You are here

Ride Report - The Honda Fourtrax Foreman Rubicon

The All Day, Every Day ATV
Written By: 
John Arens

2015.honda.fourtrax-foreman-rubicon.red.front-left.riding.on-path.jpg You never really get to fully learn a machine until you can test it on your own home turf. For us that means plenty of play riding in the woods, but also many days on the job whether it is pulling a roller across a large yard, towing a wagonload of firewood, or even dragging a log from the woods. We can pretty much guarantee when there is a tough job to do, we’ll always pick the red machine with the wing on the side, and for us that is the Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon 4x4.

JOB FOREMAN

It’s not that there aren’t great machines from Can-Am, Kawasaki, Kymco and every other manufacturer to choose from, and all have their own strengths, but what the Honda lacks in flash it more than makes up for in never-say-die determination to see the job through. For the past year, we’ve been trail riding and working our FourTrax Foreman Rubicon 4x4, and this is what we’ve found.

THE NEW STYLING HAS A PRACTICAL PURPOSE. When Honda restyled the bodywork on their ATVs, it was for more than just a new look. The new bodywork also gives it a bigger feel with wide, full fenders front and back that block any mud flying off the tires, or water splashing from any puddles on the trail. It’s also tough. The Honda bodywork resists scratches, and those everyday nicks and scrapes you do get easily blend into the rest of the machine. The engine is also concealed to complete the look, but a small panel allows for dip stick access. Thankfully, the entire side panels can be removed to expose the engine for easier maintenance tasks and thorough cleanup.2015.honda.fourtrax-foreman-rubicon.red.front-right.riding.down-hill.jpg

IT FEELS VERY HONDA-ISH. We wouldn’t say the Rubicon feels overly sporty because with the wide seat, comfortable bars that reach back towards you, and relaxed seating position, you’re not exactly in a charging position, but it is very comfortable. Honda designed the machine to allow for all day rides or all day work with no rider fatigue, and that’s exactly what it provides. The seat is wide, plush, and yet firm enough to provide support and the new bodywork leaves no little points or protruding panel seams to snag on your boots or jeans. Mounted in the center of the steering column is a very nice, easy to read LED display, the key is just below, and all other controls are on the handlebars regardless of which Rubicon model you choose. Down below we really like how Honda still uses a dedicated foot peg. What almost all the other guys still don’t get is you need to be able to shift body position to ride an ATV, and that means pivoting your foot. The raised Honda peg allows that. This also helps anchor your foot when the floorboards load up with snow or even mud, and water drains through quickly. It’s legendary Honda ergonomics all the way.

THE FOREMAN IS ALSO A PACK MULE. While many work oriented ATVs offer nice looking composite racks, Honda went old-school with steel racks on the Rubicon. The advantage is you’ll never crack them, at least without a major crash. We immediately put them to work hauling firewood, and even a few landscape rocks in an accessory basket. The steel racks definitely hold up to the job, but they also have a very durable plating to resist any nicks or scratches, and several large, flat areas for mounting accessories. At the rear of the chassis, rather than a receiver type hitch, Honda offers a standard clevis style hitch mount. A receiver can be nice, but this works too, especially for towing wagons or yard tools.2015.honda.fourtrax-foreman-rubicon.close-up.console.jpg

THE ENGINE & TRANSMISSION ARE WELL MATCHED. We never did run out of power either on work duty or trail riding our Rubicon. A 475cc liquid cooled, EFI equipped engine powers all Rubicon models, and fuel injection insures they run crisp at any elevation and temperature (Honda calls it PFI for Programmed fuel injection). One of the major differences between the six different Rubicon models, though, is the transmission, and rather than a CVT transmission like nearly everything else, Honda offers a true gearbox. There are even a couple versions of that, but regardless of model, the reliability of a gear on gear transmission can’t be ignored!

