UTV PROJECT: CT RACING HONDA TALON 1000R

Finding more fun meeting the nicest people By Allen Knowles and the Dirt Wheels staff Photos by Pat Carrigan

Allen Knowles and his co-pilot wife, Roxanne, built a Honda Talon 1000R that looks great and can handle all types of off-roading. We had a blast in the dunes with it.

When you own a performance company, it is handy to have a personality that won’t let you leave any piece of machinery alone. Allen Knowles of CT Racing is the king of that personality type. His projects look good, but looks are never the major vision. He finds things that he doesn’t like or features missing that he thinks are vital, and he makes the changes to suit the UTV outings that he and his wife and co-adventurer, Roxanne, enjoy.

Allen has spent thousands of miles on all sorts of Honda machinery. We were not surprised to find him running around in the sand in a modified Honda Talon 1000R. We’ve been impressed with his builds in the past, and we were curious to see where his fertile mind had taken the Talon. Like all his builds, it looked good, ran better and was ready for adventures at speed.

THE CAGE

Long Travel Industries (LTI) is known for building performance cages, along with complete race cars and suspension components. Allen sketched what he wanted for this do-everything car. Mostly, it’s a destination runner, along with dune use and some racecourse pre-running.

LTI had not done a Talon cage at the time. They really knocked it out of the park with the way they built the spare-tire carrier into the cage, as well as managing the detailing, fit and finish of the cage. LTI builds cages one at a time. You get exactly what you want, but it takes longer than just grabbing one off the shelf. Allen wanted all mounts built onto the cage, so he didn’t have clamp-on brackets hanging everywhere. For example, the side mirrors are mounted to a bar inside welded-on protective loops.

A boss was welded on to hang the center mirror. Two whip tabs were on the list, along with a mount for the Rugged Radios antenna. If you like the stock side nets, they can put a boss in the cage to re-mount them. LTI also built a spectacular pre-runner-style front bumper with a skid plate built in and mounts for two 12-inch LED light bars. Give LTI all the bolt-on equipment you want bracketed so everything fits like a glove.

Skat Trak came up with a tire and wheel combination that let the Talon have fun in corners yet still be effective in the sand. When you buy the tires and wheels together, they come mounted.

LIGHTING

Allen went with lights from Lazer Star. It offers lighting solutions at affordable prices. The quality control is solid. Lazer Star has rocker switches if you want, but they also offer switch pads, so you can control all your lights on a small pad. They offer wiring kits with everything you need to do it right.

On top, Allen mounted a 40-inch Dominator light bar with spotlights in the center and floods on the outside for good, up-close and distance lighting. For the bumper, he ran two Dominator 12-inch bars. The lower bar is a flood pattern and the upper is a spot. That combination helps with acceleration off corners. With just the 40-inch light bar, the sky is lit up perfectly under hard acceleration. You can’t see anything ahead of you.

CT recommends having rear-facing amber lights to cut through dust for safety. Allen runs two amber lights to help cars behind you identify who they are following. Lazer Star also offer a nice chase light bar. The chase light offers two rear ambers, brake lights and a center white flood in a 20-inch bar. The white flood lights up the back of the car if you need to access the cargo at night, while the ambers come on when the car is on. The white light is on a switch.

CT aims the lower front bar down to let you see when you crest a hill. It also helps under hard acceleration when all the other lights are pointed up into the stars.

Matching the LTI cage and the All Motor Graphics to the stock suspension arms makes for a great-looking machine. The Skat Trak wheels are light and strong for sand use.

TIRES AND WHEELS

Skat Trak set CT up with 12-paddle Talons for the rear and Mohawk fronts on Skat Trak light cast wheels. Beadlocks are needlessly heavy for paddles and slow down the car. Order together and they come mounted and ready to go. There is enough front tire to keep the car going in the intended direction, and the rears just hook the car up to get it going. The paddles are just loose enough to get the car to drift. If you over-paddle, it slows the car down on the top end and hooks it up so much that it doesn’t turn well. Talk to the folks at Skat Trak, and they will dial in your setup. For other driving, he runs OMF beadlock wheels and GBC tires.

When the Talon gets on the throttle, it sounds great going gear to gear. It sounds like a big-bore adventure motorcycle, and the acceleration is satisfyingly quick.

CLEAN AIR

S&B has had the Particle Separator out for a few years now. It’s a no-brainer for an off-road UTV application. The Particle Separator is an added air inlet, typically mounted to the roll cage. S&B Filters claims it keeps 85 percent of the dirt from ever getting to the filter. We’ve seen filters look like a dust bomb after 200 miles. After installing the SB, they look brand new at 600 miles. CT’s dyno testing has shown no loss of power with the SB intake. Buy one if you drive in the dust.

