Honda Foreman Forums : Rubicon, Rincon, Rancher and Recon Forum

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Bg357 02-19-2012 02:13 PM

Honda Transmissions ??
 
As I try to get back up to speed on ATVs, after many years out of the loop, I'm suddenly confronted with a confusing array of transmission choices. "Back when", the options were pretty simple, manual w/auto clutch or belt CVT. Then Honda started with the ES, which as I understand is just a manual 5spd, with electronic push-button shifting. Then the Rincon came along with a more automotive style 3spd automatic. Somewhere in-between, the confusion starts with the Rubicon, which I have no idea about, other than it's some kind of "hydromechanical CVT". Then there's ESP, which I think is just an ES with a computerized shift program that makes it operate like an automatic. Now I see that certain years of the Rancher were available with manual shifting, ES, and "Auto". What kind of "auto" that is, I have no idea.

Perhaps someone could inform me on the particulars of the various designs, the pros & cons of each type, and whether any of them have been problematic over the years.

Thanks,

lop3r1 02-19-2012 02:33 PM

yes, the rancher 400at's were very problematic. not many of them around anymore. the rubicon trannys are infinitely variable, hydraulic units that have been hailed as the smoothest tranny of any atv ever offered. it also allows you to "shift" between 5 preset points that mimics the es mode on other hondas. rincons are okay, just geared more towards sporty performance, than hard labor and pulling. not much difference between the manual and es trannys and gears, just the means of shifting them.

mac102004 02-19-2012 02:53 PM

The Rubicon actually came in 2001, 2 years before the Rincon.

The Rubicon's trans is like the hydrostatic trans in a lawn tractor.
The 400AT had a very similar transmission, but lacked low gear, weren't very good.


Rincon's transmisson
Pro's: Most durable of all Honda transmissions, smooth shifting, more efficient than the Rubicons trans.
Cons: Geared high, poor engine braking.
Rubicon's Transmission
Pro's: Very smooth, lowest geared of all the Honda transmissions, "best" suited auto for work.
Cons: Sucks up power, unserviceable, expensive to replace, 01-04 Rubicons were guaranteed to have a Hondamatic Failure, it wasn't if, it was when.

400AT
Pro's: Smooth shifting
Con's: Unserviceable, prone to failure. No low gear and small motor make the bike completely gutless. Good bike for the wife to ride.

New 420AT? Honestly can't say too much about them, no real experience, never ridden one. Have heard they are geared high as well.

Kipes 02-19-2012 08:34 PM

Google that stuff, it works.

Bg357 02-20-2012 04:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mac102004 (Post 627443)
Rubicon's Transmission
Pro's: Very smooth, lowest geared of all the Honda transmissions, "best" suited auto for work.
Cons: Sucks up power, unserviceable, expensive to replace, 01-04 Rubicons were guaranteed to have a Hondamatic Failure...

Sounds like the Rubicon wouldn't be the choice for long-term durability.
I've read some about the electronic shift having problems too, how common is that? Can you shift them manually if the ES fails? Not just to get by, but permanently, as if it were an S model?

Regarding the Rancher, are the S & ES also geared too high for pulling and low speed work?

HTQM 02-20-2012 09:37 AM

I don't know if I would say the Rubicon is a bad choice for long term durability, look at Rubiranch's. It has 16,000 miles on it and nothing more than routine maintenance. On the other hand, the tranny is why I got mine dirt cheap, it had been beaten on pretty bad and the hondamatic went out. I was able to rebuild it, with new "updated" hondamatic, cheaper than any rubicon I could find on craigslist.

Yesterday it was pulling 10' long x 1' diameter oak logs out of the woods. That was fun, until it came time to spilt that crap, I gotta get a power splitter.

h22ate 02-20-2012 09:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bg357 (Post 627565)
Sounds like the Rubicon wouldn't be the choice for long-term durability.
I've read some about the electronic shift having problems too, how common is that? Can you shift them manually if the ES fails? Not just to get by, but permanently, as if it were an S model?

Regarding the Rancher, are the S & ES also geared too high for pulling and low speed work?

The 05 and up rubicons have no problems at all with the trannys. Very seldome do you ever see a problem with them. I work the balls off of mine and it runs like the day I bought it.

Yes when buying an ES machine there is a back up foot shifter you can put on it.

If your going to do slow speed working the rancher definitely wouldnt be my first choice, the rubicon would. Its the only one out there with low range and its a beast in that!

Bg357 02-20-2012 08:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mac102004 (Post 627443)
01-04 Rubicons were guaranteed to have a Hondamatic Failure, it wasn't if, it was when.

Quote:

Originally Posted by HTQM
I don't know if I would say the Rubicon is a bad choice for long term durability, look at Rubiranch's. It has 16,000 miles on it and nothing more than routine maintenance. On the other hand, the tranny is why I got mine dirt cheap, it had been beaten on pretty bad and the hondamatic went out.

So, how risky would it be to buy a used '02 Rubicon, with 700mi. on it? And how much does it cost for a new, "updated" Hondamatic? What clues can tell you whether it's working properly or not? Having never ridden a Rubicon, it's hard to know what's "right", unless it's plain obvious. What behavior would you look for to indicate the "state of the (hydro)stat"?:giggle

Incidentally, what do you think an '02 Rubicon is worth? Good Condition, 700 miles, Warn winch, tapered snow plow.

SSpeckerwood 02-20-2012 08:37 PM

the rubicon's are a nice machine regardless of what mac102004 says. he never has much good to say about honda's. he's a canned-ham(can-am) man

mac102004 02-20-2012 09:08 PM

Try and find out if it's already been replaced, if it hasn't you'll have to decide if its a risk you want to take. It may never fail, then again it might? They run $1500-2000 to replace. I know of an 02' with 12,000kms that was never touched, but I can think of half a dozen more than never made it past 4-5000kms. I've only seen one built after they updated them in 05 fail. It was an 07? the bike was abused.

I'm no more a Can-am man, than a Honda man, or Yamaha man, or Arctic Cat man. I am loyal to no brand. If you looked in my barn you'd find more Honda's than anything though, I have only the one Can-am.


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