2021 Honda Talon 1000R Review
2021 Honda Talon 1000R Review
New Fox Live Valve Suspension & Launch Control Mode
Words: Cody Hooper // Photos: Drew Ruiz
Honda fired a shot right into the heart of the sport UTV segment with the release of the Talon, and it has been a hot seller since it hit the market a couple years back. Big Red did not wait long before dropping the 4 seat Talon, and it was introduced with the availability of Fox Live Valve technology as well as a new Launch Control mode. Honda’s new 2021 model-year Talon 1000 two-seat models were then announced, updated with the same Fox Live Valve shocks and Launch Control. Here’s the question- are the new features worth the extra cash to upgrade?
2021 Honda Talon 1000R Review Highlights:
- Snappy DCT Transmission works well
- Crisp throttle response, great engine note
- Live Valve suspension adjustability
- Launch control is a fun trick, but also sometimes useful
- Factory window nets
Honda rolled the Talon’s drivetrain right over into 2021, which is no surprise considering the model’s brevity in the marketplace. It still shines as a punchy powerhouse with a very high level of polish.
The Talon’s 999cc parallel twin cylinder engine has DNA pulled directly from the dirtbike world, particularly in its cylinder head layout. Honda calls it Unicam, which is essentially a single overhead camshaft operating the valvetrain. The camshaft opens the intake valves directly via a cam-on-bucket design, while the exhaust lobes of the camshaft operate forked rocker arms to open the exhaust valves. It allows Honda to maintain tight valvetrain control at high RPM with a significant savings in size and weight compared to a more traditional dual overhead cam setup.
The Talon is rated around 105 horsepower in stock trim, but thanks to its clever drivetrain, it punches a bit above its weight.
The transmission in the Talon is every bit as high tech as the engine, if not more so. A dual clutch transmission has two clutches on the input side, as well as two parallel shafts that contain opposite gear ratios. When you have shaft 1 engaged, the transmission’s second shaft is already spinning and ready to take an upshift. The clutches swap duty, and a shift is made. Dual clutch transmissions are able to shortcut the process of physically changing gears, which means the shifts happen very quickly.
The DCT in the Talon has selectable automatic shift modes (Normal and Sport), as well as full-manual paddle shifting capability. In the hundreds of miles we have logged in various Talon models, we have left it in Sport Auto more often than in full manual. The Talon does a fantastic job of keeping you right in the target RPM range, responding quickly to hard braking and abrupt throttle changes.
The i4WD system in the Honda uses individual wheel speed sensors and a very smart computer to control traction at all four wheels. The system works freakishly well when all sensors and computers are working in harmony, but we have had first-hand experience with a bad sensor that left a Talon stuck in 2WD.
The 2021 Talon R is only listed with the Fox Live Valve option at the time I’m writing this, which is a $2,100 upgrade over the 2020 “base model” Talon R. For that $2,100, you get a Launch Control mode, color-matched frame and ROPS, and the almighty 2.5” Fox Podium Live Valve shock package.
Don’t be fooled- this isn’t just a bolt-on upgrade to the Talon’s existing suspension. The Live Valve system hosts a myriad of sensors and its own brain, which Honda calls the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU). The IMU and electronic controls are made by Bosch. The Live Valve system can adjust the shock’s compression damping on each shock independently, automatically, and up to 200 times per second, according to Honda.
The rest of the Talon R’s suspension system remains unchanged. Up front, dual A-arms produce 17.7 inches of travel. Out back, Honda’s “4+ Link” rear A-shaped trailing arm design allows a massive 20.1 inches of travel. It’s all really trick stuff, designed to limit bump steer and keep the Talon pointed straight throughout its travel.
Honda carries over the Maxxis MU9H tire here, which is based on the Coronado but tuned for Honda’s own specifications. The tire turns in well, but feels loose on hardpack and doesn’t give a lot of forward bite. Honda’s new Launch Control feature shows the limits of the stock tires’ traction quickly.
The wheels are cast aluminum non-beadlocks. The Talon really responds well to taller tires, and we would recommend upgrading to a good set of 30” tires if you’re planning on using the Talon for desert duty. The Honda’s brakes are strong, with a long pedal.
Interior & Exterior:
The 2021 Talon’s interior and exterior are unchanged except for the color schemes. The 2021 Talon 1000R is only available in “Metallic Grey”, which doesn’t sell the look very well (looking at you, Honda Marketing!). Metallic Grey is the base body color, but Honda applies a slick black graphic package over the top to give it a light contrast. The frame and ROPS (cage) are color-matched to other highlighted trim in a striking, bold blue. It’s a looker for sure.
