2007 Honda Ranchers: The Right Tool for the Job

Legacy. It's a term often used to describe the cycle of engineering that yields Honda products of incomparable design and execution. In the world of Honda ATVs, this unending quest for excellence has produced legendary machines like the FourTrax 300s (TRX300/FW) and their worthy descendants, the FourTrax Ranchers (TRX350TM/TE/FM/FE). For 2007, the saga continues with the all-new TRX420 FourTrax Rancher line.

When a company sells more than one million of the same ATV model family-as Honda did with the TRX300 and Rancher series-many would question the wisdom of tinkering with success. After all, for ranchers, farmers, hunters, and utility and industrial users, the Honda Rancher has become the perfect tool for the job at hand. Yet the Honda Way demands a constant process of improvement, and in the case of Honda's bread-and-butter Rancher models, the time had come to build a better tool. The result? A healthy infusion of technology has produced a new class leader that sacrifices none of the essential value-oriented goodness of the TRX350 line.

Even though the 2007 Rancher is all-new, the same four popular platforms are offered: the 2WD TRX420TM (manual shift) and TRX420TE (with ESP™, Honda's Electric Shift Program) and their 4WD cousins, the TRX420FM and TRX420FE. The major changes include:

  • An all-new 420cc OHV longitudinally mounted engine
  • Liquid cooling for sustained power and long engine life
  • Electronic fuel injection (EFI) for increased power and lower emissions
  • TraxLok® for convenient 2WD/4WD operation
  • Self-cleaning front-wheel disc brakes

Rancher Engine
When the decision was made to increase displacement by 70cc, add EFI and switch to liquid cooling, the Rancher engine was essentially made from a clean sheet of paper. The engineers wisely began with a longitudinally mounted engine layout, an exclusive Honda design that first appeared on the multipurpose Foreman 400. By positioning the engine's crankshaft and output shaft in line with the driveshaft, this Honda signature configuration achieves very high efficiency. Compared to conventional designs, the new 420cc Rancher mill retains more power en route to the driving wheels by avoiding additional high-friction 90-degree gearsets.

To gain added cylinder volume, the bore was increased by 8mm to 86.5mm (vs. 78.5mm) and the stroke was increased by 3.5mm to 71.5mm (vs. 68.0mm). A 7.2-liter airbox (29 percent larger) feeds a significant amount of cool air past the fuel injector and into the two-valve cylinder head. Larger valves ensure that the added air/fuel volume gets into the big combustion chamber. The intake-valve diameter is now 1mm larger than before (35mm vs. 34mm), and the exhaust-valve diameter increased a substantial 7 percent to 30mm (vs. 28mm). With a bore-stroke ratio of 1.2:1, the design yields a torquey powerplant that produces maximum horsepower at 6000 rpm-500 rpm below the older design.

Liquid cooling stabilizes operating temperatures and permits closer manufacturing tolerances within the engine. The result is more efficient combustion (for increased power and lower emissions) as well as longer engine life. And with the addition of Honda's trouble-free Keihin EFI system-proven in the top-of-the-line Rincon-engine performance is maximized across a broad range of operating conditions, including cold weather and changing altitudes. The spent gasses are exhausted through a stainless-steel header and a 4.8-liter canister-one liter larger than the TRX350's-to minimize backpressure and ensure quiet operation.

The net result for the TRX420 is impressive. With a 28 percent bump in displacement, torque increased 30 percent (23.8 lb/ft at 5500 rpm) and horsepower jumped 27 percent (26.2 bhp at 6000 rpm). To keep all of this newfound power in the comfort zone, the engineers rubber-mounted the engine to the frame and employed a gear-driven counterbalancer to reduce unpleasant vibration.

A 15.8kw radiator with a cooling fan was added to maintain favorable engine temperature under adverse conditions. Since the oil cooler was no longer needed it was eliminated, saving weight. Power is transmitted to the driving wheels through a durable clutch that now has seven friction plates instead of six. A beefy five-speed gearbox with an ultra-low First gear and Reverse makes sure the right gear is available at all times.

