HONDA TALON 1000R-4: PROJECT UTV

HONDA TALON 1000R-4

Ground-up protection from the elements By the staff of Dirt Wheels

Like you, we waited for the four-seat version of Honda’s Talon 1000R for way too long. Once it finally arrived, we were impressed, surprised and only slightly disappointed. That disappointment came from the fact that Honda is still equipping the machine with rather small 28×15-inch tires. Not only does this size have a potential for pinch flats (when you squish the tire on a rock at high speed against the edge of the wheel, causing a sidewall slice), the lack of sidewall makes for a slightly rougher ride.

While this new model is the smoothest-riding Talon in the lineup, we wanted to make it better. So, we started by swapping out those stock tires for something a little stronger and with better sizing mounted on beadlock wheels. We chose one of our favorite offerings from ITP. ITP has been building ATV and UTV wheels before there was such a thing as a UTV. Our go-to UTV tire from them is the UltraCross R-Spec. Not only have we won races on these tires, we like the traction, slow-wearing rubber and wide knobbies that provide great flat protection for trail riding. We chose 30×10-15 sizing and mounted the tires on ITP’s Inertia beadlock. This 7×15 wheel has a +40mm offset so it won’t widen the stance much to affect handling adversely. Check out their complete lineup at www.itptires.com.

 Another slight disappointment with this new Talon R is that they didn’t widen the rear trailing arms to match the width of the front A-arms. So, you still have to install a wheel spacer out back if you want your stance to remain square when installing aftermarket wheels. Luckily, Black Ops Machine had the 1.5-inch-wide spacers we needed in stock, and they sell wheel spacers by the pair for under $100.

We really liked the performance of the taller tires. Honda’s 999cc, UniCam, twin-cylinder engine has plenty of power to spin them, and the machine is still peppy and exciting to drive. The taller rubber aired up to 15 psi smooths out the slower rocky trails and helps add to the bump absorption in the whoops. In our test areas, we were able to blitz the same whoop section in the Talon 1000R-4 as we did in the Can-Am Maverick R we also had on hand.

During our 200-mile tire test, we did suffer a failure with a wheel. While we were sliding around on a fun, twisty gravel road, a rock shot into the passenger-side rear wheel, and got wedged against the caliper and cracked the wheel. Since this project machine is now equipped with beadlock wheels, we could have drove on the flat, the 20 miles back to the truck, without worry. Luckily, we had a spare, and we will talk about a prevention for this problem next and about the spare later.

Out back we installed GGB’s slip-on exhaust system. In the cockpit you hardly notice a sound change. From the outside, it’s a little more apparent yet still not overly loud, and you can reuse the stock heat shielding if needed. That spare is a 31-inch tire mounted on a Valor A02 wheel with lug patterns that fit all four-lug UTVs.

HONDA TALON 1000R-4 – MORE PROTECTION

To help prevent future rocks from making their way into and breaking another wheel, we ordered up Honda’s rear trailing arm guards at $151.95. To attach them, a bracket easily bolts to the two empty holes on the frame just above and at the front of each rear trailing arm. Then, a piece of hard plastic hangs down, blocking the opening of the wheels. Additionally, we installed a set of guards from AK Hard Parts. This is a two-piece product where a steel half-moon-shaped guard bolts to the caliper bracket covering the rear half of the wheel. The front half is protected by a thick plastic half-moon-shaped guard. So, if the front or rear flaps do not knock down the rocks, this guard will. Finally, for a bit more mud protection for the machine, we installed a set of Mud Busters mud guards (mud-busters.com) under the rear fenders. This $69.99 product covers the cavities that Honda left open in the rear wheel well. Without the Mud Busters products, this area gets filled with mud and rocks on a wet ride, making cleanup a pain. You might be able to see in the pictures, we also used some pieces of a swamp cooler pad to fill in even more gaps that can collect mud. Those are cheap, super easy to install and replace if needed.

The over-fenders from Honda come as a package with front and rear fenders and the large mud flap shown here below the fender.
HONDA TALON 1000R-4
We added protection for the shocks using covers from SealSavers. Protection from flats is provided by ITP TerraCross R-Spec tires.
The final protection item we installed were these black guards from AK Hard Parts. The back half is steel and the front half is plastic. It prevents any rocks that could wedge themselves between the wheel and caliper from entering the wheel.

ALL-PURPOSE SPARE TIRE AND WHEEL

We are covered and could leave the spare at home. However, we do like carrying a special spare setup that we put together. The wheel is a dual-lug pattern product from Valor Off-Road called VO2 and sells for $180 at www.valoroffroad.com. This wheel comes in 14- or 15-inch sizing featuring both Honda/Can-Am and Polaris/Kawasaki/Yamaha patterns, so it fits most machines in our stable and most of our friends’ UTVs that we ride with. For the tire on this spare, we mounted a 31×10-15 size. That way, if we are riding with vehicles with 30-, 31- or 32-inch tire sizes, we can use this one spare in a pinch. In fact, when we had to use it on this Talon, we aired the 30-inch ITP up to 25 psi and lowered the pressure of this 31-inch spare down to 10 psi to achieve the same tire heights since the flat was in the rear. We could have switched the taller tire to the front and just ran in 2WD, but the different air pressures didn’t give us any trouble on the final 20 miles of the ride back to the truck.

