Pros: High quality, reliable, and durable. A very versatile machine. Best of the best.
Cons: A 3.7 gallon gas tank? Someone at Honda needs to rethink this one.
OK. If you are like me, I spent many (and I do mean many) hours on comparing makes and models of ATVs. I narrowed the search down to five different ATVs in the same size class. First you have to ask yourself, "what are my needs when buying an ATV". What do you want it to do? Are service and parts readily available? Is it a reliable machine? Well, after a hundred hours of comparing models and prices, I chose the Honda 2001 Rubicon. Why? This is one of the most reliable and versatile machines on the market, and you get the best bang for your buck. This machine is at home on long flat trails or on the winding, swampy trails in the upper Peninsula of Michigan.
If you are reading this opinion, I am sure you have read most of the specifications about the Honda Rubicon, so I will not go into detail. However, this machine has all the features you will need or require, however, I did install a winch (which is highly recommended). I trail ride and hunt the wild woods and swamps in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. What a great machine. Great power, easy steering (for a big machine), controls are easy to utilize, and you can set the tranny for your riding conditions. Driving this machine through the swamps and clay muck trails in my hunting area is like driving a D9 dozer. It sure goes where you want. Oh, about the winch. I installed one just in case I might get stuck. I never did, but I have used the winch to pull out other ATVs.
I have to admit. This is NOT an ATV for the first time ATV buyer. This is an advanced machine for the serious ATVer. The options of the D1, D2, ESP, High Range, and Low Range take some thought and getting use to, but once you have a couple of hours experience on this machine, you will realize just how much thought was put into manufacturing this machine and how much fun it is to ride.
I hear a few others saying that disc brakes would be a plus on this machine. Sure they would, but the drum brakes are above average and I have had no problems. Remember however, that this is a big machine with great power and decent speed. If you are a first time ATV buyer, I would suggest a smaller machine to get started.
Any complaints? A few. The gas tank is way too small at 3.7 gallons. Does Honda think there is a gas station in the deep woods? A minor thing, but a 5.0 gallon tank would be better. A rattle near the front of the engine was present, but I fixed this with a minor adjustment. I find have have to slightly rock the machine back and forth to get it into D or L, but not too often. This machines rides a bit stiff, but not too bad. I was concerned about the Rubicon being a water cooled machine, which might mean more problems. I was wrong. I will never buy an air cooled machine again! Water cooling on this machine is great, and so is the oil cooler. I never overheated this machine and is much quieter than an air cooled unit.
An now for maintenance. I suggest you buy a service manual for this machine. A service manual gives you a better idea what this machine will do and makes servicing better. The stock owners manual is OK, but pay the extra 50 bucks and get one. I do my own maintenance, but it is not so simple for the novice.
This machine takes a special IRIDIUM spark plug. You are NOT supposed to adjust the spark plug gap, just buy and install a new one. HOWEVER, $18 for a new plug? Yes, that's right. $18 BUCKS! But they do last a long time. You can use the standard VX22BC plug, or in COLD climate, use the VX20BC plug. Changing the spark plug takes a few more steps, but nothing major. You just have to take the seat off and a minor part of the air intake, but nothing to get into a twist over. Oh by the way, I like the carburetor heater on the Rubicon for VERY COLD weather starts. Oil and oil filter changes takes thought and time (and money). Remove the front skid plate, remove two drain bolts (plugs), remove the old oil filter assembly, install a new $9 oil filter, install drain plugs and skid plate, and then add $18 (5.2 quarts) of Honda motor oil. Oh, I admit the cost of an oil change is higher than most, but is cheap maintenance for high quality machine. Besides, I just spent over six grand, so I really can't gripe. The price I paid (new) for this machine (stated below) does not include sales tax. The stated amount paid is the cost out the door plus sales tax, plus the winch and a gun boot.
Like I said before. I did my homework. I shopped around. I looked and compared other machines, but if you want the best of the best, buy the Honda Rubicon. If you already bought one....you chose wisely.