A set of drastically new Honda ATVs debuts in 2006, with one model retooled for top-tier competition, the other for even sportier recreation
For 2006, Honda aims the full measure of its technological prowess at differing segments of the ATV market. No one machine can be all things to all people, but one fact remains preeminent: Better is better, and new technology can be applied to expand the performance envelope in a number of directions.
For example, some riders place a premium on all-out race-style performance, while others discover greater enjoyment in a machine that's easier than ever to operate. In the eye of the beholder, neither choice is inherently superior; such decisions are best left to individual preferences. However, at Honda, we believe that progress only improves the breed and enhances the sport and that fact resonates through the trio of machines contained herein.
Honda's sport/competition flagship, the TRX™450R emerges as a significantly more potent competition-oriented machine in 2006; riders searching for the ultimate in ATV performance need look no further. In addition to many performance-oriented changes, the TRX450R buyers now may choose between two variations, which allows selection of the starter mechanism best suited to individual circumstances. Those who desire more convenience over the ultimate in weight savings may select a 450R with an electric starter, while flinty-eyed racer types can opt for a kickstart-only version to save weight.
Meanwhile, the wildly popular TRX250EX features a bright-think innovation for 2006, one that offers the best of all worlds to experienced and beginning riders alike. Dubbed the Honda SportClutch, this handy bit of advanced tech allows riders to choose whether they want to actuate the 250EX clutch manually or simply let the machine work like an automatic-clutch-style machine - the choice is simple as can be.
So whether a rider is seeking race-style function or the latest in easy-to-use operation, it's all part of high performance in the inimitable Honda style for 2006 with the TRX450R and TRX250EX.
You don't have to look back very far to track the success of the TRX450R. But you'd better be ready to compile a long, long list of accolades. Since its introduction in 2004, this amazingly versatile machine has won races in just about every venue imaginable, from long-haul desert races to pounding motocross contests - indoors and outdoors - to rocky, sandy and wooded GNCC events from coast to coast. Amateurs and professionals alike have garnered championships galore, and that's not to mention its overwhelming popularity in the hands of weekend warriors who love to ride the big TRX-R from sunup to sundown, just for grins.
Now, just two short years after its introduction, the 2006 TRX450R emerges as a tool that's sharper than ever, one that's been honed for superior racetrack ability - with quicker, sharper turning ability, lighter weight and more power than before - without sacrificing its amazing versatility and all-day comfort.
And to make a good thing even better, riders now have the choice of two models, one with the convenience of electric starting and another that's kickstart-only to keep weight at a minimum. Tipping the scales at 363 pounds, the electric-start 2006 model weighs only six pounds more than the kickstart version.
As would be anticipated, changes abound on the TRX450R in both iterations, so much so they could be considered virtually brand-new. The engine features new bore and stroke dimensions identical to those in the CRF450R and 450X motorcycles, 96.0mm by 62.1mm. The TRX-R cylinder head is now like the unit from the CRF450X, and while valve sizes remain unchanged from last year (36mm intake, 30mm exhaust), the intake poppets are now titanium, not steel. In addition, the new TRX450R camshaft sports a hotter profile with more valve lift than the previous model and is unique to this machine, as is the cylinder-head porting.
Engine revisions also include a new ultra-short-skirt piston very much like those in both CRF450s, and the compression ratio has taken a huge jump up from 10.5:1 to 12.0:1, a figure also common to the CRF450 motorcycles. The 40mm flat-slide FCR-type carburetor represents another page taken from the CRF book; the flat-slide design with a throttle position sensor (TPS) delivers exceptionally crisp throttle response, while four rollers on the flat slide result in very light throttle effort and smooth operation. The TPS system helps maintain linear throttle response throughout the range of operation, regardless of engine speed. The engine now revs to 9850 rpm, up substantially from the previous engine, and a racing-use power up kit will soon be made available, which, among other things, will raise engine speed to a full 10,000 rpm in the hunt for more performance.
On the intake side of the engine, the '06 TRX450R airbox is totally new and freer breathing, thanks to airflow improvements through enhanced shaping and venting, and there's a new air filter that provides 1.4 times more surface area than before. On the exhaust side, a new CRF450X-style muffler delivers improved flow for better power, yet still remains commendably quiet.
