Nicholas Fluhart

September 18, 2010

Honda TRX350XX (TRX250X – ATC350X Conversion) TRX350X

Filed under: Bikes, Trikes, ATVs — Nicholas Fluhart @ 12:01 am
Tags: , ,

From the ATC era of the mid 80’s up until the end of the following decade Honda and most of the ATV industry was void of any heavy-hitters, performance wise, for trail riding. Of course there were still some thoroughbred race bikes (although none from Honda after 1989), but for off-the-track trail riding you were very limited. The Honda options of the day were the TRX250X and later the TRX300EX, both only middle weight bikes. The 250X was a kick start model with a nice 4-valve single overhead cam engine with a 5-speed transmission. The subsequent 300EX was an electric start model with basically the same engine but with a lengthened stroke making the displacement a little larger. Yamaha had a leg-up on the industry, really in all categories race and trail, and the king of the sport trail bikes was the 350 Warrior which had a stout 2-valve single overhead cam engine with a 6-speed transmission. The paradigm shift occurred in 1999 with Honda’s introduction of the TRX400EX. But up until then, no manufacturer had produced a 4-stroke trail ATV with the bulk power, torque, and speed of the ATC350X last produced in 1986. The industry had decent four-wheeled chassis but no major power plants aside from the Warrior, which was not superior to the 350X. So during that period, what could be done?

The answer: Well, in this case you can have your cake and eat it too. My choice, and the choice of many others before me, was to combine the best of both worlds with the exceptional, time-tested ATC350X power plant within the stability and performance of a four-wheeled chassis, specifically the Honda TRX250X. And thus the infamous Honda TRX350XX is born.

Mine of course has some major upgrades…

My project started in the winter of 2002, and although by that time there were some high-end four-strokes available, i.e. the Honda 400EX, Yamaha Raptor 660R, and the newly released Suzuki Z400, as a 19 year old, full time college student I didn’t have the means to go down and purchase a brand new ATV. Besides, it’s not my style to buy new machines; I like to build my own, and my favorite thing is to combine the past with the present. This was the ideal project for me.

As discussed in my 350X post, I got my hands on some ATC350X crate engines. The next step was to find a suitable ATV chassis, preferably something requiring minimal fabrication yet sporty enough for my riding style. While researching it on the web, my brother and I got some tips at Powroll and thus decided that a TRX250X chassis was the way to go. Fortunately, I knew someone who had a non-running 1991 250X. I easily obtained it for $500. We then ordered the Powroll conversion kit including the Shotgun series Supertrap 4 exhaust which at that time was priced at $565.00 total (the header was not stainless steel).  And the project began.

The engine:

The 350X power plant is a kick start, 4-valve, single overhead cam engine with a 6-speed transmission (no reverse). My goal was to have an ultra-durable and super dependable bike that I could put lots of fun miles on with minimal maintenance. With this in mind, I wanted to keep the engine as close to stock as possible, but I installed some strategic upgrades. Although my engine had never been used, it had been setting on a shelf since 1986 so I wanted to freshen up the cylinder. I bored the sleeve and installed a Wiseco oversize piston kit which not only enlarged the displacement but also increased the compression ratio from 8.5:1 to 10.25:1. The next thing I did was upgrade the clutch with EBC friction plates and heavy duty Barnett springs. Then the engine was ready. These were moderate modifications that would increase performance without sacrificing dependability.

Intake and fuel delivery:

Initially I went with the 250X carburetor and a K&N air filter. I removed the lid from the air box for maximum air flow and jetted the carburetor accordingly. Later I installed a 400EX carburetor which has a larger diameter throat and got a noticeable power gain.

The chassis:

The chassis was pretty much stock when I received it. The only upgrade was a Dura Blue heavy duty rear axle. I left it that way initially but soon found it lacking, specifically in the suspension department. To remedy the issue, I installed front A-Arms from a 1989 TRX250R and front shocks from a 1999 TRX400EX. This widened the front substantially and gave me a lot more suspension travel. On the rear I installed an aftermarket mono shock with a remote reservoir and I added 6 inches to the width by installing Dura Blue polyurethane wheel spacers on the axle. For rear wheels I settled on 20×11-8 Maxxis Razor tires mounted on Douglas polished aluminum 8 inch rear rims. On the front I stayed with the stock rims and mounted a new set of radial directional tires that boasted a smooth ride with great handling. For the operator, I recovered the seat and installed Tusk brand aluminum handlebars with a padded cross-bar and gel hand grips.

