The Smartest Money To Spend On Your ATV-Feb’00

Sometimes, you know exactly what you want to upgrade on your ATV. Other times, you might have a few extra bucks to spend and wonder, “What’s the best way to spend that hard-earned cash on my zooter?” If you’re asking that question right now, then you’re reading the right story.

First we’ll look at the smartest money you can spend on a sport or high-performance ATV. We’ll talk in general terms, then we’ll look specifically at the most popular models. Finally, we’ll look at utility, sport/utility and youth models.

For the lowdown on quad mods, we talked with three of the top sources in the industry: Duncan Racing, Mike Penland and Trinity Racing for the performance end of the spectrum, and Fay Myers Motorcycle World for the remaining machines. Get ready to spend your money wisely!

Two-strokes. On virtually any two-stroke, you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck with an aftermarket pipe?typically a 10 to 15 percent gain (versus a 1 to 2 percent gain with aftermarket reeds, for example). A great port job and a mediocre pipe will give you only mediocre performance. On the other hand, a great pipe and mediocre porting will still give you a decent performance gain.

Foam filters work well to filter the air, but virtually all the top motor tuners agree that you’ll get better flow with a gauze-type filter like the K&N. On the flip side, some people feel that gauze doesn’t filter as effectively as properly oiled foam. So, what you gain in performance with gauze, you could loose in repair bills.

Four-strokes. Not all four-stroke pipes produce a significant increase in power and some are actually slower than stock. However, a good four-stroke pipe is still an excellent way to make more power. Keep in mind that, with any aftermarket pipe for either a two- or four-stroke, you’ll want to change the jetting and, if possible, modify the airbox for better airflow. After a pipe, the next best performance gain on a four-stroke is a hotter cam and a high-compression piston.

Reliability/longevity. All the performance gains in the world mean nothing if you break down. So, spend a few bucks to insure longevity on any ATV, stock or modified. Not only should you keep your air filter clean, you should replace it at least once a year. Foam filters eventually dry out, rot or tear and, on a gauze filter, the pleats bend and puncture the gauze.

Don’t skimp on vital fluids for your ATV. Use only high-quality, name-brand fuels and oils. The extra expense you spend here can save you hundreds down the road. Change the engine oil in your four-stroke frequently.

The rims on most stock ATVs are strong, but the handlebars, particularly on Honda performance ATVs, are weak and bend easily in a crash, or even when landing hard from a jump. You might want to replace the stockers right away and save them for resale time.
All chains eventually stretch and cause excessive wear to the sprockets. Replace your chain with a high-quality O-ring model?not standard?from a well-known manufacturer.

Yamaha Banshee. Do this first: replace the poorly designed stock air intake setup with an improved system such as the Pro-Design Pro Flow or Twin Air Power Flow Protection Kit. With the stock system, you’ll eventually seat the filter improperly, suck dirt, and ruin your motor.

Other weak areas on the Banshee are the tractionless stock tires and the large plastic chain roller that goes around the swingarm.

As we’ve said, it’s a given that an aftermarket pipe will give you the biggest performance gain on virtually any two-stroke, including the Banshee. If you’re not riding in water, remove the air intake snout on the screaming twin for better airflow. For an inexpensive compression mod ($35 plus a head gasket) that will give you a harder hit, mill the head .025″ to .030″.

Yamaha Blaster/Warrior. The little Blaster 200 puts out so little horsepower, relatively, that a pipe doesn’t help quite as much as it does on some of the larger two-strokes. Milling the head helps slightly, but to see any significant gains you’ll want to go to a 240cc kit, particularly if you’re a heavier rider. For all but those bigger riders, the Blaster is a bit undergeared, and could use a one-tooth larger countershaft sprocket.
Like the Banshee, the Warrior needs the Pro Flow intake system and the stock tires are too balloonish for really aggressive riding..

