Our project ATV has come a long way from its original shiny form. We're beating it up in a variety of different environments.
The hour meter keeps ticking on our 2009 Honda Rincon Project ATV
with new uses and some of the same old workhorse applications we’ve subjected it to before. Fortunately, some generous companies shipped us a few parts and hunting season has given plenty of opportunities to try them out. For the most part we’ve had success all around, but we were surprised at some of the issues that arose during testing. Once it was all said and done, some didn’t blow our skirt up as much as the others.
When we first received the Kolpin Gun Boot 6.0 Transport
we started tossing every rifle and shotgun we could find in it to test for fit, but it just wasn’t the right time of year to head out and try to shoot something. Now that hunting season is in full effect, we’ve had the opportunity to use the Rincon on hunting trips for quail, wild pigs and deer. When it came time for true-to-life field testing, I called the person who has the most experience hunting with Honda ATVs that I know, Uncle John. My dad’s youngest brother has been using Honda ATVs
to get to his favorite kill spots for decades. With experience ranging from a 1984 ATC 200X three-wheeler to a 2007 Foreman 500, John Hilderbrand has a long history as a gun-toting Red Rider. The Rincon was handed over to the life-long hunter and ATV enthusiast to see how it works in the wilderness.
One of the items he was looking forward to most was the front-mounted winch. If there’s one thing a utility ATV needs it’s a good winch, especially one like the Rincon which likes to throw play dates into its work schedule. Whether idling along miles of pasture fence line, scrapping to the far side of a bog or climbing to a remote, primo hunting location, this tool has the potential to make any situation much easier and worry-free. We ordered the top model from Warn Industries designed specifically for heavy utility machines, the XT30
. The Extreme Terrain (XT) line of winches comes with a 3/16-inch diameter, 50-foot synthetic rope rather than steel cable. The rope is made from the same material that is used on bulletproof vests, and has the same tensile strength as a steel cable but with added flexibility. It also resists kinking, fraying and rusting, all common problems with traditional cables, and all the more reason that rugged outdoorsmen choose the XT where the RT (Rugged Terrain) is better suited for laborious work.
Rated for 3000 pounds of line pull, the XT30 uses a three-stage planetary gear system powered by a 12V DC, weather-sealed motor producing 0.9 HP. Between extracting our Rincon from tough spots, moving downed logs, boosting a fellow rider and towing a blown motorcycle out of the sand dunes, we still haven’t had to use the Warn to its full capacity. Another great feature on the XT30 is that it comes standard with a wireless control system in addition to the handlebar-mounted mini-rocker switch. When in seriously challenging conditions, having the ability to pull your quad from the safety and comfort of solid ground is awesome. Rope coiled on the drum decreases pulling power and line speed. Each layer of rope translates to roughly 12% loss in power, so it won’t pull the full 3000 pounds without spooling out all of the line. It’s important to remember this so you don’t burn up the motor trying to pull a heavy load with a short line. The Warn Winch Accessory Kit
(two shackles, snatch block, two tree trunk protectors) makes the pulling experience stronger, faster and more efficient. I tried to piece together a kit but was unable to match the quality and strength of the components at local stores like Lowes, Ace Hardware and Wal-Mart. You would have to go to a logging equipment outlet or saw shop, so just buy the one from Warn, it’ll save you time and money.
Installing the XT30 took a bit of effort. First was the mounting bracket which is sold separately. Getting the mount kit to bolt on required some serious muscle, an extra set of hands and a steady flow of expletives. Even though we hadn’t bashed the Rincon very hard (at that point), there was enough tweaking in the frame to make the installation difficult. However, once it was on, getting the winch bolted in place was simple. Wiring it took more effort. The Rincon’s battery is located next to the right rear tire, but the only storage available is at under the left handlebar which is where we stashed the contactor. Connecting the two was as simple as drilling a couple holes in the storage box and routing the wires, but getting the contactor wired to the winch was more difficult as the provided electrical cables were barely long enough. This tight stretch looks to be the culprit of a short-out which has been our only problem.
“The winch is super easy to use,” says John, “but I noticed an occasional electrical arc coming from the bottom side.” Sure enough, just as we reclaimed the Honda, the Warn quit working, which points to a faulty connection.
Warn makes a heavy-duty bumper that we're glad to have installed.
A multi-mount kit would have been extra handy with the ability to swap the winch from front to rear depending on how bad you were stuck and which direction you want to pull. Unfortunately, the Warn Bumper we also wanted isn’t compatible with the multi-mount setup. After seeing the damage we’d managed to inflict on the Rincon’s flexible plastic, the bumper was a definite necessity. Honda cleverly added flexible fender flares that extend under the footrest and around the front and rear of the machine. This durable skirt is much more capable of handling abuse than the rigid bodywork that covers the majority of the machine. I hammered the crap out of the flares with brush, branches and even scraped it straight alongside immovable objects like rocks and trees. It’s definitely starting to show signs of this hard use, but everything is holding together well. With the punishment these areas take, it’s only a matter of time before a headlight gets busted, especially with the amount of trailblazing we like to do. A front bumper was the only way to go and, fortunately, Warn happens to make a burly one. We punched a trailside stump hard enough to shear the bolt where it mounts to the front rack, but it hardly left a mark on the powdercoated bumper. It gives the ATV a much more aggressive look and has proven its protective qualities multiple times, including a roll-over.
