While the 2018 Polaris RZR RS1 is the only pure sport single-seat UTV on the market, it wasn’t the first. That honor belongs to the Honda Pilot.

When Polaris unveiled the ACE, people started talking about the original single-seater, the Honda Odessey. Sure, Honda totally paved the way for the concept, but there hasn’t been anything like it from Honda in years. Still when Polaris recently unveiled the high-performance Polaris RZR RS1, the interwebs started right back up with the chatter comparing to the higher-performance single seat ATV Honda ever made, the FL400 Pilot. What the heck, let’s see how they compare…by the numbers!

Fair Fight?

Nope. Come on. We’re talking about a brand-new machine versus something that hasn’t sold new for 28 years! By the way, writing that is now making me feel incredibly old, so thanks for that! Why do people make the comparison? There’s a few reasons, actually. One is to assert the notion that the RZR RS1 is not the first performance-minded single-seat ATV ever created. That much is very true.

2018 Polaris RZR RS1 Black

The other reason it comes up is something that is also very true – brand loyalty. Honda carries an extreme amount of brand loyalty from consumers. If you own a Honda, chances are, you’d buy another and would defend your decision.

There is probably another reason this topic is being discussed, too. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but people like to argue on the internet. Yeah, shocker, huh?

So About That…

We should all be pretty aware that the RS1 has Polaris’ 999cc ProStar Twin that pumps out a pleasing 110 horsepower. This motor, like everything else, is a four-stroke. It will haul your butt from one spot to another with a severe case of the grins pretty darn fast.

Honda’s FL400 ran a 397cc single-cylinder two-stroke motor and was one of the last two-stroke ATVs Honda sold in the United States. It has a V-belt toque-converter transmission and while horsepower numbers were sketchy, this bad boy would get you rolling at 60-65 miles per hour with a huge grin on your face. It had electric start with a rope back-up and was very mildly tuned, meaning a competent two-stroke mechanic could turn it into a screamer.

Thrill Factors

Comparing suspension is interesting, and a study in how far we’ve come over the years. The Polaris RZR RS1 has 18-inches of travel from beefy Walker Evans Racing needle shocks. The front rides on dual A-arms and the rear floats on a trailing arm setup similar to what is found on high-speed desert racing trucks. While the technology in the shocks is definitely new, the basic design of the set-ups for the front and rear are not. A-arms and trailing arms have been around for a long time. Obviously now, they’re pretty refined.

The Honda had some pretty interesting technology for its time. Up front, shocks with 5.9 inches of travel rode on double wishbones. Out back, the gas-charged shocks had 7.1 inches of travel and also rode on a double wishbone set-up. Remember, this was a time when independent rear suspension was not very common. Pretty interesting to see this amount of innovation in a machine that was only available for a couple of years.

Ahead of its Time?

It’s pretty safe to say that the Honda Pilot was revolutionary compared to what else was available at the time. Unlike the Polaris RZR RS1, which like current UTVs, has gas and brake pedals, all of the controls for the Pilot were on a yoke-style steering column. There was even a set of wrist restraints that were on the yoke to keep your hands from flying out if you rolled it. And then there was a four-point seat belt system, which is something we’re just now starting to see again, although the aftermarket and even the OEMs are offering it as an accessory.

Direct Comparisons?

Looking at some other areas of direct comparison, it gets weirder. The Polaris RZR RS1 has the obvious horsepower advantage, but it weighs 1,340 pounds dry. The Honda came in at 605 pounds. Talk about a power-to-weight advantage. The Honda had the wheelbase advantage with 62.2 inches compared to the RS1’s 83 inches. But then again, the RS1 has 13 inches of ground clearance to the Pilot’s 5.3 inches.

2018 Polaris RZR RS1 Action Rear: Red Bull Global Rallycross

We could keep going, but we won’t. Both machines are pretty revolutionary for their day and both represent significant advancements for single-driver UTVs. I don’t know about you, but I’d love to do a direct comparison. All I need is for Polaris to send me an RS1 and Honda to go into the vaults and find me a brand-new Pilot. I mean, I’m sure they have one somewhere, right? Along with a few crated 250Rs that they’d spare. If they want to accidentally send a Pilot SUV, too, my wife would appreciate that greatly.



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PilotOdyssey . says:

First of all both the Honda Pilot and the Polaris RZR RS1 are powered by internal combustion Engines not by Motors don’t take my word for this read the brochures, owners and service manuals, the FL400 Honda Pilot is 605 lbs at 37HP, 65mph top speed on pavement with a tail wind and a 80 lb driver is a stretch 60mph is more accurate top speed.

One of my Pilots is now powered by a 92hp Rotax snowmobile that will turn about 2500 more RPM than the stock Pilot engine increasing the fun factor.

Learn more about the Honda Pilots and Odysseys along with thousands of pictures at my website http://www.pilotodyssey.com questions answered here http://www.pilotodyssey.com/PO/index.php hundreds of years of hands on experience with Pilots and Odysseys found in the Forums .

The FL400 Honda Pilot was 30 years ahead of its time the quality and detail was 10x better than a Polaris product, for example Honda welds metal tabs on on the frame to hold the wiring harness Polaris just uses zip ties and CRUSHES the harness to the frame just like most high school projects are put together, I can give dozens more examples if required.

The Pilot in the linked video is pretty much stock imagine 55 more hp with performance clutching 🙂

If Honda does not produces a Sport side by side or single seat in the near future I have my eye on a Polaris RZR RS1 to replace my 2010 RZRs that has more than 13k miles on it, still have 2 Honda Pilots.

Thanks for reading.

VegasEMT says:

Sanctimonious much???

noun: motor; plural noun: motors
a machine, especially one powered by electricity or internal combustion, that supplies motive power for a vehicle or for some other device with moving parts.
a source of power, energy, or motive force.

I guess Honda got all those millions of “motor”cycles wrong too….lol!!!

haji says:

The Honda Pilot that you never knew it existed…

Edward Gagnon says:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_Odyssey_(ATV) The Honda Odyssey from 1977…

Tim Rogers says:

I just ordered a new RS1 from my local dealer in TN!! I cannot wait to get it. I’ve been looking around on the net for some upgrades such as a lift kit and windshield. Does anyone have any experience with these guys? https://utvgearhq.com/rzr-rs1-parts/

Gary N Tara Burbank says:

You can’t forget about the Manco Dingo Buggy they came out late 80′ all through the 90’s and 2000’s manco made the 2 of the first side by sides the Manco Deuce and the Manco Dingo Deuce still making manco silver fox buggys poor man’s side by side Rupp actually made the first Atv buggy before honda had a honda Oddeysee rupp made the first side by side also https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/44cc22b20388e91f16cabd911cb72324f99c770360ae69c6743d4e594281f539.jpg

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