ASSAULT TALON HCR-3

Building the machine that Honda won’t

For this build we wanted to create something unique, and with help from Assault Industries, HCR Suspension and a handful of other companies, we did just that. Our objective was to build a long-wheelbase, long-travel Honda that looked great and was capable of tackling the roughest terrain on long, cross-country adventures.

During this build we have taken the Honda on many two- and three-day Mojave Desert adventures. HCR’s long-travel suspension and reliable Demon axles give us confidence to do 200-mile days without hesitation.

 

By the time you read this, Honda may have already announced their own production long-travel, long-wheelbase machine. It will be good, but with a little investment, you can get your own Talon of any year to work even better. It will take help from Assault Industries, however, to make it look this good.

 

FIRST LOOK

While the two-seat Honda Talon has one of the best-looking ROPS systems, the four-seater has one of the strangest-looking setups. To cure that, we commissioned Assault Industries to build us a roll cage with style and function. Unlike the production Talon cage, this one has the front intrusion bar removed. This more open cockpit not only lets the driver and passenger see out better, our single rear-center passenger had an unobstructed view. More on the single back seat later.

Assault used 1 3/4-inch tubing instead of the stock 2-inch tubing Honda uses. The Assault structure is a true roll cage that can be used for racing; it’s not just a “roof support.” The aluminum top also makes it race-legal. To keep with a race theme, we retained the stock safety nets by utilizing Assault Industries’ 1/4-20 accessory clamps. We clamped these on the roll cage and bolted the buckle clips right to them. Out back, we built our own spare-tire mount. It’s tilted up and pushed forward over the airbox, leaving ample room behind the tire for a storage box. Inside that airbox, we replaced the stock pleated filter element with a washable foam filter and aluminum base from Twin Air. The kit was only $165. New filters are now only $45, and they can be washed and reused basically for free.

The old-school, off-road truck or buggy look definitely turns heads. We think Assault nailed it on this cage design with its wraparound rear bumper, and it makes the Honda Talon 4 really stand out over the stock look.

We had Assault build us a cage with a few adjustments away from their production unit. Ours doesn’t have a center intrusion bar, so our rear passenger has a clear view out the front window. We reused the factory window nets.

 

Assault’s cage design incorporates a rear wraparound bumper and cargo area. There’s still extra room to go along with a spare tire laying flat or even more when tilted. We are still searching for the perfect cargo box to fit in the back.

 

Open Trail’s Stealth LED light bar costs under $500. We compared it to an expensive KC light system, and we were gifted with about 25 percent more light for a third of the cost.

 

SOFT SUSPENSION

We have featured a ton of machines with bolt-on HCR suspension, but it’s been years since we’ve done the install ourselves. For this build, we did just that. HCR is the innovator in this segment. They were the first company to build and sell mass-produced, long-travel kits for the Yamaha Rhino and early 50-inch RZRs. So, for the past 15 years, they have been designing and building kits for the machines that need it the most, including this Honda Talon 1000X-4.

We ordered the $5775, 72-inch-wide kit unpainted. We wanted to match the Assault cage and spare-tire rack that we built with the same gray color if possible. HCR does offer 10 powdercoat options for an additional $500–$700. Our local shop only charged us $250.

Another choice you need to be aware of when buying a kit like this are axles. HCR sells RCV axles that you can slide your own stock CVs on to, or they offer Demon Powersports complete half shafts for an extra $1879 for all four. Take it from us, not having to hassle with removing the stock CVs, deal with grease and clamp the boots on correctly is worth the extra money. Plus, the Demon Powersports axles are made of heavy-duty, 4340 chromoly, and the chrome finish looks great.

If you are looking for a clean wheel, we are in love with the Fuel Tech beadlock. Its Matte Gray color matches the other gray components on this build. Behind that wheel sits an aftermarket Braking brand rotor.

 

Demon Powersports and HCR suspension are working together and offer the heavy-duty, race-spec half shaft with all of their kits. The combo is super strong and bolts together easily. Demon Powersports has a growing list of hard parts, like bearings and ball joints available at www.demonpowersports.com or call them directly at (855) 373-4685.

 

Honda’s Talon frames are good, but when you start pushing suspension components to the limits, fatigue sets in quick. After competing in and winning the Baja 1000, RaceCo came up with a solution to strengthen those pickup points. The stainless steel brackets can be used with stock or aftermarket suspension parts.

 

When installed, the kit pushes the front of the Talon 8 inches wider and a full 10 inches wider in the rear. This is important to know, because stock wheels are actually wider in the rear than they are in the front. Now, if you are going to upgrade to aftermarket wheels as we did, those wheels will square the car up correctly.

