2019 HONDA TALON

— Special report on both the R and the X models —

It looks like Honda has come out swinging with the announcement of two versions of its long-awaited Talon SxS. The 2019 Honda Talons will be priced comparably with other non turbo cars in the class. Prices will be released in January. They will both be powered by a 999cc, single-cam, dual-cylinder engine with four valves per cylinder and fuel injection. Horsepower is just over 100. The transmission is similar to what’s found on the Pioneer 1000 or Honda’s Africa Twin Adventure motorcycle with dual clutches and a six-speed gearbox with a high/low sub-transmission. The dual-range transmission basically gives it 12 speeds, which will be perfect for rock crawling, tight woods or open desert trails. Drivers will be able to shift using paddle shifters or let the machine do it automatically. The machines have different rear suspension systems and a wheelbase that is either slightly shorter or slightly longer than that of a 90-inch RZR XP.

At a glance, the difference between the Talon X and the R is that the X has the Talon claw logo on the door and machined wheels. The R has the Honda wing and black wheels.
Like the X, the Talon R only has half doors and full window nets. Honda already has sets of full aluminum doors to sell you at the dealership. Both models have a six-point roll cage.
You can tell that the cockpit is fairly roomy. In stock trim, it has wide seats that don’t come near touching each other.

TALON X

This is the 64-inch-wide version meant to take on rocks or tighter woods trails. It has a three-link rear suspension with 15 inches of travel and dual A-arms up front with 14.6 inches of travel. Fox Podium three-position shocks are used on all four corners. This machine is 123.9 inches long, 64 inches wide and 75.3 inches tall with an 87-inch wheelbase. The X will be available in Pearl Red/Metallic Grey and Metallic Grey/Metallic Blue. The X has a curb weight of 1490 pounds.

The intake is snorkeled, and the air filter is super easy to access so maintenance won’t be a chore like it is on some competitive models.
A full-coverage plastic skid plate is found under the Talon. The 15-inch wheels should prevent small rocks from getting kicked up by the front tires and lodged between the calipers and rear wheel as happens on other brand machines.
The 28×15 inch tires are standard on both models. The engineers tell us that they have tested up to a 30-inch tire, and it works without gearing changes or clearance issues.

TALON R

Honda’s version of long travel brings the Talon to 68.4 inches wide and gives it 17.7 inches of front suspension and 20 inches of rear suspension, which is comparable to a RZR XP. The rear suspension is a stronger four-link design, and all four shocks are Fox Podiums with QS3 adjusters. The R will be available in Pearl Red and Pearl Green. The R has a curb weight of 1545 pounds.

At 64 inches wide, the X is not narrow by any means. It will, however, fit on the tighter trails back east, as most of them have been widened over the years by people in RZRs and YXZ1000Rs.
The X model is .3 inches lower than the R both in the overall measurement and ground clearance. Wheel travel is also reduced by 3 inches in the front and 5 inches in the rear.
The two Talon models differ by width and length. The wheelbase on the R model at 92.7 inches (shown) is 5 inches longer than the X.

SIMILARITIES

Both machines will use the same 28×9-15 front and 28×11-15 rear tires. Unfortunately, the wheels have a very different offset front and rear, so wheel companies will have to build accordingly. The gas tank is rather small at 7.3 gallons, but, on the positive side, in our testing of the Pioneer 1000, it gets much better gas mileage than most machines like it. Full window nets are standard equipment. The rear cargo-bed capacity is rated at 299 pounds. There is no turbo or four-seat option available as of now.

The engine tunes are identical in both Talon models. On our initial test drive, we confirmed that. However, the wider machine didn’t feel any slower, and the majority of owners won’t be begging for a turbo.
Here’s the rear three-link suspension of the Talon X. It appears to have radius rods, but they are not double-shear mounted at the hub. The aftermarket will fix that.
The frame mounts for the radius rods are double-sheared and look like they will be very easy to remove and replace if needed.

TEST DRIVE

Before their release, we were able to drive the Talons at one of Honda’s secret test facilities, and we certainly came away impressed.

The R held its line well in high-speed whoops. It felt very calm and planted, even in whoops on a curve. The R slides and corners very precisely. The X feels more agile than the 1000R with very flat cornering. It’s a little busier than the 1000R in high-speed whoops and bumps, but it is still good. It will be excellent in the tighter trails back east. Luckily for Honda, people have already been widening trails at the eastern ride areas to accept 64-inch-wide cars. Both Talons have powerful engines with cool sound and crisp response, though in auto mode, the DCT’s downshifts aren’t as smooth as a CVT. Upshifts are quick and crisp and give the machine a unique feel.

A solid sway bar sits above the suspension arms on the Talon X. The six-ply tires look like a lighter version of Maxxis’ Coronados.
The four-link rear suspension on the Talon R appears to be a cross between a RZR and YXZ setup utilizing radius rods and an upper A-arm.
Solid steel brake lines are found throughout this car. They are everywhere a flexible line is not needed. Honda has always been known for having very positive brake-pedal feel, and this car should be no different.

Automatic sport mode was the most fun. Even Honda test guys claim they can’t manually paddle shift as quickly as automatic mode. You can shift manually in automatic mode too.

In the cockpit, both machines had excellent seat and cabin comfort. The glove box and two wells in the dash offer abundant storage.

The center-mounted instrument panel is dated, but the instruments are clear and readable.

The shift selector and door releases have a smooth, solid, high-quality feel.

The cockpit has good legroom for both the driver and passenger. The passenger grab handle is equipped with motorcycle hand grips and an easy-to-use adjuster.
This is the first UTV we have seen that places the battery at shoulder height and clear of any heat or water.
A tilt wheel and paddle shifters are available if needed. The automatic mode works ultra fast too.
Huge padded seats are standard equipment, as are bezels to pass harness belts through if you choose to upgrade.

INITIAL THOUGHTS

The average trail rider will find the Honda Talon a great choice. Sand guys or racers may shy away until a turbo option is available. We can bet there are a ton of current dirt bike owners who will use this machine to finally jump in and enjoy the sport of UTV riding. With the reliability we have seen from Honda over the years and the fun we had on the initial test drive, we can’t wait to put some more miles on both Talon models in different parts of the country. The giant has awakened, and we expect even bigger things to come out of Honda in the sport SxS market. This may just be the beginning.

Hi-performance Honda UTVsHonda Talon RHonda Talon X