands. Contact them at (714) 783-7491.

MOTOR MODS

Surprisingly, little was done to this Kawasaki V-twin motor. What is even more surprising is that Lytle was able to get the top speed of the machine up to 72 mph; stock is 52 going downhill. To achieve this feat, modifications had to be made to the CVT and to the fuel system. The new fuel system received an ATL Racing fuel cell, which is mandatory in some race series. It holds 15 gallons of gas now and has an internal fuel pump. The fuel controller was modified by adding a Power Commander PC5. This unit basically raises the speed limiter and allows you to manipulate fuel flow depending on your specific needs. On the intake side, the throttle body was left stock and a much larger, $289 UMP airbox and filter element replaced the stocker. You can get these kits for any stock or custom project at www.rockymountainatv.com.
For the exhaust, David chose a full Muzzy’s 2-into-1 back into 2 mufflers (2-1-2) system. Along with deleting the catalytic converter and adding a couple horsepower, this system enhances the mean Kawasaki V-twin growl.

Next, the secondary clutch sheave was milled thinner by VForce John and a heavier spring was installed. Lytle tells us he will experiment more with weights and other springs when the need arises. VForce John charges $329 for the secondary clutch mod. David also cut the back half of the clutch cover off to make belt changes easier and enhance cooling. It still runs and has had success with the stock CVT drive belt. According to the DASA Racing dyno, this machine puts out 60 horsepower to the rear wheels. Those wheels are OMF’s NGX2 beadlocks, measuring 14- by 6-inch wrapped with 30×10-14 ITP Ultra Cross tires or 28×9-14 ITP Baja Cross tires depending on the race conditions. To finish off the project, a custom wrap was designed by One11ink that uses the stock Candy Apple Green color for an exact match to the stock Kawi hood and bed sides.

We really liked the finished product before the team loaded the side panels with contingency sponsor decals. But, we can’t blame them for trying to recoup some of their investment through race wins. In fact, they won the 850cc class of the Mint 400 in Low Fat’s second race. What’s even more incredible is that they finished 10th overall out of over 50 UTV entries. In its third race, the Pure 175 (www.ave racing.com), Low Fat took fourth overall. It looks like this Teryx is capable of running with 1000cc Mavericks, Wildcats and RZRs.

TEST DRIVE

Rarely does a modified machine we test feel that much different than stock. Well, this Teryx, dubbed Low Fat, is about as far from stock as you can get. First off, there are no doors on this machine. You have to climb over the side panel before sliding into the matched PRP drivers seat. When seated, you do feel much lower than sit-ting in a stock machine. You still have a clear view out of the windshield area. The PRP seats are as comfy as they come. The five-point harness is clipped in the perfect location to work without hassle. The dash is sparse but effective. Along with the stock digital gauge, there are a half-dozen switches, a VHF race radio, along with a large-screen Lowrance GPS unit.

You can rail this Teryx. It feels a little reminiscent of how well an Arctic Cat Wildcat does around high-speed flat corners. In the tight stuff, it’s equally as impressive. The power steering has no additional feedback caused by the wider suspension or heavier tires. The biggest improvement is found when you hit the bumps. Actually, it’s very hard to tell when you do hit a bump. The LTI/King shock combination works very well. You can fly over knee-deep whoops with ease. It doesn’t dance over the whoops like most high-performance UTVs; it soaks them up, with the tires sticking to the ground like a Trophy Truck. If you want to turn your Teryx into a scaled-down Trophy Truck, copy the layout of Low Fat and you will be close.