These days the economy has even the most optimistic among us wondering if things are really improving or whether the media is simply fluffing the proverbial pillows so as to avoid a panic. In either scenario the lust to get outside and explore the trails, traverse streams, and pound rocks couldn’t care less. Chalk it up to the nature of human genetics!
Fortunately Honda knows that our DNA is flawed and hence the Recon 250: Entry level pricing, automatic clutch, racks, and a nice reliable engine. The cure for your craving has arrived: recession or otherwise.
At a glance, the Recon 250 looks an awful lot like its larger utility brethren on Honda’s line. The engine is largely shrouded by fiberglass and the front skid plate wraps around the leading edge of the quad to meet up with the overhanging rack to protect the headlights. Big meaty tires, durable steel wheels and floorboards round out the visual treatment.
Hopping in the saddle reveals a roomy, comfortable cockpit for riders of all sizes. Electric start means a simple stab of the bar-mounted button gets this carbureted machine to life. We found half application of the bar-mounted choke was required on the cold February mornings of our testing but otherwise simply pressing in the starter was enough to get underway (especially when the machine was already warm). While we never had reason to use it, the back up recoil starter was a welcome feature.
The cockpit itself is loaded with beginner-friendly instrumentation that advanced riders won’t find distracting. Among these, a reverse and neutral light, handlebar shifting arrows (up and down) and a lit indicator for each of the 5-forward gears.
Getting the Recon 250 moving is a pretty unique experience. Despite the tendency for our left boot to instinctively jump each time, putting the machine into gear is accomplished by depressing the upward arrow on the left handlebar pod. This is the same arrow responsible for upshifts. It’s a pretty neat feature as there is no clutching to take into consideration here. Rather you put the ATV into gear, give it throttle until it starts to rev out, then tap the arrow button to shift. The cockpit gear-indicator mentioned above assures that even the most absent-minded rider won’t get lost in the transmission.
Power is about what one would expect from an air-cooled, twin-valve 229cc pushrod-equipped 4-stroke; which is to say peppy but not blessed with abundant torque down low or top-end speed through each of the five gears. However, it’s by no means underpowered, in fact thanks to the light, nimble chassis and rear-wheel drive power delivery, the Recon 250 is pretty darn zippy and can actually wheelie with a snap of the throttle and light tug on the bars.
Speaking of the chassis, the Recon is quite stable considering its nature to zip through tight situations. We expected a lot more lean out of the suspension in the corners than we got; always a plus when a situation comes up that forces us to carve a turn at higher speeds than we’re comfortable with.
Suspension action is decent: 5.1-inches of dual-A-arms up front and 4.9-inches of travel out back thanks to a single-shock/ swingarm set up. The shocks themselves are non-adjustable, as expected on a budget ATV, but deliver a surprisingly supple ride assuming you don’t try to take the machine airborne.
This is a machine that loves tight twisty trails, hardpack, loose sand and moderate rock gardens. The fact that it is rear-drive only means it is possible to get into trouble trying to cross deep sticky mud or climbing steep grades of slippery rock.
Odds and Ends
We certainly appreciated the fact that Honda thought to include reverse on this model even though the actuation process is a bit overly complex. We expected such things years ago when the CPSC was targeting ATVs as responsible for all of the world’s problems, these days we’ve come to welcome simpler reverse actuation. Additionally the quad is set-up to prohibit starting in gear.
Braking is adequate as well, with high marks coming in for the dual sealed hydraulic drums up front and average performance reported with the single mechanical drum in the rear (performance does suffer if the unit gets wet).
The racks are definitely appreciated and plenty handy though a trailer hitch is an up-charge accessory affair only sadly.
For around $3,899, the Honda Fourtrax Recon 250 proves that big bucks isn’t a requisite to getting out and enjoying the trails as is demanded by our DNA. The human genome may not be easily understood but thanks to Honda, it is easy to satisfy.
Head over to the Forum and see what members are saying about Honda’s budget-friendly entry into this segment!