PEOPLE BREATHE, TOO

About two years ago S&B released the Helmet Separator. CT figured if it’s good enough for the motor, it’s good enough for people. It comes with two hoses and all the hardware needed to hook it up. It can mount wherever convenient that lets the hoses easily reach the driver and co-driver.

It’s nice to breathe clean air when you’re traveling in a pack. You need a helmet with a race-air-type air fitting, or you can buy an add-on helmet air inlet to install in your helmet.

The graphics package was designed by Roxanne from CT Racing. All Motor Graphics e-mail drafts of your graphics, and you can make changes and then get updates until you get it the way you want it. This graphics kit comes pre-cut for the body panels. A graphics kit is thicker material than a wrap, so it is much easier to install. Installing a wrap takes expertise, but the wrap can completely cover the complete body panel.

The LTI race cage and front bumper look great together. Since it is a custom cage, brackets can be included for all aftermarket additions. The brackets are part of the cage to eliminate clamps.

MAKING POWER

A Power Vision Tuner from Dynojet added 7 rear-wheel horsepower. The Power Vision raises the speed limiter to 95 mph and gives 300 more rpm. It comes with several maps and more can be acquired. It lists maps for an all-stock unit or with an exhaust and so forth. You just send what is closest to your build.

The re-flash stays in the ECU. Also, a stock tune is stored in the Power Vision, so you can always send it back to stock. The Power Vision can be mounted to the dash to give you accurate rpm, temperature, EGT, air-fuel ratio and to use as a diagnostic tool.

EXHAUST

CT hooked up a Trinity slip-on exhaust. Combined with the Power Vision, it added 10 horsepower. The Trinity exhaust has a nice bracket system for installation and is very straightforward. It was not significantly louder and did offer a throatier exhaust note. More power is always a good thing!

We thought the LTI cage was so clever integrating the spare-tire carrier. It is carried low for handling and doesn’t obstruct the rear view from the in-car mirror.

SICK-STICK LIGHTS 

Sick-Stick has some amazing 4-foot whip lights. They come with a remote that gives you a choice of 20 different light colors, 19 different running patterns, adjustable speed, and adjustable brightness all at a touch of a button on your remote. These VooDoo Sick-Stick whips have a fiberglass pole wrapped with the brightest LEDs on the market. It is nice to be able to set colors differently to distinguish different cars you may be following at night. Just one important tip: make sure you lower them before you drive into an enclosed trailer!

MAINTENANCE

Maintain your side-by-side. We drive aggressively in a hostile engine environment. Just because it has a steering wheel does not mean it should be maintained like your car. Consider it more like a dirt bike. CT never goes more than 500 miles between oil changes, and 300 miles is a more common service interval. CT uses Maxima service kits that include synthetic oil and an oil filter packaged together.

The Sick-Stick whips are bright and reliable with a multitude of control options. They are 4 feet tall. Don’t forget to release them when clearance is low.

CONCLUSION

All up, we enjoyed the Talon in the sand. The notoriously stiff stock suspension works fine in the dunes. We set the front shocks on position one and the rears on position two. It is great to hear the Honda twin grabbing gears. We must admit that it sounds much better than CVT cars.

The car looks great, is safer and is more fun to drive. For normal desert driving, we would like some suspension upgrades; otherwise, this Talon is one we’d be happy to own.

PARTS AND SERVICES

ALL MOTOR GRAPHICS: (951)-200-4507, www.allmotorgraphics.biz

DYNOJET RESEARCH: (800) 992-4993, www.dynojet.com

FACTORY UTV: (916) 383-2730, www.factoryutv.net

GBC MOTORSPORTS: www.gbcmotorsports.com

LAZER STAR: (800) 624-6234, www.lazerstarlights.com

LONG TRAVEL INDUSTRIES: (714) 783-7491, www.longtravelindustries.com

MAXIMA USA: www.maximausa.com

MODQUAD RACING: www.modquad.com

OMF PERFORMANCE WHEELS: (951) 354-8272, www.omfperformance.com

S&B FILTERS: (800) 358-2639, www.sbfilters.com

SICK-STICK: (916) 804-0544, www.sick-stick.com

SKAT-TRAK USA: (909) 795-2505, www.skat-trak.com

TRINITY RACING: (800) 310-5519, www.trinityracing.com

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