The Talon 1000R is always a pleasure to drive. We have spent countless hours in previous model years, and we have grown to love them for their polished, comfortable experience and ease of use. This year’s upgrades bring even more automation to the plate, further increasing that comfort and polish. Fox’s Live Valve tech takes all of the effort out of having to tune your own suspension. Tinkerers and driving dynamic purists will likely prefer the adjustability of the standard Fox Podium shocks, but Honda isn’t offering them in 2021 yet.
The Live Valve system looks at vehicle-mounted sensors for input, and then makes programmed adjustments to the shocks’ stiffness based on what it thinks will deliver the calmest, smoothest ride. It can read steering angle, inertia (pitch, yaw, roll), brake pressure, engine RPM, speed, gear position, and throttle position. Bosch’s high-tech IMU control unit parses this data multiple times per second, firing off small changes to each individual shock up to 200 times per second. This allows the computer to ramp valving changes up and down, smoothing out the blend between soft and stiff adjustments.
The system works very well. When you turn, it stiffens up the outboard shocks to prevent body roll. Mash the brake, and the fronts stiffen up. The Talon’s brain works to control the ride very well, providing a comfortable ride at low speeds with a firm and confident feel at high speeds. Honda even gives you a dual mode switch, so you can select Normal shock tuning or Sport shock tuning. Sport provides a stiffer, more reactive ride. It affords great bottoming resistance on jumps and in whoops.
Some drivers at more advanced skill levels may not prefer the feel of the Live Valve-suspended Talon over the standard model. The Live Valve system is great at keeping the ride flat, and it sometimes overrides the driver’s desire to fully transfer the car’s weight under hard braking or cornering. If you’re the type that enjoys breaking out the tape measure and setting spring height, crossover, and keeping notes on clicker positions, then Live Valve may not be for you either.
For the rest of the UTV Offroaders out there that just want to hop in the seat, buckle up, and hold it wide open- the 2021 Talon 1000R with Live Valve offers a massive amount of comfort and confidence. It pegs the needle on the fun factor scale, with that parallel twin always wailing at high RPM. The Talon is made better by the revisions made to the shock tuning on the 2021 model as well, independent of the Live Valve system, which only replaces the compression adjuster. If Honda releases a 2021 Talon 2 seat model with the standard Fox Podium shocks, we hope they use the same settings.
Outside of the suspension updates, the Talon experience is nearly identical to previous models. It still offers the most high-tech transmission on the market. It doesn’t offer the raw, serious-natured shift control of the YXZ1000R, but it has an automatic mode, and one that works darn well to boot. Honda’s new Launch Control feature has a 5-step procedure, made that way for safety reasons. From a stop:
- Hold the brake. Hard.
- Press the Launch button, wait for light.
- Pull both paddles back, hold.
- Let off the brake, don’t roll into anything. Apply desired throttle.
- Release both paddles simultaneously, and enjoy!
It’s fun, and quite effective at getting the Talon out of the hole. We do wish that Honda would have removed the switch from the equation, like the system in the YXZ. Just pull the paddles, rev, and take off. Launch control is most effective on the trail, however. If you need an extra boost out of the hole, the Talon’s launch control feature can be fired off at less than full throttle. It isn’t something you will use often, but it will make you grin just knowing it’s there for when you want it.
The 2021 Talon 1000R gets a big thumbs up from the crew here, and it packages a massive amount of high-end technology into a very fun-to-drive UTV. All of that technology comes at a cost though, which happens to be $23,099. That’s a price tag lodged deeply in turbo car territory, but after driving one, you’ll agree it’s a steal.
2021 Honda Talon 1000R Review Specifications:
ENGINE & DRIVETRAIN
- Type: 999cc liquid-cooled Unicam® OHC longitudinally mounted parallel-twin four-stroke; four valves per cylinder
- Cooling: Liquid
- Fuel Delivery System: Fuel Injection (PGM-FI), 46mm throttle body
- Drive System Type: Six-speed automatic Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT) with high/low subtransmission. Two drive modes with 2WD and i-4WD. Three shift modes (standard, sport, manual w/ paddle shifters).
