We’re now day 2 AHTR (After Honda Talon Release) and now that the smoke has settled let’s just take a look at what happened here…
As seen above Honda has released 2 versions of the Talon, the 1000R and the 1000X with the main difference between the two being width. The 1000X distinguishes itself from the pack with sharp Talon graphics and light colored wheels whereas the 1000R opts for a more traditional Honda livery reminiscent of their high performance ATV graphics.
Engines on both the 1000X and 1000R appear to be the same with a rumored ~104hp. This parallel twin unicam sounds good and paired with the industries first and only sport model DCT transmission so we hope it puts the power down. No one truthfully expected Honda to come to the table with a world beating horsepower level or a big turbo engine so these figures are expected.
The 1000X boasts a dual a-arm front suspension with 14.6″ of travel and a rear 3-link suspension with 15.1″ of travel and 64″ of total machine width. The X is dampened by a set of true dual rate Fox shocks that are likely to be tuned for comfort to make use of all the travel! A unique difference between the X and R models is not only width BUT wheel base as well. It appears that the 1000X has a shorter trailing arm which leads to an approximate 5″ shorter wheelbase than the R. This should give the X a distinct handling advantage in tight trails.
The 1000R model has a similar front dual a-arm setup but with the added 4.4″ of width, with a total width at 68.4″, the R has an extra 3.1″ of travel up front coming in at 17.7″! The rear end of the R has a Honda unique 4+ link system that gives a total of 5″ extra travel for a total of 20.1″. These figures rival the “actual” travel numbers of the RZR Turbo S but they’re achieved with nearly 4″ less width. The 1000R is also dampened by a set of Fox true dual rates that appear to do very well. The extra wheel base on the 1000R should add to it’s smoothness over whoops and rough terrain when compared to the X.
One interesting observation on both models is the lack of a front sway bar. Pretty much every single sport unit on the market today has a front sway bar yet Honda has opted out on this for not only the X but the R as well. Traditionally the lack of a front sway bar gives better bump absorption up front at the cost of the machine feeling tippy in high speed maneuvers. Whether the Talon suffers from this remains to be seen, but I believe companies will come out with front sway bar kits relatively soon for the people who plan on racing this machine.
Both the R and X come with Honda’s version of a 3/4 door, window nets, and factory plastic roof panel. Both also feature 28″ tall Maxxis tires on 15″ rims with pretty good looking aluminum wheels.
Many have balked at the Talon immediately after Honda announced both models to be 1000CC naturally aspirated. Many people think that to compete in this sport side by side industry you absolutely need a big horsepower turbo model. And while of course everyone enjoys more power we think Honda has aimed their sights right at the biggest selling machine in the industry; the RZR XP1000.
When comparing the specs it’s pretty easy to see Honda has simply done their homework and decided to take a bite at the biggest fish. 1000CCs, good suspension, and just the right amount of features to keep everyone happy. No, this isn’t an X3 XRS or Turbo S fighter but it is a decently equipped machine with what we hope to be the power and reliability to really put a dent in the market. We’re VERY excited Honda is now offering a DCT in a sport model and we think that other manufacturers already have that in the works.
What Honda did do right was to come with two models that keep the majority of people happy. A 64″ unit with a short flickable wheelbase to satisfy the woods riders and a 68.4″ unit with 5″ more wheelbase for the people who like to go hard and push the machine. Will 104hp be enough to keep the speed demons happy? We’ll see.
In our opinion the styling is relatively questionable and this may be because it’s just new and different. I remember thinking how the Yamaha YXZ looked like a transformer when it was first released and now it just floats in a sea of other machines with similar angular styling and exposed suspension components. Did Honda miss the mark on making this machine look truthfully sporty? I think it’s going to take some time and some side by side comparisons with other machines to really form a conclusion on this.
What Honda did do right with the styling is giving the Talon tall muscular fenders that give a huge gap between the top of the tire and the fender. This makes the machine appear to have HUGE suspension travel and it also hides the somewhat shorter ground clearance and smaller tires.
The interior of the Talon is somewhat plain but useful in it’s features. Switches for 2wd/4wd, lights, accessories, and the gauge cluster all exist on the center stack. While we personally prefer the gauge cluster to right in front of the steering wheel getting used to a center mounted cluster shouldn’t be a giant issue. The remainder of the interior is utilitarian but the passenger grab handle and molded doors do make up for this. The stock seats also have cutouts for harnesses and decent looking bolstering to hold you in during hard cornering.
Honda did exactly what it had to do to get into the sport market. And that was to simply offer a machine that has competitive specs, a new and exciting “problem solving” feature (the DCT), and promise Honda’s well known reliability. We feel that not only did they hit those marks perfectly, but the 1000R model has some fairly surprising specs that do make us raise an eyebrow.
We also know that the Talon will bring new customers to the side by side market and that in itself is a feat. There are tons of Honda die hards that will love this machine and that will be a positive aspect for the sport without a doubt. Competition brings the best out of everyone and we’re glad Honda finally stepped into the ring.
To sum it up, we want one, we will buy one, we need to have this machine in our hands. Honda, are you listening?