by Cody Hooper
Honda’s first entry into the Sport UTV world is creating quite a splash. While all of the naysayers chant “MORE HORSEPOWER” from behind their keyboards, we have been out putting some miles on this lime green beauty and enjoying the years of development Honda has put into the Talon. It’s a wonderful car that offers a lot to the enthusiast who spends most of their time away from the sand dunes. Plush suspension, ample bottoming resistance, great turn-in, and a competent drivetrain are among the highlights. We jumped on the chance to test the Talon R with a set of 30″ tires, as the stock 28s are a little small for harsh desert duty. One call to our friends at STI Powersports, and we had a brand-new set of 14″ HD9 Beadlock wheels wrapped in 30 x 10 R14 XComp tires ready to mount up.
In our initial review of the Talon, we mentioned that 14″ wheels would not fit; we stand corrected. STI has done extensive research and on-car testing with both prototype Talon units and their own company-owned Talon 1000R, and the 14’s they offer do indeed fit. The Talon has a very strange wheel offset package, where the track width at the hubs actually varies by about 3″ front to back. That being said, if you buy the same offset wheels for the front and back of your Talon, the rear end will be substantially narrower than the front (if they even fit). STI has done their homework and currently offers 14 and 15 inch wheels with offsets that will fit the Talon X and R.
The setup we tested was as follows:
FRONT WHEEL: 14×7 HD9 Comp Lock Wheel. 6+1 offset (+50mm) Matte Black/Machined finish PN #14HB908
REAR WHEEL: 14×7 HD9 Comp Lock Wheel. 5+2 offset (+30mm) Matte Black/Machined finish PN #14HB907
Currently, the 5+2 offset rear wheel subtracts about an inch of overall width from the Talon R’s track, but STI will have 4+3 offset Talon-specific wheels on sale in about 60 days that match the OE offset perfectly. If you ask us, the 20mm difference isn’t noticeable, especially behind the wheel.
When it comes to tires, STI has a plethora of options. The tire we tested on the Talon 1000R was their X Comp ATR. This tire is manufactured like a light-truck tire, so it’s exceptionally durable. Steering response is excellent, which was a unilateral opinion across everyone who spent time behind the wheel. Turn-in and initial bite are laser-focused, and these X Comp tires have enough grip to really let the Talon’s suspension shine in rough corners. While quite a bit heavier than the stock tires (STI claims 43.7 lbs per tire in 30x10R14 size), the trade-off for durability is worth it in the desert. This tire is known to wear like nails, and offers a plush sidewall for a dual steel belted radial. The X Comp also exceeds DOT requirements and is 10 ply rated. The tire carcass uses dual steel belts with nylon cap plies and a polyester carcass. The result is a very durable but flexible tire that absorbs small chop very well at 16-18 psi.
We bolted up the STI tires and wheels and packed up the Talon for a trip to California City for the 19th Annual Force Charity Poker Run in California City. Over the short 2-day trip, we put just shy of 200 hard miles on the Talon, and we loved every minute of it. The Talon 1000R feels like it was designed for a 30″ tire. The transmission shifts perfectly, the engine packs plenty of torque to turn the tire, and we were able to run it to a GPS-indicated 76 mph before it ran out of steam. Steering precision was spot on, due largely to the offset choice that STI provided us for the front. The 6+1 offset wheel keeps the tire centerline very close to the steering’s axis of movement. We noticed no perceptible increase in bump steer, and the Talon’s electronic power steering unit is more than up to the task of turning the larger tires.
According to STI, a host of new Talon-specific wheel options will be hitting the market in the next 60 days or so. They have built specific wheels for this vehicle using data gathered before its release. Their current offerings for the Talon work incredibly well, and they maintain the planted feel that the 1000R is developing a name for. This car had zero issues turning the larger tires, and they offered enough grip to really push the machine hard without fear of dropping a tire into a deep rut or bashing a sidewall against a rock. The look of the Talon really benefits from a larger tire as well- just look how well these 30’s fill the front fender gap compared to the stock tires.
If you own a Honda Talon and are looking for wheel and tire options, STI Powersports has you covered. The tire gurus at STI recommend the Chicane, XComp, or Roctane tire for all-terrain/desert/trail use, and the Outback Max for mud/trail duty. All of these options and more are available on STI’s website, www.STIPowersports.com.
Stay tuned, as we will be bringing you much more Honda Talon content soon!