Revive ATV Project: A “Hands On” Approach

Jan. 08, 2014 By Seth Fargher
The 1 1/8" Fatbar from Renthal fit perfectly into the Trailtech Chrome Bar clamp. If you still have the stock bar clamp, you'll most likely have to upgrade to a larger one.

Santa was good to me this year, and someone must have told him I was working on this build because he brought me a pile of new goodies for the Revive Project. As I’ve mentioned several times this TRX450R is mostly stock, which also means most of the components are still the originals and wear items like the chain, sprockets, brake rotors and brake pads are in bad need of replacing. These types of items aren’t necessarily “flashy” and typically have little to do with performance; however, they are a necessity and will definitely wear out over time.

Raising the Bar
We addressed the chain and sprockets in the last phase courtesy of Renthal, but one other goodie they included for the project was a set of their Fatbar handlebars. I’ve snapped more than a few pairs of handlebars in my day, and since I started riding freestyle several years ago I won’t even consider using a standard 7/8” wall bar.  Renthal offers two options for those looking for something with a little more strength in the Fatbar and the Twinwall. Personally, I prefer the look of the square bar pad without the crossbar, so the Fatbar was the easy choice for me. The 1 1/8 inch design offers more strength than traditional bars, and the tapered outer wall decreases to a diameter of 7/8” at the control ends. That means you won’t have any issues getting your controls or standard handgrips to work on the new bars.

The front brake lever had just enough lever left to be able to pull with one finger, but we think the red anodized lever from Streamline looks much better.

The only downfall of moving up to the thicker wall handlebar is that it may require a new bar clamp. Fortunately for me, I already had an aftermarket bar clamp from Trailtech.  This trick looking chrome bar clamp is designed for a 1 1/8” handlebar and also raises the bar height by over an inch. Being 6’ 2” tall, it helps having the bars up a little bit higher.

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Honda TRX450R Revive Project

The billet clutch perch has a nylon bar sleeve to protect the bar and allow the perch to rotate in the event of a hard impact. It also has an optional hot start button.

Clever Controls
By and large, I tend to live by the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mantra, and in my opinion clutch and brake levers serve a simple purpose. If the stock ones are working there’s really no reason to replace them. That being said, I’ve had my eye on Streamline’s Reflex clutch perch and brake levers for quite some time, and since I managed to break the front brake lever a few years ago, I decided this was a good excuse to upgrade. In case you’re wondering, there was just enough lever left to allow me to apply the brakes with one finger so no, I wasn’t riding without front brakes, but people frequently made jokes about the shortened lever being some sort of weird weight-saving strategy.

The Reflex levers are designed to "flex" in the opposite direction to eliminate braking. They also offer a large range of adjustment via and adjustment screw behind the lever.

Some people say the best products are created as a solution to a problem, and that is exactly what the Reflex levers offer. It’s not as common for ATV riders but broken or bent levers are very commonplace for dirtbike riders who tend to end up on the ground a lot. It seems like nine times out of 10 if you lay over a bike, you’re going to end up with a bend clutch or brake lever. Streamline found a solution to the problem by designing a lever that featured a stainless pivot bearing and a recoil spring that allows the lever to bend in the opposite direction without breaking.

The clutch lever features a machined aluminum perch with an integrated hot start lever while the brake lever mounts directly to the stock perch and reservoir. Both levers offer a large range of adjustment via an adjuster screw and locknut. For cable tension, the oversized aluminum adjuster dial is both eye catching as well as makes adjusting the clutch a cinch.

The white handgrips may not stay white for long but they definitely stand out.

To compliment the trick new levers, Streamline included a pair of their slip-free locking handgrips for our project quad. When I first heard about locking handgrips, I was hesitant to put my trust in a small bolt that I was sure could, and would, eventually come apart.  At the same, time, I hate messing with grip glue, wire and trying to get the handgrip to slide up on the bar.

The locking handgrips are the perfect option to eliminate the mess and headaches associated with installing new grips. The grips feature a half waffle design for a comfortable grip and have a plastic sleeve running the length of the grip so each one slides on the handlebar with ease. A machined aluminum lock ring firmly clamps the grip to the bar while a billet aluminum end cap keeps dirt and debris out. A setscrew located in the underside of the cap presses on a small shim that acts as the final locking mechanism to keep the grip in place. 

Streamline's "blade" rotors are pretty trick-plooking... it’s a shame the front ones are tucked so far inside the front wheel that you can't see them.

I really like the half waffle grip design compared to other more aggressive handgrips, and the medium rubber compound provides plenty of grip without being overly rough on your hands. It’s also very durable. I discovered that when trying to trim a little bit off the right side handgrip that was catching on the thumb throttle and causing it to stick. The razor blade I was trying to use had a tough time cutting the material but a pair of wire cutters worked like a charm.

In keeping with my color scheme, I went with the anodized red end caps as well as the red Reflex levers. The white grips might not stay white for long but for now, they definitely catch the eye.

Steel-braided brake lines help decrease the swelling effect of standard rubber lines while improving the look. They're available in variety of colors including red, black, blue, green, yellow, orange, silver and smoke.

Stopping Power
Despite the innovative Reflex levers and the locking grips, Streamline is actually better known for their braking components. Streamline offers a full line of break pads and rotors for virtually every ATV, dirt bike and UTV on the market. The last time I had the front wheels off my TRX450 I noticed one of the rotors was dragging at a certain spot as the tire rotated. After a little more digging I realized the rotor was indeed bent. Rather than just replace the bent rotor with another stock one, I took this as an opportunity to upgrade to Streamline’s trick stainless-steal blade rotors.

The rotors themselves are laser cut from a high-carbon stainless steel that is heat-treated for strength before being diamond ground to prevent corrosion. The end result is a more durable, lighter brake rotor that will lesson the likelihood of brake fade. Cooling slots cut into the rotor also help dissipate heat and keep dirt from collecting in the brake pads.

I installed new blade rotors all the way around along with fresh new brake pads to ensure that stopping won’t be an issue any time soon. While the stock pads actually tend to wear very well, Streamline’s sintered, extreme-duty brake pads offer extended life and excel in both wet and dry conditions.

From the driver’s seat, the new Renthal bars and all the new Streamline products provide a much cleaner and sleeker look over the bulky stock controls.

Lastly, to offer a little more bling as well as improve the function of the braking system, Streamline sent us a full set of their steel-braded brake lines. Where rubber lines can swell creating a softer feel at the lever, these stainless-steel braided lines cut down on expansion and provide a more precise and immediate response.

To protect the lines as well as your machine’s finish (like chrome or custom paint) Streamline offers the lines with a UV protected PVC covering, which is available in a variety of color options. While the red lines aren’t overly obvious, they definitely improve the look over the stock rubber hoses, and those who take a closer look will appreciate the chrome fittings as well.

Streamline definitely likes billet aluminum, and its adjuster knob is both functional and flashy.

If you were hoping for some sort of huge performance-enhancing modifications for this phase of the build, I fear you may be disappointed. Because we’re focusing on bringing this well-worn ATV back to life, part of that includes replacing some of the basic wear items. Then again, these are often overlooked parts that are crucial to the machine functioning properly as well as enhance the ergonomic feel of our ATV, so these are necessary and important parts even if they aren’t the flashiest. We’ve still got a few more bolt on goodies to improve both the look and performance of the quad, so be sure and check back for the next phase soon.

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