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Honda TRX400EX "Low Budget" Project ATV

Honda TRX400EX "Low Budget" Project ATV

Honda 400EX Project Links
Honda TRX400EX
Honda TRX400EX Project
The Honda TRX400EX had set the benchmark since its release in 1999. It was no doubt Honda's answer to a growing sport segment of the market and it had big shoe's to fill following in the legendary 250R's footsteps. The racing scene soon filled with the model and the aftermarket eagerly accepted the new Honda as many upstart companies began producing parts as well as well known and established companies. A full aftermarket quad could be built to run in any class or be the local big shot on a mild to wild machine. With other manufactures missing the boat, the Honda soon started racking up wins and gained a loyal following.
2008 Honda TRX400EX
2008 Honda TRX450ER
2008 Honda TRX400EX
2008 Honda TRX450ER

Skip forward to today, and the 400EX seems more like an entry level ATV when compared to what amounts to full factory race quads. The 400EX lost its shine in the glow of the venerable Honda TRX450R. Not to be forgotten, many riders still feel the 400 model suits them better than the new race bred machines. With a broad, smooth and predictable power delivery, the 400EX is as comfortable riding the trails as it is running in the GNCC series. The MX tracks of today beckon the power of the 450cc machines, but a good rider can hold his own on a slightly modified 400EX.

After owning the new 450cc machines, the 400EX seemed the logical choice for us to build as an inexpensive project quad for motocross and some trail riding. With the proven reliability, recently added reverse and updated styling, the 400EX was getting the call to pull duty for us as a project was planned. A 2006 model was acquired and planning set forth to build an inexpensive all around sport ATV using many time tested parts and even some new ideas that would be tested.

2008 Honda TRX400EX front upper shock mounts
Gusset kit installation can be time consuming and costly, but it still cheaper than replacing the frame, and the 400EX frame has a tendency to start cracking after extensive riding and normally the first spot to fail is the front upper shock mounts
After breaking in the engine, a timetable was set and the excitement started to build as the stock 400EX was turned into a pile of parts! The machine was disassembled to a bare frame that was to be sent to BK Performance for installation of a Bare Performance gusset kit, which is a necessity for the 400EX to withstand the flexing the frame receives from the abuse of riding on a motocross track. The most common spot for frame failure on the 400EX is the front upper shock mounts. Once, the frame was gusseted, it was time to powder coat the frame stealth black to set our project apart from others on the track.

One of the weakest points of the 400EX is its stock suspension, which lacks adjustable front shocks with reservoirs, and the rear end tends swap back and forth sideways through rough whooped out terrain. To fix these problems, we decided to take the route of many 400EX owners and run TRX450R shocks up front as a way of gaining some adjustment and better ride without the expense of installing aftermarket shocks, and the stock rear 400EX would be converted to a dual spring and rebuilt to match the front suspension.

2008 Honda TRX450ER 450 shocks
2008 Honda TRX450ER 450 shocks
The Stock Rear shock was utilized & take off stock 450R shocks were purchased online to save money on the supension upgrades, and C&D Racing rebuilt the shocks

The stock Honda 450R suspension was sent to Colby at C&D Racing for a triple rate conversion and re-valving for our riders weight. The rear also received a re-spring and re-valve courtesy of C&D. In order to keep the project inexpensive and within the reach of most riders, we utilized eBay for purchasing many of the items including the shocks. Our greatest find was a used set of Walsh A-Arms that were soon disassembled, inspected, and powder coated stealth black to match the frame. They were mated to the 450R shocks and soon the quad was starting to look like something! The stock swing arm was retained, but mated with a new G-Force axle to extend the rear to motocross width. The stock gearing was also kept in place, although a DID chain X-Ring was installed to withstand the abuse we would place on this quad.

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