Our 2010 Yamaha Raptor 700R SE has been one of our favorite quads to ride this year, but it was time to show it some love so we started looking around for project partners. DTR Racing
is located a few hours north of MotoUSA in Salem, Oregon. Coincidentally, they’re also just a few hours from the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, which is where we like to spend our time with the special edition Raptor. Turns out the DTR guys have some know-how when it comes to dune performance, and they’ve done magazine work before. Bingo. Let the Project ATV begin.
considers the Raptor 700R one of the greatest platforms of all time for a dune ATV. We'd have to agree.
We’ve already tested the Raptor on its own in our First Ride
article, plus lined it up for a comparison against the big-bore Honda TRX700XX
sport quad. Additionally, one of our testers owns and rides the beans out of a stock 2008 Raptor on a regular basis, so we had a strong baseline to feel out the DTR Racing version. When we first called the DTR crew, Matt (owner) and James (technician) were ready to go all-in with big-bore kits, high-comp piston, turbo boost, auto-tune air/fuel analyzer, extended swingarm, custom suspension and extra-light axles and wheels – you name it. In fact, there was something very similar lurking in the shadows of DTR’s shop which they used to lure us in. It was very convincing, but we managed to shake the vision of sand-drag glory long enough to remember our objective - build on the Raptor’s existing strengths. We had to throw out the anchor on our enthusiastic cohorts, but they knew instantly where to redirect the attention with what they call their Stage 3 build.
First on the list is a Curtis Sparks Racing (CSR) full-system X-6 exhaust ($560). The stainless header and aluminum silencer not only increase performance, but they resist the negative effects of salty air and sandblasting. The Sparks unit is a seven-pound system which has the ability to install optional spark arrestor screens and quiet inserts. Ours didn’t have
either which means it was way louder than stock, but still not nearly as obtrusive as some of the other machines we encountered on the sand. However, to keep it legal we should have slapped some of the inserts into the modular end cap. Performance-wise, the pipe definitely added to the power equation by opening up the back end.
To match that on the intake side, DTR installed a Fuel Customs intake system ($239). The tapered design increases the velocity of air entering the engine for better throttle response and more power. The kit comes with an eight-ply K&N-style pleated air filter and can be purchased with or without an airbox. DTR opted to go without and attacked the airbox with its own mods. Cutting out large portions of the box allow unrestricted flow to the filter. Of course, with a big hole chopped out of the airbox, the Fuel Customs filter and intake system was subject to even more sand, dirt and dust than usual. An Outerwears pre-filter is included with the kit and covers the filter to help keep the engine gremlin at bay. We typically try to stay away from wet sand, especially surf, but Winchester Bay is where the Umpqua River dumps into the Pacific, meaning it’s littered with fresh-water pools that hide among trails and between dunes. We especially liked that the pre-filter was water-repellant, which made us less nervous about splashing through errant puddles.
DTR opted for the Power Commander III ($360) to handle fuel management. Once the electrical connections were made, James threw it on the dyno and built a custom map to make sure it ran smoothly in conjunction with the other upgrades. DTR’s shop is at roughly 150 feet of elevation, so it’s perfect for tuning at the coast. Ah, the beauty of fuel injection… We left all the paperwork and tools in the toolbox when we dropped off the quad, so they mounted the unit on the exterior. However, they recommended that it be placed inside, and we quickly took their advice before it fell out the bottom of the open airbox.
Cresting Banshee Hill in a fourth-gear wheelie on stock tires was enough to impress our tester. Things only got better once we installed a set of rear paddle tires.
The dirt bike world has been used to 50 hp for some time now, but not necessarily the ATV world. Our DTR machine cranked out 53.2 hp at 6200 rpm. That’s only 100 revs higher than stock, but a big jump from the original 44.7 ponies. The extra 8.5 horsepower is a gain of 19%. Torque jumped by over 17% to 45.9 lb-ft. at 5600 rpm. We wanted to put that to a real-world test and headed straight for Banshee Hill; the most recognizable climb at Winchester Bay, funneling through a tight squeeze before fanning out into a hillclimbing paradise. We pulled fourth-gear wheelies at the top.
“After a few passes at 54 mph on the digital speedometer, the trail through the trees seemed pretty narrow,” jokes test rider Scot Gibson. “We’re not talking extended, highly modified Banshees - this is a stock quad with bolt-on performance and dirt tires!”
