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ATV TEST: HONDA FOREMAN RUBICON DELUXE

This Deluxe model gets aluminum wheels with Maxxis tires wrapped around them. Electronic power steering helps the Honda turn easier.
April 12, 2017
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The right Honda for the job By the staff of Dirt Wheels

 

The Rubicon’s 4x4 system works well, and engaging the front locking differential doesn’t seriously hinder the steering.
The Rubicon’s 4×4 system works well, and engaging the front locking differential doesn’t seriously hinder the steering.

 

In this wild world of high-powered off-road toys, sometimes our interests are better served with a machine that is a little less berserk. The refined and well-equipped Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon is the right tool for the job if you like to trail ride yet still need an ATV that is capable of handling work around the ranch. We picked up the most equipped Foreman Rubicon that Honda makes, which has 4×4, an automatic Dual Clutch Transmission and Electronic Power Steering. We put this $9799 Deluxe recreational utility machine to the test in multiple types of terrain.

 

RUBICON_SPRD_2-b

 

THE POWERPLANT

Honda is well known for having some of the most durable engines around, and this one is no different. The Foreman Rubicon Deluxe is stuffed with a fuel-injected, 475cc, single-cylinder, four-stroke engine that is longitudinally mounted in the machine’s frame. There is plenty of power to tackle work around the ranch, a hunting lease or while camping, and for fun on trails. The transmission integrated into the Rubicon’s motor is an Automatic Dual Clutch unit that can be electronically shifted through handlebar-mounted shifting buttons on the right side of the handlebar. The left side of the bar holds a selector switch that can be switched from Auto mode to manual shifting mode. The Rubicon’s transmission comes with reverse as well. Lesser equipped versions of the Rubicon can be purchased with a manual only transmission or an automatic only transmission.

This Honda is shaft driven through a proven four-wheel-drive system. The system has a front locking differential for when the going gets tough. The operating switches for the 2WD, 4WD, and 4WD with diff lock are mounted on the handlebar, while a drive gear and low gear selection lever is mounted below the bars. You can operate the Rubicon in 4×4 drive (high) gear, and 4×4 low gear to help you get through mud, climb over rocky terrain, ascend steep hills and tackle rugged trails.

 

This Deluxe model gets aluminum wheels with Maxxis tires wrapped around them. Electronic power steering helps the Honda turn easier.
This Deluxe model gets aluminum wheels with Maxxis tires wrapped around them. Electronic power steering helps the Honda turn easier.

 

SUSPENSION AND CONTROLS

The Honda ATV lineup boasts a list of options to choose from. Some of their machines come with a solid rear axle and two-wheel-drive only, but the Foreman Rubicon comes standard with independent rear suspension and four-wheel-drive. The front suspension boasts 7.3 inches of wheel travel through spring-preload-adjustable coil-over shocks and a dual A-arm design. The travel numbers are a bit longer in the rear with 8.5 inches, which also utilizes a dual A-arm suspension design. If you enjoy a smooth ride, independent rear suspension is nice and comfortable, but if you want a solid rear axle, Honda’s Rancher line is a good place to start.

 

The rear uses independent suspension for a smooth ride. Each side has 8.5 inches of wheel travel.
The rear uses independent suspension for a smooth ride. Each side has 8.5 inches of wheel travel.

 

Turning the Rubicon Deluxe is made easy by electronic power steering that comes standard on this model and stopping power is made just as easy. There are front and rear brake levers on the handlebar, as well as a foot-operated rear brake pedal. Dual hydraulic disc brakes help slow the machine down in the front, while a single hydraulic disc brake provides the stopping power in the rear.

 

The dual-clutch transmission is manually shiftable through convenient buttons on the handlebar.
The dual-clutch transmission is manually shiftable through convenient buttons on the handlebar.