Honda TRX250R. It’s hard to improve on this great machine. Keep in mind, however, that if you discard the stock, hard-plastic air filter frame, replace it with an aluminum airbox ring available from the aftermarket. Without it, the hose clamp used for securing an aftermarket filter can bend the airbox lip and dirt can enter.
Unless you go with a big bore kit (which is a great mod for a heavier rider) or a pipe, drop your countershaft sprocket down to a 12-tooth and the R will pull the upper gears more easily, particularly on hills.

Honda 300EX/400EX. If you ride in the dunes and have an aftermarket pipe on your 300EX, you’ll certainly want to up the rev limit with an aftermarket rev limiter. The rev limiter on the 400EX has a higher ceiling.
The clutch is fine if you keep in the motor in stock trim and don’t ride hard. With motor mods, you’ll almost certainly need to go to a complete aftermarket clutch kit?not just plates and springs. Frequent engine oil and oil filter changes are particularly important on the 400EX and always keep an eye on the oil level.

Suzuki LT250R/LT500R. The stock 32mm Mikuni carb can be problematic, particularly on a ten year-old machine. Think about switching to a 36mm Keihin PJ. The carb on the LT500R, on the other hand, is fine, but not the cylinder head design on the •87 model, which will cause blown head gaskets. A company like Trinity can set you up with larger, 8mm-10mm tapered studs.
If you’re going with an aftermarket pipe, look for one with an emphasis on the mid and high rpm. The stock LT500R already has awesome bottom end.


While riders of performance machines like to extract more power and sometimes back themselves into reliability problems, owners of the other types of ATVs aren’t quite as concerned with performance gains. And, in stock trim, most all the ATVs in these classes are well-rounded, virtually bulletproof packages. This doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t improve on them.

If you live in the snow belt, you’ll probably be surprised how often you’ll end up using a snow plow attachment. Pickup trucks don’t always fit on sidewalks! Heated handgrips are also nice in cold weather. If you’re a hunter and care about your firearm, a gun scabbard is a must.

Eventually, you’ll probably run out room to carry stuff, even on a quad with big racks. Continually strapping and unstrapping a maze of bungee cords gets old fast. Rack-mounted hard cargo compartments and zippered bags solve this problem, plus they are dust proof and water resistant.

Other products offer added protection for the ATV itself. If something sharp tears your rubber CV boots, debris enters the CV joint and eventually destroys it. Stick Stoppers protect your boots and are an excellent investment.

If you ride only in high-traction areas that are free from sharp rocks, you’re probably fine with the stock tires. But, most riders like to get a little wild now and then, and most aftermarket tire kits are much more puncture-resistant than the stockers. Plus, they are typically taller, giving you more ground clearance and a slightly higher top speed (assuming your motor can pull them).

Even with the best tires on a powerful four-by, however, you’ll eventually find yourself hopelessly stuck in mud or deep water. Winch kits, that bolt up quickly and connect easily to your electrical system, will give you and your buddies much more confidence to go where no man has gone before.

If you own a Yamaha ATV, consider getting rid of the long-wearing but too-hard stock handgrips. Good aftermarket brands offer a better compromise of durability and comfort. Check out the beefy skidplates which are available from Yamaha for its manual shift four-bys. Yamaha also offers a heat deflection kit for the ’98 Grizzly that directs most of the engine heat away from the rider.

Usually, only sport and high-performance enthusiasts would consider switching to different bend handlebars. However, if you ride aggressively at all, you might consider aftermarket bars with a lower bend to replace the apehanger bars on many Yamaha and Polaris ATVs. For casual riding, the floorboards found on Polaris ATVs are fine, but bolt-on aftermarket mini-pegs give you a much more secure place to plant your feet. Another weak area on Polarises is the plastic steering stem bushing. Look to the aftermarket for durable, oil-impregnated bronze bushings in a aluminum housing.

A quick trip through any ATV manufacturer’s accessory catalog can lead you toward some good products. Kawasaki sells oil coolers and backup kick starters for select models in its Bayou line, while Suzuki offers extra-quiet silencers for some of its four-bys.

Now, if you still don’t know how to spend that cash that’s burning a hole in your pocket, you haven’t ridden your ATV long enough yet?there’s always room for improvement!

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