Real World Rides: Honda Talon, Tucson Episode 1

Michelle Baird | September 8, 2020

We’re giving real potential SXS customers the keys and letting them tell us what they think of the Honda Talon SXS.

The new Honda Talon lineup of performance side-by-sides really caught our attention when we test drove them at the official press introduction held outside St. George, Utah earlier this year.

Honda’s entry into the performance SXS market means the notorious powersports brand is serious about being a player in the high-performance, four-wheel world of off-road recreation. And after two days of testing in Utah, we couldn’t have been happier to see them in the mix.

Having a brand like Honda jump into the market will, in our opinion, elevate everyone’s game in performance, durability and quality. And anyone thinking Honda isn’t here to compete across the board should look at their history of motorsports championships, and off-road motorsports championships in particular.

Our First Impression of the Honda Talon 1000R and 1000X made us believers in Honda’s potential in the market and, honestly, it left us with an appetite for more.

Nearly everything about the new Honda Talon SXS models from our first rides met or exceeded our expectations from the first year effort. Off the top of our head’s, here’s what stood out:

  • We loved the direct power delivery of the healthy 999cc Unicam parallel twin engine mated to a gear-driven transmission.
  • We were intrigued and impressed by the six-speed, Dual Clutch Transmission’s (DCT) automatic performance, Sport option, and its ability to be ridden hard and hammered in manual mode (we could write an entire story just on the Honda Talon’s DCT, and we probably will).
  • We really loved the I-4WD system and its ability to control wheelspin and crawl through the more technical sections in-between the sand washes and dunes of Utah.
  • We applauded the ergonomics of the cockpit, the comfort of the seats and chassis and the performance of the high-quality, standard, Fox suspension components.

After our official test rides on the Honda Talon 1000X and Honda Talon 1000R in Utah, we thought it would be a great idea to get some real-world testing in outside the controlled environment of an official press introduction. This would allow us to get into the nitty gritty of the Talon family and see what it’s like to live with one on a longer-term basis. For customers considering a new UTV purchase, knowing what to expect down the road is important. And, frankly, it’s hard not to have a great time at an official press launch.

Certainly, we wanted to take one out for some unsupervised sessions ourselves. But, to really find out how the Honda Talon works in the hands of real, buying customers, we came up with another plan: we’d put a Honda Talon 1000R into the hands of real customers and document their experience and impressions testing the stock machine, as well as a slightly modified/accessorized version, as if it were their own.

The first step was to find test riders that aren’t a part of the powersports media world. And we needed to find people who are actually in the market for a SXS purchase and can work with an unpredictable production schedule. We found just that with Brent and Haley Culbertson of Tucson, Arizona.

Real World Rides: Honda Talon, Tucson Testers

Brent and Haley Culbertson sit in front of the Honda Talon 1000R Brent and Haley Culbertson of Tucson, Arizona are our Real World Rides Testers for the Honda Talon 1000R. Learn more about this newlywed couple and their SXS experience in the upcoming series.

Family members of some UTVvideos.net colleagues, Brent and Haley are possibly the perfect real-world SXS testing couple. They are a young, newlywed couple with professional careers that give them the freedom to plan multi-day recreational trips and they’re actually in the market to buy a SXS!

Surrounded by friends and family members who own SXS’s, Brent and Haley are ready to jump in and make a new SXS purchase. This project would allow them to test ride the Honda Talon in the perfect way. Plus, we’d get real feedback on the new Honda models. This is a win-win situation if we’ve ever seen one.

Brent is a Paramedic/EMT for the Tucson Fire Department and Haley is a Cardiac ICU Nurse. They don’t work traditional nine-to-five work weeks and their flip-flopping shift patterns mean they can coordinate schedules for shared time off regularly. Those time-off sessions can be multiple days in a row and with that, they’re often looking for ways to spend time together and have fun. Their preferred recreation arena is outside in the open Arizona landscape in the dirt or on the water.

Brent and Haley grew up in off-roading families, both taking trips to deserts and sand dunes as kids from California to Arizona, logging time on two wheels and four in the dirt. Their home in Tucson is located minutes away from open riding areas full of fun two-track, sandy washes and rocky hills. And the state of Arizona has bountiful opportunities for longer excursions within a few hours of Tucson. From alpine mountains to some of the vastest deserts in the west, their location is prime SXS country.

A minute via text messaging is all it took to arrange a week for us to visit and invade their world with a Honda Talon 1000R—the model we agreed was the best for their intended use and terrain. As you can imagine, they were happy to be on-board.

Real World Rides: Honda Talon, Tucson Testing Format

The wide open desert around Tucson Arizona is shown with the Honda Talon 1000R Riding in Arizona can be an amazingly scenic experience. Stay tuned for more from our Real World Rides series from Tucson.

Our idea was pretty simple: Put real customers in the seat of the Honda Talon 1000R in their own riding areas and get their feedback. This would provide us a unique opinion source for readers, plus it puts more emphasis on real-world use, and not editors’ opinions. Brent and Haley are certainly relatable to many of you: Real customers with real jobs and real expectations of their SXS purchase.

But instead of just riding a couple days on a stock machine, we wanted to replicate the ownership experience with the addition of vehicle accessories to make the second part of the test more comfortable and more capable for our testers. Essentially, we wanted them to have a more accurate ownership experience—it’s not like many SXS owners leave their machines completely stock.

Real World Rides: Honda Talon, Tucson Episode 1
We let Brent and Haley put the Honda Talon to the test in their own local riding area.

Day one will be an introduction to the all-new Honda Talon 1000R and a quick test ride in nearly stock form right in their own backyard. This would give them a chance to focus on the features and benefits as well as simply test drive the new ride. Neither of them had sat in a Honda Talon and this would be their first up-close look at the new machine.

Then, we’ll mount up some parts and accessories from Honda’s collection as well as a few parts from some other suppliers. This will give them a chance to get up-close-and-personal with the fit and finish of the machine and make the ride more like their own.

Finally, we’ll take the fully built Honda Talon 1000R out for a rip. We’ll let Brent and Haley test it with our parts and accessories installed as well as let them get a full second day in on the machine. We’ll ride in the dark, in more technical terrain and just try to replicate the ownership experience as much as possible.

In the end, we hope they’ll come back to us with some great insight into how the Honda Talon 1000R performs from their perspective as real-world test riders.

The UTVvideos.net team will be on-site for the entire test—documenting the experience with a three-part video series and editorial stories hosted here on UTVvideos.net of each stage of the test. We hope you’ll join us for the next few weeks as we introduce Brent and Haley and their experience with the all-new Honda Talon 1000R.

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American Honda Motor Co., Inc., is the sole distributor of Honda motorcycles, scooters, ATVs and Side-by-Sides in the U.S. Founded in 1948 in Hamamatsu, Japan, Honda opened its first U.S. storefront in Los Angeles, CA, in 1959. Honda has the longest sustained U.S. manufacturing presence of any international automaker.

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