2009 Honda Rincon ATV Review 0

We climbed aboard the 2009 Rincon to see what Honda's biggest utility ATV is capable of at both work and play.

We climbed aboard the ’09 Rincon to see what Honda’s big utility ATV is capable of at work & play.

The Honda Rincon is Big Red’s largest displacement utility ATV and, as the flagship, hosts the same traits found throughout the company’s utility line. Key features include non-traditional engine placement, fuel injection, independent rear suspension and automotive-style transmission. All of Honda’s work-biased ATVs mount the engine longitudinally, or front-to-back, similar to a truck. The idea behind this is minimizing the number of right-angle transitions through the drive train and thus boosting efficiency and overall power delivered to the wheels.

The liquid-cooled Single uses a 102 x 82.6mm bore and stroke to churn out 675cc-worth of usable power. We have yet to encounter a situation where the Honda runs out of steam, but our search continues. Mild mud, ranch-hand duties and towing logs off mountainside were all accomplished with little complaint from the motor. Unsuccessful attempts were due to a lack of traction rather than missing horsepower or torque. The low-profile engine gives the Rincon 10 inches of ground clearance while keeping a low center of gravity.

Starting the 700cc-class, fuel-injected machine is mostly trouble free, but we did experience one situation where it was hesitant to start while facing downward on a respectable incline. However, we were unable to recreate the one-off faulty behavior. Stalling wasn’t an issue with the automatic clutch, but we did manage to kill the motor a few times when changing from drive to reverse quickly and stabbing the throttle. Although our testing has been during temps in the 40s, the stalling occurred when the engine was at operating temps.

Our early testing indicates that the Rincon merely sips fuel from its 4.3-gallon tank. With a utility quad, the concern is more about run time versus mileage, but we were comfortable leaving the Honda purring quietly in the background while accomplishing tasks.

The transmission is also similar to an automobile. The automatic design with hydraulic torque converter offers three-speed forward and one reverse. Honda sealed the tranny and final shaft drive which means high-performance aftermarket clutches, like those common on snowmobiles, are not viable options. Fortunately, we’ve been happy with the transmission on the whole. A left-side hand lever just below the handlebar is used to select drive or reverse. While simple to operate, the more we used the Rincon the more we wanted to flip-flop the shift pattern. To engage drive, we instinctively kept trying to pull the lever down, or towards us, like you would in an automatic car. However, drive on the Honda is in the forward position.

Honda does include some gear-changing capabilities for the operator. There’s no foot lever, but two buttons on the left handlebar provide access to the thumb-activated Electric Shift Program (ESP). The rider can toggle between first, second or third gear, but the Rincon stays in whichever gear is selected rather than dropping or rising through the transmission like an automatic car. That means if you’re cruising along in third and decide to stop without downshifting, the Rincon will be taking off in third when you start back up, and laboring to do so. We can see the benefits in some instances such as low-speed towing, but we were happy to leave it in auto for almost everything. A single switch on the right grip chooses between auto and ESP, and it can be done on the fly.

Riders can also choose quickly between 2WD and 4WD with a simple thumb switch. Honda’s TraxLok works very well and doesn’t require stopping. Several times we clicked into 4WD and were unprepared for the responsiveness. Smooth throttle control, ample traction and a well-balanced chassis made us comfortable in tricky situations. The independent suspension smoothes out rough terrain and keeps the machine feeling very stable. In fact, the double-wishbone designs works so well that we didn’t even realize when our tires were leaving the ground during sharp turns or uneven terrain, and we’re not sure if that’s a good thing.

Lowering the air pressure in the 25-inch tires allowed the pattern to spread out and provide excellent traction for slow-speed work. Extending the right thumb can be fun, but this really isn’t a sport machine and the tires need more air for harder riding.

Without a clutch lever, Honda is able to mount a rear brake lever in its place. It has better feel compared to the foot-operated rear brake and bar-mounted front lever, but that’s not saying much. Since the Rincon brakes will

Nobody says the Rincon can't get rowdy, but ultimately it would rather get down to work than show off.

Nobody says the Rincon can’t get rowdy, but ultimately it would rather get down to work than show off.

likely be used to stop extra heavy loads we put it to the test. With  a few cinderblocks on the rear rack, the the binders were understandably less responsive but they do get the job done. Putting around, going from one task to the next often requires a lot of stop-and-go, much of which can be one-handed if you’re carrying tools or holding down some light cargo. This was where having three different options to engage the brakes a nice feature. Also, once the parking brake is set it holds well. We were comfortable leaving the Rincon unmanned on steep terrain that makes up so much of our riding areas here in the Northwest.

Aside from a small snipe about the gear selector and some aspects of the brakes, the rest of the rider controls are intuitive and comfortable. The seat is cushy and extremely comfortable. Footrests are large enough to give good grip and the mud protection is very decent for normal riding. A skidplate provides some armor and the standard front and rear rack add hauling capacity. The problem with the steel racks, though, is that items will simply slide right off unless lashed down. It would be useful if Honda would include a few mounting holes or brackets to help tie-downs and bungees get a better grip.

The 2009 Honda Rincon is a very good all-around utility ATV and is geared at working for its owner in a variety of situations. It can get going pretty fast and it’s comfortable enough to spend all day in the saddle, so it will make a good hunting companion as well as work horse. The quiet exhaust, automatic clutch and available camo bodywork give it some extra woodsman cred too. However, all work and no play is a recipe for disaster, and the Rincon is willing to kick loose for some playful recreational use when the urge arises.


Model ID: TRX680FA
Engine Type: 675cc liquid-cooled OHV semi-dry-sump longitudinally mounted single-cylinder 4-stroke
Bore/Stroke: 102.0mm x 82.6mm
Induction: Electronic fuel injection (PGM-FI): 40mm throttle bodies
Ignition: Full-Transistorized type with electronic advance
Starter: Electric with auxiliary recoil
Transmission: Automatic with hydraulic torque converter, three forward gears, Reverse, and electronic controls
Driveline: Direct front and rear driveshafts with TraxLok and Torque-Sensitive Front Differential
Front Suspension: Independent double-wishbone; 6.9-inch travel
Rear Suspension: Independent double-wishbone; 8.0-inch travel
Front Brakes: Dual hydraulic 180mm disc
Rear Brake: Single hydraulic disc
Front Tires: 25 x 8-12 radial
Rear Tires: 25 x 10-12 radial
Length: 83.2 inches
Width: 46.8 inches
Height: 47.5 inches
Wheelbase: 50.8 inches
Seat Height: 34.5 inches
Ground Clearance: 10.0 inches
Turning Radius: 10.8 feet
Curb Weight: 648 pounds
Fuel Capacity: 4.3 Gallons, including 1.2-gallon reserve
Emissions: Meets current CARB off-road emissions standards.
Available Colors: Red, Olive, Blue, Camo
Factory Warranty: 1 year

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