Other hot-rod changes include a new, closer-ratio gearbox, and the final drive and primary drive feature lower ratios. As before, the transmission gears in the TRX are physically wider than those used in the CRFs, thereby adding durability to handle the higher loads found in an ATV. Also, by reducing airflow resistance through the radiator, Honda engineers have increased engine cooling efficiency enough to allow elimination of the oil cooler, thereby saving even more weight.
In the chassis department, a longer swingarm (up 15mm) together with new, stouter A-arms, steering knuckles and spindles sharpen the TRX450R's steering characteristics while maintaining a wheelbase identical to last year's model (1251mm, 49.2 inches). As a result, the rear suspension features a new linkage system to accommodate the new swingarm.
Up front, lessons learned at the race track have led to new camber and toe-in settings, as well as other changes in steering geometry that create a more neutral attitude throughout the range of front suspension travel. Bottom line: a sharper steering package that relinquishes none of the fabled TRX450R versatility or day-long comfort. In addition, the dual shocks now feature aluminum spring preload adjusters for lighter weight (225 grams lighter each), and stiffer springs replace last year's setup. Also, stronger solid spindles replace the previous hollow units, while the hubs at both ends are tougher as well.
Another move to enhance handling concerns the rider's positioning on the TRX450R. Relatively speaking, the R's much-lauded ergonomics remain unchanged - that is, the rider triangle between the seat, pegs and handlebar - but all three elements are now 8mm lower to reduce the overall center of gravity when taking into account both rider and machine. As a result, the TRX450R maintains the best rider ergonomics in class for day-long riding comfort, while sharpening its on-track handling performance.
More power. Better handling. Lighter weight. What more could a rider want in a high-performance sport ATV? Well, there's always the new electric starter, if that suits your style in the 2006 TRX450R.
Honda innovation takes another tack in the 2006 ATV lineup by adding an industry first to the popular TRX™250EX: Honda's SportClutch. In short, the Honda SportClutch can be considered a manual override system that has been added to a centrifugal clutch setup. This allows sportier operation of the TRX250EX, but only if the rider so chooses.
When coming to a complete stop, the rider now has the choice between disengaging the engine drive with a conventional clutch lever mounted on the left side of the handlebar or letting the centrifugal clutch handle disengagement. Either way, the engine will not stall, so the TRX250EX remains as friendly to ride as before. However, the Honda SportClutch now also allows the rider to accelerate rapidly by manipulating the clutch during fast starts, while climbing hills or when exiting corners - just like a machine with a conventional manual clutch. Bottom line: The Honda SportClutch offers the added control techniques of a manual clutch system, and gives the TRX a much sportier feel.
How is this accomplished? Honda ATVs and motorcycles featuring an automatic clutch incorporate a centrifugal clutch plus another clutch, a change clutch, which disengages the engine and gearbox when the rider operates the gearshift pedal. In the new Honda SportClutch system, the change clutch is now actuated when the rider pulls in the clutch lever, not when the gearshift pedal is actuated. Elegant in its simplicity, this straightforward modification endows a whole new dimension upon the TRX250EX, one that riders will greatly appreciate.
In addition, 2006 brings new, larger-diameter shocks up front (25mm to 27mm) and in the rear (30mm to 32mm) to the TRX250EX. The rear shocks are also nitrogen-charged. A new, easy-to-use lever-style system to engage reverse further simplifies operation, and the 250 now sports an LED taillight/brake light that boasts a life of 10,000 hours versus 300-400 hours for traditional bulb-type lights.
For beginners and dedicated recreational riders alike, the 2006 TRX250EX brings a whole new dimension to the ATV sport class, one that makes riding more enjoyable than ever - thanks to Honda's innovative and easy-to-use Honda SportClutch.
Honda's entry-level ATV, the TRX90, is an ideal platform on which to start young riders, and this year it's even better thanks largely to an electric starter to ease operation for beginning riders. The TRX90 also features new ergonomics to accommodate larger riders, uniquely designed center mud guards for additional rider protection and comfort, new suspension settings, a tough new skid plate, plus aggressive styling to match the big TRX450R.