Many side-by-side owners started off researching machines like Rangers and Defenders, only to find that the biggest common problem is the belts or clutch, which leads many right into the arms of their local Honda Pioneer dealer. The lack of a drive belt is the reason why many riders choose the Honda Pioneer. Look at Jeeps, Land Rovers, and Land Cruisers. None of them use driver belts. And sure, a properly engineered drive belt might not slip or break when you’re in the middle of nowhere, but who wants a rubber band or some 1960s snowmobile technology powering their side-by-side. We’ll guess not many. You might like the smell of burnt rubber at drag races or burnout competitions, but you probably wouldn’t like it if the smell was coming from your belt-burner propulsion system. Belt drives are just too unreliable, which is why Honda Pioneers are shaft-driven.
If you spend a few hours studying the net, you will find that most Honda Pioneer owners discuss upgrades such as lifts, tires, and windscreens. Very rarely will you come across a post about mechanical upgrades? Contrast this with the Polaris Ranger, Can-Am, and Kobata, and it seems like every other post is about belt upgrades, clutch rebuilds, or aftermarket drive belts. Sure rides like the RZR or Maverick are go-fast machines that will outrun a Pioneer any day of the week, but try riding a Can-Am in through a puddle with water up to your seat and see how long it pulls without the belt slipping. Because the Honda Pioneer has no drive belt, you don’t have to worry about the belt slipping when it gets wet or breaking after a few rides. With the Pioneer, change your oil at the scheduled maintenance times, and the auto-style torque converter with three-speed automatic transmission will last for the lifetime of the side-by-side itself. And where pulling is concerned, a 2,500lb trailer will pop the belt of a Kawasaki Brute Force 750 after a few yards and smoke the belt of a 1000 Ranger after a few miles. But using a Honda Pioneer, you’ll be able to pull heavy loads all day without any issues. Ask any Honda Pioneer owner, and they’ll likely tell you that they’ll never go back to a belt or chain drive, claiming that the shaft drive is the way to go.