Honda’s first sport side-by-side has hit the dirt, and we had a chance to take the new Talon to the trail in Hurricane, Utah.
The Talon will be offered in two different flavors, the whoop-eating, desert racing 1000R and the tight-turning trail focused 1000X. Both come with the same powerplant, a 999cc liquid-cooled parallel twin that makes an advertised 104 horsepower. Suspension basics are the same between the two models, using double a-arms in the front and a trailing arm in the rear, though the 1000R uses a four-link trailing arm while the X wears a three link.
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Dimensions and suspension travel are where the two machines begin to set themselves apart. The Talon 1000R has a 92.7-inch wheelbase and is 68.4-inches wide while the X measures in with an 87.6-inch wheelbase and is 64 inches wide. For travel, the R offers more, with 17.7-inches in the front and 20.1-inches in the rear, while the X still has a respectable 14.6-inches of travel with 15.1-inches in the rear.
The thing that truly sets the Talon apart is its dual-clutch (DCT) six-speed automatic transmission, running proper gears with no belts involved. While the downside may be complexity, the up-side should be not having to swap out belts constantly out on the trail when things get fun. And the real benefit to the driver is the manual mode.
Big paddle shifters behind the wheel are the key to unlocking the fun of the Talon, and the DCT bangs off shifts nearly instantly. The speed and smoothness of the shifts is impressive and it really ups the fun factor here. A dedicated manual-only mode can be accessed if you want to shift exclusively, but a better feature is that you can grab the paddles at anytime in automatic mode, the transmission will respond, and then you can continue driving while it switches back to full auto for maximum convenience.
The power from the engine comes on strong and pulls through the rev range, offering the right amount of pull for this package. The Talon isn’t competing with the high-horsepower units from Polaris and Can-Am, rather the RZR XP 1000, Arctic Cat Wildcat XX and the non-turbo Can-Am Maverick X3.
For the rest of my thoughts on the new Talon, check out the embedded video above.