YFZ450R Project Quad by Golden West Cycle
We think Journey was on to something with their 1980 hit “Any Way You Want It.” The lyrics above describe the YFZ perfectly, as the YFZ450R is one of the most adaptable ATVs of all time. We told Golden West Cycle that we wanted a quad we could ride anywhere—tracks, trails, dunes or even be able to race it—and they delivered.
Starting off with a 2011 YFZ450R Special Edition, we focused on tuning the handling to perfection and left the motor relatively stock to ensure reliability. The YFZ450R rolls off the showroom floor with long A-arms and 9.8 inches of front travel, with a cast-aluminum swingarm supplying 11 inches of rear travel. Those numbers are nothing to be ashamed about, and, in fact, the stock YFZ-R has won many Dirt Wheels accolades for its handling and suspension setup. The five-valve DOHC motor makes potent power in stock trim, with a super-silent exhaust note that doesn’t do much for audible pleasure. Since we had our base machine ready, Golden West Cycle set off to build our dream YFZ.
Golden West sourced a set of Houser’s long-travel Slicast Pro Series A-arms, which retail for $949.99 a set. The arms widen the YFZ by 0.5 inches per side, while increasing suspension travel and arm strength. The 4130 chromoly arms offer separate caster and camber adjustability, as well as greaseable needle-bearing joints to decrease friction and increase longevity. We ordered them up in Candy Red powdercoat to match the rest of the YFZ. Fox Float Evol shocks were matched up to the set with a Podium X DSC shock in the rear and bolted up to the stock swingarm and linkage.
The Fox Float shocks use no springs; instead, a sealed, adjustable air chamber acts as the main preload/spring-rate adjustment. A small hand pump is supplied with the shocks to adjust them using a regular Schrader valve, just like a tire. Billet aluminum caps cover the valves to keep dirt and grime out. The Evol chamber is a smaller, bump-stop-like cartridge that is made to run at high pressure, adding extra bottoming resistance as the shocks compress, just like a hydraulic bump stop on an off-road truck. All three Fox shocks are preload, rebound and dual-speed compression adjustable, but the rear Podium X shock uses a coil spring, like a normal shock. Adjustments to the Fox shocks are easy, and the plush feel of the fronts has many riders raving about the newer technology. The front shocks are top of the line and come with a big price tag—at $1349.99 a set, they come in as Fox’s most expensive ATV shock. The Podium X dual-speed adjustable shock retails for $899.99.
POWER AND PREP
We left the motor stock, but bolted on a Motoworks SR-4 G2 exhaust system in stainless/aluminum trim that set us back $499.99. We didn’t run a fuel tuner with the pipe when we had the airbox in stock form, but after adding a Velocity filter, we used a Motoworks FMI tuner to get it running right. Aside from looking great, the Motoworks system is the same one run by five-time Quad-X champ Dustin Nelson, so you know it makes good power. A Velocity filter kit rounded out the power increase, offering more filtration surface area and flow than the stock foam filter. For a clutch, we used a Hinson complete clutch kit, including cover, clutch plate, steel separator plate, spring basket, inner hub and pressure plate. The whole kit is $1099.99, and while very costly, it won’t leave you stranded on race day. The exhaust and intake provided a nice power bump over stock without sacrificing power anywhere, allowing us to rev the 450 like a smaller motor and keep power singing in the dunes during our photo shoot. It isn’t the fastest 450 we’ve ridden by any means, but it makes more than enough power to embarrass quite a few machines during hard rides.
VISUAL CUES AND COMFORT
The rest of the machine underwent a small facelift, including Houser Racing’s signature Pro Bounce-suspended nerf bars, which Dirt Wheels tested in the December 2011 issue. They offer shock absorption and a ton of foot room, making the YFZ easy to hang on to. A taller plus-one anti-vibe stem from Houser Racing brought our Renthal Twin Wall bars up higher, opening up the cockpit of the rather small YFZ. Out back, a Houser EZ-Lift rear grab bar in Candy Red powdercoat provides function and form while giving the rider more leverage to lift the back of the 400-plus-pound ATV.
Golden West laid out their new 2012 graphics kit on our YFZ, which looks great and features durable, thick vinyl. A QuadTech seat with a gripper cover keeps the rider in the saddle, while Streamline brake lines add a lever feel and more visual goodness. Lastly, an LSR Pro Series rear axle widens the YFZ to match the Houser front end while providing more strength for big jumps and hard landings.