 

THE TEST

The Rubicon’s engine is peppy and certainly gets the job done out on the trail; however, there are some downsides to this ATV’s drivetrain. The bottom-end power of the Honda lacks a bit, and while it does have a brisk powerband and pulls well at high rpm, it isn’t the strongest in the 500 class. The transmission is where we have some complaints over the machine. Having the ability to choose full automatic shifting mode or manual shifting is a big plus. However, if you leave the Rubicon in automatic shift mode, it will downshift when you don’t want it to while going slow, and this caused the rear tires to slide on steep descents. Occasionally, the transmission also takes a little while to upshift as well. On the plus side, the DCT is very reliable with no belt to slip or get hot.

 

The Rubicon has a Drive mode (high gear) and a low gear for when the going gets tough. Low gear is helpful if you get the machine stuck or need to crawl slowly over rocks.
The Rubicon has a Drive mode (high gear) and a low gear for when the going gets tough. Low gear is helpful if you get the machine stuck or need to crawl slowly over rocks.

 

The 4×4 system and front differential lock are a big plus when it comes to aiding the Honda when the going gets rough. We rarely needed to utilize the front differential lock on the Rubicon, but when we did use it, it helped the machine claw its way out of muck and through some tough rock gardens. Another great aspect of the Rubicon is that you can tow with it. Honda’s recreational utility lineup has work in mind before play, and this quad can haul up to 1322 pounds.

 

Storage is usually limited on ATVs, but this machine has a reasonably sized compartment in the rear.
Storage is usually limited on ATVs, but this machine has a reasonably sized compartment in the rear.

 

This Honda feels quite nimble for a 712-pound machine, and that light and maneuverable feel is aided by Electronic Power Steering. The steering feel is smooth and fluid, yet occasionally can feel twitchy when cornering. We tested the Rubicon on the softest suspension settings that it comes with out of the factory, so if you plan to ride it hard, you might want to stiffen the shocks up a little. The suspension does provide a smooth ride, but don’t expect to be able to hit desert whoop sections at high speeds or plan on big jumps.

 

You can change from automatic to manual shifting via a switch on the handlebars, as well as operate the two- and four-wheel-drive system.
You can change from automatic to manual shifting via a switch on the handlebars, as well as operate the two- and four-wheel-drive system.

 

The hydraulic disc brakes are strong, and having a separate front brake lever is a big plus when compared to other ATV companies opting for a joint front and rear brake lever. If you have smaller hands, the levers can be a little hard to reach.

Honda chose 25×8-12 front and 25×10-12 rear tires mounted on aluminum wheels for the Deluxe model. The Maxxis tires ride well and don’t cause too much bounce out on the trail, and they provide good traction in many different types of terrain.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Honda creates some of the most dependable and durable ATVs in the business. The Foreman Rubicon 4×4 is no different, and when you add on EPS, Auto DCT and Electronic Shifting with IRS standard, you get one impressive ATV. This Deluxe model has a Matte Gray Metallic color scheme that looks sharp, and it sports red accent pieces, like the A-arms and coil springs.

The Foreman Rubicon Deluxe is a great trail machine and doubles well as a utility vehicle. If you want to get more info on Honda’s lineup of ATVs and UTVs, go to www.powersports.honda.com or your nearest Honda dealership.

 

The front suspension is a dual-A-arm type that has 7.3 inches of travel out of preload-adjustable coil-over shocks.
The front suspension is a dual-A-arm type that has 7.3 inches of travel out of preload-adjustable coil-over shocks.

 

HONDA FOURTRAX FOREMAN RUBICON DELUXE

Engine Liquid-cooled OHV longitudinally mounted single-cylinder 4-stroke

Displacement 475cc

Fuel system PGM-EFI

Fuel capacity 9 gal.

Starting system Electric

Transmission 5-speed automatic dual clutch w/ reverse

Final drive Shaft

Suspension/wheel travel:

  Front Double A-arm/7.3”

Rear Double A-arm/8.5”

Tires:

  Front 25×8-12

Rear 25×10-12

Brakes:

  Front 190mm dual hydraulic disc

  Rear 170mm hydraulic disc

Wheelbase 50.9”

Length/width/height 84.5”/47.4”/48.6”

Ground clearance 9.4”

Towing capacity 1322 lb.

Curb weight 712 lb.

Colors Phantom Camo, Matte Black Metallic

MSRP $9,799

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