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Many companies are really starting to raise the bar for the hard-working, hard-playing machines in the utility branch of the off-roading department. If you love options and want the reliable reputation of the Honda line, then you will be glad to learn the company has stepped up its ATV improvements as well. The 2015 Honda Foreman Rubicon has garnered the latest attention from the manufacturer’s off-road engineering division. Honda has also attended to three major features: rider comfort, electronic fuel injection, and independent rear suspension.
The Hatfield-McCoy trail system in the mountains of West Virginia served as our testing grounds. If you’ve experienced this region before, then you know just how fun—and rugged—the trails can get. Fortunately, the Rubicon sports a super-plush seat that’s comfortable even after two full days of mountain trails. Honda has added extra foam padding to the seat, and the smooth, tapered styling allows for a better fit between your legs. The bars on the new Rubicon are positioned upward for better comfort and control. As a final touch to the steering bars, Honda added a new half-waffle design to the grips. There’s even a heated grip option if you know you’ll be riding in extremely cold weather. The Rubicon also comes with or without power steering, depending on your preference or pocketbook. I suggest you pay a little extra for this small but noticeable feature.
The new look of the Honda Rubicon is appealing and classy, yet stays within the traditional feel of a sporty-yet-workable machine to bring it all together. The traditional bright red plastics help the machine to stand out, and with the rugged redesigned rack system, hauling gear is easier. The front racks have integrated plates along the outer edges to provide a flat platform for securing loads. Tie down points for your cargo are also plentiful with this new design. The front rack will carry 99 pounds, while the rear will hold an incredible 187 pounds of cargo. With solid tow ratings in the 1300-pound mark, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting gear to your stand or trekking to your duck blind.
The engine in the 2015 Rubicon is straight out of the Pioneer 500. This 475cc four stroke is water-cooled and fuel injected for optimal performance on the trail or when you intend to work the machine in the hot summer months. Honda’s programmed fuel injection gave us good throttle response as we tackled the trails. Honda also claims the PFI improved fuel economy by as much as 12 percent, which was evident as it seemed to sip slowly at the fuel levels during our rides.
As far as the transmission or shifting of the new Rubicon goes, you can absolutely have it your way. There are several formats to choose from: a manual DCT/auto clutch, ESP/Electronic Shift Program, and the fully automatic form that does everything for you. My favorite had to be the manual with automatic clutch; it allowed me to choose my gear position and seemed to have just a little more pep. The manual is a foot-shifted model that utilizes the dual clutch transmission (DCT) to engage the process. With the electric shift program (ESP) you change the gears via a handle-bar-mounted shifting mechanism simply by pressing up or down on the buttons. With the right-hand mounted switch you can tell the Honda Rubicon to do everything for you. When placed in a forward gear, Low/High, you simply press the throttle lever and watch the trail ahead.
Enjoying the Honda Foreman Rubicon for two full days gave us a better appreciation for each feature on the machine. If we could change one thing on the Rubicon, it would be the foot-wells behind the heel position. This area could use better support. But overall, Honda released a great revised version of a timeless classic that’sready for you to ride.
-Sleek classy new look
-Thicker, more comfortable seating
-Could benefit from more low speed power steering assist in 4WD.
2015 Honda Foreman Rubicon Specifications:
Model: TRX500FM5 / TRX500FM6 (with EPS) / TRX500FM6 (with EPS) Deluxe
Engine Type: 475cc liquid-cooled OHV longitudinally mounted single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore and Stroke: 92.0mm x 71.5mm
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Induction: Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI), 36mm throttle body
Ignition: Full-transistorized with electronic advance
Starter: Electric with optional auxiliary recoil
Transmission: Five-speed with Reverse
Driveline: Direct front and rear driveshafts with TraxLok® and locking front differential
Front: Independent double-wishbone; 7.3 inches travel
Rear: Independent dual-arm; 8.5 inches travel
Front: Dual hydraulic 190mm discs
Rear: Single hydraulic 170mm disc
Front: 25 x 8-12
Rear: 25 x 10-12
Length: 83.7 inches
Width: 47.4 inches
Height: 49.1 inches
Seat Height: 36.1 inches
Ground Clearance: 9.8 inches
Wheelbase: 50.9 inches
Turning Radius: 11.5 feet
Fuel Capacity: 3.9 gallons, including 1.3-gallon reserve
Rubicon 4×4: Red, Olive
Rubicon 4×4 EPS: Red, Honda Phantom Camo®
Rubicon 4×4 EPS Deluxe: White
Curb Weight: 679 pounds (TRX500FM5) / 696 pounds (TRX500FM6) /
688 pounds (TRX500FM6 Deluxe)