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Honda Announces ATV with automatic transmission

SEE ALSO: ATV's Are Kid Killers

13 September 1999

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - September 9, 1999

Honda Announces ATV with automatic transmission
Foreman Rubicon features revolutionary beltless design

New Orleans, LA $B!>(BAmerican Honda Motor Company unveiled a dramatically new all
terrain vehicle (ATV), the Foreman Rubicon to its motorcycle dealers yesterday.

The Foreman Rubicon, Honda$B!G(Bs largest ATV, features a revolutionary new beltless
automatic transmission called the Hondamatic.

Motorcycle dealers assembled for the annual product show at the New Orleans
Convention Center were excited to learn that the continuously-variable
Hondamatic transmission is compact, quiet, maintenance-free, rugged, impervious
to external contaminants, and features engine braking$B!>(Bqualities that existing
belt-drive ATV transmissions lack.

The liquid-cooled, 500cc, four-wheel drive Rubicon, named after a famous
California trail, was displayed as a prototype 2001 model and is due to be
released in May 2000. Although complete specifications are not yet available, it
is clear that the Rubicon is going to be the ATV to beat in the popular large
displacement multi-purpose market.

ATV sales are booming and growing at an annual rate of 25-30% for the second
year in a row, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council in Irvine,
California. Honda expects to capture a significant portion of this growth with
the Foreman Rubicon.
In the predominant multi-purpose ATV segment, which encompasses farming,
ranching, industrial, commercial, utility, and recreational uses, automatic
transmissions have become increasing popular. Competitors, like Polaris and
Yamaha, offer belt-drive systems that are susceptible to dirt and water and
require frequent maintenance. The fully-sealed Hondamatic offers superior
performance and reliability and will send competitors hurrying back to the
drawing boards.

Foreman Rubicon highlights

The Rubicon is powered by a liquid-cooled, four valve, 500cc four-stroke single
cylinder engine that Honda$B!G(Bs engineers claim outperforms all of its

The engine is notable for several reasons. Engineers were determined to lower
the engine$B!G(Bs overall height to improve ground clearance and still maintain a
low center-of-gravity for superb handling. A four-valve head design was critical
for performance, a feature that usually requires an overhead camshaft. By
placing the engine$B!G(Bs camshaft below the cylinder head, the overall height of
the engine was lowered. Similarly, the engine$B!G(Bs oil supply, traditionally
carried in the bottom of the engine, was relocated to an external tank, further
reducing the engine$B!G(Bs height.

With over 100 patents pending, the continuously-variable Hondamatic transmission
is unlike any transmission ever offered on an ATV - or any other motor vehicle,
for that matter. Utilizing a hydromechanical design that Soichiro Honda first
introduced on the Juno M85 scooter in 1962, the Hondamatic is compact, quiet,
maintenance-free, extremely rugged, and impervious to external contaminants.
Significantly, the Hondamatic features engine braking, an elusive feature in
belt-drive systems that riders greatly appreciate when negotiating hill terrain.

The Hondamatic features an equally versatile set of rider controls. A
tank-mounted shifter lever selects Drive, Low, Neutral, and Reverse. A
dash-mounted knob offers D1 for maximum torque, D2 for maximum performance, and
a third position called ESP, Honda$B!G(Bs exclusive electric shift program. ESP
allows the rider to "shift" the Hondamatic at the touch of a thumb using two
push-buttons mounted on the left handlebar. Honda$B!G(Bs exhaustive testing of the
electronic controls in extreme riding environments ensures trouble-free

The Foreman Rubicon features full-time four-wheel drive and an AP-type front
differential that substantially reduces torque-steer for improved handling in
all riding conditions.

The Foreman Rubicon is Honda$B!G(Bs largest ATV, yet extensive weight saving
measures have kept the Rubicon$B!G(Bs dry weight below 600 lbs, allowing this
workhouse to be highly maneuverable and fun to ride when the chores are done.

Basic specifications

Engine - liquid-cooled OHV 500cc four-stroke single cylinder, four-valve head
Lubrication - dry sump system with engine mounted oil tank
Ignition - Electronic
Starter - electric starter with auxilliary recoil
Transmission - fully automatic hydromechanical, continuously variable with
electronic controls
Driveline - full time 4WD with AP-type front differential
Suspension - Front: independent with 6.7 inches of travel. Rear: solid axle with
twin shocks, 6.7 inches of travel
Brakes - Front: hydraulic triple-sealed drums. Rear: hydraulic triple sealed
Tires - Front: 25x8-12, aluminum wheels. Rear: 25x10-12. aluminum wheels
Lighting  - Front: twin 30-watt halogen headlights. Rear: twin 5-watt tail
Instrumentation - digital readouts for speedometer, odometer/tripmeter, oil
temperature, transmission mode, and  clock/engine hours; lights for reverse,
neutral, oil temperature warning
Length - 81.5 inches
Width - 46.7 inches
Dry weight - 597 lbs
Availability - May, 2000
Price (MSRP) - TBA