HONDA TALON 1000R LONG TERM TEST

The Honda Talon 1000R was the most anticipated sport SxS since the Yamaha YXZ1000R three years earlier. After getting our hands on the Talon, we did the usual comparisons (March 2020) and tests with it, putting lots of miles on it—lots and lots of miles. Since June, we’ve put over 2500 miles on the Talon. We’ve changed the oil, tuned the shocks and changed the tires, among other things. We wanted to let you know exactly what we liked and what we didn’t during this long-term test of the Honda Talon 1000R.

Unfortunately, the under-carriage of any UTV, especially the trailing arms, get sand-blasted by roost off the front tries. This in turn allows for rust to happen, especially if you ride in wet conditions.

TIRES

By far the worst aspect of this UTV are the tires. It’s not that the Maxxis tire is bad, but the sizing Honda chose to put on the Talon is bad. Due to the size of the wheel hubs and rear suspension setup of the Honda Talon 1000R, Honda was forced to use a 15-inch wheel instead of the more common 14-inch wheel. Then Honda chose to put a very small 28-inch tire on that 15-inch wheel. The lack of sidewall is the problem. While a low-profile sidewall is great for railing corners and sliding sideways, it’s not good in the rough. Whether it’s in rocky terrain or square-edge bumps we try to drive the Honda over, the Honda tires under-perform. The car needs more sidewall flex to help smooth its roll. Also, we got more pinch flats and sidewall punctures with these stock tires than on any car since the original Wildcat 1000, which came with weak, six-ply Duro tires. We’ve tried a couple of different sets of tires on the Talon, all the way up to 35s. What we like the best is a 30-31×10-15; however, keep in mind that if you are buying aftermarket wheels, you have to get a wider offset for your rear tires. Or, you can get away with a narrow set of wheel spacers in the rear if your new wheels are the same offset all the way around. Team Honda used a set of 1.5-inch spacers from Dragonfire Racing on both cars at the King of the Hammers race recently.

From sea level to well over 9000 feet, the Talon’s EFI system works perfectly. We never had issues with power loss, backfiring or hard-starting.
We made up a survival kit to take along with us all year and put it in a Pelican case. It had an air compressor, jumper box, food and first-aid kit. We stored a tool bag inside the spare wheel and held everything in place with ratchet straps.

SHOCKS

Initially, we liked the stock Fox shocks on the Honda Talon 1000r. During our first test in the dunes and slow-speed rock section of Sand Hollow State Park in Utah, they worked well. You could feel the difference in the three clicker adjustments. Once we were out of the dunes, however, the shocks felt harsh at slow to medium speed. Again, Honda was aiming for go-kart-like handling with this machine, and they nailed it; however, in choppy terrain over rocks or just rough dirt roads, we couldn’t find a plush setup. We tried raising the collars on the crossovers, but the car just started body rolling too much, and it did nothing for the comfort level. We have a set of Shock Therapy springs sitting in the shop that we know will do the trick. You can also read about the HCR 72-inch-wide machine we tested in the April issue.

Just in time for the final test in Baja, we swapped out the stock tires for a set of Sedona Mud Rebels. For these harsh conditions we didn’t want to bother with plugging holes in the stock tires. Look for a complete test of the Mud Rebel tire soon.
One of our major complaints with the Talon is that the driver’s seat doesn’t slide back enough for taller drivers. Shorter ones have no problems with the cockpit.

PROTECTION

The stock plastic skid plates held up well; however, we would prefer a much stronger aluminum or thick UHMW skid plate under the engine at the rear of the car. The oil pan is so low, it almost sits flush with the bottom of the frame. One rock in the wrong place on the bad side of a G-out and it would be toast. You could lose an entire engine if you were on a long ride and didn’t know it happened. We had one CV boot crack and spring a leak in Baja. We cleaned it up with contact cleaner, added some red RTV silicone and kept riding. Five hundred miles later, it’s still holding. We also replaced a driver’s-side front diff seal. It started leaking at 300 miles but never got too bad. We replaced it anyway.

These are the factory trailing-arm guards you can get from Honda. You can see how much abuse they take. You can also see what part they don’t protect, and it’s starting to rust. Unfortunately, all trailing arms do this.
Keep in mind that it takes just over 6 quarts of oil per service in this rig. The engine and transmission get lubed by the same liquid, so change it often. The sub-transmission is separate and has its own oil.

Up top, the stock roof does a good job keeping direct sun and rain off, but that’s it. The front visor needs to be lower to block more afternoon or morning sun. Aftermarket visors from Assault Industries would do the trick as well. We had a radius rod ding a rock too early on. We drove on it slightly bent for 1200 miles, and it never got worse. The stock pieces are strong; however, Raceco (https://raceco-usa.com) makes aftermarket rods for $695 a set if you want to go that route. Raceco has a load of Talon parts coming out, including long-travel for the four-seater.

We pre-ran the muddy Baja 1000 course last November. The lack of lower doors was an issue. We won’t ride in the mud again without them.

GOING THE DISTANCE

After 2635 miles, our Talon is still running solid. The typical sand-blasting of the rear trailing arms is happening; roost guards from www.lsracing
.com
would help here. When it’s time to change the oil, keep in mind this car takes 6.1 quarts, which is a gallon more than a RZR. The bushings and ball joints are still without play, and there are no new squeaks or rattles. The Talon is really a quality machine. Without a turbo or a long-travel four-seat option, it may not be the machine for everyone; but, it is a machine that will hold up to the abuse of almost anyone. Honda maintains its excellent reputation for building strong, reliable products with this machine.

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