Honda 450R Mods: Desert Racing Tips & Parts

Features, Performance, Ride Technique — on March 31, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Breaking down sucks. If you’re in the middle of a hot desert, it can be deadly. If you’re gunning for the championship in a major desert racing series and your quad falls apart, you might wish you were dead.
Ed Teixeira (Teixeira Tech) knows all about this stuff. And he knows how to conquer it. With a win at the 2007 Vegas to Reno event, Teixeira and teammate Todd Hunter nailed down the Expert Class title in the 2007 Best in the Desert Series (Nevada and Arizona).
The basic quad is a ‘05 Honda 450, with CT Racing engine mods, Teixeira Tech A-arms and suspension components, Fox shocks and chassis armor. None of the mods are revolutionary but they are reliable and add performance. Plus, it’s all the little details that pull together the package.
In building a bulletproof quad, you first need to determine how far you want to take it. Level One includes mandatory equipment that even a beginning long-distance ATVer — recreational or racer — needs. Level Two is for the guy who’s getting more serious about it. Level Three includes the additional items needed to turn a quad into an armored vehicle. A very fast, pro-level armored vehicle. Let’s let Teixeira elaborate.

LEVEL ONE
Engine. First, I run a ‘05 TRX because the motor that year and ‘04 had an external oil cooler. Heat is always your enemy, particularly in the desert and the external cooler improves cooling. Also, I’ve heard that the earlier motors had stronger trannies. We have close to 1,000 miles on our stock tranny and no problems.
Next, even at Level One, it’s important to get more power. I run CT Racing’s Sonic exhaust, which makes more power at every rpm range and is lighter than stock. For freer breathing, we also run a Uni foam air filter for the ‘06 and later-model TRXs. Those filters are almost twice the size of those for the earlier models and foam offers the best protection against fine dust and dirt. To adapt the ‘06 filter to my Honda, we run my Teixeira Tech filter adapter. To go the long distances, we run an IMS 3.7-gallon tank.
Chassis. In hard desert racing like Baja, I’ve heard of frames starting to fail after only 500 miles. Regardless of where you race, the chassis may crack during the first season. My gusset kit addresses 36 different spots with welded-in plates and adds just a couple of pounds.
Next, protect the quad’s underside. Pro Armor parts protect the frame and the exposed oil lines. Its swingarm plate is one of the thickest in the industry.
The final desert riding mod is durable, puncture-resistant tires. Maxxis six-ply Razr 2 fronts (23 x 7-10) are more expensive than the standard Razr, but they steer and brake well and are worth it. The standard rear Razr (22 x 11-9) offer good traction and braking control, plus it has proven to be puncture resistant. Even without Tire Balls, we had only one flat in a year.

LEVEL TWO
Engine. So, now you’re hooked on riding long distances and have probably raced, too! It’s time to port the cylinder head for increased power. If you have an earlier-model 450R, switch to a 13.1:1 Wiseco high-compression piston, which supplies more torque. For improved throttle response and more mid-range and top-end response, install a cam. We added a Stage 2 Hot Cams.
With more power, it’s time to get serious about the chassis and suspension. Up front are my DZ A-arms, which offer more ground clearance than stock, and add much more stability from additional width (+ 2.5”) and length (+3/4” forward). By moving the front wheels forward, the wheelbase is longer and the rear has more weight bias, which lightens the front end for whoops.
Up front, I run Float X Evols and, in back, Podium X. All three shocks have high- and low-speed compression and rebound adjustment and supply a foot of wheel travel. My Teixeira 450R rear linkage eliminates Honda’s rear-end bucking and produces progressive suspension action. The linkage allows the use of Fox’s 18-inch long shock and offers more ground clearance for a long shock than some of the competitors.
To increase the wheelbase even more, I run a swingarm for the later model Hondas, which adds an additional 5/8 inch. To widen the stance in back, I run a RPM axle.
For a more positive braking feel (and to accommodate the longer A-arms), I use Galfer steel-braided brake lines. They’re important at this stage, and even more so at Level Three, where the “race-ready weight” of the quad is 405 pounds.
Our Honda has Trail Tech’s HID SCMR16 lights. They’re lightweight and small, but put out an unbelievable amount of light.

LEVEL THREE
Engine. Now you’re a really serious long-distance rider. Level Three is about building a pure desert race machine. Most of the engine mods for this level are intake related. Honda’s CRF450R carb (from the dirt bike) is highly recommended for use on the earlier model 450R quads. With better airflow, Fuel Custom’s Intake System increases torque and peak horsepower, plus it cleans up the looks of the intake tract.
Because the engine is now producing more torque, I add a lighter Trail Tech flywheel, which lets the motor rev quicker. It’s important for a quad with this much armor.
At the 2007 Vegas to Reno race, many racers DNF’d due to overheating. Our oversized Fluidyne radiator had no overheating issues. The radiator has a much greater coolant capacity and more cooling fins than the stocker.

