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Are Honda ATVs Good?

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When it comes to all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), few brands command the level of respect and trust as Honda. With decades of experience designing and manufacturing motorcycles, cars, and powersports vehicles, Honda has built a reputation for unparalleled reliability and performance. This dedication to quality engineering shows in Honda’s line of ATVs, which are designed to handle even the most grueling conditions with ease.

In this article, we’ll explore why Honda ATVs have earned their sterling reputation and how their key features make them capable and dependable machines. We’ll look at critical components like Honda’s engine design and transmission options that give their ATVs an edge. And we’ll highlight some of Honda’s most popular ATV models to showcase their versatility for work and recreation.

Whether you’re a farmer needing a rugged workhorse or a trail rider wanting a thrilling weekend ride, Honda has an ATV up for the task. Read on to learn why seasoned ATV riders trust Honda to take on tough terrain while providing years of reliable performance.

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Honda ATV Engine Design

When it comes to engine design, Honda spares no effort in testing and refining their ATV powerplants. Their rigorous testing simulates punishing real-world conditions to ensure maximum reliability. Honda ATV engines are run wide open for over 100 hours while under extreme load. This extended break-in period reveals any potential weaknesses that can then be improved. By going above and beyond standard industry testing, Honda engines have become legendary for their longevity and resistance to overheating.

Superior cooling systems provide additional protection against overheating on Honda ATVs. Large radiators, efficient water pumps, thermostats, and well-designed air intakes maintain proper operating temperatures even in the toughest conditions. This thermal management prevents the extreme heat that can lead to premature engine wear.

Easy access to routine maintenance items is another hallmark of Honda ATV engine design. The engineers optimize the layout to make oil checks, filter changes, valve adjustments, and spark plug access quick and convenient. Regular maintenance is the key to reliability, and Honda makes the process straightforward for owners.

 

Manual Transmission

One of the transmission options offered by Honda on select ATV models is a traditional manual transmission. This gives the rider full control over gear changes using a clutch and shift lever. For experienced riders, the manual transmission provides advantages when tackling technical terrain.

Unlike an automatic that shifts itself, with a manual transmission the rider decides precisely when to shift up or down. This level of control is beneficial when climbing steep hills, carefully modulating speed over obstacles, or holding a gear through a tricky section of trail. Being able to select the optimal gear in challenging situations enhances both performance and safety.

Shifting manually also allows the rider to better manage engine braking. By downshifting at the right moments, the compression braking of the engine can help control speed on descents. Overall, the manual transmission gives advanced riders more control and responsiveness from their ATV when riding aggressively or navigating difficult terrain.

While the manual transmission requires more rider input, it provides experienced ATV operators with greater feel and precision. For recreational and utility use on technical trails, it’s a smart choice offered by Honda.

 

Electric Shift Program (ESP)

One of the transmission options that sets Honda ATVs apart is the Electric Shift Program or ESP. This technology allows smooth, clutchless shifting for easier operation. ESP uses electric buttons mounted on the handlebar to change gears instead of requiring the rider to manually work a clutch and shift lever.

With the touch of a button, ESP sends a signal to Honda’s automatic transmission to smoothly shift up or down. This makes gear changes easy and instant without ever stalling out. ESP removes the need to coordinate the clutch and throttle during shifts, which can be tricky for new riders still getting the hang of using a manual transmission.

ESP simplifies shifting so the rider can focus on the terrain and operating the ATV. Since you don’t have to pull in the clutch, shifts can be made even while negotiating challenging sections of trail. The technology reduces rider fatigue on longer rides by eliminating repetitive clutching each time you need to change gears.

ESP allows you to shift on the fly and keep momentum going. The smooth gear changes help maintain speed through technical sections and when climbing hills without losing power between shifts. This advanced transmission gives beginners confidence while providing convenience for experienced riders.