That’s right, we tested on stock tires for our first outing and even left normal dirt-riding levels of air pressure to keep from tossing a bead. Our thoughts were that we could air them down as needed, but after the first couple hours of photos and testing, it was obvious that the moist sand conditions and abundant power were perfectly capable of managing without paddles.
“The DTR mods required a skilled and steady thumb, and by the end of the day I was having a harder time controlling the power and the direction of the added horsepower. This quad will wear you out,” says Gibson. “I love riding long wheelies over the open dunes. To my surprise, the first time I tried to loft the front end up, even with dirt tires, the huge belt of mid-range power hooked traction and I found myself grabbing a bunch of rear brake to keep from heading over backwards.”
Catch this big-bore sport quad in more action with this DTR Racing Raptor 700R Action Video.
Compared to the stocker the DTR Raptor was like being on steroids without a glitch in its well-mannered low rpm. The Raptor doesn’t rev like 450 sport quads, but the amount of torque makes up for it. This quad loves to be short-shifted, and the fact that the Raptor comes with electric start, fuel injection and reverse gear make it even more appealing. Even though the dyno curves are very similar, on the sand it felt like the DTR machine had a bigger mid-range punch and revved a bit higher. We made a return trip to the big sandbox once a rear set of Scat-Trak Haulers were installed. The performance was even greater, obviously, but it also surprised us in that the motor actually felt smoother, more rider friendly and took less physical effort to control. The noise factor of the Sparks pipe is our only complaint, but like we mentioned, the silent options weren’t utilized. All three mods combined gave huge power gains and are awesome for dune riding, plus they don’t sacrifice reliability.
With the engine taken care of, that wrapped up DTR's standard Stage 3 kit, but since we originally shot down their hog-wild plans, they just couldn’t resist adding a little more. At the last minute they pulled out a set of Fox Float Airshox ($695) for the front end. This is one of the more affordable offerings from Fox and it’s aimed at recreational riding. Using an air spring, adjusting the shock is as simple as adding or bleeding air pressure. James pumped it up to 70 pounds and sent us on our way. Both of our testers were happy with it right away.
The Fox Float Airshox were a bonus and wound up being our tester's favorite attribute.
As great as the motor is, the single biggest improvement for our tester came from this upgraded suspension. The Fox shocks craved to be hammered through the rough terrain and whoops of the sand dunes, which our tester was more than happy to oblige. They performed through the whoops and worm trails with both firmness and plushness, without deflection or bottoming at any time. We spent time hitting some big air for the camera and were never disappointed with the ability to absorb big landings. These shocks added performance and rider confidence. Our first ride was immediately after a long weekend, so the sand was beat up. Some wet weather helped knock things down, but generally it was pretty rough and offered a great demonstration of how well the aftermarket suspension soaked up chatter.
“I was so impressed with their performance over stock that I didn’t even adjust them in any way for my weight and ability, and that rarely happens,” says expert-level ATV rider and notorious tinkerer, Gibson. “Suspension that likes to be pounded doesn’t usually fall into the realm of supple, but at slow speeds, through cross-rutted dunes tracks, the Fox shocks absorbed more than my eyes could scan.”
Our final conclusion? It should be pretty clear that the DTR bike is a huge improvement over stock. It’s hard to individualize each item because we sampled the mods as a performance package. Gibson racked up the most seat time and was very impressed with the gains. In his estimation, the Stage 3 build is worth a solid A-minus grade. Other rider’s agreed, and toss in a quiet insert and that minus sign disappears.
With the extra grunt and confidence in the suspension, our tester was ripping one-wheeled wheelies at every chance.
Generally speaking, picking up 20% across the board is a success. For under 1200 bucks (shocks not included) DTR Racing
proved that with some simple and commonplace upgrades, the Yamaha Raptor 700R wakes up with healthy improvements. We loved the added performance and are especially happy that we can still take the ATV anywhere we want because it isn’t a highly-specialized project. Even though we used the Raptor in the dunes and trails at the Oregon Coast, the nice thing about this Stage 3 kit is that it’s really designed to be an all-around performance boost. It can stand alone as a general-use machine, or be the platform for further mods targeted at off-road racing or motocross - it’s adaptable. If someone decided to proceed further, the Stage 3 mods can all stay in place and DTR simply goes the next step depending on what you want.