The ATV gets about 37 miles per gallon on the street. Its Missouri Department of Transportation-sanctioned tires offer less resistance than off-road knobbies, and with a friend on the back, Malicoat has pushed it to 78 miles an hour on U.S. Highway 71.
"It's quite the mover," Malicoat says. "You can get up and boogie on this thing."
The 660R Raptor is a shredder's dream. It has an electric starter; a five-speed transmission with a new "reverse" option; a four-stroke, 660-cc engine that runs on regular gas rather than the usual toolshed mix of gas and oil. At 6 feet long and 398 pounds, two guys can hoist her onto the bed of a pickup.
But Malicoat never intended to use his ATV off-road. He wanted it to go urban.
Growing up in the budding subdivision of Pleasant Hill, he had started riding all-terrain clunkers at age 10, staying on top of them as the vehicles evolved from forest-crawling minitanks to high-speed, agile puddle jumpers. Malicoat graduated from Central Missouri State University in May 2002, earning a bachelor's degree in broadcasting with a minor in business. He returned to Kansas City to work part time as a remote engineer for Entercom and as chief engineer at KKFI 90.1 (on which he has a hip-hop show Sunday nights). He also started his own production company, Global Digital Imaging, making entertainment DVDs for weddings and marching bands and informational CDs for auto-insurance salesmen.
Malicoat wanted to combine his technical expertise with his love of mechanics and his nonconformist ideals. So he trolled the Internet for sites offering do-it-yourself street-tricking tips and started customizing his machine. He also read up on law-enforcement reactions to urban ATV usage. Several states considered ATVs street-friendly. But in Missouri, state statutes prohibited four-wheelers on roads, except for governmental, agricultural or handicap-accessibility purposes. Further, the Missouri Highway Patrol mandated that all ATVs have 7-foot bicycle flags and slow-moving-vehicle placards.
Malicoat landed a full-time gig at Minsky's Pizza in April 2003. A month later, on May 14, he shelled out $6,500 at Reno's Yamaha Aprilia in Martin City for the Raptor.
"Supposedly you can do it, and supposedly it's legal," Reno's president, Steve Okenfuss, says of Malicoat's project. "Brian's probably the only one that I've met that's tried to do it."
Malicoat spent another grand buying minivan tires, a set of bottleneck trailer lights, a horn and a speedometer. Ignoring car-inspection safety standards, he installed the equipment using motorcycle guidelines, which allowed him to use hand signals instead of turn signals and meant that he didn't need mounted mirrors. In June 2003, the Raptor passed a motorcycle safety inspection at Reno's. Malicoat took out full-coverage auto insurance. Then, on July 11, 2003, he registered his baby at the Missouri Department of Motor Vehicles. Make: Yamaha 2003. Kind of car: Passenger. Model: four-wheeler.
Malicoat says he's been pulled over 12 times in the past year. Each time, he showed officers his registration and a copy of his insurance card. He convinced one officer that he didn't need to wear a helmet because his cruiser had car plates. When a bike cop yelled at him but didn't pull him over, Malicoat simply drove around him. Pulled over at the QuikTrip at 43rd Street and Main, he passed an officer his paperwork and went inside to buy a pack of cigarettes.