Cobra ECX70 spy photos

Caught: Cobra ECX70 Race Quad in Action

Jan. 01, 2004 By George Szappanos

In the mini-quad racing circles these days, talk more times than not eventually turns to the recent introduction of the first factory youth market "shifter-quad". Released during the ATV Expo in Kentucky this fall, Cobra is hoping that their debut into the youth ATV racing market will send the competition sprinting back to their drawing boards. 

Cobra's recipe is pretty simple really - take the race proven design of a full-size racing quad and scale it down to a proportion appropriate for most 8-12 year olds. Then build some prototypes, work out the bugs and make some refinements, and start cranking them out by the dozens for those few well-healed, or truly dedicated parents that have seven grand to spend on a race ready mini-quad.

Well, Cobra's intention is to build a machine that is "production" class legal, rather than run with the custom built shifter quads already running in the "modified" class. To satisfy this AMA regulation, 100 units must be built before March of this year and made available to the public. There's a lot of unhappy production class mini-quad racer parents that are hoping Cobra won't be able to pull it off, at least this year...

Bad news for those parents-  the ECX is alive and kicking butt. was f ortunate to be able to witness the only test machine in existence running some shakedown laps at an indoor motocross track in northeast Ohio. Based on our own observation and feedback from the rider and mechanic, Cobra's a shoe-in for the March production release date with a machine ready and able to hit the ground running.

As can be expected from Cobra, a company that has all but claimed the mini-dirtbike racing scene, the powertrain is top notch. A silky smooth hydraulic clutch controls the 6-speed wet-clutch gearbox. The 70cc mill is liquid cooled with a pipe that looks like a 3/4 scale 250R race pipe, and firsthand feedback says the motor is powerful enough to easily outpower even the healthiest CVT-clutched 90s down the straightaways.  However, for the young test pilot at the controls, finding the right gear around the rest of the track will understandably take some practice. 

Suspension and chassis-wise, the ECX is pretty darn good right out of the box. The machine seen at the track was obviously a pre-production prototype with unfeasibly expensive CNC-machined billet hub carriers, and beautifully hand-fabricated control arms, but quite likely the cast and stamped versions of these pieces are right around the corner. With 14" double A-arms, and steering knuckle pivots centered over the tire's contact patch, the ECX feels light and predictable with very little bump steer. 

Among some of the more significant design changes between prototype and showroom may be a longer swingarm to combat the Cobra's wheeling tendency. Also, bodywork will change slightly, as well as a redesigned seat profile.

For those of you holding your breath on the 100 unit homologation issue, Cobra seems to have the engineering all worked out. Now it's just a matter of whether they can build an average of 2 quads a day before the March deadline. Newsletter
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