We assemble the perfect machine to take on the 12 Hours of La Tuque
Photos by Pierre Tremblay, Tina Lugan and Eli Madero
When you’re building an ATV for racing, there are numerous things that need to be taken into consideration and with the numerous bikes that I’ve built over the years I’ve figured most of them out. Last year I had the opportunity to put together a team and race the 12 Hours of La Tuque for the second year in a row and this event takes a top notch build to last. If you’ve never been to or heard of this event, It takes place every spring in Quebec, Canada and is considered one of if not the largest ATV event in the country. Participants come from all over the world to compete in this event and I knew that I had to assemble an ATV that not only handled the treacherous course conditions, but also made enough power to handle deep sand an provide a competitive top speed since the course was typically fast. The knowledge I gained from racing the previous year would help me get the right components needed to be a competitor in this event.
The platform I would start with was a new 2014 YFZ 450R, which is a unit that we’re very familiar with and felt could go the distance under the harshest of conditions. In it’s stock form, the YFZ 450R is a competitive machine in the suspension department but can definitely benefit from intake and exhaust modifications. With a longtime relationship with the group at Duncan Racing International in Santee, CA, I turned to them for an exhaust to increase the performance of our 450. Another benefit of working with Duncan Racing is that they are a U.S. distributor for Vortex CDI units, which is in our opinion the best fuel controller/ECU replacement available. They provided us with a Fat Boy 4 Exhaust System that was had a custom powder coated muffler to match the orange fenders on our unit and is also built with better quality than most exhaust systems on the market. Since this unit is also now comes with an Air Injection System from the factory to pass stringent emissions laws, we contacted Applied Racing for one of their block-off kits that eliminates the unnecessary AIS system and blocks off the port in the cylinder head. To make sure that our Yamaha was taking in as much clean air as necessary, FCI sent us one of their intake systems w/ the air box to ensure the elements wouldn’t affect our air filter.
After we installed all of the parts at Duncan Racing, it was time to throw it on their dyno to ensure that our fuel and ignition settings on the Vortex provided the optimum power we were looking for. What we found was that this combination made a solid 20% increase in horsepower and gave us an extremely linear powerband that efficiently puts power to the ground without tiring the riders. To see just how we would fare against modified units, we took our Yamaha to a WORCS race held at Sand Hollow OHV in Hurricane, UT. Before we even thought about loading it into the trailer though, we contacted Fasst Co. for a set of their awesome Flexx Bars. Whether you’re a racer or casual trailer rider, these bars are the best investment you can make for your ATV because these bars are like having an extra set of shocks on the controls for your arms.
At the sandy track that the WORCS crew put together at Sand Hollow, the YFZR got a great test and impressed us with its performance. The exhaust and intake modifications that we made gave us plenty of power to pull hard in the soft sandy course and still provided great top end speed. The bike as we had it set up would have been a contender in the A class of racing at this event, but for La Tuque we would need to make significant improvements to the suspension. While the stock shocks and a-arms are good for the average rider, we would be pushing this machine to its limits so we turned to Elka Suspension and Roll Design to get us dialed in. If you’re not familiar with these companies, they’ve worked side-by-side for years and have tested with the top riders in the country to get their products dialed in perfectly. Elka set us up with a set of their awesome Stage 5 shocks that would work in conjunction with the Roll Design a-arms that are manufactured to provide the maximum suspension travel while minimizing bump steer and are made of tough 4130 chromoly for incredible strength. In addition to the arms, Doug Roll also supplied us with one of their +1″ anti-vibe steering stems to further absorb shock through the bars and put the controls at a more comfortable position. Since we had the front end apart, we also added a set of Crown Series brake lines from Duncan Racing that are steel braided giving us a more solid feel in the lever over the stock flexible rubber lines.