Honda Announces 2015 ATV Lineup

Jul. 11, 2014 By Scott Rousseau, Photos Courtesy of Honda
The 2015 Deluxe FourTrax Rubicon will feature cast-aluminum wheels and suspension components that are painted red.

Honda enters the 2015 model year with an increase in the number of multi-purpose ATV offerings in the FourTrax Foreman Rubicon series and FourTrax Rancher series. For the new model year, both families of all-terrain vehicles will offer Independent Rear Suspension designed to work hard on the job or blast through trails in the backcountry.

Honda unveiled the new Rubicon during a press outing at its private museum located just a few blocks from its American headquarters in Torrance, California, 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.

FourTrax Foreman Rubicon Models
Honda’s FourTrax Foreman Rubicon will be available in two different trim packages and 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 cast-aluminum wheels and boasts red-painted suspension components and unique decals.

The biggest news with the Rubicon is its new Independent Rear Suspension (IRS) system for 2015. Incorporating the IRS is an entirely new double-cradle steel frame that is considerably different from the chassis on the swingarm version. The new chassis is designed to be stiffer and offer more torsional rigidity according to Honda, which translates into more precise handling, a smoother ride, and increased ground clearance.

The new IRS system incorporates dual arms and one shock per side, boasting 8.5 inches of travel. Honda engineers also retooled the front suspension with a new independent double-wishbone arrangement that delivers 7.3 inches of travel to give the Rubicon increased ground clearance. Each of the four shocks on the Rubicon feature preload adjustment to fine-tune the suspension to different riders 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.

Both the Standard and Deluxe models are powered by Honda’s liquid-cooled, 475cc single-cylinder four-stroke motor, 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 biggest difference in the powertrain for 2015 lies in the transmission options. While the five-speed manual transmission Rubicon lays claim as the industry’s first manual transmission IRS multi-purpose ATV in the class, but there will also be the option for an Automatic Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) Rubicon as well.

2015 Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon DCT

The DCT transmission was first introduced on Honda’s VFR1200F two-wheeled sportbike three years ago. It is designed to provide the compact size and strength of a manual transmission with the added convenience of an automatic transmission, though it still gives the rider the option of push-button manual control via Honda’s Electric Shift Program (ESP). The Rubicon’s Automatic DCT also gets a new feature for 2015, which is 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, with Sport mode holding the transmission in the same gear longer for more performance, while Cruise mode allows quicker shifting for more casual performance and improved fuel efficiency. Speaking of efficiency, Honda claims a 12% fuel efficiency increase for 2015.

Both Rubicon transmissions come with Honda’s TraxLok 2WD/4WD system, which offers 2WD and 4WD modes along with a 4WD mode that locks the front differential for improved 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. The 2015 Rubicons are fitted with new tires designed in conjunction with Maxxis. The new rubber features a more aggressive tread pattern for improved traction, yet carcass design is claimed to offer a better ride quality at the same time.

The 2015 Rubicon gets a new dual-purpose lever for easier transmission operation, as 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 get a larger load capacity—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.

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 50-watt top assist light that operates independently of the front headlights. Stopping power has also been increased via larger 190mm dual hydraulic front disc brakes and a 170mm hydraulic rear disc brake.

The new upgraded seat features thicker foam that is softer, and it also features more textured coating for additional traction.

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.
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 Rubicon TRX500FA5/TRX500FA6 (with EPS)/TRX500FA6 (with EPS and DCT) Deluxe**
Engine Type: 475cc liquid-cooled OHV longitudinally mounted single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore and Stroke: 92.0mm 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 Brakes: Single hydraulic 170mm disc
Front Tires: Maxxis 25 x 8-12
Rear Tires: Maxxis 25 x 10-12
Length: 83.7 inches
Width: 47.4 inches
Height: 49.1 inches
Seat Height: 36.1 inches
Ground Clearance: 9.8 inches
Wheelbase: 50.9 inches
Turning Radius: 11.5 feet
Fuel Capacity: 3.9 gallons, including 1.3-gallon reserve
HR6 FA5: Red, Olive
HR6 FA6: Red, Honda Phantom Camo®
HR6 FA6 Deluxe: Black
Curb Weight*: 703 pounds (TRX500FA5) / 719 pounds (TRX500FA6) /
712 pounds (TRX500FA6 Deluxe)

*Includes all standard equipment, required fluids and full tank of fuel—ready to ride.

** Specifications for the FA and FM models are identical with the exception of the transmissions. The FM models feature the five-speed manual transmission, and the FM Deluxe base color is white instead of black.

2015 Honda FourTrax Rancher DCT IRS Orange

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.

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.

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.

FourTrax Rancher TRX420FA5/TRX420FA6 (with EPS)
Engine Type: 420cc liquid-cooled OHV semi-dry-sump longitudinally mounted single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore and 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 Brakes: Single hydraulic 170mm disc
Front Tires: 24 x 8-12
Rear Tires: 24 x 10-11
Length: 84.6 inches
Width: 47.4 inches
Height: 46.8 inches
Seat Height: 34.9 inches
Ground Clearance: 9.2 inches
Wheelbase: 50.9 inches
Turning Radius: 11.5 feet
Fuel Capacity: 3.9 gallons, including 1.3-gallon reserve
Colors: Red, Orange, Honda Phantom Camo®
Curb Weight*: 672 pounds (TRX420FA5) / 686 pounds (TRX420FA6)

*Includes all standard equipment, required fluids and full tank of fuel—ready to ride.

2015 Honda FourTrax Foreman EPS

FourTrax Foreman Series
The Foreman family returns in 2015 with standard 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.

Honda ATC 90

Honda’s ATV Heritage on Display
Having Honda’s 2015 FourTrax model intro at the company’s private museum just around the corner from its main American headquarters in Torrance, California, presented us with the opportunity to view a couple of the company’s seminal models, including the machine that really started the ATV craze and also the first true sport-utility ATV.

Of course, both of these were three-wheeled machines, with three-wheelers remaining the category standard until Suzuki’s Quad Racer came along in the mid-1980s, followed almost immediately by a wholesale switch away from three wheels after the US Government’s total ban on three-wheeled ATVs in 1987. Three-wheeled ATVs effectively went the way of the dinosaur.

Honda ATC 200E

These days, clean Honda ATC (All Terrain Cycle) models are a rare sight indeed, but Honda has two excellent examples on display in its museum. The original-original is the balloon-tired ATC 90 (originally called the US 90), introduced in 1969 and originally designed as a fun runner for beach goers, it’s air-cooled, two-valve four-stroke and centrifugal-clutched three-speed transmission seem primitive now, but it was just one more example of Honda’s stone-reliable engineering. Today, restored ATC 90s can command big dollars with motorcycle collectors, especially if they still have the original tires, which are only slightly easier to find than a 10-pound gold nugget in your backyard. Even Honda’s museum example wears crusty NOS tires.

Following the debut of the ATC 90, sport models evolved fairly quickly, with Honda setting the bar of ultimate off-road performance to a new level when it introduced the ATC 250R in 1981. It wasn’t until a year later that the company showed just how effective ATVs could be in the work and sportsman recreational environments when it introduced the 1982 ATC 200E Big Red, the first true multi-purpose ATV. The Big Red offered minimal front and rear suspension, but it was also equipped with standard steel racks that could be used to carry cargo, such as tool boxes and hay bales. The model became an immediate hit with ranchers, farmers and hunters, spawning an entire sub-genre that continues to this day in the multi-purpose FourTrax models. Newsletter
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