ATV TEST: 2015 HONDA TRX400X

From the beginning of time the Honda 400EX has been one of the top machines to have. With its great suspension geometry, powerful engine and all-around good handling, it makes for a perfect platform to upgrade or leave stock. Honda first introduced its 400 motor in the XR400 dirt bike, and in 1999 put that same motor, with a few slight modifications to beef it up internally, in the quad. Now, 16 years later, we still have the same reliable machine with an updated look and a reverse gear. The ATV world now has a variety of really good machines to choose from, ranging from smaller entry-level sport quads all the way up to the 700cc machines.

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Several advantages of Honda’s 400 motor are that it’s an air-cooled motor that is easy to work on and has rocker arms so you can adjust the valves with ease in a few minutes. Honda is still running a carburetor to help keep the simplicity of the machine without the added wiring harness, relays, fuel injectors, fuel pump and such. To help keep the transmission and other internal parts cool and lubricated, Honda installed an external oil tank and additional oil cooler. Granted a lot of the newer machines these days are upgrading to fuel-injection systems, we still approve the carburetor machines for their pure simplicity and, well, they work just great.

Honda makes each TRX400X with a steel frame for strength and durability, and on the front is double A-arms with Showa shocks that have five preload settings to control 8.2 inches of wheel travel. At the rear you will find a Baja-ready Pro-Link suspension with a single Showa shock with full preload, compression and rebound damping settings for the straight axle to provide 9.1 inches of wheel travel. To help stop you safely and quickly are three hydraulic disc brakes, both front wheels are controlled by a hand lever, and the single rear from a foot lever.

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TODAY’S DIRT
The Honda 400X has plenty of power, but that does not mean that it is hard to handle. The 400X yields great torque in the low end to midrange, which makes this quad easier to ride. The difference between smaller quads and the more powerful 450s or 700s is that smaller quads require more mental work. A more powerful motor still involves the mental sharpness, but is more physical than a smaller one and gives you a full body workout. This does not mean that the 400X is a slower machine. The low-rpm roll of response is similar to the 450; the difference is that the 400’s rpm gap widens in the middle rpm range, but when the 400 is in the top rpm range, it seems to fall flat, unlike the larger-motor 450s, which are just beginning to get serious. But don’t think there aren’t products to enhance performance, because there is a huge market of upgrades available to choose from. When a quad has been around for 15-plus years, it is not difficult to find aftermarket products. The most common one is the exhaust system, which runs at a starting price of $180. But, there are also full systems from FMF and Trinity that can be purchased. Adding an exhaust will also make the machine much louder. Lastly, the power gain will be nearly unnoticed until jetting modifications have been made. The intake of the Honda TRX400X is also very restrictive, but by opening the airbox, it will allow the engine to inhale as competently as it exhales. With any aftermarket exhaust install, you will have to re-jet the carburetor to compensate. The good thing about the older carb is that they are much cheaper than EFI tuners. Many pipe manufacturers have jetting recommendations and can be acquired fairly cheaply at most dealers. If you cannot find one, JD Jetting and Dynojet offer kits. Other than pipe and intake modifications, horsepower increases for the Honda become more expensive. A number of big-bore 440 kits are available from companies such as L.A. Sleeve and Cylinder Works.

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TWISTS AND TURNS
As far as entry-level, full-sized quads are concerned, it is hard to do better than the Honda TRX400X. The 400 was designed for trail riding, woods and deserts. The 400 has a 45.5-inch width, which pays off in many areas. The width is only a half-inch narrower than the trail-oriented 450s, and the half-inch can mean a lot when not running into obstacles on the trail. The 400 is responsive, and the narrow width is also valuable in ruts since it is less likely to hang up. The 400 is a great machine for large, rolling sand whoops. The front suspension may not be as advanced as modern 450s, but it can definitely hold its own on the trail. We found the stock settings for the front shocks were too soft for our type of riding. With the five adjustable spring settings on the front shocks, we were able to stiffen them up with ease. As for adjusting the rear shock, we turned the compression setting a few clicks harder. The steering is smooth and very easy to ride over all types of terrain at all speeds.

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CONCLUSION
From the introduction of the 400EX, Honda has been right on point with design and function. You truly have a very versatile machine for all types of use for the price of $6399. With the reliable, 400cc, air-cooled motor, you have a good starting point for mild upgrades to the motor, such as exhaust, cam and carb re-jet, along with upgrading the shocks to fine-tune your riding style. The main competition to the air-cooled TRX400X is the liquid-cooled Suzuki Z400 that costs $7149. One of the best features on the Z400 is the front reservoir shocks compared to the front non-reservoir shocks on the TRX400X.

Honda400-9-DSC_0889HONDA TRX400X
Engine………Air-cooled, electric-start,
single-cylinder 4-stroke
Displacement……………………………397cc
Transmission…………..Manual 5-speed
w/ reverse
Final drive………………………………Chain
Suspension/wheel travel:
Front………………………Dual A-arm/8.2”
Rear………………………..Swingarm/9.1”
Tires:
Front…………………………………….22×7-10
Rear…………………………………….20×10-9
Brakes:
Front……Dual hydraulic 174mm disc
Rear………………….Single 220mm disc
Length/width/height..71.7”/45.5”/44.0”
Wheelbase…………………………………47.9”
Fuel capacity………………………..2.6 gal.
Ground clearance……………………….4.1”
Claimed curb weight……………..408 lb.
Colors………………………………………….Red
Price………………………………………….$6399
Contact.www.powersports.honda.com

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