HONDA TALON 1000R-4
After installing a 2-inch-taller, 30-inch ITP tire, there is still tons of room under the fender of the Talon. Bigger tires will fit, but power will suffer, and a turbo would need to be installed.

HONDA TALON 1000R-4 – CABIN COMFORT

Now that we have the Talon riding better and protected out on the corners, we wanted to protect the passengers from the elements a little better. Up front, we installed a Honda

Accessories windshield ($649.95). It’s a full-coverage windshield with two vents along the dash to let fresh air in if needed. We went this route, as our goal is to block cold wind for wintertime riding. If you want a windshield that works better in rainy conditions, we would recommend Honda’s $838.95 glass windshield, along with their wiper kit.

To further protect us from the elements, we also installed Honda’s accessory, four corner over fenders ($448.95) and front mud flaps. Just like the name says, these fenders literally installed over the stock fenders. We used some of the stock fender hardware and drilled a couple of small holes in the stock fenders to secure the larger ones. The mud and splash protection is massive with these pieces. We tested them by splashing straight through some deep brown trail soup and were super happy with the results. Between 5.5 and 6.5 inches of additional coverage is provided by these fenders. Plus, the front mud flaps hang down another 7 inches, stopping mud from flinging back to the side of the Talon. The mud flaps are an additional layer of protection against those rocks from flying back to the rear wheels, too. The added protection is great, but the larger fenders now make our 30-inch tires look small like the stock ones. We might have to try 32 or 33s on this project machine next.

HONDA TALON 1000R-4
Honda’s Talon 1000R-4 has enough suspension to take on the roughest trails, and the taller sidewall we added helps make the machine more comfortable in the smaller bumps and rocky terrain.

ON THE INSIDE

Our  Honda Talon 1000R-4 was delivered with corner storage bags ($95.95 a pair) throughout, which are great places for storing all kinds of goodies. Behind the windshield we are using the Garmin Tread GPS ($749.95), another official Honda Accessories product. We have been relying on Garmin Tread units for a few years now to not only guide us on the trail, but it can see our buddies’ vehicles if they are using their own Tread system.

Finally, behind the front seats we have installed the $1000 UTVCOM.com VHF radio and intercom system. What is unique about this system is that it quickly mounts to the rear cross bar behind the front seat passengers’ heads. Power is provided with an easy 12-volt cigarette-lighter-style plug. We have been trying this system out lately and it’s working well. If we were racing or talking on the radio a lot, we would hardwire it straight to the battery. But, it easily moves from car to car, and that was our main goal. There is no cutting, drilling or even wiring to get it installed and working. It allows us to talk to the passengers and car to car with other vehicles with a UTVCOM, Rugged or PCI-style setup. For helmets, we are relying on the latest Air helmet from Moose at only $150 each. 

When you install aftermarket wheels on a Talon, keep in mind you may need to install wheel spacers at the rear. The stock wheels are much wider than up front, and aftermarket sets are typically the same offset. We used a 1.5-inch inch set from Black Ops Machine to even out our four new ITP wheels. Visit blackopsmachine.com.

The audio is so clear, it almost feels like you have noise-canceling headphones on when you use them and nobody is talking. There is zero static. Then, when someone speaks, you can hear every word clearly, but you also hear yourself speak, which is a little strange, but it is a good way to know it’s working; otherwise, it’s super quiet. Each individual rider can adjust their own volume, and you can wire your audio to a GoPro or bring in audio. The UTVCOM.com unit can be used with helmets or headphones, and the company has mounting kits for in-dash installations for most popular UTVs out there. To find out more, call them at (208) 779-2891 and tell them you saw the system in Dirt Wheels Magazine.  

And last, at the rear of the Talon we swapped out the stock muffler for a slip-on system from GGB Exhaust (www.ggbexhaust.com). This a maintenance-free, 304 stainless steel muffler that mounts using the stock brackets and can be used with or without the OEM heat shielding. We like keeping it uncovered and watching the stainless steel change color as the metal heats up and gets seasoned. For sound, this system is not loud. In fact, it’s only a decibel or two louder at wide-open throttle. At $649.99, it’s only slightly more expensive than replacing the stock unit, and the GGB system remains spark-arrested.

HONDA TALON 1000R-4 PROJECT PARTS LIST

—ITP tires and wheels

—Black Ops wheel spacers

—Honda windshield

—Honda over-fenders

—Mud Buster mud guards

—GGB exhaust 

—UTVCOM radio

—Garmin Tread GPS

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