 

Automatic Transmission

One of the transmission options that Honda offers on select ATV models is an automatic transmission. This type of transmission provides a convenient option for riders using their ATV for utility purposes or recreational trail riding. With an automatic transmission, there is no manual shifting required. The transmission automatically shifts between gears based on vehicle speed and engine load. This allows the rider to focus on the trail or terrain ahead without having to worry about manually shifting at the right time.

Honda’s automatic transmissions are designed to be durable, low maintenance, and deliver smooth shifts. On many utility and farm ATVs, having an automatic transmission simplifies operation so the rider can focus on getting work done without shifting. For recreational riders, it provides a less demanding experience and allows the focus to be on enjoying the ride versus operating the controls.

Some of Honda’s most popular ATV models equipped with automatic transmissions include the FourTrax Rancher, FourTrax Foreman, and FourTrax Recon models. The automatic transmission helps make these ATVs accessible for a wide range of riders and well-suited for both work and play. Honda continues to refine their automatic ATV transmissions over the years to provide reliable performance and seamless shifting in rugged conditions.

 

Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT)

One of the latest innovations Honda has introduced for its ATV lineup is the Dual Clutch Transmission or DCT. This advanced transmission technology aims to provide riders with the convenience of an automatic gearbox along with the control and direct feel of a manual transmission.

The DCT uses a pair of clutches – one for odd-numbered gears and one for even-numbered gears. As you accelerate and shift up, the next gear is pre-selected so the transition is seamless. This allows for very quick, smooth gear changes without needing to operate a clutch lever.

A sophisticated computer controls the DCT system to optimize shifting. It analyzes throttle position, vehicle speed, engine rpm and more to determine when to shift up or down. The computer can also adapt its shift mapping based on riding style and conditions.

An added benefit of the DCT is that you can manually trigger shifts with handlebar-mounted paddle shifters anytime you want more control. Being able to manually override the automatic shifting gives riders the best of both worlds – convenience when they want it and control when they need it.

Overall, Honda’s DCT technology offers a futuristic level of refinement by merging automatic convenience with manual control. It’s an innovative feature that improves the riding experience for both recreational and utility use.

 

Best All-Around: Honda FourTrax Rancher

When it comes to a powerful and versatile all-around ATV, the Honda FourTrax Rancher is tough to beat. This mid-sized ATV packs plenty of capability for work and recreation alike thanks to its liquid-cooled fuel-injected engine and rugged chassis. The Rancher is available in a wide range of engine sizes from 420cc up to 700cc, so riders have the flexibility to choose the right power for their needs.

A standout feature of the Rancher is its independent rear suspension. Unlike a solid rear axle, the independent suspension allows each rear wheel to move independently in response to the terrain. This results in a much smoother ride over bumps and rough terrain, reducing fatigue on longer rides. The plush long-travel shocks easily soak up impacts for a comfortable experience even when carrying heavy loads or navigating challenging trails.

For riders who don’t want to deal with fighting the steering on all-day rides or when working, the Rancher has the option to add power steering. The speed-sensitive electric power steering system provides light steering effort at slower speeds when maneuvering tight turns or loading cargo. But it won’t numb the feel at faster speeds. This makes a dramatic difference in reducing fatigue and allowing the rider to focus on the trail or task at hand rather than wrestling with the handlebars.

With its muscular engine, smooth-riding independent suspension, and available power steering, the Honda FourTrax Rancher is ready to take on any job or trail. For an all-around excellent mid-sized ATV, it’s hard to do better than the Rancher.

 

Honda FourTrax Recon – Great for Beginners and Trail Riding

The Honda FourTrax Recon is one of the most popular entry-level ATVs thanks to its lightweight and nimble handling. With a seat height under 31 inches, it allows shorter riders to plant their feet firmly on the ground, building confidence for new riders. The FourTrax Recon comes in both 2WD and 4WD options depending on the type of terrain you plan to tackle.

