First Ride: 2020 Honda Talon 1000X-4
Life Is Better SXSXSXS
The off-road industry has a rich-storied history of men and women trying to outdo each other in the middle of nowhere. Who can do it bigger? Who can do it faster? And most importantly… who wins? But when you step outside the tight-knit circle of the industry, you will find friends, families, and people that want nothing more than to explore the outdoors and find new areas while spending time with like-minded souls—teaching younger generations about trail etiquette, vehicle maintenance and general life skills that they will then pass down to the generations after them.
Since the beginning, American Honda has been a staple in the long story of not only off-road racing but also bringing people together to explore the trails less traveled. They are bringing friends and family together once again with the introduction of the Honda Talon 1000X-4 and Talon 1000X-4 Live Valve, and we were fortunate enough to be invited to their media intro just outside of Caliente, Nevada. Excited to pack our bags for the cold weather, we hit the road to explore a place we have little to no experience in. The question on the table was, “what kind of event does the team at Honda put together in the middle of nowhere?” We were anxious to find out.
Knowing there is rough and rugged terrain in Caliente, Honda was taking a different approach—a circle of motorhomes with a campfire center stage acting as the watercooler was set up and ready as we arrived. A lineup of pit bikes next to a pit bike track and an impressive lineup of Talon 1000X-4s ready for action. It was an impressive sight—literally in the middle of nowhere. After getting all our equipment and belongings settled into our motorhome, it was off to the fire to enjoy an adult beverage and BS with everyone. The team at Honda didn’t just put together a ride, they put together an experience.
As the embers floated to the sky and the hours ticked away, the setting took me back to my favorite parts of off-roading, which is spending time with friends and family in the desert and really enjoying life. The vacation feels continued into the morning as we had 90+ miles of trails and exploring ahead of us. Strapping into the Talon 1000X-4, I immediately noticed the seats are comfortable, but not big-man friendly—something I am used to. Towering a mere 5’8” from the ground, weighing in at 150lbs dripping wet, our in-house photographer Brandon loves the cab, but not I. The adjustable steering wheel, paddle shifters, and easy-to-reach switches make it better, but I would love to see a lower seating configuration with more driver legroom. Room in the newly-added back row of seats was similar to the front; plenty of space for children to medium sized adults, but larger humans may find it a bit cramped on long rides.
Working our way through the dust, the trail was littered with day-ending rocks, as one of the other drivers found out on 5 different occasions. Being used to it, we forged ahead and wound our way up the mountains to a scenic overlook. The feel of the chassis was that of a higher-end build—stiff and rigid in all the right spots while the Fox shocks were soft and supple through the nastiest of bumps. At 116.4 inches long and 64 inches wide, the Talon was surprisingly nimble as we weaved through the tight wooded trails. During the time we stood at the overlook, Honda brought in a local historian who told us stories of the day when people made their way West in search of gold and a better life. It is safe to say that we are spoiled compared to the covered wagon days. It was fun to listen to the stories and appreciate what we had in front of us—104 horsepower through a six-speed manual shift transmission to rip through the trails.
Taking a quick break to swap cars, we jumped into the Talon 1000X-4 Live Valve. It was very noticeable as we switched modes to soften or firm up the suspension depending on terrain and driving style. Again, the suspension meshed well with the solid and well-built chassis. At each stop, I felt like a racecar driver. Matting the throttle and letting go of the paddles, the 28-inch tall tires dug in and we were off—the new Launch Control is a fun feature.
It is apparent that Honda isn’t trying to compete with the big horsepower cars. They are taking a different approach. They want people to get out and use the Talon, customize it to their personal liking and enjoy it—just like the original intent of off-roading. They are bringing people and families together around a Honda reliability so more time is spent on what matters, instead of how fast you can go.