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Honda’s Game-Changer: Talon Sport Side-by-Side

Posted in News on November 27, 2018
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The power sports industry is fiercely competitive. Honda is hoping to grab a piece of that competition with the newly released Talon UTV—Honda’s first entry into the sport side-by-side market. The Talon is not just any UTV. It’s a sport machine inspired by Honda’s historic off-road motorcycle heritage. One look at the design of the machine and you will understand why.

The Talon takes cues from the highly successful CRF motorcycle line. Honda wanted all of its parts to be functional on the UTV. Engineers paid attention to small details. The doors are designed to allow better visibility of the terrain. The standard roof features a rain gutter to allow water to quickly flow off and not soak the occupants. A large cooler fits easily in the rear cargo area with tie-down hooks for keeping it secure. Vents in the roof allow for airflow when the side-by-side is loaded on a trailer facing backwards. The one-piece frame features an “E-Coat” that makes it resistant to static electricity. The overall vehicle is lighter, allowing for it to go faster. The design allows for advanced cooling of the engine.

The instrument panel on the Talon is in the center of the dash for easy reading. Cupholders fit a fullsize tumbler. There is a large glovebox that holds small, loose items. Honda tried out several seats before selecting the sturdy sport seat customized for the Talon. It will fit just about any aftermarket harness.

The Talon will come in two versions: the 1000R and 1000X. While many of the features are the same on both models, the 1000R has better suspension and is designed to hit the off-road jumps a little better. It has a four-link trailing arm for an extra 5 inches of travel. The Fox Podium shock package differs slightly between the two models—2.0 shocks are used on the 1000X and 2.5 shocks on the 1000R.

Honda worked with Fox Shocks and several Baja legends to develop the right package for the Talon. They received feedback from the legends on how the shocks should be mounted and adjusted. Maxxis also made a tire exclusive to the Talon. Honda will offer an entire line of accessories to complement the side-by-side.

So how does it drive? We had the opportunity to get behind the wheel near Honda’s California proving grounds. There are paddle shifters on the steering wheel, but with the Talon’s automatic shifting system, you almost forget about figuring out which of the six gears you need to be in. The system is fully automatic and practically does all the work for you—making for a more enjoyable drive. Throw it into sport mode and you can fully get after it in the dirt. There is a normal mode and manual mode if you really need full control of the vehicle. Honda relied on its motocross technology when setting up the gears for the Talon. A dual clutch transmission (DCT) first debuted on Honda’s touring bikes. They incorporated the technology into the Talon. DCT uses two clutches that are controlled by sophisticated electronics and hydraulics. One clutch, which rides on a hollow outer shaft, controls odd-numbered gear sets (1, 3, 5); the other clutch rides on an inner shaft and controls even-numbered gear sets (2, 4, 6). Multiple gears are engaged simultaneously so that the transmission is constantly prepared for the next shift. Data, collected by a series of sensors, is processed by the ECU, which uses an advanced algorithm to determine when the shift-control motor should electronically trigger gear changes. At those moments, one clutch disengages and the other engages, resulting in shifts that are quick, smooth, and seamless. A geared transmission that shifts automatically, DCT enables a direct, connected feeling between the foot pedal and the rear wheels, as well as an efficient transfer of power.

One of our favorite features on the Talon is the Hill Start Assist. We were able to completely stop on a steep slope, engage the feature, and regain our momentum without stalling. It’s much like an extra boost or push up the hill. You can also switch between four- and two-wheel drive at any speed. Just push the button! Engineers have dubbed the Talon a four-wheeled motocross bike. After driving this machine, we get it!

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