The 2WD model is a great choice for flat, groomed trails since it’s lighter and more maneuverable. Switching to 4WD provides extra traction and control in loose dirt, mud, or hills. The FourTrax Recon features a 229cc air-cooled OHV engine that provides smooth power delivery perfect for recreational trail riding. Its suspension absorbs bumps exceptionally well, with 5.8 inches of travel in the front and 5.3 inches in the rear.

Weighing in at just over 300 pounds, the FourTrax Recon is easy to handle on tight trails. Its compact size allows you to navigate through dense woods and make quick direction changes with ease. An automatic clutch ensures smooth gear changes without needing to manually shift. For stopping power, it has front disc and rear drum brakes. With its user-friendly design and capabilities, the Honda FourTrax Recon lives up to its reputation as one of the best entry-level ATVs.

 

Best Heavy-Duty: Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon

When you need an ATV that can handle heavy-duty work and hauling, the Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon is built to take on the toughest jobs. This larger and more powerful ATV has excellent towing capacity to pull equipment, tools or game. The Foreman Rubicon features a 518cc liquid-cooled OHV single-cylinder four-stroke engine that provides excellent torque for plowing through mud or climbing hills when fully loaded.

The sturdy steel frame and suspension can handle heavier loads without bottoming out. It comes standard with Honda’s durable independent rear suspension which improves ride quality and traction over rough terrain. The Foreman Rubicon transmission options include electric shift, manual, and Honda’s advanced automatic Dual Clutch Transmission for smooth and easy shifting.

With its superior power and strength, the Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon is designed for farmers, ranchers, hunters and workers who need to haul and tow serious loads on a daily basis. Its comfortable ride and handling make it suitable for long days completing tough jobs.

 

Honda ATV Suspension

A key factor in the renowned ride comfort of Honda ATVs is their advanced suspension systems. Honda incorporates long-travel suspension on most models, allowing the wheels to move freely up and down to absorb impacts. This is especially important for trail riding, where the ability to soak up bumps and ruts leads to a smooth, comfortable ride even on rough terrain.

Many Honda ATVs like the FourTrax Foreman and FourTrax Rancher also come equipped with independent rear suspension (IRS). This allows each rear wheel to move independently, following the contours of uneven ground rather than being locked together. The independent motion enables excellent traction since both tires stay in contact with the surface. It also provides superior control and handling.

For riders who want to fine tune the suspension for different uses or riding conditions, Honda ATVs offer adjustable shocks on some models. By changing the spring preload or damping, the suspension can be tuned for a softer ride when trail riding with a passenger or stiffened up for aggressive riding and jumps. This versatility caters to a wide range of riding styles and terrain.

Between the long travel, independent suspension, and adjustability, Honda ATV suspensions are purpose-built to deliver a plush, comfortable ride and keep the tires planted even when traversing harsh terrain. This adds to their reputation for reliability while also enhancing the riding experience.

 

Honda ATV Safety

Safety is a top priority for Honda when designing and manufacturing their ATVs. Honda ATVs meet strict safety standards and feature stable, responsive handling to give riders confidence on all kinds of terrain. Several key safety features help make Honda ATVs a smart choice for riders of all experience levels.

All Honda ATV models come standard with safety nets to help secure cargo during transport. The durable nets attach to the rear rack and prevent items from shifting or falling out. For hauling especially large or irregular loads, Honda offers cargo boxes and bags tailored to fit specific ATV models.

Other standard safety equipment includes a parking brake, skid plates to protect the underside, and front and rear lights for visibility. Available accessories like windshields, brush guards, and winches further improve safety and convenience.

Honda’s Electric Shift Program (ESP) is another innovation that enhances safety by automating smooth gear changes without the rider needing to use the clutch. This allows the rider to focus more attention on the terrain and operate the ATV with greater control.

With a legacy of quality manufacturing and a commitment to rider safety, Honda ATVs provide peace of mind for exploring the great outdoors. Their stable handling and abundance of safety features make Honda a trusted option for ATV riders of all skill levels.

 

Honda ATV Accessories

One of the great things about Honda ATVs is the wide range of accessories available to customize them for specialized use. From cargo racks to winches, you can outfit your Honda ATV to match your needs.