Our FourTrax Rubicon 4x4 came with a foot shifted transmission. As long time sport riders, we don’t consider that a problem in the least. It’s second nature to us. However, there are many who prefer a fully automatic system, or a thumb shifted transmission, and both have their places. While base units get an auto-clutch and a super reliable, foot operated manual transmission, three Rubicon models come with Honda’s dual-clutch (DCT) transmission. This is really a very hi-tech engineering marvel that originated in Formula-1 car racing. Talk about trickle down technology! The DCT tranny also carries the adaptive learning Cruise or Sport mode that monitors the way you drive and makes adjustments accordingly. In reality, it changes the shift timing, delaying it and raising RPMs between shifts for a sporty ride, or shifting lower in the RPM range for Cruise mode, which gives an easier ride and extended fuel mileage.2015.honda.fourtrax-foreman-rubicon.red.front.riding.over-rocks.jpg

Riding the Rubicon with the DCT transmission surely makes it an easy, relaxed ride and you can let it do all the work in fully automatic mode, or you can shift it yourself with the thumb activated Electronic Shift Program. Shifts are extremely smooth and an extra low gear will be useful for heavy towing. If you’re like us, though, we prefer manual control over the fully automatic shifting just for a sportier ride. Either way you can’t go wrong. While forward motion is not a problem with any Rubicon, shifting into reverse takes a little more time. Here the CVT guys have an advantage, and most just yank a lever back and they’re good to go. Admittedly, that makes operations that require lots of direction changes like plowing snow a LOT easier, but with the Honda that’s not quite so simple. To engage reverse on the Rubicon, you’ll need to press a red button on the left handlebar brake lever, pull in the brake, and then make the shift, either with your foot, or your thumb depending on the transmission you have. It’s a little slower and we’re not exactly in love with it, but it’s workable.

THE CHASSIS DELIVERS A SMOOTHER, MORE PRECISE FEEL. All Rubicon models get a new chassis designed to be more rigid which translates into a more precise ride. Wheel travel on both the front and rear end isn’t exactly going to keep the competitors up at night, and there are 7.3 inches up front and 8.5 in the rear. On the trail we did manage to bottom it but cranking a little more preload into the shocks helped prevent that. (The factory shock setting was slightly soft.) Dual A-arms are used up front, but at the rear the new Rubicon’s get independent rear suspension, and this is a significant improvement over previous models. Honda went to IRS after extensive customer research indicated it was a major buying point that customers wanted. On the trail that translates to a much smoother ride, and there was very little body roll. The IRS also allows for a little more ground clearance, but you’ll still want to pick your lines carefully around the big stuff.2015.honda_.fourtrax-foreman-rubicon.close-up.rear-suspension_0.jpg

POWER STEERING FEEDBACK. Several of the new Rubicon 4x4 models feature electronic power steering, and it works very well. So well in fact we never thought about it. There was enough feedback to give you a good feel of the terrain, but not so much it took all feel away. On the models without power steering, it was still easy enough to maneuver the Rubicon, but after long test rides, a couple of our female riders tended to notice arm fatigue. This was especially true after extended time in difficult, technical terrain. Is power steering a necessity? Not really, but it will be a welcome feature, especially if you find yourself loading the front racks or mounting a snow plow on the front.

THE FIT AND TRIM IS EXCELLENT. It wouldn’t be a Honda without careful attention to all the little details. Bodywork seams are tight, welds are good with little spatter, and everything is plated or coated for corrosion protection. Mud or snow, it’s good to go.

THE RUBICON is the TOTAL PACKAGE. One way we know a design is successful is when we never think about it while we’re out riding. We’re not fighting a machine or thinking about how any specific areas could be more user friendly. As a package the FourTrax Foreman Rubicon works very well. It’s exactly what Honda designed it to be - ready to go all day, every day for as long as you are.