At less than $1800.00 total investment, I had a good, competitive bike that easily held its own against the new $6,000 bikes. At that point it looked like this:

In the prime of my riding days, I took many trips and fun rides. We took trips to the mountains…

…and rode many trials and homemade race tracks doing tricks and big jumps.

But alas, as my core group of riding buddies slowly married and moved away our weekly rides had come to an end by early 2005. I rode the bike sparingly until about mid 2006 when it was placed in storage and remained there until a sunny spring morning in 2010. That day I pulled it out of moth balls, not to ride, but to reminisce. It was still fairly clean but it was much in need of cosmetic TLC. It hurt me to see it that way, so I trailered it to my shop and got to work. I removed all the plastics and began cleaning, polishing, and painting on the chassis components. But I didn’t stop there. I ordered all new plastics for it to give it the clean cosmetic finish I always wanted it to have but never had the chance to do it. Plastics for this bike are unusually expensive, more so than most other models.  And at last, after almost 10 years I finally put the final touches on one of my favorite personal projects. I still have this bike today (back in storage) and it looks like this:

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September 14, 2010

1986 Honda ATC350X Show Trike

Filed under: Bikes, Trikes, ATVs — Nicholas Fluhart @ 7:41 pm

In keeping with the ATC (All Terrain Cycle) theme, I thought I’d post a bike I sold a while back: a 1986 Honda 350X. This was a restoration project completed in the late 90’s by some friends of mine, and only OEM Genuine Honda parts were used from the tires up. Today most of those parts are discontinued and virtually impossible to find. Now, if you are a true Honda nut, you will see that there are four parts that are not OEM which I will address below, but in the mean time see if you can identify them…

This might be the cleanest 350X you’ll find short of building a time machine and traveling back to 1986 (something I dream about frequently). I’ll provide a loose rundown of what was done to it.

First, the bike was completely stripped down to the frame. All components were sandblasted and then powder coated, such as the frame, foot pegs, kick starter, swing arm, hubs, etc. A new OEM exhaust system was stripped and then JetHot coated. A new OEM heat shield was coated and installed on the header. All bolt-on parts, i.e. air box, lights, plastics, switches, cables, etc., were replaced with brand new OEM genuine Honda parts. Even the rims and tires were purchased from Honda and are period correct to the 1986 model.

On to the engine: When three-wheelers were discontinued in the 80’s, dealers received monetary compensation from the manufactures for existing inventory, but the physical machines were dismantled and scrapped. However, several engines survived as the dealers donated many of them to small-engine vocational schools. Many of these engines, although there are much fewer today, are still around and untouched. They are commonly referred to as “crate engines”. Through my moderately extensive contacts in the industry, I was blessed enough to have obtained a few of these priceless jewels, one ATC250R engine and a couple of ATC350X engines. One of my 350X engines found its way into my TRX350XX conversion bike. These guys got their hands on a couple of them as well, and one was used in this trike. It was repainted with high temp paint and clear coating, and there were some parts that were polished and cleared.

Here are some closeups of the trike:

Now, were you able to identify the 4 aftermarket parts? Well, to a true Honda enthusiast it should have been fairly easy. Up on the handlebars you’ll note the clutch lever is an aftermarket upgrade (1), and since it doesn’t facilitate a parking brake cable, you’ll notice the parking brake blockoff on the rear brake caliper (2). And also at the rear end, you’ll see the machine has a stance that is much wider than factory, and that is due to the upgraded rear axle which is a Dura Blue plus-5 extended axle (3). And finally while your looking at the rear view, you’ll note the word “Ceet” on the back of the seat. Ceet is the leading brand of aftermarket seat covers (4).

The guys did three ATC350X restoration projects simultaneously, and one even turned out better than this one (I know….that’s hard to believe). I don’t know the overall cost of the build, but I sold this trike to a collector for almost one thousand dollars more than the bike’s original MSRP. What’s also astounding is that an original, unrestored bike in this condition will bring even more. The ultra-clean ATC’s from the 80’s have now officially reached collector status.

