While most of the quads here...
While most of the quads here had a start-in-gear feature that involved pulling the rear brake, the Honda's was triggered by the front. Also, the Rincon was the only one with just a plain old rear parking brake.
Yikes, can we show an underbelly...
Yikes, can we show an underbelly that naked in a family magazine? The frame rails got hammered, though all the more critical components escaped damage.
The Rincon features aluminum...
The Rincon features aluminum upper A-arms in the front and all-aluminum arms out back for less unsprung weight. Drum brakes are for vintage racers, not expensive ATVs.
The gear selector was roundly...
The gear selector was roundly praised for its simplicity and ease of use; forward for drive, back for reverse. Unlike just about all the others, it doesn't stick either.
After our initial outings with the Rincon, we thought it was the first utility designed for life west of the Mississippi. Riding the rutted hardpacked trails adjacent to the Grand Canyon (Oct. '02), we thought there could be no better 4x4 for the West. Back East, we discovered that contrary to our earlier opinion, the Rincon was actually aimed squarely at the heart of ATV country and the fact that it works so well in our neck of the woods is just icing on the cake.
By far the best terrain for the Rincon was the Big Buck GNCC course. The Rincon basically ignored the wheel ruts, glided between the trees and skimmed over the harsh roots and rocks. While not as fully plush as the Grizzly, the Rincon kept its rider in touch with the ground. The Yamaha was like a novocaine shot, dulling the input from the ground and sometimes misstepping because of it. The Rincon, on the other hand, is like Motrin. It takes the edge off, but you still feel very much in contact with the riding surface and very much in control.
In the woods, nothing could compete with it. Our rookie tester described the Rincon's handling as predictable, but it took the more experienced riders a little while to adapt. They'd look at a diagonally crossing pile of logs or some wicked off-camber ruts and think they'd have to compensate, when in fact the suspension would do all the compensation. Despite the Arctic Cat's billing as the only true fully independent suspension, it was the Honda that felt as if it could eat any terrain alive.
Its slick transmission, a miniature version of a three-speed automotive-style automatic, shifted between the gears seamlessly. Those who didn't like a computer controlling their gearing could switch to ESP mode and manually select the three ratios. Leaving the Rincon in auto sometimes softened the motor's bark; although peppy, it felt more like the 500s than the 650-classers. Due to the supple suspension, the ride always seemed slower than it was. One big advantage of the transmission was when technical terrain transitioned to open; most belt trannies had to be shifted from low to high at a stop while the Rincon was ready to let it rip.
Yet in all wide-open land (like Big Buck's grass track) it was strictly mid-pack. Despite its tendency to lift a wheel, it never surprised and was always in control.
In the mountains the Rincon's one big weakness was its motor. Partially, the low-torque feel of the Rincon was due to the auto transmission short-shifting a little, but despite this, there was clearly a power vacuum. Even the smaller 500cc Suzuki seemed to have more pull up the big hills. But while the Kawasaki and Bombardier might be the only ones to plow through the snow-choked passes, nothing handled the scary, rocky hills like the Rincon.
In reality, the Rincon is a new breed of ATV. In the past the term sport-utility has been tossed around meaning a big, heavy quad with a big motor. Well, that doesn't cut it anymore. The Rincon is a true sport ATV with high-performance independent suspension and four-wheel-drive; the racks and such seem to be an afterthought. The Honda's one missing ingredient is the one its closest rival has in spades: power. It makes us almost giddy thinking of the quads that will supplant this superb breed.
+ Best suspension, bar none
+ High-tech transmission
- Needs more power
- Most expensive
= Puts the most sport in sport-utility
|Honda FourTrax Rincon|
|Retail Price: ||$7599|
|Type: ||Single-cylinder, four-stroke, longitudinally mounted pushrod|
|Carburetion: ||Keihin CV 37mm|
|Lubrication: ||Dry sump|
|Ignition: ||CD with electronic advance|
|Starting: ||Electric with recoil backup|
|Drive System: ||Shaft, 4x4|
|Transmission: ||3-speed Electric Shift Program auto-clutch with high/low/ultralow range, reverse, engine-braking|
|Front: ||Dual A-arms/6.9 in.|
|Rear: ||Dual A-arms independent with sway bar/8.0 in.|
|Front: ||25x8-12; rear: 25x10-12|
|Front: ||Hydraulic drum; rear: hydraulic disc|
|Wheelbase: ||50.8 in.|
|Claimed Dry Weight: ||600 lb|
|Ground Clearance: ||10.0 in.|
|Length/Width/Height: ||83.7/46.1/47.5 in.|
|Seat Height: ||34.5 in.|
|Fuel Capacity: ||4.5 gal.|
|Front/Rear Rack Capacity: ||66/133 lb|
|Hitch Tongue/Towing Capacity: ||NA/850 lb|
|Headlight: ||Dual 40-watt high/low beam|
|DC Outlet: ||Yes|
|Alternator: ||360 watts|
|Instrumentation: ||Fuel gauge, speedometer, odometer, hourmeter, tripmeter; high beam, neutral/reverse, high-temperature indicators|
|Colors: ||Olive, red|