The 1986 Honda TRX200SX launched in the market during the golden era of all-terrain vehicles. Because of its smaller size, the quad was put to the sidelines, only recognized by real off-roading enthusiasts. Like its sibling, the TRX200SX pioneered the sport-utility segment, effectively so that it only needed three years to make this concept mainstream, leading to successful next-in-line models.
Introduced in the spring of 1985, the 1986 Honda TRX200SX (or Honda FourTrax TRX200SX) set the beginning of the Japanese firm’s sport-utility vehicle lineup. The four-wheeler had an improved suspension, smaller chassis, and sportier design. It was an excellent ATV for work and play.
Few people realize it, but this 4×4 contributed immensely to the evolution of ATVs and UTVs today. Read on and learn more about its specs and features, incredible versatility, flaws, and highlights in this article.
Honda’s First Sport-Utility Quad
The 1986 Honda TRX200SX was Honda’s first sport-utility quad released two years after the Japanese manufacturer made a breakthrough with its first four-wheeler – the 1984 TRX200. It was among the new eye candy of the riding community, as off-roaders began to veer away from ATCs or all-terrain cycles and their surrounding controversies. The TRX lineup targeted consumers who wanted a slightly smaller, more capable, but safer vehicle.
Since this 1986 model belonged to the same designation as its predecessor, many believed it shared the same engine and chassis as the 1984 Honda TRX200. But that was not the case. The TRX200SX had a much better front suspension design and a chain drive instead of a shaft. Its power mill took after the Fat Cat motorcycle, which also had a five-speed auto-clutch transmission. Furthermore, it was smaller in build and sportier cosmetically. It enjoyed a three-year production run before being removed from the firm’s line of products – only to be fused into the 2001 Sportrax 250EX later on.
1986 Honda TRX200SX Specs & Features
- Engine: The TRX200SX is powered by a longitudinally-mounted four-stroke, air-cooled, twin-valve cylinder block engine with a bore-stroke ratio of 65 × 60 mm (2.56 × 2.36 inches). Engine displacement is 199.1 cm3 with a compression ratio of 9.0:1. Fuel tank capacity is 8 Liters/2.1 US gallons with a 2-Liter/0.52-US gallon reserve. The TRX200SX engine comes with a rev limiter that restricts it from running beyond 8,750 RPM. You may need to perform carb modifications when riding at altitudes above 5,000 feet to compensate for air-fuel mixture richness.
- Lubrication: For top performance, use an SAE 10W-40 Pro Honda GN4 (ideally without graphite or molybdenum additives) four-stroke oil or its equivalent motor oil. Depending on ambient temperature, you may also go for SAE 5W, 10W-30, 20W-40, or 20W-50 oil viscosities. It should have an API service classification of SE/SF or higher and meets MA JASO T 903 standard.
- Drivetrain: A five-speed manual transmission and an automatic clutch system deliver power to the wheels, handled by a 520 O-ring chain (12/42). This powertrain combo makes the TRX200SX beginner-friendly as nouveau riders need not master the clutch and throttle controls to operate the vehicle. You can find the throttle and front brake levers on the right handlebar grip and the parking brake lever on the left. The hi-lo beam switch, three-position stop switch, and starter button are next to it.
- Ignition: It has an electric start and auxiliary mechanical recoil pull-starter and requires an NGKDR8ES-L/NDX24ESR-U spark plug. A 12V 12Ah, 180-CCA (Cold Cranking Amps) battery with assembled dimensions of 5.91 x 3.43 x 5.12 inches (L x W x H) powers the four-wheeler and electronic accessories. A Battery Tender 12V Battery Charger and Maintainer with Built-in Wi-Fi and Power Supply (view on Amazon) will help keep your 12V battery in perfect condition.
- Tires: Stock tires consist of Ohtsu AT101 20 x 7-8 front tires and Ohtsu H-Track Pro Vector 301 22 x 11-8 rear tires mounted on steel wheels. High-grade aluminum wheel spacers provide clearance between the wheel and the hub and allow larger tires to fit the TRX200SX. Recommended tire pressure for the front is 3 psi/20.6 kPa (0.21 Kg/cm2) and 2.5 psi/16.7 kPa (0.17 Kg/cm2) for the rear.
- Brakes: The brake system consists of a hydraulic front drum brake and fully sealed pedal-operated drum brakes in the rear. Inspect the brake system frequently to ensure there are no fluid leaks or parts deterioration.
- Suspension: The 1986 Honda TRX200SX features A-arms for front and rear suspension with single shock, deemed better than the 1984 TRX200. Trail length is 18 mm with a caster angle of 4°28′. The engine assembly mounts on a double-cradle steel frame.