Carrying accessories like front and rear racks let you haul more gear on your adventures. Hitches make it easy to tow equipment trailers or sleds. Windshields and roofs provide protection from the elements. Additional lighting improves visibility for night riding. And specialty tires can boost traction in mud, snow or sand.

With so many accessories available, you really can widen the capabilities of your Honda ATV. Installing a winch opens up the ability to recover stuck vehicles or move heavy objects. Outfitting your ATV with plow accessories lets you clear snow from long driveways. And adding a sprayer allows you to cover more ground applying chemicals or fertilizers around your property.

Whether you want to upgrade the utility, comfort or just the look of your Honda ATV, the wide range of accessories ensures you’ll find everything you need. With Honda’s reputation for reliability, you can trust their accessories are rigorously tested to withstand tough conditions while delivering dependable performance.

 

Honda ATV Maintenance

Proper maintenance is crucial to get the most out of your Honda ATV and extend its life. Honda recommends following the maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual for fluid changes, filter checks, lubrication, and inspections. Here are some key maintenance tips for Honda ATV owners:

Change the engine oil and filter according to the intervals specified in your manual, which is typically every 100-200 hours of use. Use the recommended oil weight and type. Checking and changing the oil regularly prevents buildup and wear.

Inspect and replace the air filter as needed, around every 20-40 hours of riding. A clogged air filter can reduce engine performance. Clean foam filters or replace paper filters to allow proper airflow.

Check brake fluid levels and pad thickness. Top up brake fluid as required and replace pads when they become thin. Good brakes are crucial for safe riding.

Lubricate key components like the drive chain, cables, and controls. This prevents binding and keeps things operating smoothly.

Inspect tires for cuts, embedded rocks or other damage. Maintain proper tire pressure. Rotate tires periodically to extend tread life.

Following the maintenance schedule and doing routine service will extend the reliable life of your Honda ATV for years of productive use.

 

Buying a Used Honda ATV

If you’re looking to save some money, buying a used Honda ATV can be a great option. However, it’s important to inspect any used model thoroughly before making a purchase. Here are some tips on what to look for when buying a pre-owned Honda ATV:

First, be sure to ask the seller for any service records and maintenance history. Hondas that have been well taken care of are more likely to provide years of reliable performance. Look for records of routine maintenance like oil changes, valve adjustments, axle lubrication, etc. Gaps in the maintenance history could indicate issues.

Give the ATV a thorough inspection before buying. Check the overall condition – are there any obvious signs of damage or abuse? Examine the frame and suspension for cracks or bent parts. Make sure the tires have good tread depth. Test all controls and lights to ensure proper operation.

Take it for a test drive to check for any unusual noises, vibration, or handling issues. The engine should run smoothly and shift gears easily. Four wheel drive and diff lock should engage properly. Make sure the brakes stop the ATV without any pulling or odd sensations.

Buying from a private seller? Have a mechanic do a pre-purchase inspection to check the engine compression, electronics, drivetrain and more. This will give you peace of mind about any hidden issues.

While used ATVs can sometimes be a gamble, a well-maintained Honda has a reputation for providing years of reliable performance. Taking the time to inspect thoroughly and review maintenance records will help ensure your used Honda ATV purchase is a wise investment.

 

Cost of Honda ATV Ownership

When considering purchasing a Honda ATV, it’s important to factor in not just the initial purchase price but also the ongoing costs of maintenance, repairs and operation. Honda ATVs do tend to have slightly higher purchase prices than some competitor models. However, this higher initial investment is well worth it when you consider the excellent durability, reliability and resale value of Honda ATVs.

The purchase price for a new Honda ATV can range from around $4,000 for a base model like the FourTrax Recon, up to $10,000 or more for a top-of-the-line Rancher or Rubicon model. While you’ll pay more upfront, keep in mind that a Honda will easily run for thousands of miles with proper basic maintenance. The engine and drivetrain components are built to last, so you’ll avoid major repairs and frequent breakdowns.

