Behind the wheel of Honda’s all new sport SXS

The most anticipated new SXS of 2019 is no doubt Honda’s 2019 Talon 1000R or the Talon 1000X. We took each machine on a full day test drive and this is what we thought of the 68-inch, wide $21,000  Talon 1000R.


It has really good power from the moment you stab the throttle all the way to a slightly premature rev limit at about 9,000. You can still feel power building when that electronic rev limiter kicks in. You feel the most torque at between 4,000 and 6,000 rpm. The 104 horsepower is up around that 9K mark.  In high gear, the speed limit is set at 74MPH. Electronic performance packages will have the ability to change this (for closed course competition only of course). With your foot to the floor it revs quick and you are busy shifting gears in manual mode.  We liked automatic mode better unless we were doing a steep climb in sand or technical terrain.

   In low gear, the speed limiter is set rather high at 53MPH. A full 50-percent reduction would have been better. In stock trim with two people in the car it has plenty of torque to climb steep hills even from a stand still. First gear in high or low range is good enough for rock crawling. We can’t yet confirm that would be the case if you added a bunch of weight, installed larger, heavier tires or drove in sticky mud. Those situations may call for a gear reduction kit like the early YXZ’s did. We have no doubt, it will be done to this Talon as well, unless Honda announces a mud or rock version soon.

It in no way feels down on power to any other naturally aspirated machine. In fact in deep sand it feels like it has more than some since you can manipulate the transmission to keep the revs high getting the maximum power to all four wheels. At the seat of the pants, the torque feels right on par with a RZR XP1000, Wildcat XX, Maverick Sport or the Yamaha YXZ1000R. The twin cylinder Honda has a throaty sound and is very exciting to drive.


Porsche and Ferrari use dual clutch transmissions as much as Honda does and they have for over a decade. In a SXS concept, not only does it eliminate the need for a belt, the system is lightning quick going through the gears and has been proven reliable. Over two days of testing, we tried slamming the gears with the paddle shifters and tried out automatic mode as well. We ended up liking auto mode better.

   From the start, it was shifting great. As the computer learned our driving style, the auto shifting got even better and by the end of a run it matched up nearly perfect. Only every once in a while you would notice it shifting when you didn’t expect it. It worked much better than we thought.

In Auto, you can tap on the paddle to up or downshift if you wanted or needed to set up for a corner or an obstacle early. So it gave the best of both worlds. The only time we didn’t feel auto mode was useful is when climbing steep sand hills. In this situation it would hunt for the right gear.  So here we used manual mode knew the transmission would never prematurely shift and bog you down.

   Driving aggressively in full manual mode, there is slight delay on the paddle and the power is still building up to the 9,000 rev limit, so if you have a heavy foot or loose conditions the engine would hit that limiter before it shifted. Like the computer does, we would have to train ourselves to shift a fraction of a second early. In auto mode that never happens.  So for a casual trail rider, Honda’s DCT works perfect in any mode. The gears were low enough to crawl through the rocks and sporty enough to rip down anything from tight trails to long desert roads. If you wanted to drive with pure aggression, you have to take a few miles to learn to up shift early and then it would perform to your needs. For most of the day auto was our favorite setting.


Excellent and predictable. In a straight-line over whoops, it’s not as plush as a longer wheelbase Can-Am Maverick X3 but it works. It will skip over rollers and drives straight as an arrow. You could also rail through rough corners and the machine would never feel like stepping out or fishtail There is zero unexpected bucking or swapping. The suspension arms are beefy and felt like you could beat them without fail.

  The shock adjustments are easy with a three position compression clicker and they did the job. On “soft” the car was plush, on hard, it was stiff. We didn’t have a chance to play with the spring crossovers, but there is no doubt you could get both slow speed plushness and retain the great bottom out protecting with some fine tuning. A slightly taller tire would help bump absorption too and a taller sidewall would help preventing flats. When driven aggressive, a 28×15 tire is more vulnerable to pinch flats than the typical 29X14 that most machines like this come with. The Maxxis tires that come on this machine are good and provide great floatation in the sand and traction on all surfaces.

  At 68+ inches wide, the Talon R didn’t feel wider than a RZR or YXZ. It doesn’t have much body roll and never gets on two wheels even when slamming into corners hard. i4WD Is a huge asset in this area as well as cornering. It’s like a version of traction control with the computer preventing the car from stepping out when you corner hard. Best of all you don’t feel it working. The computer sends pulses of brake force to wheels that are slipping thus sending drive to the ones with traction. It’s a great technology with very little ill effects for this machine. It in no way slows it down or gives it chatter like antilock brakes do. The system might speed up brake pad wear but for the traction benefits we will take it. Under acceleration, the rear of the car stayed pretty level and not reducing ground clearance. There was very little squat or front end dive.


