2003 Honda FourTrax Rincon Development

9/1/2003 6:04:00 PM

Take a good, close look at the all-new 2003 Honda FourTrax® Rincon™. You're looking at more than just another ATV; you're witnessing the forces of evolution at work.

Think back to the WWII-era Army jeep. A pretty rudimentary piece of work, no? Now picture any one of today's ultra refined and immensely popular Sport Utility Vehicles--complete with all the luxury trimmings. Quite an evolutionary leap forward, right? In like manner, Honda's groundbreaking new four-wheel-drive Rincon now elevates ATVs to a higher, more sophisticated plane--all the better to meet the needs of today's more sophisticated buyer.

Thanks to the bright-think minds at Honda, this new SUV of ATVs comes packed chock-full of features and technical innovations that could come only from the industry leader. Of course, innovation is a watchword at Honda. Perhaps the closest parallel to the Rincon's level of impact came a few years ago when Honda began a revolution in liter-class sporting motorcycle design with the CBR®900RR. This stunningly brilliant machine delivered a wealth of power and exceptional handling-benefits that were multiplied by its remarkably light weight. Now Honda has accomplished the same feat once again, creating a new class of large-displacement, lightweight ATV with the Rincon.

The Rincon sports the largest and most powerful engine among all Honda ATVs--a brawny yet remarkably compact liquid-cooled four-valve 649cc four-stroke overhead-valve powerplant. A completely new design, this powerhouse delivers plenty of muscle, while the OHV layout allows for an engine height that's markedly shorter than would be possible with an overhead cam configuration. This, in turn, produces a number of advantages: less top-side bulk to make space for a larger fuel tank, increased ground clearance, and a lower center of gravity.

And that's only the beginning. Careful attention to detail, plus a lot of hard work, has kept the Rincon's dry weight exactly the same as that of the 499cc FourTrax Foreman Rubicon™, a laudable 600 pounds--this from a machine with 30 percent more engine displacement. Better yet, the Rincon boasts the only true automotive-style automatic transmission in the entire ATV world. By routing power through a hydraulic torque converter to a sophisticated transmission featuring three forward gears plus reverse, the Rincon delivers a decidedly sporty feeling every time you dial up the power. Net result: a skillful blend of bold power plus nimble handling for a fun, grin-inducing feel.

In 2001, Honda introduced the ultra-sophisticated Hondamatic™ transmission in the then-new Rubicon. This continuously variable hydromechanical transmission remains unique in its ability to deliver a satin-smooth flow of power under all riding conditions, from the toughest chores to the most rugged trails. The new Rincon, however, was developed to impart a distinctly different and more pronounced kind of mechanical feel. Instead of the seamless flow of power found in the Rubicon, the Rincon feels much more familiar-and sporty--to buyers who are accustomed to the way an automatic transmission shifts through progressive gear ratios. Thanks to this innovative automatic transmission, Rincon buyers can savor the power-surge of a strong upshift. What's more, since the Rincon employs a true automotive-style drive train, you'll never encounter the belt failure and/or slippage that can occur with ATVs from other manufacturers.

The Rincon employs an Electronic Control Unit (ECU) that factors in throttle opening, vehicle speed, engine speed, gear selector position, brake application and engine oil temperature to automatically select the proper gear under the appropriate riding conditions. As an alternative, the rider can actuate the Rincon's Electric Shift Program™ (ESP) to select the desired gear by using the push buttons mounted on the left handlebar. Its super-sophisticated design delivers simplicity in operation.

More notable Honda firsts come at the rear of the Rincon, including a rear disc brake mounted upstream of the differential. This position decreases the unsprung weight normally associated with an axle-mounted disc, and also provides increased ground clearance. Also in back, you'll find Honda's first independent rear suspension with lightweight forged aluminum components. This system provides the Rincon with plenty of sophisticated, well-controlled wheel travel. The elimination of a solid rear axle means the Rincon can provide a more comfortable ride over the toughest terrain compared to conventional ATVs. Meanwhile, special lightweight forged aluminum suspension components keep weight at a minimum for superior handling. Even the brake pedal is aluminum--how's that for attention to detail?

Besides these design innovations, the Rincon comes fully equipped with just about every high-tech ATV trick in Honda's extensive inventory: TraxLok™ allows the rider to shift between 2WD and 4WD via a simple thumb-operated switch. While in 4WD, Honda's unique torque-sensitive limited-slip front differential reduces torque steer to yield a lower steering effort and also provides superior traction compared to convention limited-slip differentials. An Electric Shift Program® (ESP®) enables the rider to manually select gears by simply actuating one of two push-buttons mounted conveniently on the left handlebar. Another switch on the right handlebar allows the rider to easily select either ESP or automatic mode for the transmission. A solid-state CD ignition with electronic advance delivers excellent performance and reliability. Rubber engine mounts and a gear-driven engine counterbalancer effectively control engine vibration for all-day riding comfort. And Honda's renowned longitudinally mounted engine provides the utmost in drivetrain efficiency.

Roll all of these deluxe features into one ATV, and what do you have? The SUV of ATVs--also known as the 2003 Honda Rincon.