2015 FOURTRAX FOREMAN RUBICON Quick Specs

Model: FOURTRAX FOREMAN RUBICON with DCT / RUBICON with EPS AND DCT / RUBICON with EPS AND DCT DELUXE

Engine: 475cc liquid-cooled OHV longitudinally mounted single-cylinder four-stroke with EFI – 36mm Throttle Body - Electric start with optional auxiliary recoil

Transmission: Automatic ESP five-speed with Reverse and Drive/Low – Auto Clutch

Driveline: Direct front and rear driveshaft’s with TraxLok® and locking front differential

Suspension: Front: Dual A-Arm; 7.3 inches travel, Rear: Independent dual-arm; 8.5 inches travel

Brakes: Front: Dual hydraulic 190mm discs, Rear: Single hydraulic 170mm disc

Tires: Front: 25 x 8-12, Rear: 25 x 10-12

L x W x H: 83.7 x 47.4 x 49.1 inches

Ground Clrnc: 9.8 inches

Turn Radius: 11.5 feet

Fuel Capacity: 3.9 gallons, including 1.3-gallon reserve

Colors: Red, Olive, Honda Phantom Camo, Black

Curb Weight: 703 pounds (standard) / 719 pounds (with EPS) / 712 pounds (Deluxe)

Model: FOURTRAX FOREMAN RUBICON 4X4 / RUBCON 4X4 with EPS / RUBICON with EPS Deluxe

Transmission: Five-speed with Reverse and Drive/Low – Auto Clutch

Colors: Red, Olive, Honda Phantom Camo, White

Curb Weight: 679 pounds (standard) / 696 pounds (with EPS) / 688 pounds (Deluxe)2015.honda.fourtrax-foreman-rubicon.close-up.headlight.jpg

All other specs identical to those above

MSRP – Base Model FourTrax Foreman Rubicon Starting at $7,799

2015 FOURTRAX FOREMAN RUBICON 4x4 Specs

Engine: 475cc liquid-cooled OHV longitudinally mounted single-cylinder four-stroke with EFI – 36mm Throttle Body - Electric start with optional auxiliary recoil

Transmission: Manual Five Speed with Reverse

Driveline: Direct front and rear driveshaft’s with TraxLok® and locking front differential

Suspension: Front: Dual A-Arm; 7.3 inches travel, Rear: Independent dual-arm; 8.5 inches travel

Brakes: Front: Dual hydraulic 190mm discs, Rear: Single hydraulic 170mm disc

Tires: Front: 25 x 8-12, Rear: 25 x 10-12

L x W x H: 83.7 x 47.4 x 48.6 inches

Ground Clrnc: 9.5 inches

Fuel Capacity: 3.9 gallons, including 1.3-gallon reserve

2015.honda.fourtrax-foreman-rubicon.red.front-right.riding.up-hill.jpg

Colors: Red, Olive

Curb Weight: 677 pounds ready to ride

MSRP : $7,799 - Base Model

FOREMAN RUBICON 4X4 EPS Electric Power Steering – Red, Phantom Camo

FOREMAN RUBICON 4X4 EPS DELUXE Electric Power Steering – Cast Wheels - White

FOREMAN RUBICON 4X4 Automatic DCT – Automatic Transmission – Dual Clutch - Red, Olive

FOREMAN RUBICON 4X4 Automatic DCT EPS – Automatic Transmission – Dual Clutch –

Electronic Power Steering, Red, Phantom Camo

FOREMAN RUBICON 4X4 Automatic DCT EPS DELUXE – Automatic Transmission – Dual

Clutch – Electronic Power Steering – Cast Wheels - Black

2015.honda.fourtrax-foreman-rubicon.close-up.oil-dipstick.jpg 2015.honda_.fourtrax-foreman-rubicon.red_.front_.riding.up-hill.jpg
2015.honda_.fourtrax-foreman-rubicon.red_.front_.riding.on-path.jpg  2015.honda.fourtrax-foreman-rubicon.red.front-left.riding.on-trail.jpg

Organization: