2006 Honda FourTrax Rincon Review
Automotive-like features make this machine a joy to ride
Story by Howard J. Elmer, Feb. 20, 2006
In 2003, Honda introduced the Rincon, an ATV that development-wise took a slightly different approach. With its automotive-style automatic transmission, Hondaís first fully independent rear suspension and simple and easy-to-operate 4WD system, the Rincon was a treat to the newcomer and veteran alike.
Simplicity of operation is what the Rincon offered as well as offroad performance. This conclusion, apart from being my own assessment when I first rode it, is what Honda staff (during the initial launch in 2003) also stressed the Rinconís role in the Honda lineup.
The Rincon, they said, was meant to appeal to new people coming into the sportóand the company accomplished this by making the bike safe, comfortable, but above all easy to ride, in a way that left any new buyer simply accepting that all ATVs must be this user-friendly. Thatís the reason that several of the key features of the Rincon mimic automobile functions that are familiar to most adults. The shift lever is placed as it would be in a car and the tranny uses three long gears that shift smoothly and without any harsh bumps or having to search for neutral.
|Specifications FourTrax Rincon GPScape|
|Engine:||675cc liquid-cooled OHV single cylinder four-stroke|
|Transmission:||Automatic with hydraulic torque converter. Three forward gears, one reverse|
|Suspension:||Front: independent double-wishbone with 6.9 inches of travel|
Rear: independent double-wishbone with 8 inches of travel
Front: dual hydraulic 180mm disc
|Tires:||Front: 25x8-12 radial|
Rear: 25x10-12 radial
|Seat Height:||34.5 inches|
|Ground Clearance:||10 inches|
|Dry Weight||600 pounds|
|Fuel Capacity:||4.5 gallons* (includes 1.1 gallon reserve) *US gallon|
|Pricing:||TRX680FGA Red or OliveC$11,699 MSRP|
TRX680CGA Camo C$11,999 MSRP
But despite what seems like a dumbed-down approach to ATV design, the experienced rider would find little to quibble with. Fact is, easy is easy, whether youíre a newbie or a veteran. Now three years on, itís safe to say that Honda achieved its goal, and the sales prove it.
Still, there is always room for improvement and thatís why Honda had us back up in Quebec showing off the tweaks that it had engineered into the 2006 Rincon. First, theyíve pumped up the poweróby increasing the bore from 100mm to 102mm they have added 36cc of displacement. A new higher lift camshaft increases the response in the upper torque range and overall produces a noticeable horsepower difference from the existing 650cc plant. The key change, though, has to be the addition of a new fuel injection system that Honda calls PGM-FI (programmed fuel injection). This system eliminates the manual choke, automatically compensates for altitude, up to 12,000 feet, and also compensates for starting temperature. These main changes, along with a host of smaller ones, represent the fine-tuning of the Rincon for 2006. Some of the others include a new reusable urethane air filter, dual front 180mm disc brakes and new valving in the rear suspension that smoothes out the shock action compared to the previous unit.
For this latest introduction, we rode from Lac Sacacomie, Que. (about 2.5 hours northeast of Montreal) in late November. This was also the location of the initial launch which was held in June of 2003. Looking back at the bugs of June or considering the cold of November, Iíll take November anytime. In fact, we were fortunate to have sunny conditions and a crisp -5 Celsius temperature that (dressed properly) didnít hinder our party at all. There are more than 1,000 kilometres of maintained ATV trails in the system we rode, which is deep in the Laurentian Mountains. The majority of these trails are of the old logging road variety and what keeps them really interesting is the constant rise and fall of over 1,000 feet in altitude as you ride between the numerous lakes that dot the area. These elevations also make for frequent and beautiful waterfalls along the roads that tend to follow the same courses as the streams that connect the lakes.
In 2004, the Rincon was upgraded with a GPScape model, a feature now carried through the 2006 units. This GPS was integrated into the meter assembly and featured a digital compass, travel direction, compensating clock and storage for up to 100 waypoints. Riding in the Quebec bush, I found this built-in GPScape feature of the Rincon very handy. I say handy because despite the fact that I own two hand-held GPS units, Iíve learned that having to stop, pull the unit out of my pocket, power it up and refer to it is very annoying. The GPScape, by comparison, is always on (powered by the ATV) its simple functions get you to and from where you are going easilyóthe compass is always showing you which way youíre headed. Best of all, you can refer to it without having to stop, remove your gloves, undue your jacket and wait for a handheld to power up. But most importantly, you can never forget it back at the camp because its part of the bike.
With temperatures dropping below freezing during our testing I had an opportunity to see how well the new fuel injection system worked on start-up. In short, all the bikes fired up promptly, though a few minutes of warm-up seemed to be preferable to riding straight off. The trails in Quebec have more than their share of water crossings, mostly thanks to beavers. With winter coming on, the beavers raise the height of their dams to deepen the water which then wonít freeze to the bottom of the ponds they have their lodges in. The byproduct of this is flooding of the many logging roads we rode. The Snorkel-type air intake on the Rincon is designed to offer the most depth available during water crossings by drawing air from a point at the height of the gas tank. This worked well on the crossings we encountered, with the exception of one American editor who drove off a bridge drowning the entire ATV. Interestingly, after the air box and sparkplug was pulled out of the soaked Rincon and the water drained, it did restart and get the wet (and embarrassed) rider back to the lodge.
A unique feature of the Rincon (and the one that makes its operation feel so familiar) is the automotive-style torque converter. Attached to the engine output shaft, the oil filled torque converter slips internally at low engine speed (just like a car) and then transfers power as the engine rpms rise. Three hydraulic clutches and an ECU automatically select one of the three forward gears, as needed. And thatís the beauty of the Rincon with a truly automatic transmissionóthe rider can concentrate on riding.
For 2006, the Rincon is available in Red, Olive and a new NaturalGear Camouflage.
2005 Honda Rubicon Canadian Trail Edition