Honda’s 2015 multi-purpose ATV line has experienced dramatic increase in the number of models available within the FourTrax Foreman Rubicon series and FourTrax Rancher series, as both families now offer models with Independent Rear Suspension capable of handling a tough day on the job or a fun romp through the back country.

Honda unveiled the new Rubicon during a press outing at its private museum located just a few blocks from its American headquarters in Torrance, Calif., on July 9. A Rancher model was not available for our inspection, but Honda has promised to give us the chance to review the Rubicon, Rancher and Foreman models as they become available in the fall of 2014.

2015 Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon IRSFor 2015 the Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon is available with independent rear suspension.

FourTrax Foreman Rubicon with DCT FourTrax Foreman Rubicon with EPS and DCT FourTrax Foreman Rubicon with EPS and DCT Deluxe

The Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon is available in two trim packages and two transmission options for 2015. The most notable styling difference between the standard model and the Deluxe model are that the Deluxe Rubicon replaces the standard Rubicon’s steel wheels with fancier-looking cast-aluminum wheels and also features red-painted suspension components along with special decals.

2015 Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon DCT DeluxeThe Deluxe Rubicon comes with cast-aluminum wheels and red painted suspension components.

While it’s customary to talk about a new unit’s powertrain first, the real news with the Rubicon is its new Independent Rear Suspension (IRS) system. Incorporating the IRS required an entirely new double-cradle steel frame that is very different from the chassis on the swingarm version. Honda says that the new chassis is stiffer and offers more torsional rigidity than the swingarm chassis, the goal being crisper, more precise handling and a smoother ride with increased ground clearance.

COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2010 Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon

The new IRS system incorporates dual arms and one shock per side, boasting 8.5 inches of travel. Honda engineers also revamped the front suspension with a new independent double-wishbone arrangement that delivers 7.3 inches of travel, giving the Rubicon increased ground clearance as well. All four shocks are preload adjustable to better tailor the Rubicon’s ride to meet varying loads and riding conditions.

Rubicons are available with optional Electronic Power Steering (EPS), and Honda engineers have devised a new three-point mounting setup for the EPS system that is claimed to make the steering mechanism more rigid for more precise steering.

2015 Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon EPS Camo2015 Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon EPS Camo

Both models are powered by Honda’s longitudinally mounted, liquid-cooled, 475cc single-cylinder four-stroke, which is tuned to produce excellent low rpm torque and a broad powerband. Aiding in both power delivery and throttle response is Honda’s proprietary PGM-FI fuel-injection, which feeds fuel through a 36mm throttle body.

The main powertrain difference lies in the transmission options. While the five-speed manual transmission Rubicon can lay claim as the industry’s first manual transmission IRS multi-purpose ATV in the class, the marketing clout of that claim is debatable, especially compared to the Automatic Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) Rubicon.

First introduced on Honda’s VFR1200F two-wheeled sportbike three years ago, the DCT is a unique transmission that provides the compact size and strength of a manual transmission with the convenience of an automatic transmission, while giving the rider the option of push-button manual control via Honda’s Electric Shift Program (ESP). For 2015, the Rubicon’s Automatic DCT also features a new dual shift-mapping program that automatically selects between two transmission shifting modes, Cruise or Sport. Changing the mode alters the Rubicon’s shift timing: Sport mode holds the transmission in the same gear longer before shifting to deliver more performance while play riding, while Cruise mode allows the transmission to shift up sooner for more casual performance and enhanced fuel efficiency. Honda is claiming a 12% fuel efficiency increase for 2015.

2015 Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon DCT2015 Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon DCT

Both the DCT and manual-transmission Rubicons come with Honda’s TraxLok 2WD/4WD system, which offers 2WD and 4WD modes along with a 4WD mode that locks the front differential to optimize traction. The TraxLok also features a Speed Override mode that can be engaged when the front differential is locked, allowing increased wheel speed in severe terrain conditions such as deep mud. Helping to get the Rubicon’s power to the ground are new tires designed in conjunction with Maxxis. The new tires feature a more aggressive tread pattern for improved traction, yet their carcass design is claimed to offer a better ride quality at the same time.

COMPARISON: Read our preview of the 2015 Honda FourTrax Rincon

Making the transmission operation even easier, the 2015 Rubicon gets a new dual-purpose lever that allows the rider to engage reverse gear as well as setting the parking brake. The rider pulls the lever to engage reverse or pushes the lever to set the parking brake.

The 2015 Rubicon’s all-steel front and rear carriers boast more load capacity than before – 99 pounds up front, 187 pounds in the rear – with flat plates that facilitate loading and offer multiple tie-down points. A heavy-duty trailer hitch gives the Rubicons an impressive 1322-pound towing capacity.

2015 Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon DCT Olive2015 Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon DCT Olive

Other new features, include an increased AC generator output to 574 Watts, which will allow the user to power up more electrical accessories than before – although some of that additional power is usurped by a new 50W top assist light that operates independently of front headlights. Stopping power has also been increased via larger 190mm dual hydraulic front disc brakes and a 170mm hydraulic rear disc brake.

