2018 HONDA TRX250X TEST REVIEW
Sport-clutch is the best of both worlds
–Trail test by the staff of Dirt Wheels —
If you take a long look at a Honda TRX250X, you won’t necessarily be wowed by what you see. Sure, the bodywork is attractive and it looks sporty, but it is no purebred race machine. That doesn’t stray us from the truth of the matter, though—the TRX250X is small but mighty and has been a superstar in the ATV world when it comes to purchasing popularity, ease of use and pure fun. The humble $4,749 Honda is the company’s last remaining pure sport quad that still receives updates, at least in the aesthetics department, which is quite important to a rock star. We let test riders of all sizes put the 2018 TRX250X through its paces in the desert, sand dunes and mountain trails, and it kept true to its reputation. As always, it was fun and reliable.
Honda creates some of the most durable engines and machines you could ever find, and this motor supports that reputation. It has had little revision since its inception in the first TRX250EX model in 2001. That hasn’t stopped the TRX250EX from being the most popular unit for rental fleets everywhere. The engine is a 229cc, longitudinally mounted, single-cylinder four-stroke that is air-cooled, electric-started and carbureted. The reason the engine is longitudinally mounted is so Honda could utilize a shaft drive without having a power-robbing 90-degree turn exiting the transmission. A chain drive to the rear axle would have worked fine with this much power, but the shaft reduces maintenance and lasts longer than a chain will. The transmission that this little sport quad relies on is almost too user-friendly. Honda designed their SportClutch transmission that is a five-speed with reverse that doesn’t require the use of a clutch, yet the clutch is there if you want it!
You can operate the quad without the clutch at all times and shift it with ease, yet if you are coming into a turn and want to get sideways for that awesome slide to show off to your buddies, you can pull the clutch in, power up and pop it to get those rears spinning harder. We will say that it is always a good idea to chop the throttle in between shifting just to make it easier and less stressful on the transmission. Did we mention that this sport quad also has reverse? How nice is that?
Honda generally designs fine-handling suspension systems that aren’t over the top but can also have some room for improvement. The TRX250X utilizes dual A-arms on the front of the machine with a preload-adjustable gas shock that in combination provide 5.9 inches of wheel travel. The front shocks are a little stiff until they get broken in, and they are too soft for heavy riders. The front and rear shocks are not adjustable, but the rear is paired with a swingarm to offer 5.7 inches of wheel travel.
The TRX turns well thanks to its short, 44.3-inch wheelbase and smallish 41.8-inch width. You can fit this mid-sized quad on any 50-inch-wide trail with ease, and the ground clearance is a reasonable 5.7 inches. The seat height of this machine is 31.4 inches, which isn’t too tall, but since the Honda isn’t that wide, it can feel tippy in off-camber sections and in turns for taller riders. The beginner rider that rode the 250X had little complaint about the handling and thoroughly enjoyed riding the quad.
If you are a taller rider, you can feel a little scrunched on the TRX250X, but that makes sense. It was designed to suit smaller beginner riders. However, the quad is also one of those buy-it-and-ride-it-forever machines that is still comfortable to ride at any size and skill level. We had a 6-foot-2 and over 200-pound rider put about 20 miles on the 250X in the sand dunes. The engine got a little hot with extended high-speed, or at least high-rpm, running in 95-degree heat. Nevertheless, the little machine never missed a beat.
The handlebars are swept back, which makes it comfortable to turn the machine while sitting, and the thumb throttle isn’t too stiff. Surprisingly, riders with small hands (size 4) wanted the thumb throttle to be longer and not so tucked under the handlebar for easy use on long rides. The braking system is strong enough to handle heavier riders, as well as all of the speed that the little machine is capable of generating. The front brakes are hydraulic discs that are controlled via a single lever on the right handlebar. The rear brake is a sealed mechanical drum that is smooth yet surprisingly strong and is operated by a foot pedal.
The first stage of our test was in hardpack desert terrain with rocks. Our beginner rider got the hang of the SportClutch system quickly and was glad to not need to use the clutch lever while learning how to ride. Utilizing the power was straightforward, and the smooth delivery pleased new riders. The engine has a broad powerband that provides good torque down low to get up steeper terrain, yet allows the machine to have a quick pace through the higher gears. It actually pulled five gears in the dunes with that 200-pound-plus rider aboard. The Honda has enough power to be playful in the hands of a more experienced rider, and you can get it sideways and jump smaller jumps without issue.
The suspension was a little rough in the rocks and ruts at the start, since the shocks hadn’t had enough rides to wear them in yet. It would be nice if the Honda’s shocks were preload-adjustable. That would help them suit more riders for even more fun.
The second part of our test was performed in the sand dunes of Glamis in Southern California. Glamis is the land of monster motors, but we still had fun. We stayed out of the big dunes, but the handling was surprisingly good in the sandbox—better, in fact, than on hard terrain.
Honda makes capable, fun and durable ATVs for riders of all ages, sizes and experience levels. The TRX250X is one of those machines that you will at least see one or two of cruising around your riding areas. The four-stroke single-cylinder engine has soft-enough power for a beginner yet is fun enough for an experienced rider to enjoy, especially since it is paired to an all-user-friendly transmission system that doesn’t require the use of the clutch but does allow it. The suspension is a little short-feeling at times, but works well and doesn’t make your body feel like you are 30 years older the next day. This humble little quad has remained one of the best-selling ATVs in the industry and has lived past the decline of sport quads through the years. Go check out Honda’s full lineup of ATVs and UTVs on their website at
Engine Longitudinally mounted, SOHC, air-cooled, 4-stroke
Transmission 5-speed w/reverse and Honda SportClutch auto-clutch w/lever override
Final drive Shaft
Fuel system 20mm carburetor
Fuel capacity 2.5 gal
Ground clearance .5.7”
Curb weight (ready to ride) 384.0 lb.
Front Independent double wishbone/ 5.9”
Rear Swingarm w/ single shock; 5.7”
Rack capacities N/A
Front Dual hydraulic 174mm discs
Rear Sealed mechanical drum
Towing Not equipped
Colors Active Yellow, red