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LT80 mods & upgrades

Old 05-15-2010, 12:10 AM
Range Rover
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 125
Default LT80 mods & upgrades

Like this subject hasn't been covered in a dozen, dozen different threads, right? I am truly surprised that there is not a website or sticky post or something covering all of the LT80 upgrades and mods. Anyway, here is my situation.

I have two 1987 LT80's. My daughter outgrew hers so she bumped up to another machine. I am now taking the upgrade parts from the two machines and putting them onto my sons' machine. I will sell the other soon as a stock unit.

He's getting more aggressive in his riding with his experience and is looking to get a little something more from his machine. I don't have the funds to put $2000 into this machine so a Jack Moore motor, works shocks, etc. are not in the plans.

The biggest issue we have right now is that this machine will "slip" when under a huge load. An example would be climbing a big hill @ Hatfield/McCoy. Near the top, my son revs the engine but doesn't move forward!! It's actually kinda dangerous. I don't smell burning rubber when this happens but I still suspect the belt. Could it be something else?

So far, here are the upgrades/mods:

- Hi-rise handlebars
- Alum. bumper
- Alum. Wheels
- Rebuilt/Cleaned carb (std. jetting)
- Unifilter
- Clutch mod: ground down rear clutch weights (190 grams, I think)
- Replaced front clutch rollers
- DG pipe (b/c it came w/machine)
- Blaster fuel petcock

I want to make additional motor mods and suspension mods. I recently purchased an LT160 to swap in the front end. Looking to install a-arms, tie rods, front shocks and wheel hubs with brakes. I have a few questions regarding swap. Here is a list upgrades/mods/improvements I want to do:

- Swap in LT160 front end
- New reeds
- New belt
- New chain/sprockets
- Widen rear suspension to match LT160 stance
- Nerf bars
- Front clutch rollers (installed all 6 due to stock motor - reduce to 4)
- Deck head by .030
- Rear shock from LT160

Other "possible" mods:
- Oil injector cap plate (but it works great right now!!)
- Porting of engine (Jack, do you do only porting/polishing for peeps?)

I can machine the head at work (i presume milling is sufficient and grinding is not necessary). I can make mounting plates to fit LT160 rear shock to LT80 (anyone ever done it that way instead of welding on tabs?).

As far as the LT160 front-end swap I noticed the a-arms from the LT160 are slightly wider at the wide-end of the wishbone so it looks like the mounting tabs on the frame need to be moved. It also appears that the LT160 wheel hubs are further back (about an 1") compared to the LT80. Therefore, it would seem logical to move the front mounting tabs on the LT80 from forward, but it doesn't look like there is any room.

So, finally, to the questions!!

1) Will decking the head require a change to the carb jets or to the spark plug?
2) Which a-arm mounting tabs do I move on the LT80 to fit the LT160 arms?
3) Will upper front shock tower need to be moved to maintain proper a-arm camber (using LT160 shocks)
4) Can I use the LT160 steering stem? Looks beefier but about same length.
5) Likely candidate for "slipping" drivetrain? belt? clutch rollers (new)? clutch arm pads?
6) Any other parts I can pillage from the LT160?
7) Any other tricks/tips I should consider while I'm doing all of this?
8) Which cables do I use for front brakes (LT80 cables or LT160?)
9) Can I use the LT160 headlight (will mount to handlebars but not sure about electrical

I am sure I'll have more questions, but there is already a LOT covered here!! We already tore down the parts from the LT160 and my son is psyched to get all these mods done!

Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions, guys and gals!!! Pics would be most helpful!!
Old 05-15-2010, 08:51 AM
Extreme Pro Rider
LT80 Expert
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 7,918

I don't know where to start..LOL
2K? where ya come up w/dat? Fully built motor and new Works shocks would be about 1300. Altho, If your like me, 1300 is like 2000. I'm broke too.
160 front end:: I'm worried about the extra weight on the front. I'm sure you've heard of the 300ex front conversion, most that buy the kit sell it just as fast. I've not considered it a good mod basically cuz of weight and we are still stuck with the motor being the swingarm, which limits some things suspension wise.
Anyways, the slip thing::Worries me too! What did the rollers/belt/rear clutch look like when you inspected/maintenenced the clutchs?
It could be a bad belt but they do last forever and a wore belt is best (IMO).
Head:Yes, milled. The motor will run more efficient w/more comp. Your jetting will be fine.You could drop to a 90 main.
Headlight, sorta, not enough charging. It will work but if you ride at night alot, you'll want a pull start. Some ppl get LED lights from autozone, they seem to like em and the LED's use little juice.
Tabs: I'll presume that non of the stock locations will work. Everything will need to be made.
Sprockets, stick with the 428 pitch (your 87's should be 428).12/13/14 front and 26 rear.
If I missed anything, let me know.
PM sent.
Good luck and have fun.
BTW, I think it's cool that it's a "family" build.
Old 05-15-2010, 11:42 AM
Range Rover
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 125


