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Honda Talon 1000R Review 2021

Courtesy of Honda

The Honda Talon 1000R is, in short, a fantastic UTV and a must-have vehicle for any off-road enthusiast out there. But just how well does it measure up when you look at the specs, price, and other important factors?

Well, it’s got its quirks, but we think it’s still well worth the money as long as you can afford it. Of course, this is all just a gathering of small details. Let’s dive into the detailed review and see why so many people are searching for the Honda Talon 1000R in 2021.

Honda Talon 1000R Review Highlights 

  • Fine-tuned DCT automatic transmission works well and leaves the hassle behind
  • A great engine note with a crisp throttle response makes it seem even snappier than it already is
  • Launch control is not only fun but also useful in certain situations
  • Comes with factory window nets so you don’t have to buy aftermarket ones
  • Live Valve suspension adjustability

The Crisp and Reliable Honda Talon 1000R Engine 

Let’s start with the first thing that people think about when purchasing a UTV. Or any vehicle for that matter. The Honda Talon 1000R’s engine shines as a punchy powerhouse with a very high level of polish. It comes with a 999cc liquid-cooled inline twin engine that delivers the type of high torque and quick revs that you usually get from sports motorbikes rather than UTVs.

Honda’s sophisticated PGM-FI engine-mapping system deserves a lot of praise for achieving such a level of performance and refinement that not many other side-by-sides can compare with. Moreover, the Unicam cylinder makes the engine more compact, thus allowing it to achieve better weight distribution for added ground clearance and balance.

Finally, the roller rocker’s arms reduce engine friction, facilitate higher, faster revs, and contribute to more efficient engine operation and power. It might sound dreamy, but driving the Honda Talon 1000R can really make you feel young again.

Transmission and Drivetrain 

The DCT transmission combines the advantages of both an automatic and a manual. It’s every bit as high tech as the engine, and there are really not many things you can complain about. When you engage one shaft, the other shaft already starts spinning, so it’s ready to be used once you reach a certain speed.

The clutches swap duty between each other when shifting gears, so they will most likely wear and tear much slower than other, older transmissions. The DCT in the Talon also has selectable automatic shift modes - Normal and Sport - plus shifting paddles if you want the full manual experience.

In short, there’s something to love for just about everyone. Given the fact that it handles like a motorbike on four wheels, you also get genuine compression braking and more efficient power delivery than a belt-driven CVT. Now that we’ve covered everything essential about the transmission, let’s move onto the drivetrain.

The i4WD system in the Honda Talon 1000R uses individual wheel speed sensors and smart computing to control traction on all four wheels. It basically simplifies every operation. And with the help of the fine-tuned transmission technology, you get the benefits associated with a locked front differential with none of the downsides. However, we do wonder how much this system will be affected when one of the sensors will inevitably die out somewhere along the line.

Reviewing the Honda Talon 1000R Suspension System

Of course, you couldn’t review a vehicle, especially a side-by-side without mentioning the suspension. After all, it’s what makes or breaks any offroad or racing experience in the first place.

Adjustable Fox Podium 2.5 shocks and a unique four-plus-link rear suspension? Sign us up, yes! It isn’t just a bolt-on upgrade to the base Talon model. Not by a long shot! The Live Valve system can adjust the shock’s compression damping on each shock independently and automatically. And not just once or twice, either, but up to 200 times per second. At least, that’s what the people at Honda claim, but we’re inclined to believe them.

Because of this, even if the wheel’s geometry is off by 20 inches, the rear wheels’ toe varies only 0.3 degrees throughout the entire stroke for better chassis stability under extreme suspension deflection.

The 1000R Tires, Wheels, and Brakes Reviewed

Now we’re done with the big categories, so let’s move on to the more basic elements that can be changed and fine-tuned to your liking much more easily. Shameless plug: we’ve got some interesting replacement tires right on this page.

As for the factory tires, the Honda Talon 1000R carries over the Maxxis MU9H that can also be found in the Coronado. However, this time the tire is tuned for Honda’s specifications. While we like it overall, it does feel loose on hardpack and doesn’t give a lot of forward bite. That’s the main reason we’d advise replacing it. Still, it’s likely that not many people will be bothered by this fact.