Another notable enhancement is the use of a 343-watt alternator, which replaces the 245-watt unit to provide plenty of power for accessories such as winches and auxiliary lights.

Rancher Driveline
The ES versions of the Rancher models (TRX420TE and TRX420FE) feature Honda's reliable Electric Shift Program (ESP). Made popular on the first-generation Rancher series and the Foreman 450 ES before it,electric shifting is simply and precisely accomplished with just the press of an upshift or downshift button mounted on the left handlebar. Gear-engagement speed varies according to rider style: The transmission shifts more quickly when riding style turns sporty. A Neutral lockout at speeds greater than 2 mph ensures available engine braking when descending hills. To maintain smooth shifting, the transmission cannot be shifted from Neutral to First gear or Reverse at engine speeds above 3000 rpm. ESP is incredibly durable and not battery-dependent, operating whenever the engine is running. Should the rider ever need to shift manually, he or she can use an auxiliary shift lever equipped in the toolkit.

New for the 2007 Rancher is the inclusion of TraxLok, Honda's proprietary 4WD/2WD shifting system. When it debuted for 2003 on the FourTrax Rincon, TraxLok was an immediate hit with riders. On the Rancher, a tough mechanical switching mechanism is ready to engage/disengage when conditions permit. It provides a "natural" feel that is not present in many systems.

Rancher Chassis and Suspension
The 2007 Rancher drapes an all-new, sturdy steel frame around the powerful engine and versatile running gear. A full-length, high-impact resin-type underframe guard protects the engine, transmission and gear case and wraps up the front of the frame, acting as a skidplate as well. Tough new tie-rod ends withstand the bump-and-grind of the trail, and redesigned protective boots resist the harshest riding conditions. To maintain its high level of rider comfort, the Rancher employs an independent double-wishbone front suspension with premium shock absorbers, providing 6.3 inches of plush suspension travel. The steel swingarm and rear shock absorber provide 6.3 inches of suspension travel out back. Heavy-duty tires-24x8-12 front, 24x10-11 rear-provide excellent traction and handling and contribute to an overall ground clearance of 6.5 inches.

The 2007 Rancher line now has dual front hydraulic disc brakes. The disc covers incorporate a patented built-in scraper system that removes mud and snow from inside the front wheel to minimize the buildup of debris between the caliper and the rim. With a nod to ease of servicing, a small window in the cover permits the brake-pad thickness to be inspected visually. Sealed mechanical rear drum brakes keep out contaminants for consistent stopping power.

The Rancher's Modest Price Is Big on Value
What makes the Rancher such a success is the outstanding value it represents in the marketplace. Despite the significant gains in power and overall performance offered for 2007, each Rancher model is priced with the budget-conscious buyer in mind.

Rancher 4x4 ES (TRX420FE) - $5,499 (Yellow, Olive, Red); $5,849 (NaturalGear™ Camo)
Rancher 4x4 (TRX420FM) - $5,299 (Yellow, Olive, Red); $5,649 (Camo)
Rancher ES (TRX420TE) - $4,699 (Olive, Blue, Red)
Rancher (TRX420TM) - $4,499 (Olive, Blue, Red)

Assembled in Timmonsville, South Carolina, the Rancher comes standard with a transferable six-month limited warranty, and extended coverage is available with a Honda Protection Plan. Purchase of a new, previously unregistered Honda ATV by an individual retail user in the U.S. qualifies the owner for a one-year complimentary membership in the Honda Rider's Club of America® (HRCA®). Benefits include online access to the Honda Common Service Manual, six issues of the bimonthly Honda Red Rider™ magazine, travel discounts and trip routing, plus access to the HRCA Web site at www.hrca.honda.com.

With more than a million units already in its history, the all-new Rancher series looks ahead to even greater success in the marketplace; harder working, easier to maintain, more powerful, better handling and more fun to ride, the legendary Rancher once again sets the pace for all-around capability at a great price.

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