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2003 Honda Rincon And Rubicon Review - Off-Road Alternatives

Posted in Features on July 1, 2003 Comment (0)
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2003 Honda Rincon And Rubicon Review - Off-Road Alternatives
Photographers: Honda Motor Company
0307or 01 z+2003 honda rubicon+front left

Utility ATVs have evolved over the years from basic workhorses to all-purpose vehicles. Now you can take an ATV to work to tackle tough chores around the back 40 during the week, and then take the same ATV into the backcountry for recreation on weekends. Honda has introduced two models that fit the all-purpose category: the '03 Honda Fourtrax Foreman Rubicon and the '03 Honda Fourtrax Rincon.

For the adventurer in all of us, the Rubicon and Rincon are well-suited to all types of terrain. During our test, we headed straight for the Hammer trails located in Johnson Valley, California, and easily rode up routes that had hard-core Jeeps struggling. You should have seen the drivers' faces when we motored past on our pair of Hondas without a single hint of tire spin - priceless!

Our first test ATV, the Rubicon, is a hefty, 600-pound gorilla. The added weight helped plant the full-time four-wheel-drive system in uneven and slippery terrain. The 500cc liquid-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke has tremendous low-end grunt and was able to maneuver up every rock-strewn trail we attempted. There are three different transmission settings to chose from: D1, D2, and ESP. D1 and D2 are shifted automatically, while ESP allows the rider to shift manually with the push of a button. With your left thumb, you can either click on the up arrow button for upshifts or down arrow button for downshifts. For superior climbing ease, shift into granny Low and let the low-end torque do its job. Both shift patterns worked flawlessly; there was never a lack of power in any gear.

To help keep the center of gravity low, the seat height on the Rubicon is only 33.9 inches. The 46.6-inch width and 50.9-inch wheelbase keep the Rubicon on its feet over the most extreme off-camber trail sections. Ground clearance is a very respectable 7.8 inches, with ample underbody armor. In fact, the entire underbody has a complete belly pan, with lower A-arm and rear swing arm rock guards. The foot wells were also well protected, allowing the rider to glide over rocks instead of hanging up on exposed foot pegs. The front and rear racks are perfect for securing camping, hunting, or fishing gear.

Our second test ATV is the "Baja 1000 Conquering" Rincon 650. For the 35th annual Baja 1000 race in Baja California, Mexico, Honda won the overall Pro ATV-class, as well as placing Third, both on near-stock Rincons. The Third place finisher, Doug Eichner, actually had to limp the last 40 miles to the finish with a broken left front spindle. The Rincon is one the easiest, most comfortable ATVs on the market. It not only performs like a durable utility quad, it can also win the Baja 1000.

The Rincon comes very close to the weight, width, and length dimensions of the Rubicon, but it actually feels about 100 pounds lighter. It has to be the additional 150ccs under the seat because this quad flat hauls!

The Rincon's huge, 649cc liquid-cooled OHV single-cylinder four-stroke is very torquey and responsive. On the fly, you can toggle the dial on the right-hand grip to 2WD or 4WD. While in 2WD mode, simply wick the thumb throttle when approaching a section of whoops and carry the front end across. Then, when there is a need for more traction, switch to 4WD mode and crawl to the top of any obstacle. The front driveshaft powers a torque-sensing differential, enabling a seamless stream of power to get you up and over the rough stuff with little or no wheel spin.

One of the main reasons the Rincon can walk over whoops with ease is because of the fully independent front and rear double wishbone suspension. Front travel is 6.9 inches, while the rear has a full 8 inches. The independent rear suspension helps with the impressive ground clearance of 10 inches. The large capacity, 4.5-gallon gas tank, including a 1-gallon reservoir, gives the Rincon exceptional range. The digital dash displays fuel levels, oil change intervals, a clock, an odometer, a transmission gear selection, and a speedometer. The Rincon features all the amenities of a Honda Gold Wing wrapped in a rugged package.

Honda has revolutionized the utility ATV with two very capable quads that get the job done. The Rincon and Rubicon are fringing on truck-like SUV territory. They both have supple suspensions, torquey motors, and excellent ergonomics. For more information, visit your local Honda Motorcycle Dealer, or click on www.hondamotorcycle.com.

Specifications

Vehicle:
'03 Honda Fourtrax Rincon

Engine:
649cc liquid-cooled OHV single-cylinder four-stroke

Bore and stoke:
100x82.6mm

Carburetion:
37mm Constant Velocity

Ignition:
CD with electronic advance

Starter:
Electric with auxiliary recoil

Transmission:
Automatic with hydraulic torque converter, three forward gears and reverse

Driveline:
Front and rear driveshafts with torque sensing front differential

Front suspension:
Independent double-wishbone; 6.9 inches of travel

Rear suspension:
Independent double-wishbone; 8 inches of travel

Front brakes:
Triple-sealed dual hydraulic drums

Rear brake:
Single hydraulic drum

Tires:
25x8-12 (front); 25x10-12 (rear)

Length/Width/Height:
83.7 inches/46.1 inches/47.5 inches

Wheelbase:
50.8 inches

Seat height:
34.5 inches

Ground clearance:
10 inches

Turning radius:
10.8 feet

Dry weight:
600 pounds

Fuel capacity:
4.5 gallons, including 1-gallon reserve

Available colors:
Olive, Red

Base MSRP:
$7,599

Vehicle:
'03 Honda Fourtrax Rubicon

Engine:
499cc liquid-cooled OHV single-cylinder four-stroke

Bore and stoke:
92.0x75.0mm

Carburetion:
33.5mm Constant Velocity

Ignition:
CD with electronic advance

Starter:
Electric with auxiliary recoil

Transmission:
Fully automatic hydro-mechanical, continuously variable with electronic controls

Driveline:
Front and rear driveshafts with torque sensing front differential

Front suspension:
Independent double-wishbone; 6.7 inches of travel

Rear suspension:
Swing arm with dual shock absorbers; 6.7 inches of travel

Front brakes:
Triple-sealed dual hydraulic drums

Rear brake:
Sealed mechanical drum

Tires:
25x8-12 (front); 25x10-12 (rear)

Length/Width/Height:
81.6 inches/46.6 inches/47 inches

Wheelbase:
50.9 inches

Seat height:
33.9 inches

Ground clearance:
7.8 inches

Turning radius:
10.8 feet

Dry weight:
600 pounds

Fuel capacity:
3.7 gallons, including 1-gallon reserve

Available colors:
Olive, Red, Yellow

Base MSRP:
$6,999

Sources

American Honda Motor Co. Inc.
Torrance, CA 90501

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