ATV Features

Rick Gardella’s 1986 Honda TRX250R is a bad ass duner. The bike was completely torn down to the bare frame and totally upgraded during the rebuild phase.

Pair Of Aces

These TRX250R quads were the ultimate father-son project for the Gardellas
By Neal Rideout | January 28, 2014

Photos by Neal Rideout


Rick Gardella has been duning since 1979 and has always had a love for Honda 2-strokes. Three-wheelers or four, he never outgrew them. As his family grew, Rick wanted to share his love of the dunes and the excitement of riding 2-stroke TRX quads with his son, Richard (Richie). Interestingly, as part of the information gathering process for creating feature articles for a magazine, the owner is given a sheet to jot down some information and facts about the feature vehicle. Rick included an extra paragraph that perhaps says things best in conveying his feelings.
“I guess it is in our blood, we love the time we spend as a family on our dune trips. Riding together, experiencing that rush of a huge bowl, virgin sand and no tracks. We just love the dunes. We used to take the kids even when they were toddlers. I can remember their heads bobbing around on our first 1600cc VW buggy that didn’t have any wheel travel. So, I guess we will keep on restoring off-road stuff. It’s a family adventure. It brings us together. I’m sure as long as I live, we will be doing something in the garage to another Honda, and we love Hondas! My hope is that the kids pass it on like we did to them. And, let’s not forget my wonderful wife, Jennie, who puts up with it all.”
Rick welded gussets to the frame, added new front arms from Laegers and a +4 swingarm from Lone Star Racing. Shocks are Werks, and the 3-inch wider rear axle is from Durablue.
The first father-son project was to build Richie’s 1986 TRX250R. So successful was the project that Richie’s TRX was selected for a feature article in a past issue of Sand Sports magazine. Rick was pretty proud of their achievement and decided that he needed a ride that could keep up with his sons. So began the second father-son TRX build. As with the first, Rick and Richie dived into their work and created what could arguably be one of the cleanest, baddest pair of 1986 Honda TRX250Rs that you’ll see in the dunes!
The engine was rebuilt using a 370cc kit from CT Racing, which also features porting work, Keihin 39mm carb and V-Force reeds. We’re told it made 75hp on the dyno.
Ricks 250R was torn down and new frame braces were welded in place, updating the frame to current race specs and making it much stronger. Then, it was sent to ECP Powder Coating for the bright finish. All bearings and seals were replaced. Precision Concepts of Lake Elsinore tackled the front suspension, with new A-arms and spindles from Laegers, which were chromed and fitted with new bushings. Werks triple rate remote reservoir front shocks were installed that provide just over 11 inches of suspension travel. Topping off the front suspension was a set of red Streamline Performance brake lines and anodized clamps.
The rear received a new chromed Lone Star Racing +4 swingarm and Durablue +3 axle. The rest of the rear suspension is stock Honda but refurbished with new bearings, seals, and powder coat. The wheels are 10-inch Douglas Blue label front and rear, with a set of Dune Trackers and Skat Trak Haulers mounted respectively. Stock Honda brakes finish things off.
Rick’s son, Richie, has made several improvements to his quad since it was featured in Sand Sports several years ago. Being humble, he didn’t request to have his 250R featured. But, this is a great father-son story, plus Richie’s quad looked hot and ran hard. Check out that huge roost coming from those Skat-Trak Haulers. Kinda makes you want to get out to the dunes and go for a ride with friends, huh?
The engine is a CT Racing 370cc upgrade. Their engine package included a Weisco piston, Hot Rod, +4mm crank, and custom dome head. Porting was also done by CT and a set of V Force 3-reeds installed. A Keihin 39mm PWK carburetor and custom modified Honda 450R airbox/filter round out the induction. The exhaust system consists of a CT Racing pipe and silencer. Clutch components and basket are from Hinson Racing and the side covers are polished. After adjustments, the engine was dyno tuned at 75hp which gives the bike some serious thrust. On top, the seat was redone with a red/white checker pattern on custom race cut Honda plastics by Verde Power Sports of Gilbert, Arizona. An IMS plastic four gallon fuel tank and Pro Taper handlebars with ODI locking grips round out the package. The final touch is the AC cooler rack on back for those rare refreshment breaks. With that much fuel, they don’t stop much!
During downtime and while awaiting parts, they decided to do some updates to Richie’s Honda. Not to be outdone by his dad, Richie installed a new CT Racing 370 + 4mm engine with the same 450R intake system but with a 41mm Keihin carburetor. He had the frame gusseted and added a Lone Star +4 swingarm, chrome brake calipers, green chain, brake lines and levers. An upgraded CR250 ignition system, CT Racing pipe and silencer were installed. He even polished and powder coated the shocks to match the overall green theme. In essence, a great bike has been made even better!
Rick wanted to thank first and foremost his wife Jennie, whose patience and assistance enables the guys to dedicate time to their projects. Also, Steve Willenberg for his time and amazing knowledge of all things Honda. And, finally, to his son Richie for whom this project was all about. The Gardella’s have restored and updated two beautiful Honda TRXs and by itself makes an amazing story. But, there is more. Sitting in a lonely corner of their garage, stored for many years, sits a 1986 Honda ATC250R and Rick’s youngest son Michael is ready to join in the fun. Plans are already underway to create father-son project part three. We will have to follow up on that!

 A Few More "ATV" Stories...

Yamaha Introduces 2015 Raptor 700R
Project: Super Quad. Part 5
Pair Of Aces
Duning On A Pro Racer's Ride

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