Here are the vitals:

Maximum torque output: 21.7ft.lb @ 6000RPMs
Maximum power output: 27PS (~26.4hp) @ 7000RPMs
Starter type: forward kick
Wheelbase: 50.0″
Ground clearance: 4.7″
Maximum load capacity: 270lbs
Overall height: 42.6″(1985), 42.3″(1986)
Overall length: 74.4″
Overall width: 43.9″
Seat height: 29.5″
Foot peg height: 11.4″
Fuel capacity: 2.65gal
Engine weight: 91.5lbs
Engine type: single cylinder, four-valve head, single over head cam, four stroke
Fuel: unleaded
Displacement: 350.4cc
Bore: 81mm
Stroke: 68mm
Mechanical compression ratio: 8.5: 1
Corrected compression ratio: n/a
Cold cranking pressure: 178psi
Carburetor type: dual valve
Lubrication type: forced pressure and wet sump
Ignition type: CDI
Ignition timing advance: 10 degrees
Electrical system:

Dry weight: 320lbs
Final drive type: chain

Transmission type: 6-speed, no reverse
Clutch: manual
Transmission primary ratio: 2.833: 1
Transmission 1st gear ratio: 2.750: 1
Transmission 2nd gear ratio: 2.050: 1
Transmission 3rd gear ratio: 1.609: 1
Transmission 4th gear ratio: 1.308: 1
Transmission 5th gear ratio: 1.103: 1
Transmission 6th gear ratio: 0.935: 1
Transmission final ratio: 3.077: 1
Front brake type: disk, twin piston
Front brake quantity: 1
Rear brake type: disk, single piston
Rear brake quantity: 1
Camber: 0°
Caster: 23°
Toe in: n/a
Trail: 1.36″
Rake: 23-degrees
Front suspension travel: 8.0″
Front shock leverage ratio: 1:1
Front shock type: telescopic fork
Front tire size: 23.5×8-11
Front wheel type: aluminum
Rear suspension travel: 7.6″
Rear shock type: gas charged (nitrogen)
Rear tire size: 22.0×10-9
Rear wheel type: aluminum
Original MSRP: $2599

Until next time…..

September 12, 2010

1985 Honda ATC200X

Filed under: Bikes, Trikes, ATVs — Nicholas Fluhart @ 7:25 pm

I was once a major ATC enthusiast. I always enjoyed and preferred 3-wheelers over 4-wheelers. Perhaps it’s because my first bike was a three-wheeler: a 1985 Honda ATC200X.

Whatever the case, I spent more hours in the saddle of that 200x than any other ATV or motorcycle I’ve owned since. I knew that machine so intimately well that it was an extension of my senses. I could handle terrain and perform feats that only the most seasoned rider would dare attempt, whether it be wheelies through all 5 gears, one-wheel wheelies, or conquering steep side-inclines or long steep vertical climbs. I guess if you spend enough time practicing and operating a machine, you know its capabilities well enough to do those things.

Age 13, standing by my 200X.

My favorite activity on this trike was hill climbing. For some reason, I could really climb on this thing, more so than I could on my four wheelers which I can climb quite well on. Maybe it’s because the front-end was so much more controllable. Most people think of three wheelers as poor climbers, and most of them are, but the 200x had a longer rake on the front-end than any other ATC and that, combined with responsive power and a great power-to-weight ratio, made it a superb hill climber.

A second benefit of having good chassis geometry was smooth wheelies. During wheelies, it had a good balance point that was lower than most bikes so I could easily and smoothly ride a wheelie through all five gears without constantly fighting an over-wheelie, and yes, I used the clutch when shifting.

I had as much fun on that three-wheeler as a person can have with a machine. I think it even helped form my path in life because without having owned that particular trike, I may not have gotten so involved with mechanics and machines. Between my dad teaching things and me rebuilding this trike from one end to the other several times, I learned the most important part of anything in life: the basics.

My 1985 Honda ATC200X (fully restored from the frame up with a race engine and many other performance parts) the week I sold it back in 2001:

General specs for the 1985 200X obtained from Honda brochures:

Frame number                   JH3TB0524FK400001~
Engine number                  TB05E-6200001~
Engine type                    4 stroke, Air cooled
Displacement                   192cc
Bore x Stroke                  65 x 57.8 mm
Compression ratio              9.6 to 1
Compression                    142 - 170 psi
Transmission speeds            5 speed
Clutch Type                    Manual
Oil Capacity                   1.3 Qt
Carburetion                    24 mm Keihin
Starting system                Kick Starter
Fuel capacity                  2.56 Gal , 0.31 Gal res.
Wheelbase                      47.6 in.
Overall Length                 72.8 in.
Overall Width                  41.3 in.
Ground Clearance               4.9 in.
Seat height                    27.8 in.
Front tire                     23.5 x 8 x 11
Rear tires                     22 x 11 x 8
Front suspension               Hydraulic Telescoping Forks
Rear suspension                Mono shock
Front brake                    Hydraulic Disk
Rear brake                     Hydraulic Disk
Final drive                    Chain
Dry weight                     282.2 lbs
Approx. retail new             $1,798.00