  The cabin has automotive level fit and finish quality. The steering is super light and completely predictable. The tilting wheel is solid and doesn’t jiggle or flex. The seats offer race car quality while still being easy to get in and out of. The driver’s side seat slider rolls smooth even when muddy. Drivers over six feet tall will fit, but you will hear them asking for a bit more room. On the passenger side we were equally as impressed with the seating position and sliding grab handle. The floor of the car gives height options for tall or shorter passengers by supplying foot rests with traction pads. We felt the deep, tall guy pocket was a little narrow for two big feet but it wasn’t uncomfortable. Entry through the forward opening doors was easy latching solid and very easy to operate from the inside or out. The nets were not instrusive and only required one clip to easily open or close them. In addition to the rattle free passenger grab handle, there was a sturdy handle on each door as well as an arm rest. When going super aggressively our driver did hit the armrest with his elbow on occasion. It was noticeable but not a major issue. In all other situations it was a nice touch.


  The frame is mostly made up of two inch round tubing. The roof support appears to be strong  but is still removable with bolts if you wanted to build one with a different look or to be legal for racing. On the underside, the frame is wide but is covered with plastic skid plates that slide well. Our test machine also had skid plates added to the bottom of the trailing arm to help it glide over rocks, and that bolt on product did it’s job.


For a two-seat, non turbo powered performance SXS it’s great. If you want something else, Honda will be offering that soon. However, if you are trying to decide between this machine or the 2019 Talon 1000X, a YXZ1000R, Polaris RZR XP1000, Wildcat XX it has to be considered. If you don’t want a belt, the field is even narrower and the choice is even harder.  If you want the ability to shift on occasion but run in full automatic the rest of the time, there is no other choice.  Finally, we weren’t able to check fuel milage during or test drive and we are bummed the Talon only comes with a 7.3 gallon gas tank. However, in our experience, this same engine and transmission in Honda’s Pioneer 1000, does provide much better than average fuel economy.


Yes, in the woods or tight trails it doesn’t feel wide, it’s super stabile in sharp corners and has torque to win. In the desert it doesn’t feel short but would feel more at home on a tighter track. Like anything, certain mods will have to be made depending on your discipline. We are confident the clutch will hold up at this point and motor builders are very familiar with this style UNI Cam cylinder head since it’s been in Honda ATV’s since 2004 and dirt bikes before that. However, even in stock trim, the automatic transmission and i4WD system will make an amateur racer faster. Desert guys will probably want to wait until a four seat version is available or add wheelbase with suspension.


Great traction crawling/cornering traction

No belt, quick shifting DCT

Dual range Hi/Lo transmission

Manual or Automatic shifting


Cockpit slightly cramped for taller people

No turbo or 4-seat option yet

Three sided rear cargo area

Smaller 7.3 gallon tank


SPECS: 2019 Honda Talon 1000R…1000X


Engine type…Liquid-cooled, Uni Cam, Parallel Twin, 4-stroke…Liquid-cooled, Uni Cam, Parallel Twin, 4-stroke


Bore x stroke…92mmX75.15mm…92mmX75.15mm

Compression ratio…10:1…10:1

Lubrication system…Wet sump…Wet sump

Additional cooling…Auto fan…Auto fan

Induction… 46mm EFI (x2)… 46mm EFI (x2)

Starting/back-up…Electric/none …Electric/none

Starting procedure…Turn ignition switch w/brake on…Turn ignition switch w/brake on

Air filter:

Type…Paper pleate..Paper pleate

Access…Behind panel in bed…Behind panel in bed

Transmission…Dual-range w/reverse…Dual-range w/reverse

Reverse procedure…Move range selector to “R”…Move range selector to “R”

Drive system…Selectable 2WD/4WD w/auto diff lock …Selectable 2WD/4WD w/auto diff lock

Final drives…Shafts…Shafts


Fuel capacity…7.3 gals…7.3 gals


Overall length/width/height…123.9”/68.4”/75.6”…123.9”/64”/75.3”

Ground clearance…13”…12.7”

Claimed wet weight…1545 lbs…1490lbs

Bed weight limit… 299lbs…299lbs


Towing limit…N/A…N/A


Frame…Steel round tube

Suspension/wheel travel:

Front…Dual A-arm w/prel./comp.-adj. shocks/17.7”…Dual A-arm w/prel./comp.-adj. shocks/14.6”

Rear…IRS 4-link Trailing-arms w/prel./comp.-adj. shocks/20.1”…IRS  3-link Trailing-arms w/prel./comp.-adj. shocks/15.1”


Front…Hydraulic discs/left-side pedal…Hydraulic discs/left-side pedal

Rear… Hydraulic discs/left-side pedal… Hydraulic discs/left-side pedal

Parking…Lever on console..Lever on console…Lever on console..Lever on console





DC Outlet…Console…Console


Front…2 LED hi/lo headlights w/accents…2 LED hi/lo headlights w/accents

Rear…Dual LED brake/tail lights…Dual LED brake/tail lights


Instrumentation…Digital or analog Speed/odo/trip/hour/rpm/fuel/gear/clock/2WD-4WD…Digital or analog Speed/odo/trip/hour/rpm/fuel/gear/clock/2WD-4WD

Colors…Pearl Red/Pearl Green…Pearl Red/Metaliic Grey, Metallic Grey/Metallic Blue

Minimum recommended operator age…16…16

Suggested retail price…$20,999…$19,999

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