- Power Steering: Electronic Power Steering (EPS)
- Front Suspension: Independent double-wishbone, 17.7 inches of travel
- Front Shocks: Fox Podium 2.5 Live Valve
- Rear Suspension: 4+ Link trailing arm, 20.1 inches of travel
- Rear Shocks: Fox Podium 2.5 Live Valve
- Front Brakes: Dual 250mm hydraulic discs
- Rear Brakes: Dual 250mm hydraulic discs
TIRES / WHEELS
- Front Tires: 28×9-15 Maxxis MU9H
- Rear Tires: 28×11-15 Maxxis MU9H
- Wheels: Cast Aluminum
- Overall Vehicle Size (L x W x H): 9” x 68.4” x 75.6”
- Wheelbase: 7”
- Ground Clearance: 0”
- Curb Weight (pounds/kg): 1556 lbs (1561 lbs for CA models)
- Cargo Box Capacity: 299 lbs
- Towing Capacity: N/A
- Fuel Capacity: 3 gallons, including 1.1 gallon reserve
- Instrumentation: Digital Speedometer/Trip Meter with Multi-Function Gauge
- Lighting: LED
- Steering Wheel: Tilt adjustable
- Other Standard Features: Launch Control, Sport Mode, Selectable i4WD
- Factory: One Year Transferable limited warranty; extended coverage available with a Honda Protection Plan
Tags: 1000R, 2021, Fox Live Valve, Honda, Launch Control, Review, sxs, Talon, Test, utv
2021 Honda Talon 1000X- Orange Featured
THE ULTIMATE THRILL RIDES
The Honda Talon family of side by sides have shown the world just how good a sporting side-by-side can be . . . if you build them the Honda way. And with the addition of our FOX Live Valve-equipped models, they’re even better. Here’s what you need to know: Every Talon in our lineup—the newest four-seaters and our two-seat Talon 1000X and the Talon 1000R models—all share the same industry-exclusive Automatic DCT Transmission, i-4WD technology, complemented by our powerful, high-output engine. And they all offer the combination of performance and rider comfort you expect from a Honda. The differences between our two-seat models? The Talon 1000X is a little narrower and a little shorter (64 inches wide and an 87.6-inch wheelbase). It also uses a three-link rear suspension, which makes it a natural for owners who prioritize maneuverability and quick handling. New for 2021, the Talon 1000X is available with FOX Live Valve suspension for the best off-road handling you’ve ever experienced, and it’s offered in Pearl White/Metallic Blue. Plus, you can still get a Talon 1000X with FOX Q3S manually adjustable shocks, now in Metallic Orange/Metallic Gray. With a Honda Talon, life is better, side by side.
Sit back, hang on tight, pin the throttle, and get ready to feed your buddies some serious roost: The FOX Live Valve-equipped Honda Talons are the only side-by-sides offering both an automatic transmission and launch mode. You won’t believe how fast and straight you’ll come off the line–and neither will the other guys.
AUTOMATIC DUAL-CLUTCH TRANSMISSION (DCT)
The convenience of an automatic with the strength, control, and efficiency of a manual. Use the paddle shifters, or kick back and let it do the thinking for you. Either way, you get genuine engine braking and a more efficient power delivery than a belt-driven CVT.
HONDA TALON 1000R CUSTOM BUILD
— Rugged Radios sets it up right —
Honda has finally made its dramatic entrance into the sport UTV revolution with the all-new Talon 1000R, 1000X and now 2020 Talon 1000X-4 and X-4 Live Valve. All four Talons sport the super-smooth Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) that launches out of the hole quicker than any other UTV, and the dual-range transmission adds to its versatility. Also, the torquey 999cc parallel-twin engine in every Talon is capable of turning taller tires for better ride quality. We got a chance to check out one of the first Talon 1000R builds at the Moab Rally on the Rocks, where Honda chose to debut and demo the Talon 1000R and 1000X to the public. Here’s Kalani Korn’s Rugged Radios Talon 1000R.
PERSONALIZE YOUR SEATS
While overall cabin comfort is high in the Talons, we’ve had some test pilots come up out of their seats over water bars. All OEM UTVs have one-size-fits-all seats, so Talon owners can get a more comfortable and secure ride by checking out different styles and sizes of seats from the aftermarket. Kalani went with PRP Seats’ XC ostrich-skin seats with reinforced lateral leg support and ports for aftermarket or OEM retractable harnesses. XC seats start at $459 each with 39 color choices, plus $40 for the extra-wide option, $50 for front goggle pockets, $55 for rear pockets, $80 for a 70-ounce hydration system and/or $75 for air lumbar support. Also, a heated-seat option is available for $165. See www.prpseats.com; PRP also has several Talon storage bags for $50 to $190.