NOW FOR THE FUN PART
All this money sunk into an already-expensive machine may sound like overkill, but we see proud owners of expensive machines every time we go out to test. In this build, the focus wasn’t to keep costs down, but rather to build a competent all-around basher that will last through the trials we put it up against. We spent a lot of time dialing in the suspension setup.
For the shoot, we hauled the YFZ up to Pismo Beach, north of Santa Barbara, California, for some soft-terrain testing and suspension tuning. Once we had the shocks dialed, we set out for numerous hard rides that left other machines steaming and going into limp mode. The Golden West YFZ handled like a dream, with just enough body roll in the front to set the tires and get traction for the corners. A quick fan of the clutch and a heaping stab of the throttle got the Goldspeed DWT tires spinning in the sand, which we absolutely loved for all-terrain riding. The rear knobs have a paddle-like appearance, which functions very well in the sand, allowing us to pull the tallest hills while still sliding the back end around with ease.
The power of this particular YFZ was very top-end-oriented and made it a blast to ride fast. Revving the five-valve mill to the brim of its rpm ceiling produced very quick drag runs and speedy dune rides, and half the riders we were with were convinced it was a built motor. It’s not; the suspension is just so well tuned that you can leave the throttle on much longer than you would on a stock machine. It floats over whoops like they aren’t even there, and the bottoming resistance provided by the Fox shocks is very impressive. Over big jumps, hard G-outs and abrupt dune faces, we didn’t have any trouble keeping the YFZ in shape even at warp speed, which is just what we envisioned when we were drafting up ideas for the build.
The project YFZ was a success, and we have been putting a lot of seat time on it since it was finished. The suspension makes it fun to ride anywhere, soaking up rough trail junk while providing more than enough bottoming resistance for track use and racing. The extra travel from the Houser arms soaks up big hits, and the shock tuning made this one of the best-handling quads we have ever ridden. Golden West has parts for nearly every quad made, and you don’t have to own a YFZ to make it stellar. Give them a call at (800) 383-6776 to place an order for your parts today!
PARTS AND PRICES
Exhaust: Motoworks SR-4 G2 $499.99
Clutch: Hinson Complete $1099.99
Filter: Velocity Filter Kit $99.99
Intake: Motoworks FMI $269.99
A-Arms: Houser Pro Series with Slicast
Front shocks: Fox Evol Float Gen.2 $1349.99
Rear shock: Fox Podium-X DSC $899.99
Axle: LSR Pro Series $399.99
Nerf bars: Houser Pro-Bounce $429.99
Stem: Houser +1 with Anti-vibe $309.99
Grab bar: Houser EZ-Lift $79.99
Bars: Renthal Twinwall $119.99
Grips: Renthal Kevlar $19.99
Seat: QuadTech $179.99
Graphics kit: GWC Special-Edition Red $199.99
Bumper: Pro Armor Pro MX Bumper $109.99
Front brake lines: Streamline $69.99
Rear brake line: Streamline $29.99
Levers: ASV Propack $149.99
Handguards: Powermadd Power-X $29.99
Tank: IMS Desert Tank $239.99
Skid plate: Pro Amor Pro Series $114.99
Wheels: DWT WORCS
Front tires: DWT XCF 21-7-10 6-Ply $95.99
Rear tires: DWT XCR 20-11-9 6-Ply $109.99
Chain: Tsubaki Omega Chain $89.99
Motor oil: Maxima Premium-4 10W40 $6.99/quart
Brake fluid: Maxima Hi-Temp Dot 4 $7.99
Coolant: Maxima Coolanol $12.99
Chainlube: Maxima Chain Guard $8.99
GOLDEN WEST CYCLE (800) 383-6776, www.goldenwestcycle.com
HOUSER RACING (877) 6-GO FAST, www.houser-racing.com
FOX SHOCKS (800) FOX SHOX, www.foxracingshox.com
MOTOWORKS (951) 587-9222, www.motoworks.com
VELOCITY FILTERS www.velocityfilters.com
LONESTAR RACING (800) 4-LSRACE, www.lsracing.com
RENTAL (877) 736-8425, www.renthal.com
DWT TIRE & WHEEL (760) 758-5560, www.dwtracing.com
PRO ARMOR (888) 312-7667, www.proarmor.com
QUADTECH (949) 859-7823, www.quadtech-atv.com
STREAMLINE (909) 987-4213, www.streamlinebrakes.com
ASV LEVERS (714) 861-1400, www.asvinventions.com
POWERMADD (800) 435-6881, www.powermadd.com
IMS PRODUCTS (800) 237-9906, www.imsproducts.com
MAXIMA (800) 345-8761, www.maximausa.com