2020 Honda Talon 1000X-4 Review: Family Adventure Ride

Derrek Sigler
by Derrek Sigler
We bring the whole family out to test the four-seat Talon

The Honda Talon 1000X-4 is designed to be fun for four people, so we went on an adventure ride with our family to find out just how much fun we could have.

You get to read our impressions of driving the latest UTVs in some pretty amazing locations, and we try to do our best to share the things you’ll want to know about each machine. I know I speak for the rest of our testers when I say that we strive to give you an honest feel for what the machine is capable of. When Honda jumped into the multi-passenger sport scene with the Talon 1000X-4 and Talon 1000X-4 Live Valve, we all knew it was going to be impressive and that we’d get to try it out. Honda, however, never does things quite the way everyone else does. The adventure it set up for presenting the Honda Talon 1000X-4 machines to the press was something completely new and amazing at the same time.

Fun for the Whole Family

Fun for the whole family

I’ve had the opportunity to bring my wife along before on a ride, but when Honda asked if my kids wanted to come, too, I jumped at the chance. My family loves to ride together around our home state, but the kids have never really seen what dad does for a living past drinking copious amounts of coffee and pounding away on a computer keyboard. In fact, neither of my kids had flown commercially (don’t judge), so this trip presented a whole bunch of new things for them. All I told them was that Honda was bringing us all out to try the new machine and we were headed to Nevada. But I did have to get them some new Fly Racing gear and helmets. They wanted to look cool. My daughter is extremely proud of her F2 Carbon helmet in neon pink.

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The flights went well and my kids were acting like seasoned pros by the time we landed in Las Vegas. It got really fun from there. A Honda representative met us outside the airport and handed us the keys to a new Honda Passport SUV for us to drive to base camp, close to the town of Caliente, Nevada. This put us close to Area 51, too. My wife is car shopping some, so she really appreciated trying out the new Passport.

To house attendees, Honda rented RVs for everyone to stay in, and they set up one heck of a spread in the middle of the desert. True to Honda, there was a red carpet with the Honda logo outside the RV with our name on it and it truly lived up to the “Red Carpet Treatment.”

The Machines

Honda released two versions of the Talon 1000X-4. Both are powered by the same 999cc Unicam parallel twin motor with Honda’s Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT). They also come with Honda’s exceptional i4WD system. The standard model uses Fox Podium QS3 shocks. The Live Valve version uses special shocks with electronically controlled valving that adjusts the shock according to input that is received 200 times per second. The system was developed by Honda, Fox and Bosch and it reads input from the wheels, suspension, brakes, engine and driver action, all seamlessly and instantaneous. Unlike live valve shocks on other machines, there is but one adjustment from the driver. The Bosch control unit was designed to do all the thinking for you.

Talon 1000X-4 Live Valve

The Honta Talon 1000X-4 Live Valve machine has a Normal and Sport mode for the suspension system, along with a Launch Mode. These are the only driver inputs that affect the machine. Launch mode helps you grab the holeshot in a drag race, or put big smiles on faces of your passengers. Sport Mode for the suspension system tells the Bosch controller to stiffen things up a bit and provide suspension action for a more aggressive ride.

You can read more about the specs of the machine from our preview story.

From Behind the Wheel

Not to bag on the standard Talon 1000X-4, but there is a huge difference when driving the two different models. The terrain was rough with lots of rocks, chatter bumps, ruts and blind corners with heavy silt. The Live Valve shocks would adjust for corners by instantly stiffening the outside shocks and softening the inside ones for the corners. Chatter bumps were much more enjoyable in the Live Valve machine simply because it seriously took the edge off. The Standard machine forced you to take a different approach to the terrain – not a bad one mind you. Had I been by myself, I would have just hammered through with the regular X-4 and enjoyed it. With my family on board, they greatly appreciated the ride quality of the Live Valve system.