RUGGED RADIOS INTERCOM AND TALON MOUNT
Rugged Radios has developed the Talon R/X radio and intercom mount ($55.25), which is designed to work with Rugged Radios’ RM60V or RM45U radios ($325 each) and RRP660 ($339.15), RRP660+, RRP696 ($573.75), RRP6100 ($424.15) or RRP362 intercoms. Rugged Radios enables car-to-car communications for staying together on adventures, while intercoms provide in-car communications. The RRP362 intercom installed in the Rugged Radios Talon comes in a two-person system with two helmet kits for $548, while an RRP660 intercom system with four helmet kits goes for $946.05. See www.ruggedradios.com.
KEEPING TRACK OF LAGGERS
Leaving others in your dust is nice, but not when having to connect multiple trails on big rides.
Assault Industries Phantom convex side-view mirrors ($309.99) and Bomber convex rear-view mirror ($99.99) let you see out the back with the widest possible views. The 6061-T6 billet-aluminum Phantoms have a unique angular design and replaceable bezels and glass, plus there are several bezel color choices. They have a breakaway design and adjustable tension with stout anodized-aluminum mounting clamps. The Bomber convex rear-view has a durable poly body with customizable raw aluminum bezel and a real convex glass with Assault logo in the corner. Side mirrors are required for street use in Utah, and a rear-view is required in Arizona and other states. See www.assaultind.com or call (714) 799-6711.
ADDING TO THE PROTECTION
Racers and rock crawlers will definitely want to arm their Talons with Honda accessory nerf bars ($412.95), which are also constructed of large-diameter steel tubes and powdercoated black. These use factory-designed mounting points and are shaped to protect the bodywork from rocks, brush, debris and collisions when racing. Honda’s accessory lower door panels provide more roost protection and a more secure cabin for $209.95, or go with accessory aluminum doors with the Honda Racing logo for $749.95.
IMPROVE RIDE QUALITY AND TRACTION
While Talons have excellent traction with their specially made Maxxis 28x9R15 front and 28x11R15 rear tires, the 15-inch wheels cut down on sidewall height and impact overall ride quality. The Rugged Radios 1000R was fitted with BFG KR2 32×9.5R15 tires on Fuel beadlock wheels at all four corners, giving 2 inches more sidewall for a more cushioned ride and 2 inches more ground clearance for Moab’s rocks. The potent Honda powerplant has plenty of power and torque to turn the 4-inch-taller tires, and the Rugged Talon rips! Ride quality and overall traction are greatly improved, as are the drifting capabilities with the narrower rear tires. BFG KR2 A/T 32×9.5R15s have an MSRP of $258.99 each, and Fuel Anza D918 beadlocks were $215.99 each at 4 Wheel Parts.
ADDING EAGLE-EYED NIGHT VISION
Arm the Talon for night rides with LED lights. KC Hilites’ Pro 6 LED lights come in six LED sets for sport UTVs with light bar mounts and brackets with hardware. The Gravity LED G6 optical inserts are efficient and powerful, and six Pro 6 LEDs produce 13,800 lumens and throw a beam 4700 feet (1,435 meters). They’re available in Spot, Driving and Wide-40 patterns, and the Infinity Ring system allows the conversion of the Pro 6 system from straight to radius in seconds. They have extremely high output with low draw (9.78 amps). Prices haven’t been set for the Talon Pro 6, but the YXZ1000R system is $1,400.39, and the Wildcat set is $1,479.59. See www.kchilites.com or call (888) 689-5955.
WHEN THE TALON WON’T CLAW
While there isn’t a CVT belt to break, Talons can still get stuck and need extraction. Honda’s accessory Warn 3500-pound winch ($510.95) has more than enough capacity to get you out of bad situations via 50 feet of synthetic 3/16-inch rope. Honda’s winch mount kit ($270.95) includes the necessary winch mounting plates, hardware, wiring loom and power cables for installing the winch, plus the dash-mounted remote port. They integrate well with the front bumper, too.
PROTECT YOUR SHOCKS AND CVs
Letting it rip in four-wheel drive sends front-tire roost rearward, and rocks can rip CV boots and damage shock shafts and bodies. Close racing can damage front shocks and CVs as well. SealSavers has new Pro-Series Shock Savers for all Talons, including the 1000X-4 Live Valve with high-end 2.5 Fox Podium shocks. Protecting the CV boots, shock springs, cross-over and preload rings and shock shafts is cheap insurance. SealSavers Pro-Series Shock and CV guards start at $39.95 per pair. See www.sealsavers.com or call (951) 757-0458.
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