Travis Work put this Honda through its paces and tested the bottoming resistance of the TBT Racing shock upgrades.


There is no doubt that we have had many love affairs with the Honda TRX450R in the years since its release in 2004. That isn’t to say we don’t have a passion for other sport quads, but the legendary Honda is easy to find, cheap to build and has proven reliable through the years. As easy as a Honda TRX may be to find, finding one like Jay Young’s TRX450R of Team True Racing is far from easy. He got lucky with his Honda. It spent life in a crate from its creation in 2005 until early 2017. Jay got the pleasure of unboxing the machine. Jay loves to race in the harsh deserts of Southern California, and he competes in a very thrifty way. This build features quality parts that are easy on the wallet but get you out riding and racing with more reliability, control and comfort.

The Rad Custom Graphics were designed specifically for Jay Young’s budget desert build, and they look pretty killer.



We get to ride a lot of brand-new machines here at Dirt Wheels, but getting to uncrate a brand-new sport quad from back in the day is a feeling we don’t get often. Once Jay put the quad together, he didn’t want to heavily modify it for racing, but he upgraded a few things to protect that machine and himself. The first thing was a full-aluminum belly skid plate from Moose Racing to protect the frame, followed by an aluminum swingarm skid plate to protect the chain, sprocket and rotor from the rocks and trail debris he races through. Next, a set of Moose aluminum A-arm skid plates were bolted on for more protection, along with a poly front bumper.

The Flexx bar from Fasst Company lessens the vibration from the engine and helps soak up hard hits through the suspension.


Nerf bars aren’t always a common purchase for desert racers because they can get hung up on rocks easily, but Young races in a series that requires them. He went to Rocky Mountain ATV/MC for their inexpensive aluminum Pro Peg nerf bars with built-in heel guards. The nerfs protect Jay and his Honda from other riders’ wheels. They can also help the quad deflect off of trees and larger rocks.

A Moose Racing full underbelly skid plate protects the Honda’s frame from damage, and an aluminum swingarm skid plate was added as well.



A stock Honda TRX450R is potent in the power department, but racers always want more. The stock Honda header is fine unless you want to get some internal engine work done, so Young purchased a slip-on muffler from Yoshimura. Yosh offers the TRC slip-on exhaust that was installed on the quad, but they do have a full system available as well.

The stock shocks got a re-valve and a new dual-rate spring setup that is specific to Jay’s weight and riding style to help him go faster in the desert.


A reusable Uni air filter replaced the stock filter, and Jay went to TBT Racing for suspension and carburetor work. Now that the engine was allowed to breathe and expel more freely, upgrades in the handling department were called for.


A stock Honda TRX450R is a sporty and racing-inspired ATV that handles well. However, when engaged in racing 70–140-mile desert races with no chance to take a break aside from quick pit stops, you want a machine that is more comfortable to ride and easier to control in the environment you use it in. The deserts of Southern California are dry, have rocks, mountains, bushes and boulders scattered everywhere. The first change was to a Fasst Company Flexx handlebar that uses a hinge system with elastomers to create the feeling of having extra suspension. The elastomers soften the vibration of the engine and suspension, which lets you endure riding in the rough easier and longer with less fatigue. A set of Moose Racing Stealth grips and grip doughnuts were also mounted.

Fasst Company’s Flexx handlebar lessens vibration and acts like a small suspension system for your arms. Moose Stealth grips and grip doughnuts were used.


The stock shocks on the Honda TRX450R are compression, rebound and preload adjustable. Compared to the newer Yamaha YFZ450R and Suzuki LT450R, the suspension system is considered short travel. That means the shocks in the front of the Honda can’t handle rough terrain and higher speeds as well as the other machines without some help. Jay sent his quad off to TBT Racing to get all three shocks re-valved and re-sprung. The front shocks now have a dual-rate spring setup that helps them handle smaller chop easier and makes them more resistant to bottoming. When an ATV comes from the factory, the shocks have a general setup that you can adjust in certain parameters, but they are never going to be right for you unless you fit in that genre. It is always a good idea to get your suspension professionally set up to your weight and riding style.

A Yoshimura TRC slip-on exhaust was mounted to the Honda, along with a Uni air filter and a jet kit from TBT Racing to pull more power from the engine.


Finally, Jay Young needed some tread and rims for his Honda that could stand up to the harshness of desert racing. He picked up a set of Maxxis RAZR2 tires in 23×7-10 front and 22×11-9 rear. The stock tires are 21 inches tall in the front and 20 inches tall in the rear. It is better to utilize bigger tires in the desert due to rocks. The taller size allows the tire to roll easier over objects and even provides a bit more cushion when compared with smaller diameter tires. The Maxxis RAZR2 tires have a deeper tread depth than the previous RAZR model and are six-ply-rated so they stand up to punctures well. The new tires were mounted to a set of reinforced wheels that Young had picked up from a fellow quad racer.


The suspension modifications are the first, very noticeable difference you feel on Jay Young’s budget desert racing Honda TRX450R. TBT Racing’s dual-rate setup helped the quad tackle chop better and take the abuse of hard hits easier as well. The Flexx bars complemented the shock upgrades by lessening the vibration from the suspension and engine. The Tusk nerf bars provided more foot traction than the stock footpegs and added a feeling of safety. The Maxxis RAZR2 tires felt a bit balloon-like compared to moto tires, but they track well, hook up in the driest of conditions, and roll over rocks and chop well.

In the power department, the combination of the Yoshimura slip-on exhaust, better-breathing Uni air filter and carburetor mods by TBT Racing really breathed some life into the plugged-up engine. Throttle response was crisp with added power to the bottom end, but the strongest increase is to the midrange with a little extra get-up-and-go up top. Fortunately, the Moose Racing skid plates were installed to take the extra abuse of higher speeds through the desert rocks.

The taller Maxxis RAZR2 tires make turning the quad a little more difficult over stock, but they roll over terrain easier and smoother.



The Honda TRX450R is one of the easiest sport ATVs to modify and maintain. Riders and racers enjoy the simplicity of the TRX. There are only a few individuals who get to experience the joy of taking a kick-start 450R from its crate at this day and age. Jay Young added only what he felt was necessary to make the quad handle better and have a bit more power to have fun with. This budget build is one for the books!


Fasst Company:, 877-306-1801
Flexx handlebar/14-degree bend $359.99

RAZR2 23×7-10 front tires $163.00
RAZR 22×11-9 rear tires $153.00

Moose Racing:
A-arm guards $122.95
Full skid plate $153.95
Swingarm skid plate $184.95
Front bumper $99.95
Chain slider front $39.95
Chain slider rear $29.95
Case saver $42.95
Stealth grips $7.95
Grip doughnuts $1.95

Rad Custom Graphics:, 760-677-9240
Custom kit $250

Rocky Mountain ATV/MC:, 800-336-5437
Tusk Pro Peg nerf bars $179.99

TBT Racing:, 951-707-7837
Front shock re-valve $375 pair
Re-spring $375 pair
Fluid $15
Rear shock re-valve $225
Re-spring $130
Fluid $15
Jet and needle kit installed $175

TRC slip-on exhaust $375

Uni Filter:, 714-535-6933
Reusable foam air filter $34.95

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