Thanks for the quick reply! Funny, after I typed ALL of that I figured it would be overwhelimg but it was already done!! In fact, when I got done it told me I had to log back in to post it!!! haha!

The quads are a family affair. Me, the wife and both kids ride and we all LOVE it!!! Daughter jumped from her LT80 to an Polaris 250 and she handles it VERY well. No way could she have started on a machine that big w/o honing her trail-riding skills on the LT80! I make them work on their machines, too. Well, my son loves to do it, but I have to force my daughter - she'd rather just ride. I don't get crazy forcing her to help, but if she's capable then I make her responsible for doing it (with supervision, of course). Even the wife helps on her's - some!! I need her small hands to change her fuel filter right now b/c I can't get my hands into the confined space!!

I came up with the $2k by adding up a list someone posted on here but that included your motor mods, a-arms, works shocks, nerf bars, pipe, etc, etc. It was $2375 if I remember the number correctly.

Actually, we are just now talking about tearing his machine down to get it powdercoated. If I do that I'd be interested in having some port/polishing done by you if you'd be good with that. The machine I'm about to sell is still running the ignition box I bought from you like five years ago!!

I'm in NE Ohio so I could bring the motor over. PM me a price and if there are specific details to that let me know.

Clutch: The rollers had severe flats on them. The cover was in good shape - I didn't notice any deep grooves or worn-out spots. But after reading another post on here where you stated to someone about even a little wear could be an issue I will reinspect. I sand-blasted the roller housing. The belt looked fine - no frayed edges and didn't appear to be glazed/burned.

Now I see where people are changing the springs on the rear clutch. Obviously all of this work has to coincide - you don't run a 4500 stall speed converter on a stock V-8, right? So, what springs would you recommend?

I just priced a 428 chain and sprockets at the local dealer but wondered about changing the front sprocket size. Smaller (11t) gives me quicker launch, less top end? He's not racing it - even though he thinks the trails are his personal dirt dragstrip - haha!!

I will mill down the head then, at work. Actually, I design so I'll get one of the guys who cranks handles to mill it for me and just buy him lunch!

As for the headlight, I think if I add one it will be the hood-mounted style. I would also invest in a high-output stator (Ricky Stator?) b/c right now the machine won't charge a battery. I put pull-starters on both machines immediately after buying them, I just forgot to mention that.

If I bought lots of lunches I could probably get the bench hands at work to polish the aluminum for me, too!!

If anyone has done the LT160 front-end swap, please advise on what to expect. Yes, the a-arms and shock are heavier, but that weight is countered by the MUCH beefier shocks with the longer travel and a wider stance makes it a worth-while investment. I have seen the 300ex a-arm conversion and it looks stupid. If anyone has done an LT160 and has pics Please send them to me: craigslist_buffer at yahoo dot com.

Ok, time to get back to some quad modding!! Thanks for the help!!
Old 05-30-2010, 09:58 AM
Range Rover
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 125

Took motor out to Jack's place (LT80) and helped him do some motor and clutch mods. Good guy and my son even helped out so it was a good time! Milled head, ported cylinder, ported exhaust and even the reed cage. I had the rear clutch weights down to 190 grams so he drilled a bit more to 180 grams.

He discovered the center spring on the rear clutch was "smushed" so he replaced that and we took out two of the front rollers. I put new rollers in last year but ran all six b/c motor was stock. Now it makes sense to try to run 4 of them.

I expected to leave the motor there for a week or so but he asked if I could hang for a bit and we just did it all on the spot - thanks Jack!!

Last week I got the frame over to my buddy's shop and we cut off the front a-arm mounts and rewelded them forward to accommodate the LT160 A-arms. Slightly elongated the upper steering stem mount holes to accept the LT160 stem mount.

