TEST: 2020 HONDA TRX250X
Keep on rollin’ By the staff of Dirt Wheels
This may not be the infamous and cultist TRX250R two-stroke ripper, but the humble Honda TRX250X has outlasted and sold in greater numbers than the old two-smoker. One is a pure-bred racing-style ATV, while the other is the perfect transitional ATV, or even the final landing, for riders that don’t need a lot of power. Honda’s 250X is their only sport ATV for older youth riders and adults that is still available. The TRX400X and favored TRX450R have long since left production lines, but the $4,949 250 holds on strong. Durability, reliability and ease of use keep the sporty little four-stroker around.
Honda is well-known for creating engines that last for decades as long as they are maintained. The 229cc, longitudinally mounted, single-cylinder engine in the 250X puts out subtle power with enough torque to scale some steep climbs and truck through technical trails. Honda designed the air-cooled, carbureted engine to pair with a 5-speed semi-automatic transmission. Most sport quads rely on a proven chain-drive system to get the rear wheels spinning, but this TRX is shaft-driven. A shaft requires far less maintenance, and chain slack and chain lube are things of the past. Honda created their longitudinally mounted engine and transmission to transfer power out more efficiently with less twists and turns in the system—from the crankshaft out to the wheels.
The 5-speed semi-automatic transmission is shifted by a foot-controlled lever on the left side of the ATV. Honda introduced the SportClutch on the TRX. It has an auto-clutch system, so you can take off or shift without using the clutch lever, but as riders gain skill, the clutch lever can be used like a normal sport quad. The machine can never stall if you bog it down too much. This system is perfect for beginner riders to learn how a clutch and gear setup functions but without the headache. Neutral is at the bottom of the gear pattern, and you must be in neutral to start it. There are five forward gears that can be engaged while shifting upward. Reverse is engaged by shifting the machine into neutral, twisting the lever under the right side of the 2.5-gallon gas tank and pushing the shifter down (from neutral) into reverse gear. You must shift back upwards into neutral before you can continue shifting for forward movement. When you want to park the electrically started machine, Honda included a parking brake that is attached to the clutch-lever mechanism.
SMOOTH AS SILK
Honda’s TRX250X offers a plush ride for operators that aren’t too heavy and aren’t slamming through whoops at full throttle. The front-suspension system utilizes a dual-A-arm design with a short 5.9 inches of wheel travel. Coil-over shocks take care of sucking up the trail ahead, but they aren’t adjustable in any way, unfortunately. The rear straight-axle swingarm suspension can blow through 5.7 inches of travel pretty easily if you ride it hard, but at beginner and novice paces, it works very well. Dual front hydraulic disc brakes and a sealed rear mechanical drum brake slow you down when the going gets rough. The rear drum is a little weak in stopping power for our liking, but the front brakes cease momentum just fine. The Honda rides on 22-inch-tall tires front and rear, which aids in offering 5.7 inches of ground clearance under the rear axle.
The rider area of the TRX is roomy and comfortable. Full-size adults at 6 feet tall can operate it without issue. The seat sits at 31.4 inches off the ground, which feels tall compared to a TRX450R, but the seat foam is beyond comfortable for hours of fun riding. The rearward handlebar sweep is comfortable and assists in the easy handling. All of the controls work well with big and small hands, and the thumb throttle is quite comfortable to operate. Honda equipped the TRX250X with head- and taillights for night riding. The headlight has a high and low range, and provides enough light to cruise around casually.
We probably shouldn’t have let some fast guys take the 250X through its paces, but they showed how capable the little 250X can be. We watched and participated in chugging the Honda up hill-climbs that seasoned 450 riders would look twice at. New riders won’t be trekking those types of steeps, but it has the capability. We sent a few new riders off on our excursions with it, and they enjoyed how the power output wasn’t intimidating yet could easily take them where they wanted to go. The SportClutch is perfect for experienced riders to get the most out of the four-stroke engine while allowing beginners to learn a clutch and geared transmission without being able to stall the machine.
The 250 is easy to turn and move your body around on. With that said, we noticed how easy it is to lift the inside wheels during aggressive cornering. We swapped out the 22-inch-tall tires to a MX sizing of 18-inch rears and 20-inch fronts. The quad was easier to slide around the bends, and, since the tires are smaller, they spin and hook easier. The added torque was fun, but first gear became useless and the top-end speed dropped dramatically. We then changed the tires to a set of 20-inch rears and 21-inch fronts, and felt they offered the perfect medium for the Honda. The downside was still losing ground clearance and a bit of top-end speed, but the handling did improve. We would simply change the chain and sprockets out to accommodate the power discrepancies for better handling, but since the machine is shaft-driven, that can’t be done. How it comes off the showroom floor is more than great, though!
Honda made sure that the TRX was easy to maintain. The airbox under the seat is easily accessible, and you don’t need to be a professionally trained mechanic to change the engine oil at regular intervals. We do suggest running fuel stabilizer and making sure you drain the carburetor after your outings if you don’t ride the machine often.
FUN FOR EVERYONE
The Honda TRX250X is truly a perfect transitional ATV for riders looking to progress to a faster machine, yet is more than enough as a final choice. The price tag of $4,949 is worth the fun and dependability. We see more of these machine wandering the trails and dunes than most any other ATV built. Rental companies rely on them for their ease of maintenance and user-friendly attributes. Once you get comfortable on it, you can start using the SportClutch to get more out of the engine! Honda offers the 2020 TRX250X in red and Metallic Blue. Go to www.powersports.honda.com to check out their abundance of ATVs and UTVs!
SPECS 2020 HONDA TRX250X
Engine OHV, air-cooled, 4-stroke, longitudinal mounted single-cylinder
Bore x stroke 68.5mm x 62.2mm
Fuel system Carburetor
Fuel capacity 2.5 gal.
Transmission Semi-automatic 5-speed w/ SportClutch
Final drive Shaft
Front Dual A-arms w/ 5.9”
Rear Swingarm w/ 5.7”
Front Dual hydraulic discs
Rear Sealed mechanical drum
Ground clearance 5.7”
Curb weight 384 lb.
Colors Red, Metallic Blue