As for the wheels, they are cast aluminum non-beadlocks, allowing the Talon to respond well to taller tires. Finally, the brakes are neat and powerful. There’s not much you can say about them, other than the fact that they do a great job when paired with the factory tires. If you’re curious, they’re dual 250mm hydraulic disc brakes.

Design

Aesthetics and usefulness go hand in hand to create a match made in heaven. Let’s see why so many people have left generous reviews about the Honda Talon 1000R.

Interior 

As stated earlier, the Honda Talon 1000R really does make you feel like you’re young again. It’s wild and dirty on rough terrain, and sumptuous on flat surfaces. The occupant protection structure offers great protection against the elements for both the driver and the passenger. Coming with factory-made nets, as well as a roof, you’ll safe when riding the Talon on any terrain.

After all, Honda is known to be a master of vehicle ergonomics, and the Talon 1000R is no exception. The seats are comfortable, yet firm. The auto-style three-point seatbelts are equipped with an emergency locking retractor mechanism to help optimize passenger security without feeling too restraining. And best of all, despite the compactness of the cabin, there’s more than enough legroom even for tall people. Finally, one more thing we like about the interior is that there is a cam bolt that holds the passenger Tee-bar instead of the usual clip pin that allows the bar to rattle around on the trail. The Talon’s cam bolt makes the Tee-bar feel nice, steady, and sturdy. No one likes rattling inside their vehicle, so it’s a seemingly little adjustment that brings a lot of peace of mind.

Exterior

The Talon 1000R feels right at home in the desert thanks to its rugged yet sumptuous exterior that balances out its weight and suspension in an ingenious way. Its front headlights are easily visible, the bumpers are spaced accordingly, and there’s a general feeling of security and velocity when you take a closer look at it.

To the average Joe, it might sound as if we’re daydreaming when talking about the Honda Talon 1000R, but they’d figure out why we’re praising it so much if they saw it in person. Overall, there’s really nothing bad one can say about the exterior unless we’re talking about subjective taste. In practical terms, it’s what it’s supposed to be.

What’s even better is that the factory paint is scratch-resistant, so you’ll be less likely to damage the finish even if you choose to forgo applying a film altogether. The color-molded plastic sure looks good in person. No DSLR picture can do it justice when you compare it to the real thing.

Other Details About the Honda Talon 1000R

You can get the 1000R in three different versions. First, there’s the basic model, which comes in a pearl white color scheme by default. Second, there’s the FOX Live Valve edition which comes in a metallic grey with light blue accents from the factory. Finally, the special edition comes in a viper urban camo, which indeed gives it a distinct and premium look compared to the other two editions. If you want the full details and specifications regarding each edition, check out Honda’s official brochure.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Designed for dune and desert environments
  • Wider than the Talon 1000X
  • The six-speed dual-clutch transmission is beltless
  • General maintenance is a simple task
  • Outfitted with significantly more suspension travel than other models on the market

Cons 

  • The Talon doesn’t have as much ground clearance compared to similarly-priced competitor models
  • Doesn’t have the ability to fully lock all four wheels together
  • Factory turbo isn’t available on any of the models

Who Is the Honda Talon 1000R For?

To put it as short as possible, we think that the Talon is for people who love off-road adventures, and especially for those who crave the full desert experience. If you’re looking for a street-legal UTV, you might want to look elsewhere.

The Talon is also a great choice for those who can afford to dish out around $20,000 for the default asking price. Sure, you might be able to get better offers at certain dealerships, but don’t expect anything significantly less than that price (at least for now). At the time of writing this article, there aren’t all that many alternative offers, or at least not ones that we have seen so far.

While the Talon may not necessarily be the absolute best choice for any particular type of terrain, it still holds up impressively well against an impressive number of competitors. If you want an example of a great competitor that the Talon faces almost flawlessly, check out this article that puts it head to head against the Can-Am Maverick

The Bottom Line 

If you want a relatively affordable UTV that holds up great in desert environments and other off-road scenarios, you’ll be more than pleased with the Honda Talon 1000R, regardless of which version you’ll end up choosing.

Alas, even if you’re not looking for a UTV from this specific category, we’d still like to encourage you to give it a test drive. It’s absolutely amazing how comfortable yet rugged it feels. It’s a combination between Honda’s signature comfort and a UTV’s special vibe.