If you are going to spend all day in the saddle, it’s nice to know that the Rubicon has been designed with rider comfort in mind. In addition to a more “open” ergonomic triangle (defined as the relationship between the footwells, handlebar and seat), the 2015 model’s seat is now made of  thicker, softer foam, and the seat cover features a more-textured finish for better traction. The instrumentation has also been upgraded to a new electronic digital meter display that includes a handy Maintenance Minder system to signal when it is time to service the machine.

2015 Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon SeatAn upgraded seat features thicker, softer foam and more textured cover for additional traction.

Of course, the 2015 Rubicon also gets new styling that is designed for hard work as well as good looks. A sturdy full-coverage front bumper featuring integrated mounts for an accessory winch is a key part of the package. MSRP for the entire Rubicon line has not yet been determined.

2015 FourTrax Foreman Rubicon Specs
Engine: 475cc liquid-cooled OHV longitudinally mounted single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore x Stroke: 92mm x 71.5mm
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Induction: Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI), 36mm throttle body
Ignition: Full-transistorized with electronic advance
Starter: Electric with optional auxiliary recoil
Clutch: Automatic
Transmission: Automatic ESP five-speed with Reverse and Drive/Low
Driveline: Direct front and rear driveshafts with TraxLok® and locking front differential
Front Suspension: Independent double-wishbone; 7.3 inches travel
Rear Suspension: Independent dual-arm; 8.5 inches travel
Front Brakes: Dual hydraulic 190mm discs
Rear Brake: Single hydraulic 170mm disc
Front Tires: 25 x 8-12
Rear Tires: 25 x 10-12
Length/Width/Height: 83.7 x 47.4 x 49.1 in
Seat Height: 36.1 in
Wheelbase: 50.9 in
Turning Radius: 11.5 ft
Ground Clearance: 9.8 in
Fuel Capacity: 3.9 US gal.
Curb Weight: 703-712 lbs
Colors: Red, Olive, Honda Phantom Camo, Black

FourTrax Rancher Automatic DCT

The 2015 FourTrax Rancher incorporates many of the changes made to the Rubicon line, including the IRS, a new chassis with more suspension travel at both ends – 2.2 inches more in back – plus a new chassis that offers more ground clearance, an improved EPS system and a larger, more comfortable seat. The Rancher also boasts larger front disc brakes for increased stopping power, a larger rear carrier with flat plates for packing and tie-down convenience, and the new easy-to-engage reverse lever.

2015 Honda FourTrax Rancher DCT IRS Orange2015 Honda FourTrax Rancher DCT IRS Orange

The Rancher Automatic DCT is powered by a smaller 420cc engine than the Rubicon, but it is available with a five-speed automatic DCT with improved shift programming, brighter headlights, increased electrical output, more fuel capacity and a new digital instrument package. Price for the IRS model has not been set.

COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2015 Honda FourTrax Rancher

The rest of the Rancher series returns for 2015 with the swingarm rear suspension system, but the swingarm models have also been improved with Honda’s new, easy-actuation reverse lever. Driveline options include 2WD and 4WD models, manual transmissions. MSRP for the Rancher lines starts at $5199.

2015 FourTrax Rancher Specs
Engine: 420cc liquid-cooled OHV semi-dry-sump longitudinally mounted single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore x Stroke: 86.5mm x 71.5mm
Compression Ratio: 9.9:1
Induction: Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI), 34mm throttle body
Ignition: Full-transistorized with electronic advance
Starter: Electric with optional auxiliary recoil
Clutch: Automatic
Transmission: Automatic ESP five-speed with Reverse
Driveline: Direct front and rear driveshafts with TraxLok® and torque-sensing front differential
Front Suspension: Independent double-wishbone; 7.3 inches travel
Rear Suspension: Independent dual-arm; 8.5 inches travel
Front Brakes: Dual hydraulic 190mm discs
Rear Brake: Single hydraulic 170mm disc
Front Tires: 25 x 8-12
Rear Tires: 25 x 10-11
Length/Width/Height: 84.6 x 47.4 x 46.8 in
Seat Height: 34.9 in
Wheelbase: 50.9 in
Turning Radius: 11.5 ft
Ground Clearance: 9.8 in
Fuel Capacity: 3.9 US gal.
Curb Weight: 672-686 lbs
Colors: Red, Orange, Honda Phantom Camo

FourTrax Foreman Series

2015 Honda FourTrax Foreman EPS Black2015 Honda FourTrax Foreman EPS Black

The Foreman family also returns in 2015 with its swingarm rear suspension system. The line offers buyers the choice of a manual transmission or Honda’s Electric Shift Program (ESP). Electronic Power Steering is also available as an option. All Foreman models incorporate the new one-lever engagement system for actuating Reverse gear or the parking brake. MSRP starts at $7099.

2015 Honda FourTrax Foreman Swingarm2015 Honda FourTrax Foreman Swingarm Suspension

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  • Joseph Kiesznoski

    Love the Honda’s

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