August 5, 2009

Honda Foreman 475 Omni Recovery ATV

Filed under: Bikes, Trikes, ATVs,Project: 475 Foreman — Nicholas Fluhart @ 1:45 am

What started out as a stock Honda 450 Foreman S is now the utilitarian king of my ATV collection. This is the finished product of an in depth rebuild project after about 16,000 miles…..yes that’s right; a bunch of miles and a bunch of hours. This page provides some general information on my particular machine. I’ve posted a few specs, equipment and accessory info as well as some pros and cons from my perspective. Overall, I have to say I am more than satisfied with the performance capability of this machine as it relates to what I wanted from a utility ATV. I wanted a reliable, bulletproof, machine that could handle everything from normal recreational riding to industrial applications. Check out theForeman project page for more on what went into building this bike. Also, here’s some history of the Honda Foreman line.

1998 Honda 475 S Foreman - Omni Recovery ATV

1998 Honda 475 S Foreman - Omni Recovery ATV

– Engine

The stock Foreman utilizes a 433 cc, longitudinally mounted, single cylinder, four stroke cycle, overhead valve, engine. During a massive and successful rebuild effort, I took the stock displacement and raised it to approximately 475 cc by installing a larger cylinder sleeve as part of a bore kit offered from Highlifter. Along with a high compression piston kit, the bore kit also came with a 480 grind Web cam. The goal here was to achieve the maximum possible torque for pulling and hauling and this configuration did the trick. Another great thing about this setup is it allows you to run the stock valve train and carburetor.

Pulling the Tractor

– Intake/Exhaust

This machine sees service in dry, dusty conditions, and in the interest of building an ATV for maximum durability and dependability, I went with a foam filter and pre-filter from UNI. On the exhaust side, I’m running a Supertrapp exhaust system specifically designed for utility ATV’s, meaning it’s not overly loud but it is free-flowing enough to unleash the power produced by the 475 cc engine. I’ve built, repaired, driven, bought, and sold a lot of ATV’s over the years and I believe this is the best sounding exhaust system I’ve heard on a utility ATV.

– Suspension

I’m running the stock suspension and ride height on this ATV, and for good reason. I built it for industrial applications that include pulling, hauling, and winching on extreme inclines. I do a lot of hill climbing, creek crossing, and driving through rough terrain. I need maximum stability in these situations and I found that the stock ride height could achieve this more effectively than using a lift kit because it keeps the stance low and wide. Although I don’t typically seek out deep mud, I often find need to go through it (usually to winch out other ATV’s) and I’ve never had any significant problems with ground clearance. However, if you are building a bike specifically for mud, a lift kit may be beneficial in allowing enough fender clearance for larger tires which provide more ground clearance. One thing to keep in mind with lift kits is they change the steering and suspension geometry which causes ball joints and CV joints to wear out approximately twice as fast as the OEM geometry.

– Brakes

The front brakes are hydraulic drum type. As long as the wheel bearings and the drum seals are good, the hydraulic drum system works well. If the wheel bearings get slack in them it causes the drum to move against the backing plate and wear out the seal which then allows mud to enter and chew up the components. Unlike disk brakes which are self-adjusting, the drum type requires periodic adjustment. Aside from that, they are pretty much maintenance free because they are hydraulic. The rear brake is a cable operated mechanical drum type. Like the front, the key is to keep them clean. As long as the seals are good and you keep your cables adjusted, they provide good service. But if you don’t do that, they go down quick, especially if you ride in a lot of mud or water.

Front Wheel

Front Wheel

Rear Brake

Rear Brake

– Tires

The current tire selection was on the ATV when I purchased it. I typically prefer to run the same tire on both the front and rear, but after operating in a variety of conditions, I’ve determined it to be a very effective combination. On the drive axle I’m running 25 inch GBC Gator tires. The Gator is a 6-ply, aggressive, directional tire that operates well in soft terrain, and since the directional lugs overlap the centerline, it also offers a surprisingly smooth ride on hard surfaces. I rarely loose traction with these tires which make them great for pulling. On the steer axle I’m running 25 inch GBC Dirt Devil tires. The Dirt Devil is also a directional tire with overlapping lugs. Although the directional lugs aren’t quite as aggressive as the Gator, they do have very aggressive side-lugs that really assist in paddling through soft terrain. This formula not only provides excellent traction, it also provides a smooth ride which makes it easier on the operator. I’ve found them to be an excellent choice for a steer tire.

