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Turbocharging The Honda Talon

Feb 24th 2020

The Honda Talon is a fast machine. It shifts fast, it accelerates fast, and the top-speeds are fast. But the main detractor that was repeated ad nauseam from Polaris and Can-Am fanboys alike was that it didn’t have a turbo option. This was true when the Talon was first unveiled, but as it stands currently, you can now get a bolt-on, Garrett Motion turbo for the Honda Talon built by their Jackson Racing division. Turbos for the Honda Talon are by no means cheap, nor should they be. But with a full aluminum intake plenum and progressive spring sets in conjunction with the machine’s dual clutch transmission to efficiently move power to the wheels, with a turbo in your Honda Talon, you’ll be right up there with the best X3s and RZRs. 

Jackson Racing

A quick look at Jackson Racing’s Honda Talon turbo is enough to tell you that they know their stuff. It is clear that they put in the time to properly develop every single piece of the Talon turbo, and with over 40 years of experience, not a single corner has been cut on any of their turbo builds. Regarding their Honda Talon turbo, the added horsepower and the chassis of the machine match up exceptionally well, and when you ride a turbocharged Honda Talon that is equipped with a Jackson Racing turbo, the immediate throttle response, the rapid acceleration, and the powerband range will exceed all of your expectations.

Power Increases With A Honda Talon Turbo

A big advantage of the Honda Talon UTV is its DCT, which when paired with a turbo kit, turns out to be a phenominal combination for wheel horsepower. Using a dynamometer at the hubs, a standard Honda Talon can put out around 90 horsepower (roughly 104 crank horsepower). After a turbo is installed, this figure jumps over 60% to between 145 and 150 horsepower.

People often misrepresent a vehicle’s power by using crank horsepower, which can range greatly depending on the drivetrain and how it gets the power to the ground. Again, this is where the dual clutch transmission really excels. In addition to horsepower gains, you can also expect a 70% increase in torque with a Jackson Racing turbo, giving you more horsepower at lower RPMs.

Things To Know Before You Instal A Honda Talon Turbo Kit

An important thing you must know when installing a Honda Talon turbo inis whether it is an AC model or an A model. Most likely, if you bought your machine anywhere besides California, it is an A model. If, however, you live in California or bought your Honda Talon cross-border from a California dealership, it is an AC model — look at the ECU under the driver’s seat to check if you’re unsure.

Due to emission laws, California AC Honda Talons incorporate an EVAP system for evaporative emission controls, which are typically located in the fuel tank and are used to prevent gasoline vapors from escaping into the atmosphere. Although this makes no difference in terms of performance, it does use vacuum ports on the throttle bodies, which does affect how you install a turbo kit. So knowing if your Talon has an EVAP system before you install a turbo will make things easier.

Things To Know After You Install A Honda Talon Turbo Kit

After the initial installation of your Honda Talon turbo kit, best practices dictate that you perform a heat cycle check on the header bolts, making sure that everything is tight and torqued up as the gaskets begin to settle in. As long as you run standard oil and do standard maintenance — such as servicing your air filter every 500-1000 miles — your vehicle will run great with a turbo kit.

While there are other ways to turbocharge a Honda Talon, we’d strongly recommend sticking with Honda-affiliated companies such as Jackson Racing. If you use turbo kits from unauthorized companies, your warranty will automatically be voided. You might have been under the impression that the only way to void your warranty is by making internal engine modifications, but this is simply untrue.

Flashing your ECU is also important after installing a Honda Talon Turbo kit. You can add specific tire sizes with Jackson’s tune -- which will help dial in the shift schedule -- and make other modifications so your computer knows that a turbo is in use. The tunes by Jackson Racing and other ECU companies like Dynojet are locked, and therefore can’t be modified. And while there are folks that make custom third-party tunes, there have already been cases of melted pistons due to bad flashes with turbo kits installed, so neither Jackson nor Honda would likely warranty your machine if something goes wrong due to tuning issues.

Closing Thoughts

Many riders are more than happy with the stock performance of their Honda Talon, and justifying the cost of a turbo kit to their spouse is more effort than it’s worth. However, you can never have too much power for the dunes, and where racing is concerned, a turbo kit will definitely give you an edge on the track. It might be a fun but unnecessary addition for some, but for others, the ability to install a turbo kit in the Honda Talon might just be the reason they convert from another brand of side-by-side.