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 Home Product Reviews JD Performance A-arms

By: Pete Clyne

Often when modifying ATV's, the first thing the owner thinks about is 'make it faster'. I don't think I'd get much opposition in saying that engine modifications are the most popular mods done to ATV's today. However, the majority of people fail to understand that the fastest engine doesn't always win the race, and this is where suspension comes into play. Suspension is a very important part of your ride, and without it, your mega dollar high horsepower engine is useless. This is where JD Performance steps up to the plate. They were kind enough to supply us with a set of their +2 +1 A-arms for our newly rebuilt Honda TRX250R.

JD Performance A-armsWhen the A-arms arrived on our doorstep, we already had the stock front end torn off the test bike, with everything freshly painted and ready to assemble.

Comparing the JD Performance A-arms to the OEM A-arms revealed significant differences. The first thing noticed was weight. The JD Performance arms, while being 2 inches wider, were a lot lighter than the OEM arms. Weight is horsepower, and this reduction of weight is significant in our eyes. The quality of the welds and construction of the arms themselves was night and day better than the stock arms. Heck, they even laser cut a 'JD' in the lower shock mount tab. These units ooze of quality. They are made out of 4130 Chromoly and are completely 100% TIG welded. They come in your choice of 2 stage powder coat silver with clear coat finish, 1 stage Honda Red, or Triple Plate Chrome ($175.00 extra). Our test set came in the 2 stage silver powder coat finish.

JD Performance A-armsInstallation was pretty straight forward. Pull the old arms off (already done) remove the brakes, hubs, tires, spindles etc, and then install with the new arms. The old ball joints were a bear to get off due to years of corrosion and use. Eventually, they did come loose and off. One small problem we had when mounting the JD Performance a-arms is they fact they didn't slide right into the a-arm tabs on our OEM Honda frame. A little force was needed to coax them in, and this was attributed to the new paint on the frame closing up the tolerances a little bit. The bushings in this area are nice and tight, and JD Performance states these are a sealed type bushing, and only require a little WD-40 to keep things functioning correctly. A nice touch for sure. The balljoints, while fully replaceable, unlike a lot of OEM A-arms, also have a lighter internal spring, which reduces fatigue on the rider by making the quad easier to turn.

The installation of the spindles was about as simple as it can get. Gone are the OEM style castle nuts used to hold the spindles on. They are replaced by Ny-Lock style nuts that self lock, no cotter keys required. The tie-rods included with the A-arm kit are both nice looking and beefy. For this test we purchased 4 new 400EX tie rod ends (much cheaper than 250R ends, and function the same) and installed them on the tie rods. The rest of the front end installation went smooth, and we were back on 4 wheels in a relatively short period of time, maybe 2 hours total. I found 3/16" toe in worked the best for me with my quad and tire combination. Your results may vary, and this setting is something you'll have to play with to get the best results with your quad and tire setup. For camber, I didn't give the arms any measured setting. At the time of this article we are still trying different settings to see what would work best for us. This setting depends on your use of the arms, be it motocross, flat track, play riding, etc. One thing these arms do not use is an upper heim joint. This did not disappoint us much, as we are not pro suspension technicians and would probably just mess this setting up anyways, so we're glad they were left off. Another plus with these A-arms is the fact that we were able to run the OEM brake lines. While not providing as good of stopping power as steel braided lines, they will work for someone who has budget constraints.

JD Performance A-armsOut on the trails and in the dunes, the added width of these arms is a blessing. One can ride so much harder with the added width these arms provide, it's hard to imagine why the quad wasn't sold from the factory with them. Getting back onto a bike with stock width A-arms provides for a comical experience, it feels like you're going to tip over every time you take a corner, the difference is really that significant. It took all of about 5 minutes to notice the difference the arms made on the bike. When riding the bike with the arms installed, they simply 'disappear' from the driver's perspective. I found this comforting, as it lets you know the arms are doing their job, allowing the rider to concentrate more on the terrain ahead rather than how poorly the suspension is working. A set of Works Performance triple rate shocks setup for +2 A-arms were used on the test A-arms. JD Performance strongly recommends you purchase a set of aftermarket front shocks that are setup for your weight and riding style to use on your new A-arms.

JD Performance A-armsA big thumbs up for these arms from the crew. JD Performance currently sells their A-arms for the Honda TRX250R, TRX400EX and Yamaha's Banshee, and are priced at $475 a set for standard order Honda A-arms, and $525 for Banshee's. Yamaha Raptor A-arms will be available soon.

JD Performance
Temecula, CA
Phone: 909.676.7957

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