We expected more
from the K&N air filter.
The K&N air filter
was by far the easiest part to install and we were hoping it would be a quick fix to give the Honda some better engine performance. Honestly, though, it didn’t. We couldn’t tell any difference from the stock filter during our time in the saddle. With its automotive style transmission and sizeable weight, the Rincon isn’t winning drag races. However it still runs clean, starts easily and if anything the K&N left more room in the airbox to hide the winch’s electrical components. We tucked the wireless remote controller inside.
With 10.8 inches of ground clearance to start with, adding the larger ITP tires in our first installment only increased the size of obstacles we could clear. We definitely exceeded the limits though, especially while trailblazing. With the ridiculous traction afforded by the TerraCross XD tires
, we stopped looking for trails and just went wherever the hell we wanted (only on approved private property, of course). Several times we high-centered the Rincon and trying to muscle the beast off its bellypan requires a herculean effort. It made us really appreciate the XT30.
ITP wheels and tires continue to impress with traction and ground clearance.
“The tires are great,” comments John, who never required more grip on his multiple outings. He was particularly happy with the amount of control they offer and didn’t share our opinion that the larger tires negatively affect the handling. Compared to his current ride, the Foreman, our project quad handles much quicker and with a lighter feel at the handlebars, even with the 50-plus added pounds from the ITP SS312 alloy wheels
and tires. “Are you sure this thing doesn’t have power steering? It sure feels like it,” he says.
As a hunting rig, Honda’s intuitive transmission options proved themselves once again. Accustomed to manual shifting, John started out using the push-button ESP, but soon discovered the beauty of a fully automatic tranny. The only negative he could find was that first gear isn’t low enough to control descents. He would prefer to use less brake and let the motor do more work at slowing the vehicle.
“The automatic is surprisingly good,” he admits. “You don’t have to think, just hit the gas and go. It’s good for hunting because it allows more focus on what’s around you. It’s mindless and lets you think more about looking for game.”
Once that game is located, the hunting really starts. The Kolpin Gun Boot 6.0 Transport was our choice for transporting whichever weapon was needed. During pig and deer hunting, that was a high-powered rifle, but John hauled a 12-guage shotgun when seeking quail. The Transport is Kolpin’s top offering. We used a universal mount Gun Bolt IV Loop Bracket
which allowed us the freedom to place it where needed, but this proved more difficult than expected. Ultimately we attached it to the rear rack so that it jutted down into the open space next to the rider’s right leg. However, this makes it difficult to mount or dismount the ATV from the right side. That forces the rider to exit left and then run around the rear of the Honda to access the gun boot, then open the hard shell and soft liner – not the quickest way to get off a shot. This was most notable when bird hunting.
“It doesn’t really work for quailing because you just can’t get the gun out fast enough,” says the outdoorsman who regularly hunts with friends. “If you’re the last of the pack to get your gun then you’re not going to get anything. For me the Kolpin is good for getting from point A to point B and then go hunt, like for deer. It’s not designed for quick action.”
Mounting the case across the front of the quad would be better, but it’s too wide and gets hung up on brush more easily. John also noticed that the Kolpin bounces around a little due to an undersized mounting pin. Using a wire clasp to secure the pin is great for simplicity and speed, but the case needs to bolt more solidly to the mounting bracket. It’s not a ton of movement, but enough to cause concern for delicate scopes which can’t afford to be jostled out of alignment. Overall it’s a very protective design, but is best suited to anyone who parks their ATV and hunts away from the vehicle. It’s a little bulky but would still work well if hard-mounted to the roll cage of a UTV like the Big Red, Rhino or Teryx. Kolpin offers mounting kits for side-by-side vehicles.
Now that our Honda has better protection, awesome traction and the ability to get out of tough situations, it’s much better as a hunting ATV. However, carrying a gun safely and effectively proved to be a big challenge and needs to be tailored to your specific hunting application. Even though the Kolpin Gun Boot 6.0 Transport could use some fine-tuning, we continue to appreciate the universal appeal of the soft-sided Kolpin Trail-tec Crossover bag
which is great at storing extra equipment. The winch is by far the best item we’ve sourced for the project so far. The electrical malfunction is a result of our installation and not a flaw, but Warn offers a lifetime warranty so we’re never concerned on that front. The big Rincon has taken another successful step in providing utility. This time it’s with hunting, but the possibilities are vast for our long-term Honda.