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Honda TRX700XX: Unique is Only the Beginning

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Part of the lackluster engine performance undoubtedly stems from the machine’s incredible heft.  Weighing in at a whopping 505 pounds dry, it’s really no wonder the 700's wheels tend to stay firmly planted to the ground. This isn’t to insinuate that wheelies are impossible, but believe us when we say that never do you start to forget how much this beast weighs out on the trail. The weight combined with the motor’s linear means of building speed (rather than simply exploding with power) results in a quad that likes to flow along the trails. Riders who go into corners hot and hard only to slam the brakes at the last second before hammering on the gas again are going to be in for quite a surprise on the 700XX; as in off the trail. The machine demands a patient rider who doesn’t mind going with the flow. Any attempts to fight the machine result in immediate fatigue.

The suspension, which is certainly unique in this application, was the source of much debate among our testers. The problem, surprisingly enough, wasn’t what we expected. The IRS works and works pretty darn well. There is very little flex in the rear and off cambers, regardless of how steep, could not get our test quad to tip. Instead each of the four wheels finds its flow regardless of the tilt of the ground below. Additionally, rear end squat during acceleration is all but eliminated. For tough, technical trails, the benefits of IRS are plenty welcomed. However, the suspension package as a whole is far from perfect. That rear-end stiffness we mentioned a moment ago is great when plugging through the gears; but once you begin pounding through the rough stuff, the front end starts bottoming out while the rear pogos through. In other words, the rear end of the quad overpowers the limitations of the front which means expect to bounce out of your intended line nine out of ten times when the trail turns to chop. Unfortunately, this imbalance works against the quad in slow speed scenarios as well. On more than one occasion we found ourselves unable to turn the quad around on even the widest of trails. Thanks to the stiff rear-end coupled with slow driving torque, it was all but impossible to flick the back tires around to pull a 180. Instead, we found that the quad simply pushed the turned front wheels right off the trail. Reverse was there to clean up the mess, but it can be a frustrating experience.

Normally such complaints can be alleviated with some tweaking and trial and error, but for whatever reason Honda decided against compression and rebound adjusters on the TRX700XX.  The factory settings are going to have to suffice for riders of all size and skill levels. This is especially disappointing considering that the chassis isn’t well balanced to begin with.

Odds & Ends

Clearly Honda was aiming for comfort when laying out the TRX700XX as the ergonomics are spot on for riders of nearly any size. The reach to the bars is very natural, and the seat provides ample room for sliding around. The 10.2 inches of ground clearance is wonderful in situations of hidden rocks or especially swampy double-track where your wheels happen to fall into someone else’s ruts. The engine performance could be a plus or minus depending on the type of trails you ride. For technical, low speed work we found the motor to be torquey and smooth, but wide open hard pack is going to find the 700 trailing the Raptor 700 and KFX700. Braking is typical Honda magic; well modulated and effective in even the sloppiest mess, but don’t expect the big 700 to stop on a dime either.  It takes a little planning ahead and careful application for this big boy to fall in line. We found our test riders with the best finesse were able to make the most out of the TRX700XX on the trails.

Over all this machine is exactly what Honda claims it is--a weekend warrior’s delight. With some tweaking of both the motor and suspension, it is possible to extract some race potential out of the big 700, but we think to do so would be missing the point. The quad is comfortable, quiet, reliable, and versatile. If these are the traits you happen to seek out when purchasing your next ATV, Honda has created this one specifically for you.

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