The beauty of the entire HCR package is that you can use your stock shocks, ball joints, etc. It’s a real cost savings in the long run. While we did use the stock Fox shocks, we upgraded the springs with a set from ZBroz. The two-stage spring really helped with initial bump absorption and gave us the slow-speed driving comfort that we were after. In the harder hits, it was more of the same success. We could slam deep whoops with complete confidence that the front end wouldn’t dig in, bottom out or upset forward travel. In the suspension department, this Honda now works as well as a stock RZR Turbo S or an X3 X rs. The 2-inch Fox shocks probably wouldn’t handle a race situation, but they are perfectly fine for weekend trail rides no matter how rough the terrain is.

An often overlooked aspect of long-travel suspension is the added leverage and stress that these parts put on the frame. RaceCo has the fix for all of it. We installed RaceCo’s A-arm mounting brackets, trailing-arm pivot strengtheners and their front shock tower brace. Now, all of the additional energy that the long-travel kit makes can be dissipated instead of causing cracks in the frame. These parts will work with stock arms as well.

Assault supplied the tie-rods and rear sway-bar links. The radius rods in the rear came with the HCR suspension kit, although Assault does sell those components, and HCR does supply extensions if you want to use your stock tie-rods.

While the HCR kit still uses stock-length shocks, there is a noticeable difference in travel and overall comfort. It feels like we have increased travel by 50 percent over the narrow, stiff, stock Talon X.

 

The EFX Gripper tire rolls super smooth on hard-packed trails, and its 10-ply carcass is trouble-free. We carry a spare, but don’t think it will ever be put into service. HCR’s rear trailing arm is 5 inches wider than stock, so along with the 4-inch-wider A-arms, you can run wheels with the same offset to square up the car’s footprint.

 

Assault’s Savage front bumper can carry a small light bar, pods or guide a winch. It looks great and sells for $350 at www.assaultind.com.

 

WHEELS AND MOTION

Our wheels of choice for this project are the same 15-inch Fuel Tech bead-locks that we used when we first tried 30-inch tires on a Talon. The Matte Anthracite wheel matches the other grey components on the build nicely. Our wheels have the 38mm offset. Wrapped around those wheels are the 10-ply EFX Gripper tires. Although we do carry a spare tire, we don’t want to deal with flats or even low tires. In a couple years of testing this tire, we’ve never had a sidewall slice or nail puncture of any kind. The tread pattern works in a large variety of terrains and has a great, smooth feel on harder high-speed roads.

Behind those wheels, we installed a set of Braking rotors. The extra leverage of heavy tires does put a strain on brakes, and every little bit of extra performance helps reduce that.

We added range to the Talon by installing the 11.5-gallon Trail Tank. It fits in the stock location with no extra fabrication necessary. They build them for most popular UTVs. The Talon one costs $399 at www.trailtank.net.

 

Here you can see the difference in size between the stock 7.7-gallon tank and the bigger one from Trail Tank. Both use the stock fuel pump and gas cap.

 

Dash space on any Talon is at a premium, so we utilized Assault’s universal radio mount above the front passenger. The Rugged Radios intercom takes care of our long-distance communications. This intercom has the push-to-talk buttons on the face, so we didn’t have to mount them remotely.

 

NAVIGATION AND COMMUNICATION

Just in front of the Assault steering wheel, we installed the Tread GPS and communication device from Garmin. This unit is about the size of a large cell phone and acts like your everyday navigation system with maps, directions, points of interest, and the ability to create, track and share GPS files of your rides. What’s even better on the Tread is that you can track other Garmin users’ movements just like you can with Polaris’ Ride Command. Unfortunately, you cannot see Ride Command users. The Tread starts at $799, which is about half of what it costs to add Ride Command to a Polaris machine. Another great feature of the Tread is that it can act as a display for the $150 Garmin remote camera we mounted right behind the rear differential to use as a backup camera. You can actually mount the camera facing any direction and anywhere on the car. Furthermore, Tread also acts as a two-way radio. It’s not super high-powered, so a good line of sight is about all it will reach, but for most ride areas, it will work just fine.

For long-range communication, we installed a $325 Rugged Radios RRP364 intercom. To keep from using up the already crowded dash space in the Talon, we mounted the components on the ceiling of the car above the passenger seat using Assault’s universal communications roof mount ($159). The intercom we chose has the radio push-to-talk buttons built into the unit, so we didn’t have to run any extra wires or cables. We only had to run wires out to the helmets, power wires to the battery and an antenna wire.

The simplicity of the complete half shaft from Demon is what sold us on the product. You can use your stock CVs with the HCR kit and RCV axles, but the amount of labor and hassle it takes to swap them over is not worth it.

 

We installed Assault’s adjustable sway-bar links. In about two minutes, you can change them from tight for hardpack to loose for the rocks, and they look much better than stock. For even more comfort on the trail, the ZBroz spring kit made this Talon night and day better. The HCR suspension alone was a good add-on but we didn’t get the most from it until installing the springs.

 

All three seats were outfitted with Assault harnesses. Assault supplies colored (or white) logo panels that Velcro in place. They do have a green set, but we hit our limit on the lime jokes for this build.

