Dirt Wheels: Will, we know you haven’t had a lot of time to get your machine dialed in for the races, but tell us a little about what the ride is like.
William Yokley: It’s night and day different from racing my modified Z400 from last year. Thanks to the new Suzuki’s fuel injection system, the engine is much more responsive; it feels like it has more mid-range and top-end than my modified Z400.
DW: How about the handling?
Yokley: Overall, the new quad is lighter and feels lower than my old quad. The biggest issues we’re having are fitting a larger capacity fuel tank and making it a bit narrower for the tight tracks with shorter A-arms. The tires that come on the stock quad are more for the race track than the trail. We have a new ITP GNCC tire that is working great.
DW: Tell us a little about that.
Yokley: These new Holeshot GNCC tires are the next big step in tire technology, I feel. I anticipate using this new tire on virtually every type of course in all conditions in 2006.
DW: How does it compare to the older XC Holeshots you’ve used?
Yokley: Compared to the older tires, the GNCC front tire has a rounder profile that lets it track straighter and ride smoother. It’s also a lighter tire, too, so it maneuvers easier and cuts down on feedback through the handlebars. There’s a lot less abuse to your hands, which makes a big difference two hours into a race. The rear GNCC is also lighter and very easy to sling around in the woods. The taller lugs give it so much more traction. It really hooks up, with a lot of grip and less wheelspin under power. You can slide it around when you need to, with less bounce in rough corners.
DW: How do they work at higher speeds and hold up?
Yokley: Overall, these tires are very stable at higher speeds, but they also work really good in the slower ruts, rocks and braking bumps. They don’t jerk you around as much, which really reduces fatigue. They seem to be wearing very well, and I’ve bashed them into a few big rocks and stumps and they seem to be holding up well.
DW: How about the width of the front end? Is it too wide currently for woods riding?
Yokley: We’re looking to get the front end down to around 45-1/2 to 46 inches wide to fit in between the tight trees on some of the woods circuits. We ran our Z400 at around 44-3/4 inches wide last year and that worked well. The extra width will help with the stability on the wider, faster sections of track. We’re currently using a Roll/IMS upper A-arm to get the width down but will upgrade to a full set of upper and lower A-arms for the future.
DW: Is ground clearance an issue with the new Suzuki in the woods?
Yokley: Not really. By changing to the taller ITP GNCC tires we get extra clearance and I don’t think that will be an issue. We will have to wait and see.
DW: What other mods are essential to make the new LTR-450 a better trail machine?
Yokley: The larger capacity gas tank is a must. IMS will have a unit for us by the time you read this. The GNCC tires are a must for more ground clearance and a smoother ride. Making the front end narrower will help get it through some of the tighter spots on the trail. Beefier skid plates are a must. Badger Racing, (859) 760-2822, is making some custom stainless steel belly and swingarm skids for me that help increase the protection in this area. You could race and trail ride it with the stock shocks but Elka custom builds my shocks and dials them in perfectly for my requirements.
DW: How tough is it to make the Suzuki more competitive in the woods?
Yokley: It’s not that tough. The new machine is way better than the old Z400 and is lighter, nimbler, and easier to ride. I feel like I can ride it using half the effort I put in with the old machine. That means that I should be able to go faster, longer, and as I get it dialed in, it will only get better. I’m looking forward to racing this thing in the woods, that’s for sure.