Test Ride & Input
Considering that Ed’s quad is pretty heavy and it’s not set up for MX, it’s surprisingly agile and full of torque. The combination of the CT exhaust and Fuel Custom’s intake makes for a very healthy-sounding Honda. First gear is tall, but the engine puts out enough torque to easily lug it around tighter woods sections. And it gets up to top speed quicker than you’d expect. We first recorded 81.2 mph and noticed some vibration. After taking the flat sealant out of the rear tires, the vibration was gone and the top speed jumped up to 85.1. The little things often make a big difference!
Cornering is not a big priority for desert racing but lots of suspension travel is. Yes, the quad feels a little top heavy in turns, but by hanging off the side a little it’s easy to compensate. Steering is precise and quick. The slight wandering I noticed at top speed on pavement was probably eliminated later when Ed added 1.5 degrees more caster up front for his racing partner. Ed, also an MXer, says it’s still quick enough for him, though.
A long wheelbase and harder compound tires are important for desert racing, but there are some trade-offs. In loose gravel the rear end comes around too easily. But, again, it’s all about stability at speed and going the distance.
Another trade-off is the additional weight, which you feel when jumping. But suspension action is incredible, perfect for my 165 pounds. It’s extremely plush, yet also soaks up sharp-edged whoops like you wouldn’t believe, giving the rider the confidence to push harder. The wider stance from Teixeira’s quality arms and the RPM axle also bolster confidence.
For me, the ergos are perfect. Shifting and clutch action are light and smooth. I’m a thumb throttle advocate, but for wide-open places like a dry lake bed, Pikes Peak and Africa, I’m happier with a twist. Ed says that on smooth terrain, it’s possible to switch over, on the fly, with the Dual Gasser throttle!
The pegs are very roomy and secure, but I don’t even want to think about getting raked over those sharp teeth. Braking power, even with all the weight underneath you, is progressive and positive. After just one ride on this machine, I started thinking how much fun it would be to get back into desert racing.

Teixeira Tech/CT Racing Long-distance Honda 450R
Riders: Ed Teixeira, Todd Hunter
Titles/best finishes: Team: ’07 Vegas to Reno, ’07 Best in the Desert
Expert Class. Ed: ’03 Best in the Desert, ’04 VORRA. Todd: ’00 Best in the Desert, ’06 Terrible Town 250 Ironman class, ’06 +40 WORCS Adelanto GP.
Sponsors: CT Racing, Cardio Stack, Carmichael Honda, DWT, Dirt Tricks (Ironman Sprockets), Fluidyne, Fox Shox, Fuel Customs, F2 Racing, Galfer, Graves Motorsports, Hardkor, Hinson, IMS, Klotz, Maier, Maxxis, Moose, Oury Grip, Precision-RP, Pro Armor, RPM, Regina, SCR Graphics, Scott, Sunoco Race Fuels, Teixeira Tech Racing, Terry Cable, Tire Balls, Trail Tech, T&M Lawn Maintenance, Wiseco, Uni, Universal.

MACHINE
Quad: 2005 Honda TRX450R

ENGINE
Type: ’05 Honda TRX450R
Porting: CT Racing
Piston: Wiseco 13:1
Ignition: Trail Tech
Flywheel: Trail Tech
Valves/cam: Stock/Hot Cams
Additional motor mods: F2 Racing Magnetizer Timing Plug & Oil fill plug
Carburetor: Honda CRF 450R with stock jetting
Air filter: UNI
Air intake tube: Fuel Customs with transition ring
Exhaust: CT Racing Sonic
Radiator: Fluidyne

DRIVE SYSTEM
Clutch cover: Hinson
Chain: Regina
Sprocket: Dirt Tricks
Ironman Sprockets
Gearing f/r: 14/38

FRONT END
A-arms & width: Teixeira +2.5” wider + 3/4” forward
Front shocks/wheel travel: Fox Evols/12”
Steering stem: Teixeira Anti-vibe +2” up and forward
Bar Clamps: Teixeira Adjustable
Steering stabilizer: Precision-RP

REAR END
Swingarm/length: Stock ’08 TRX
Linkage: Teixeira Tech
Rear shock/wheel travel: Fox Podium/12”
Axle/axle width/axle carrier: RPM Dominator II/+4”/stock

TIRES/WHEELS/HUBS
Tires f/r: Maxxis Razr 2/Razr
Tire sizes f/r: 23 x 7-10/22 x 11-9
Wheels: DWT Shamrock Beadlocks
Front hubs: Hardkor Engineering

BRAKES
Pads: Galfer
Rotors: Galfer wave
Brake lines & fluid: Galfer

HANDLEBARS/CONTROLS
Handlebars: Universal CR High
Handguards: PowerMadd
Throttle: Terry Cable Dual Gasser
Clutch lever: Universal
Cables: Terry Cable
Grips: Oury

DETAILS
Lighting: Trail Tech SCMR16, with Teixeira quick mount bracket
Front bumper, grab bar, skid plates: Pro Armor
Seat cover: Graves Motorsports
Tank: IMS 3.7 gal.
Plastic: Maier trimmed by Teixeira
Footpegs/location: Pro Armor PowerGrip/down 1” back 1”
Special setups: Tools, parts pack mounted on grab bar
Contact: Teixeira Racing, (209) 833-9160; www.teixeiratech.com

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