Want Improved Handling on Your Raptor 125 or 250? Axles, Wheel Spacers, A-Arms and Shocks
If you ride a Yamaha Raptor 250 or Yamaha Raptor 125 you probably noticed that you could use some more stability. There are a few ways to make your Raptor more stable. The idea here is to make the vehicle wider--the wider your Raptor is (up to a point) the more stable it will be. It is best to widen both the front and the rear of the vehicle equally for the best overall handling, however if money is not unlimited (like most of us) and you can not do it all, the rear end will give you the most bang for the buck. The rear shock will not need to be changed which saves a substantial amount of money. You will notice a big difference with only doing the rear end.
There are two ways to make the front of the quad wider. The best way is accomplished with the addition of front A-arms which are wider than your stock arms. Typically the arms will be two inches wider per side for a total of four inches increased overall width. Pricing for A- arms can range from $350.00 up to $800.00. When you widen the front arms your front shocks will get much softer due to the additional leverage the wider arms provide. Depending on rider weight this can be good or bad. Most stock shocks come extremely stiff from the factory. If you are watching your money try the stock shocks and see how they work. If they are bottoming out you will definitely want to look into a set of aftermarket shocks. It is recommended that you replace your shocks with some that are properly set up for the extended arms. There will be a big difference in how the quad performs. If you don't want to spend the money on new A- arms then wheel spacers are a good alternative. These are economical and easy to install. They should cost between $55.00 and 75.00. Be careful of widths. We recommend using spacers no more than 1-1/4" width each. This gives 2-1/2" width increase overall. The reason we don't like to use wider spacers is due to bump steer. This is dangerous and happens when you move the wheels further out from the ball joints (this does not happen with wider A- arms).
The widening of the rear end can be accomplished by a couple different methods. Either an aftermarket extended axle or wheel spacers. The extended rear axle is the best choice. The reason the extended axle is the better choice is that it is much stronger. The stock axle is already weak and intended for recreational riding. When you add wheel spacers to the end of the stock axle and space your wheels further outward you are increasing the leverage on the axle and increasing the load it is under. If you are jumping the quad wheel spacers are not a good choice as you will increase the chances of breaking the axle. Aftermarket axles are made of chromolly and are hardened which makes them perfect for the application. You will be able to do some major jumps and deal out any punishment (ride hard) - it will take it. But like all things the right way to fix the problem is the expensive way. Wheel spacers range from $50-$150, and a rear axle will run you about $180-$500. There are several axle companies making extended axles for the Raptor-- Alba Racing, Durablue, and Lonestar. They are all very high quality and have lifetime warranties. These axles can be found online on sale from $180 to $320. As far as installation goes the axle is more work than the wheel spacers, but if you ride hard and/or like to jump go for the axle, it will be worth it in the long run.
Patrick Hove manages Alba Racing, a service Best Wheel Spacers and performance center for motorcycles, ATVs and UTVs in Santee, California. The company has 20 years of experience working with factory race teams for major manufacturers and also oversees the factory race prep for SCORE race team, Team Matlock.