ATV TEST: 2017 HONDA TRX250X

IMG_6905_TRX_250_Spead
October 24, 2016
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Live long and prosper By the staff of Dirt Wheels

 

The TRX50X is happy to do some sliding, but a slippery surface makes it much easier. With more traction, it just tracks.
The TRX50X is happy to do some sliding, but a slippery surface makes it much easier. With more traction, it just tracks.

 

Here is something you might not know about ATV manufacturers: they spend time and effort on models that sell. If you see a sport quad like the Honda TRX250X that steadily remains in the line with yearly model updates (even new graphics), you can be certain that it sells pretty well. Look at Honda’s website and you will see the TRX450R and the TRX400X listed along with the TRX250X and the TRX90X. A closer look will show that only the 250 and the 90 are 2016 or 2017 models. The two larger and more powerful siblings are 2014 units. You can safely draw the conclusion that Honda sells more TRX250Xs than the 400 and 450.

 

Having an auto-clutch machine with an effective clutch lever is genius. Typically, the Honda is quite comfortable.
Having an auto-clutch machine with an effective clutch lever is genius. Typically, the Honda is quite comfortable.

 

The fact that only the entry-level models are current is a trend that is not lost on OEMs. As Dirt Wheels compiles information on the 2017 lineups, the majority of news in the sport quad segment is under 250cc. This trend proves that riders are in the market for a light, fun and sporty quad that is easy to care for and will last close to forever.

 

It is clever how Honda uses the clutch lever to engage the parking brake. We do wish the machine would start in gear.
It is clever how Honda uses the clutch lever to engage the parking brake. We do wish the machine would start in gear.

 

THE POWER

Honda pioneered the idea of mounting the engine in the frame, with the crankshaft running front to back rather than across the frame. You avoid parasitic power losses, and the more power you save on an air-cooled, two-valve, 229cc four-stroke, the more fun there is available. While this engine may not seem remarkable today, it would have been the pinnacle of four-stroke performance when quads first appeared. It is a carbureted motor, but despite fully legal sound and emissions settings, the motor fires easily and quickly warms to riding temperature.

 

Shaft drive means that there is less routine drivetrain maintenance. We like the quiet pipe.
Shaft drive means that there is less routine drivetrain maintenance. We like the quiet pipe.

 

The engine is paired to a five-speed, foot-shift manual transmission. It is the only ATV in the Honda lineup with the Honda SportClutch. A new, familiar auto-clutch system is used, but unlike other auto-clutch designs, the TRX250X has a clutch lever on the handlebar. You can choose to utilize fully automatic clutch action or use the lever to pull race starts and add a burst of power exiting turns.

 

Honda sealed the airbox up well, so filter cleaning will be relatively rare. The small toolkit is handy.
Honda sealed the airbox up well, so filter cleaning will be relatively rare. The small toolkit is handy.

 

CONTROLS AND SHIFTING

As you would expect from Honda, the SportClutch works amazingly well with absolutely impeccable manners and seamless crossover between the two modes. We are always a bit shocked that Honda hasn’t employed this tech on more models. The shift pattern for the five-speed is all up, so you will want to keep a mental tally of your gear selection while climbing. You don’t want to shift to neutral looking for a lower gear.

 

As much as we liked playing moto on the TRX, it is happiest and most effective just hitting the trails.
As much as we liked playing moto on the TRX, it is happiest and most effective just hitting the trails.

 

As light-feeling, maneuverable and compact as the TRX is, it is still nice that it features reverse. An unobtrusive knob on the right side is almost invisible, hidden in an opening in the fuel-tank shroud. With the engine in neutral, turn the reverse knob and step down on the shift lever to engage reverse. Our single gripe about the controls is the starting. Even with the clutch lever pulled in, the TRX250X will not start unless it is in neutral. We understand the thinking as a safety feature for the new riders likely to own this machine, but we found it inconvenient.

 

You have to look carefully to see the lever that helps engage reverse. The system works well.
You have to look carefully to see the lever that helps engage reverse. The system works well.

 

FEATURES

Like any machine, the TRX250X requires maintenance, but Honda has done everything possible to let you ride more and work on the machine less. With air cooling, there is no coolant to leak, change or check. While the engine is a willing revver, the rpm ceiling is nothing like those race thumpers, so valve and piston wear should be measured in generations of riders.

Shaft drive means no chain to lube, adjust or break. You will need to clean the air filter, but it is in a lidded airbox under the seat, so intervals should be quite long. That leaves oil changes—hardly an undue burden for the fun this machine provides.

 

We liked the new look and the red hubs. The machine is compact and is nimble when changing directions.
We liked the new look and the red hubs. The machine is compact and is nimble when changing directions.

 

TRAIL TIME

Honda blessed the TRX with front and rear suspension. The rear is a solid axle with independent double-wishbone suspension in the front. There is just shy of 6 inches of suspension travel. The shocks are preload adjustable but have no damping adjustments.

Our test unit always started willingly and instantly, and the carburetion is flawless. In addition to the e-start, the X has plastic heel protectors and footpegs with nice boot-sole traction. As soon as you start moving, you feel how easily and quickly the compact machine maneuvers. Honda has kept the track narrow, and in brush, trees and rocks, that was very nice. It takes a pretty narrow trail to deny the TRX250X. The ride is simply nimble and easy. Bump up the pace, and things are still good.

If you can slide the rear end, the TRX corners flat and fast. It will lift the inside wheels if the conditions are sticky, and, as always, you want to use care on cambers. All of the control efforts are smooth and easy to use. This quad is for riders 16 years of age and above, so the sizing of the levers and such is on the money as well.

You gotta love Honda brakes. They stop this machine easily with just the right amount of feel and without much effort. Honda switched to Maxxis tires a few years ago, and they work extremely well on a wide variety of terrain. It should be no surprise that the riding position is compact on a machine aimed at this age group, but riders over 6 feet were able to ride it in reasonable comfort. Typical Honda, the ergonomics are nice, and there are no annoyances in the rider/machine interface.

FINAL THOUGHTS

In the Honda TRX250X, ease of ownership and fun merge in a dynamic that is almost an art form. This is a sport machine with total cool factor to the looks—important to young and old riders. At the same time, it offers almost industrial convenience and ease of maintenance. Most of all, it is nimble and loads of fun to ride. It is perfect for an entry-level rider, but fun for experienced pilots as well.

There are very good reasons that it sells well enough to be a steady player in the Honda lineup. In our opinion, with the new color and graphics, it has never looked better. Check out Honda’s website for more info: www.powersports.honda.com.

 

TRX-5

 

HONDA TRX250X

Engine: Longitudinally mounted, SOHC, air-cooled 4-stroke

Displacement: 229cc

Transmission: 5-speed w/ reverse and Honda SportClutch auto clutch with lever override

Final drive: Shaft

Fuel system: 20mm carburetor

Fuel capacity: 2.5 gal

Length/width/height: 68.5”/41.8”/ 42.6”

Ground clearance: .5.7”

Wheelbase: .44.3”

Curb weight: 384.0 lb.

Suspension/wheel travel:  Front: Independent double-wishbone/5.9”  Rear: Swingarm w/ single shock; 5.7”

Tires:  Front: 22×7-10 Maxxis  Rear: 22×10-9

Brakes:  Front: Dual hydraulic 174mm discs  Rear: Sealed mechanical drum

Rack capacity: N/A

Towing: Not equipped

Colors: White, SE red/white

Price: $4699

Contact: www.powersports.honda.com

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