PROJECT ATV: Supermoto Suzuki LT-R450
ATV’s where obviously designed to be off-road machines that can tackle all types of terrain. If you have ever ridden your quad on the asphalt or concrete then you know how horribly an ATV handles on the hard stuff. However, that doesn’t stop riders from turning their machines into road worthy warriors like this radical Supermoto Suzuki LT-R450.
Maxxis has two different compounds of the flat track tires. Ultra Soft is for dirt riding, and Medium Soft is for very hardpacked or blue-grooved dirt or pavement riding. All RazrTT tires are two-ply and sell for $90 (front) and $120 (rear). We ran the medium compound fronts and 18×10-10 rears. Sizes available include 18×6-10 fronts that weigh 7.3 pounds, 18×10-10 rears weighing 10.8 pounds, and 18×8-10s that weigh only 9.2 pounds.
For wheels, Douglas Ultimate Beadlocks 10×8 rear, 3+5 offset ($150) and 10×5 front, 3+2 offset ($130) were used. We ended up wishing we used the narrower 8-inch rears for this track. While the 10-inch-wide Razr TTs provided knobby-like traction on the slick dirt, we could never get them to break loose on the pavement. To get the fastest lap times, you do not want the rear tires to break traction; but for setup sake, it’s good to be able to find a loose point and know to work your setup away from that.
Top brands like Lonestar, DuraBlue and DWT were used, along with the primary products from Elka, Maxxis and power by Rage ATV (www.rageatvracing.com).
Inside, the motor had a pair of Yoshimura cams ($700), a JE 13.5:1 Piston ($190) and a Hinson clutch kit ($1200). The clutch was operated by a Works Connection Elite Clutch Lever ($130). On the intake side, a Velocity filter kit was installed ($90) along with a Motoworks FMI ($250) to control fuel flow. And on the exhaust side, a complete Yoshimura stainless steel exhaust system ($600) was bolted on.
A pair of Lonestar DC-4 A-arms where installed. The DC-4 A-arms are stock width but have camber and caster adjustments ($800). The stock steel swingarm was used but was powdercoated black. That swingarm was equipped with a standard-length Elka Elite shock ($1095) with high/low-speed compression and rebound adjustments. Lonestar also supplied an extra-strong Lonestar Axcalibur standard-width axle ($430).
Up front, the Lonestar DC-4 arms were outfitted with Elka 19.5-inch shocks with quad rate springs ($1570 a pair). These high-end shocks are also high/low-speed compression and rebound adjustable.
To complement this Suzuki even more, we used a +1 Tag anti-vibe steering stem ($350) with a set of Tag T-2 CR Hi bend bars ($80) clamped on top. The bars were capped off with Tag soft grips ($10). Since the stock starter and lighting dimmer switch was removed, GWC installed their own small push-button starter switch ($25) to get things fired up. On the other side of the bars, a Pro Armor kill switch ($28) was used.
The rider’s hands were protected with PowerMadd hand guards ($40), and for added control, a Precision Pro Series stabilizer ($570) was clamped to the stem.
Forward of the stem, a DuraBlue swaybar ($350) was installed to help reduce body roll in the corners. With the long-travel front end, this product was much needed. However, the Elka shocks could control roll with low-speed dampening as well.
To keep the cockpit comfortable, we recovered the stock seat with a custom cover from Quad Tech. Quad Tech also supplied the front nose piece ($65) that replaced the stock, center-mounted headlight.
The rider’s feet received protection and traction with a set of Pro Armor Pro Am nerf bars ($130) with billet pegs ($170) and heel guards ($130). Pro Armor also supplied its Pro Am bumper up front ($70). We had to modify the bumper mounting brackets slightly to make room for the DuraBlue swaybar mounts.
We took the flat track Suzuki to our local go kart/supermoto facility (www.adamsmotorsportspark.com  686-3826) for a day of tire-burning fun. It actually took a few test sessions to get the machine to turn fast lap times. The biggest improvements were made with suspension and tire setups.
To get the Elka shocks working properly, we removed almost all of the preload and lowered the ride height about 3 inches lower than a MX setup.
Some racers, mostly on the TT circuit, actually shorten the shock shaft to keep their quads lower to the ground. For supermoto, you still need as much travel as you can to float over the whoop sections and hit the larger jumps at full speed.
For comparison, we brought along our own Suzuki LT-R450. Where the stock Suzuki would slide around every corner, this machine would stick like glue. You actually had to muscle the quad around more, using every tooth on the aggressive Pro Armor footpegs.
We also wore through the soft Tag grips. You could feel seconds being shaved off through every corner. On exit, all you had to do is hold the throttle wide open and hang on. With stock tires, you have to use tons of throttle control just to get the rear tires to hook up.
Down the straights, the Maxxis Razr TT traction along with a strong motor shot our riders along like a rocket. Our lowered Elka shocks kept the front end from coming up or diving under braking. The Maxxis tires were also a huge help under braking. You could hit the binders a minimum of 10 feet later going into every corner. This further reduced our lap times. Around the half-mile track, both of our test riders were consistently 8-10 seconds faster on the Suzuki than on the stocker.
The thrill of riding a quad on a go-kart track is not as fun by yourself as it is out-braking two other quads at a time during a race. Give it a try if you can.
Supermoto racing is catching on slowly with the larger events being held at Primm Nevada’s Stateline Challenge (www.statelinechallenge.com) and around Colorado in the 5280 series (www.supermoto5280.com) and in the Pacific Northwest at www.nasmoto.com events.
If you plan on racing supermoto, there are a few things you should know before heading to the track. Racing on asphalt has a different set of requirements. Nic Granlund is an expert on the subject, having won multiple championships, and he now operates a supermoto riding school in Las Vegas, Nevada.
According to Granlund, “some organizations require ATVs to have a radiator overflow bottle without an outlet, and the radiator fluids must not contain antifreeze because it is very slippery if it spills and comes between asphalt and rubber tires.”
Furthermore, all drain plugs for engine oil and coolant may have to be safety-wired or secured with silicon so they do not fall out and drop fluids on the already slick track.”
Nic Granlund gives private or group lessons starting at $500 per day. You can contact him at (702) 375-1837 or by e-mailing him at [email protected]
Most racers use standard motocross gear for supermoto competition. However, you can find better protection and cut down on wind resistance with proper supermoto attire. For this test, our rider was using an Alpinestars full S-1 suit ($1000), S-1 gloves ($150) and Tech 7 supermoto boots ($380). Contact www.alpinestars.com.
The thick, leather gear will help dampen a fall and allow you to slide on asphalt and limit a road rash injury. For a helmet, we used a full-face Arai Quantum 2 ($580) street bike helmet. This type of helmet, without a visor, has very little wind drag, which is something you might get on a high-speed supermoto circuit. To block the sun, we used a dark shield. Tear-offs are also available for full-face helmets. Contact www.araiamericas.com.