Talon 1000X-4

To quote my wife after the ride, “with most people financing the machine anyway, why would you not go for the Live Valve version?” The price difference is $2,000, which is nothing to sneeze at, but not overwhelming for what you get. The Talon 1000X-4 carries an MSRP of $21,999 and the Talon 1000X-4 Live Valve is $23,999. If you’re a mildly aggressive trail rider, the standard 1000X-4 is a great option. The suspension is very good and the machine drives extremely well. In fact, the only suggestion I would propose for Honda for future launches would be to not have us compare these two machines back to back on the same day. All I can say is – I predict Honda will sell more Talon 1000X-4 Live Valve machines.

The Honda Talon 1000X-4 was designed to make the most of the space for the driver and passengers. I found the front seating very comfortable and the controls were easily reachable. The rear seating is stadium style, with the seats being almost three inches higher and two inches closer together. My teenage son enjoyed the ride and could see just fine to the front of the machine. My 8-year old daughter was content with looking out her side, and could see to the front if she stretched. Of course, when the call came over the radio that wild horses had been spotted on the trail, she was looking in every direction.

Now I do have a gripe, and it’s one I have mentioned to Honda about other machines. The DCT transmission has three modes. Manual lets you use the paddle shifters to switch gears. Automatic does the shifting for you. On the Pioneer 1000, I found I liked manual mode better, but on the Talon, I like Automatic. It lets me focus on the trail and enjoying the ride. My gripe is with the third mode – Sport. Sport mode on the Talon, as with other Hondas, is not any sort of boost in performance. It simply delays the shift longer, letting the engine rev out more before the shift. Call me crazy, but I think all it really accomplishes is to make the shift up a little harsher than it needs to be, and the added engine noise is rather annoying. If you like it, go for it. All I’m saying is – it’s not for me.

Live Valve

The Honda Talon 1000X-4 Live Valve Suspension smooths out the trail and makes the ride better for the whole crew.

An Added Bonus

Rugged Radios was on hand and set each car up with their Ultimate Rider four person intercom system. The product manager for the company set each of our Fly Racing helmets up with an internal system that plugged into the vehicle so we could talk to each other for the whole ride. They also set the system up with a communication system between the cars, so that we could help each other navigate through the dust and desert. If you ride with your family much, I highly recommend the Rugged Radios system. It will make your ride much more enjoyable.

Shop Rugged Radios

Another thing that proved to be invaluable was our 100% Accuri Sand Goggles for UTVs. These goggles come with tinted lenses and an extra layer in the foam that helps seal out dust – and there was a ton of. If you ride in any dust, you should seriously look into these goggles. The kids in the back seats wore Fly Racing Zone Pro goggles and said they worked great. They were out of the direct dust for the most part, but they still had to deal with plenty of it. The Zone Pros also have tinted lenses and the kids raved about how comfortable they are.

Overall, my family greatly enjoyed the adventure and I would like to thank Honda for the opportunity. We had the opportunity to ride amazing trails, explore the ghost town of Delomar, Nevada, and even see Area 51 off in the distance. I will guarantee that they will be talking about this trip for many years.

Hauling through the desert

Both Honda Talon 1000X-4 machines are impressive. My wife remarked that it was the first sport machine she’d buy, which says a lot to me. If you’re into creating family memories, or just want to share a great experience with three of your best friends, get to your local Honda dealer and check out the 4-seat Talons.

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Derrek Sigler
Derrek Sigler

Derrek's love for all things ATV started when he was a mere 11 years old, growing up on his family farm. His mom gave him and his sister a choice - get a horse, or a three-wheeler. The sister wanted the horse, and Derrek wanted the ATV. Luckily he won out, and was soon burning up the trails on a Yamaha Tri-Moto 200. By the time he was 14, he had saved enough of his own money by working on the farm and in his folks restaurant to buy a new 4-wheeler. That happened the day he and his mom were driving past the dealership and saw 1987 Banshee. His mom had no idea what he was buying, and he never looked back. He's been riding ever since, and been writing professionally for many years. He has ridden all over North America and been behind the controls of just about every machine out there. And yes, he still has his 1987 Yamaha Banshee.

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