Honda raises ATV stakes

The new Rincon has clearly got that Honda look.

Its bright red colour-scheme and slant-eyed headlamps give it a wild but familiar appearance.

Honda tells us it is a completely new bike with an automatic transmission based loosely around the concept used in the Japanese giant’s road-going cars.

What this means is that it has three gears and a hydraulic torque converter to break the driveline.

The transmission shifts up or down according to engine speed and load. Much like a car, the shift pattern can be manually over-ridden via up/down buttons by the left hand-grip.

A simple forward/neutral/reverse lever to the left of the fuel filler is the only additional control.

This makes it an incredibly straightforward bike to operate.

Jump on, hit the ignition button, knock the shuttle-lever forward and a gentle squeeze of the accelerator gets the Rincon moving.

Conservative use of the throttle is advised.

A heavy thumb will result in the bike rearing up, such is the power of the 675cc engine.

Accelerating away, the transmission seems to shift at just the right point without disengaging drive.

Expecting to have to use the up/down shift buttons to alter the shift pattern, we were surprised that it performed equally well in auto mode with a trailer loaded up to the Rincon’s maximum, but paltry, recommended towing capacity of 385kg.

In fact the electronic shift option will probably be redundant for most tasks.

The big Honda tackles the mud well but ground-clearance isn’t helped by a fairly cluttered underbelly.

That said, with each wheel independently sprung, it responds well to rider weight transfer.

This also helps to make it particularly stable in rough spots and, having lost that rigid rear axle, riders will rarely find themselves balancing on two diagonally opposed wheels.

That factor alone really inspires confidence in the big bike’s off-road-ability.

But is all its unbridled power necessary?

Given its 90kg rack load rating and meagre 385kg towing capacity, how can all that muscle be harnessed?

The bike seems like it would be capable of handling much heavier loads but even with its impressively strong disc-brakes and engine-braking, the Rincon is unlikely to be able to anchor itself on steep, slippery hillsides with a tonne on its tail.

A serious downside of such a large engine is its thirstiness.

Although we didn’t measure specific fuel consumption during this short test, the big bike guzzled its way through half a tank during an afternoon’s light work.

Thanks to its clever suspension layout it handles incredibly well and its simple transmission makes it particularly easy to ride.

But it is going to be difficult for farms with even the heaviest workloads to justify its 6970 pricetag.


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