 

BACK-SEAT RIDER

So, the rear passenger area of the Talon is probably the most unique part of the build. Sure, manufacturers are trying to make the ride the best it can be for the rear passengers by adding stadium or offset seats, but being in the back of a four-seater is still not our favorite experience. In this build, the rear spot is great. We removed the two rear seats and placed one back in the middle. All we had to do is hog out the rear seat mount slightly and cut a piece of metal strapping to hold down the front portion of the seat base.

In this position, the rear passenger straddles the tunnel and has plenty of leg room. The center position has a clear view out the windshield. The rider moves much less in the center and is surprisingly very comfortable. Next to the rider, we carry Ogio’s Dry day bag against the firewall and the Nelson-Rigg Hurricane cargo bag on the other side. Where the driver’s-side rear seat used to sit, we stuffed our Pro Eagle Phoenix jack and its bag in a small void. This placement allows the rear passenger a soft pad to slide over and against when getting in and out of the car.

Wirelessly connected to our Garmin Tread is this backup camera that sends an image via Bluetooth. It’s perfect for those cars that don’t come with one, like just about every car except a Polaris.

 

If you haven’t ridden in a vehicle with the rear seat moved to the center, you don’t know how good a back-seat ride can be. It’s now the best seat in the vehicle.

 

Behind that Assault steering wheel is the 5.5-inch Garmin Tread GPS. It not only functions as an everyday GPS unit, it has Buddy Track, so you can see other cars around you using the same system. It’s how our group rides stay dust-free and nobody gets lost.

 

LONG RANGE

To extend our ride time between gas stops, we installed a $399 Trail Tank replacement gas tank. The new, larger, 11.5-gallon unit sits in the stock location and installed in about an hour. It uses the stock fuel pump, gauge and gas cap. We can now get 200 miles between fill-ups if we are not too heavy on the throttle.

Up front, a twin-row, 40-inch LED light bar takes up the entire width of the roof line. This unit is from Open Trail’s Stealth line, meaning it has a slight tint to the front lens. This by no means cuts down on output. We actually tested this $475 light bar against a $1600 setup from KC, and the Open Trail product was easily 25 percent brighter. We have been very impressed with the new Open Trail line of parts available from Western PowerSports dealers.

Honda’s engine intake scoop is in a very dusty area. This means its expensive pleated paper filter gets dirty often. So, the decision to replace it with a washable foam unit from Twin Air was an easy one.

 

When adding accessories to any vehicle, wiring can become a hassle and a mess. XTC Power Products has plug-and-play harness kits, fuse blocks and switch panels for all popular UTVs. Check them out at www.xtcpowerproducts.com.

 

CONCLUSIONS

By the time you read this, Honda may release a long-travel, long-wheelbase Talon. It will have four seats and great quality. You can take our plans and upgrade the components as you see fit. If not, or you own a 2020 or 2021 Talon 4X, you can be assured that with HCR and RaceCo components, you can make your trail rides significantly better. The components from Assault Industries, Open Trail, Braking and Trail Tank will let you do more fun trail rides than ever. We will see you out there. Future plans for this machine are to add an accessory Turbo or supercharger as well as a roof rack and more adventure products, so stay tuned.

ASSAULT HONDA TALON HCR-3 BUILD LIST

ASSAULT INDUSTRIES:

www.assualtind.com

Roll cage

Steering wheel

Tire rods

Sway-bar links

Communications mount

Device holder

Mirrors

Front bumper

DESIGN ENGINEERING:

www.designengineering.com

Heat-shield kit

DEMON POWERSPORTS:

www.demonpowersports.com

Extreme heavy-duty race-spec LT axles

EFX TIRES: www.efxtires.com

Gripper 10-ply, 32×10-15 tires

FUEL WHEELS: www.fuelutv.com

Tech 15×7 136, + 38mm, Matte Anthracite

wheels

GARMIN: www.garmin.com

5.5” Tread powersports GPS

Backup camera

HCR SUSPENSION: www.hcrracing.com

Talon 1000X long-travel suspension

HONDA: www.powersports.honda.com

2021 Honda Talon 1000X-4

NESLON-RIGG: www.nelsonrigg.com

Hurricane cargo bag

OGIO: www.ogiopowersports.com

Dry day bag

OPEN TRAIL: www.opentrailusa.com

40-Inch Stealth LED light bar

PRO EAGLE: www.proeagle.com

Phoenix CO2 jack

RACECO: www.raceco-usa.com

Shock tower brace

Four-corner suspension mount braces

RUGGED RADIOS: www.ruggedradios.com

RDM radio/ 364 intercom

TRAIL TANK: www.trailtank.net

11.5-gallon gas tank

TWIN AIR: www.twinair.com

Foam filter replacement

ZBROZ: www.zbrozracing.com

Stage 1 spring kit 

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