In terms of maintenance, the recommended service intervals for Honda ATVs are reasonable and follow typical industry standards. Basic maintenance like oil changes, filter changes, tire rotations, etc. can generally be done yourself to save on costs. Parts and accessories are readily available from Honda dealers and aftermarket suppliers. With regular maintenance, a Honda ATV will provide years of reliable performance.

The excellent durability and quality of Honda ATVs directly translates into strong resale value as well. Even with significant mileage, well-maintained Honda ATVs hold their value remarkably well on the used market. The Honda brand commands a premium. This means you’ll recoup more money when it comes time to sell or trade-in your Honda down the road.

Overall, Honda ATVs represent an excellent value proposition when you look at the full lifecycle costs. The higher initial purchase price pays dividends through years of reliable service, lower repair costs and excellent resale value. Honda ATVs are built to last and deliver outstanding performance with peace of mind.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, Honda has built a strong reputation for reliability and performance in the ATV industry over several decades. Their commitment to rigorous testing and quality engineering has made Honda ATVs known for their dependable engines and transmissions that can handle tough jobs and outdoor adventures.

We’ve covered the key factors that make Honda ATVs so reliable, including their advanced engine design, durable transmissions like ESP and DCT, and plush suspension systems. Looking at popular models, the Honda FourTrax lineup offers excellent choices for recreation, utility, and heavy-duty use thanks to their powerful engines, smooth rides, and versatility.

When choosing a Honda ATV, factors like engine size, drivetrain, towing capacity, and intended use should guide your decision. Test driving different models to find the right fit is recommended. While the initial cost may be higher, Honda ATVs are known for retaining their value and providing years of reliable performance. For those seeking an ATV built to last, Honda remains a top brand that consistently delivers.

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Honda ATV Q&A

Honda ATVs are excellent for riding Canadian trails. Models like the Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon are optimized for rugged terrain with features like a locking front differential, independent rear suspension, and strong engine braking. The FourTrax Rancher is another great choice with its automatic transmission and available power steering to tackle rough trails. Honda ATVs are reliable, durable, and offer a smooth ride even on demanding trails.

The Honda FourTrax Rancher, Honda FourTrax Foreman, and Honda FourTrax Rincon are among the best Honda ATVs for Canadian farms and ranches. These utility ATVs offer features like towing capacity over 1,200 pounds, power steering, hydraulic disc brakes, automatic transmissions, and locking differentials for excellent traction and control. They have strong engines and rugged frames to handle heavy ranch work as well as hauling equipment, fences, and supplies around large properties.

Honda ATVs have excellent snow performance thanks to available features like all wheel drive, locking differentials, independent rear suspension, and strong low-end torque. Models like the Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon handle icy conditions particularly well with ample ground clearance to power through deep snow. Combined with studded snow tires, Honda ATVs can plow snow, transport gear in frigid conditions, and access remote areas other vehicles can’t reach. Their reliability also ensures you won’t get stranded.

Honda prioritizes safety, so their ATVs come standard with features like multi-directional skid plates, front brush guards, and OEM certified ROPS. Available safety options include seat belts, steel cargo racks with multiple tie-down points, trailer hitch receivers, auxiliary lighting, and special edition models with color-contrasting safety yellow plastics for high visibility. Honda also offers free hands-on training courses focused on safe, responsible riding practices.

Honda ATVs are classed by engine size and intended use. recreational models (90-400cc) like the Honda TRX90X and FourTrax Recon are nimble and ideal for trail riding. Mid-sized utility ATVs (400-700cc) such as the FourTrax Rancher and FourTrax Foreman offer great all-around farm/ranch abilities. Large utility ATVs (700-1000cc) like the Honda FourTrax Rincon provide maximum power and heavy towing capacity over 1,500 pounds for professional use. Honda’s category-leading innovation ensures excellent performance.