On Friday I got the the chassis and suspension parts that can be blasted over to the sandblaster and he finished in just a few hours - nice!!

We chose our colors and I will get this to the powdercoater on Tuesday!! Ordered some new parts (chain, sprockets, 90 jet, throttle cable, etc.) so we should be able to put this thing back together next weekend!!

Looking to get a rear axle extension kit (plates), alum nerf bars and alum swingarm skid plate and graphics kit and this should be one sweet machine after all of that!!
Old 05-30-2010, 08:16 PM
Range Rover
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 125

I am looking to add the Tiexiera axle housing extender plate. He doesn't do any jumping except maybe a couple inches on a trail once-in-a-while. However, those plates appear to move the lower shock mount position. They also change the mount so that in converts the "U" shape mount to a standard eye-type.

The problem is this requires 12-1/2" long shock. I have the rear shock from the LT160 which is 11-1/4" long. Does anyone know any reasonably-priced rear shocks of that length for a 100 lb. rider or even up to 160 lbs.? I could probably use something off a bigger sport quad (230 quadsport or even a different brand but it it's made for 150-250 lb. rider or bigger it won't help me much.

I have considered buying these ext. plates and altering them by welding on stud identical to the one that comes on those plates but up higher so I can use the shorter shock.

Anyone have any input?
Old 05-30-2010, 08:55 PM
Extreme Pro Rider
LT80 Expert
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 7,918

Yes, and I'm wondering how you are going to mount the pipe. The plates move the rear pipe mount.
You may want to investigate further is what I'm saying.
You may have to buy a special pipe that they offer.
This could get costly with all this and that.
Now you need a shock and IMO, any stock shock from a bigger quad may defeat the purpose unless you get it revalved for his weight.
If you could get it to work, it'd surely be better than stock.
Old 05-30-2010, 09:45 PM
Range Rover
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 125

As for the vertical bolt that goes above the housing I am sure I can fabricate something for that at work. Wait, does the DG even utilize that bolt? I need to look at that.

I will look tomorrow but it seems to me that the hole for the long cross bolt would still exist on the main case. If so, I can utilize that. Otherwise, maybe another mod :-D

When we relocated the a-arm tabs someone at the shop suggested moving the back to tabs toward the motor. It would have been slightly easier but I told them I wasn't willing to lose the wheelbase so we moved the front tabs. It seems the knuckles will be in the same location (wheelbase-wise) as the stock LT80 a-arms but there was no way to go further forward with the LT160 arms or the would have hit the front of the chassis where it curves up in the front.

Adding 1 to 1-1/2" to the rear would not be so much as to cause additional stress on the case (unless he was getting big air), but it does seem to be enough to cause other issues!!

So, I am looking for suggestions on the shock and now the exhaust mounts!!
Old 05-31-2010, 07:10 AM
Extreme Pro Rider
LT80 Expert
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 7,918

Ahh the DG pipe. I'd think that pipe would work w/the extenders.
Old 06-06-2010, 08:57 AM
Range Rover
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 125

The chassis and suspension parts are all at the powdercoater now and I expect to get them all back next week. Just picked up new chain, sprockets (428, just as the 87's came with), a-arm bushings, Uni filter and a few other items.

I cleaned and reassembled the card, too.

Now, since this thing is gonna start looking a lot nicer, I need to address a couple other items:

- Plastics: I know there is a renewal kit that can be bought. I thought about just wet sanding up until 600 grit minimum paper and then coating with mop-n-glow. Just want to get as close to original smoothness and shininess.

- Bolts: There are TONS of bolts from this thing. There is no way I could afford to replace them all. I would like to "restore" as many as possible. Anyone have any input on that?

I have taken lots of pics so if I get around to it I will upload some.
Old 06-10-2010, 10:20 PM
Range Rover
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 125

So, I've decided now that the powdercoated from and suspension parts look so nice, I MUST do something with the engine cases cuz they look like crap!!!

I tore apart the cases today. The issue, however, has to do with the rear clutch spring. When I removed the big left-handed nut I was prepared to absorb the energy of the weights being pushed into my hand by the spring.....NOTHING...

In fact, I was able to pull the entire weight assembly AND the pulleys off the shaft as a UNIT!! I had to tap it pretty hard against the table in order for it to release!!

Now, when I had this out at Jack's he noticed the spring I had in there was "mushed" and about 2" shorter than it should be and gave me a new spring...

There just be an issue there but I have no idea what...

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