UPDATE: I’m experimenting with another tire combination. Check it out here.

UPDATE #2: I’m experimenting with yet another tire combination. Check it out here.

– Equipment and Accessories

Winch: No utility ATV is complete without a winch. I wanted a machine that could not only winch itself out of a bind, but I also wanted the ability to easily winch other ATV’s, equipment, logs, junk, or whatever else I may need to winch. Many ATV winches are mounted in locations on the bike that make them hard to access and use. I wanted to easily access and operate my winch with no hassel. With this in mind, I was also considering mounting two winches on the machine, one in front and one on the back. You never know which direction you may need to winch from and in critical situations, you don’t want to be limited on options. The logical solution is to have a winch on both ends of the machine. I had a 3,000 lbs winch and while looking for mounting solutions, I found a great multi-mount system from Warn. This allows you to use one winch that easily dettaches and reattaches to the front or rear of the ATV by using receiver hitches. The kit also comes with a dual wiring setup that has quick-connecters at the front and rear of the ATV which connect to one toggle to operate the winch. I typically use the rear mount for the transport/driving position to keep the winch out of the mud, brush, and debris. In the front, I have a D-ring hitch in the receiver. One thing to keep in mind if using the multi-mount setup: the rear receiver mounts in place of the tool box, so you’ll loose the factory tool box. To solve the ‘no tool box’ issue, I made some L-brackets and mounted a smaller tool box to the bottom of the winch mount. The new box (I think I got it from a ’97 Polaris Sport) is only a fraction of the size of the original box, but it’s enough to keep some vital tools.

Winch & Mount

Winch & Mount

4WD Selector: The 1998 model Foreman is full-time 4WD. To obtain the optional four wheel drive capability, I installed a Warn 424 Select 4×4 selector (no longer in production). This is an ultra heavy-duty but low profile unit that replaces the front drive shaft and is operated by mechanical cable which allows the driver to disengage and re-engage the four wheel drive on the fly. Having the option of running the ATV in 2WD for normal riding allows for smoother drivablity and less wear on the drivetrain components.

CB Radio: Communication is a great asset when working or riding in remote locations. I installed a Cobra CB radio on the top of the instrument cluster and headlight housing by attaching the mount to the headlight guard. I ran the coax to the rear rack and mounted a 64 inch steel whip to the factory dune flag mount on the rack. Surprisingly, the reception distance is great. The radio is easily installed and removed by using the mounting knob screws that came with the radio, and I’ve wired a standard 12V power supply receptacle to the stock location on the headlight housing.

Controls

Controls

Auxiliary Lighting: I mounted a utility light under the rear receiver hitch and wired it to a toggle switch. It serves as both a reverse light and work light when using the winch or working around the rear of the ATV. 90% of my riding is done at night when it is cooler, so lighting is very important.

Rear Light & Tool Box

Rear Light & Tool Box


Skid Plates and Guards: On the front I’ve installed a diamond plate aluminum guard to protect the bumper and frame from rocks and to keep sticks and brush from being forced into the front portion of the ATV. I cut a small square for the receiver hitch. I’ve also installed a set of Oxlite steel A-Arm and CV boot guards to protect the A-Arms from rocks and the CV boots from sticks and brush. I’m using the stock belly skid plate and the stock rear differential skid.

Front Guards

Front Guards

– Pros

This machine is very dependable. There’s never been a time when I couldn’t hit the switch and start it right up. With the 475 big bore kit, the torque is monsterous. You would be hard-pressed to bog this engine down. Before that happens, it will either loose traction or break something. It’s very impressive. The Supertrapp exhaust sounds great. The bike also has a smooth ride. If you spend much time in the saddle, you know how important ride quality can be. Overall, I’m very pleased with this ATV; it has exceeded my expectations.

– Cons

The only thing I can really complain about is the top cruising speed. The machine is geared really low and is obviously not a high-speed ATV because the Foreman line by it’s very nature is an industrial, workhorse type of ATV, but it wouldn’t hurt to have another high gear. When riding with other ATV’s on an open road, the Foreman has to work hard to keep from getting left behind. With the tires I’m running, the highest comfortable cruising speed is just a little over 30 mph. It will go faster, but I wouldn’t want to hold it at much more than about 38 mph for any amount of time. The fastest I’ve run it is about 50 mph.

You may also be interested in the Honda Foreman 450 to 475 project page here.

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