The best tires for Honda ATVs in Canada are MAXXIS Liberty, ITP Mud Lite XTR, Sedona Rip Saw, Kenda Bear Claw HTR, and Carlisle ACT HD Field Trax. These tires offer excellent traction in mud, snow, and icy conditions. Their 6 to 8-ply rated radial construction provides durability with integrated rim guards and puncture resistance for rugged Canadian terrain. They also help provide a smoother ride.

Honda ATV engines are extremely reliable thanks to exclusive Honda technologies like Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) and exclusive Automatic Decompression systems. Rigorous stress testing simulates thousands of hours of real-world use to ensure long-term endurance. Many Honda owners log over 5,000 hours on their original engine without needing a rebuild. Easy routine maintenance helps Honda achieve their legendary reliability.

With proper care and maintenance, Honda ATVs can easily last over 20 years and 30,000 miles. Their engines, drivetrains, frames, and components are built to Honda’s strict quality standards using proven technologies and extensive testing. It’s not uncommon to see older Honda ATVs still working farms and ranches decades later thanks to unrivaled reliability and durability. Some vintage models bring strong resale values due to Honda’s reputation.

Honda ATVs come with an industry-leading 6-month commercial and 12-month standard limited warranty. This protects against manufacturer defects. Extended coverage is available through Honda Plus programs, providing repairs cost reimbursement for issues stemming from normal use for up to 8 years/80,000km on ATV engine, transmission, drivetrain, and frame components with low deductibles. Honda stands behind all their machines.

There is a huge range of OEM and aftermarket Honda ATV accessories available from plows to winches, racks to hitches. Popular accessories include windshields, brush guards, gun scabbards, auxiliary lighting, heated grips, luggage, GPS mounts, audio, and tool/storage solutions. Custom graphics/decals, specialty tires, lift kits, snorkels, and snow accessories are also abundant. So owners can fully customize their ATVs.

New Honda ATV prices in Canada range from around $4,500 CAD for the entry-level 2023 Honda TRX90X up to over $18,000 CAD for the top-of-the-line 2023 Honda FourTrax Rincon with power steering. Mid-sized utility models like the Honda FourTrax Foreman and FourTrax Rancher start around $8,500 CAD. Honda ATV pricing reflects their premium quality, performance, comfort and long-term value.

Servicing a Honda ATV in Canada costs between $100-$500 CAD depending on the model, service type, parts/fluids needed, and dealership rates. Typical services (oil change, lubrication, filter replacement, etc.) run $100-$250 CAD. Larger services with significant parts replacements may cost over $500. But they ensure continued reliability, so are worth the investment.

The best beginner Honda ATV is the Honda TRX90X. It has a smooth-shifting automatic transmission, electric start, a speed limiter, throttle stop, safety tether kill switch, protective front bumper bars and is lightweight/nimble while still offering good stability at low speeds. It’s the perfect machine for younger/smaller riders getting introduced to responsible ATV operation. More powerful models are also available when skills progress.

Honda ATVs sold in Canada and the United States are manufactured at Honda of South Carolina Mfg., Inc. in Timmonsville, South Carolina which opened in 1998. The 650,000 square foot facility houses welding, painting, assembly, and plastic molding operations and produces over 100,000 FourTrax units annually. The plant has earned multiple industry awards for manufacturing excellence. Honda’s Marysville, Ohio factory also produces ATV components and engines.

Thanks to exclusive fuel injection technology like Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI), Honda ATV engines achieve excellent fuel efficiency. Mid-sized models average 22-28 mpg depending on conditions, load, and riding style while 50+ mpg is possible under ideal conditions. This gives Honda ATVs long range while saving money at the pumps through intelligent delivery of fuel and air for complete combustion.

Due to Honda’s reputation for quality, innovation and reliability – the resale value of their ATVs is very strong. Well-maintained models can retain over 80% of their original MSRP even after years of use. Vintage collector models from the 1980s-90s bring premium resale prices in excess of their original sticker price. Few other brands match Honda’s resale value thanks to the loyal owners the brand creates.

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