- Dimensions: Overall dimensions are 65.4 x 39.4 x 40 inches (1,660 x 1,000 x 1,015 mm – L x W x H). The vehicle wheelbase is 41.9 inches/1,065 mm. Dry weight is 172 Kg/378 lbs. The maximum load capacity is 170 Kg/375 lbs, inclusive of rider weight, cargo, and accessories, and the towing capacity is 225 Kg/495 lbs – complemented by a 20-Kg/45-lb front and 30-Kg/66-lb rear carrier capacity.
- Exterior: It is composed of a steel frame and plastic body material in white, blue, or red, with a blue seat cover. The location of the fuel tank is at the front, right below the handlebars. The rear fender has compartments for your owner’s manual and tools. You can personalize the look of your 4×4 by getting a Maier USA Hood & Tank Cover (view on Amazon).
Youtuber AppalachianMountainRiders takes on a 1986 Honda FourTrax TRX200SX for his first project vehicle. The ATV looks beat but still fires up with one pull at the recoil starter. He shares some of the problems he observed in a previous video – oil leak, deteriorated tailpipe, non-existent front brakes, old shocks – after taking it for a spin. In this video, he starts with phase 1 of the restoration – tearing down the front suspension.
Honda TRX200SX Price
The average retail price of the TRX200SX is between $1,485 and $1,635, depending on the model year and overall condition. On the other hand, auction listings value the four-wheeler within the price range of $225 to $2,400. Vehicles for bidding are typically serviced before being sold, are in superb working condition, and runs smoothly. On the downside, they would have noise in the engine – although this does not affect riding or engine performance. Units valued above $2,000 are in mint condition, with stock plastics intact and no crumbly parts.
Top Speed for a Honda TRX200SX
This quad could run up to 55 mph maximum stock, although not advertised. Doing a fresh top-end, changing gearing, sprockets, or getting larger tires will give you a 3-5 mph gain. However, give it careful thought before deciding to embark on this speed-demon project, as some parts may not be readily available through online traders and parts dealers.
Pros and Cons
In excellent working condition, the 1986 Honda TRX200SX runs and shifts like brand-new and requires only scheduled maintenance and very minimal repairs. Its steel frame is very sturdy and may not even necessitate a repaint job. However, it would require religious cleaning, given that the quad is more than three decades old. Honda no longer manufactures OEM parts for this wheeler, so you may need to get in touch with outfitters and enthusiasts or have insane mechanical skills to customize factory spin-offs unavailable from aftermarket dealers.
In poor condition, the entire body of the quad and its seat cover may be shabby or, at the very least, have tears and scratches. You may also notice rusting in the bushings, exhaust system, and engine parts, among others. Tires would have sub-par performance if kept stock, and front brakes could be missing in action. The vehicle may also have a missing piece or two, which would make the Honda TRX200SX a perfect candidate for a complete rebuild.
Issues with the Honda TRX200SX
The ’80s are known as the formative years of Honda and the ATV industry in general. The TRX200SX underwent alterations to its engine and electrical assembly right after its first production year, resulting in owners reporting problems with starting and idling functions. Here are some common challenges encountered with the TRX200SX:
First, check the key switch for a loose connection and make sure that it is allowing continuity. Verify that the pulse generator is the right distance from the camshaft, as it is very prone to not firing when too far away. Inspect the ignition switch part (a separate switch that operates the kill wire circuit inside the key switch) for a wire that runs from the neutral or lockout switch to the CDI and ensures it is in good order. This circuit part means to increase your ignition system’s sparking power and works together with the earth wire that carries all the power for turning the engine over on the starter.
Consequently, you may need to inspect the 1986 Honda TRX200SX parts, such as the spark plug, ignition module & coil, stator, and CDI box, and determine if they need replacement. This quad uses an AC CDI, which has wires from an exciter coil on the stator, one from the trigger coil, an earth, a kill wire to the ignition switch, and a wire to the ignition coil. Additionally, the key switch of an ’86 model is different from the’ 87-’88 ones and would fit two different CDI boxes. If tests performed on the ignition, switch, fuse, and power ultimately fail to pinpoint a specific cause or faulty component, start considering a defective actuator.
This video by Mid Nebraska Motorsports will help get you familiarized with the engine components of the TRX200X:
Hard Starting & Idling Issues
These issues may be caused by valves not having enough clearance or a faulty spark plug, which could be rectified by installing a new spark plug and check the valve clearance is according to spec. However, some instances may not be as straightforward. Run the engine for approximately an hour at the speed you want to take the reading to get a good plug reading.
Should you wish to inspect the fuel screw, you can locate it on the bottom parallel to the float bowl. If your carburetor has never been adjusted, this screw may be capped, making it a tad difficult to see. If your vehicle runs clean at partial throttle openings raised one notch, let the slide needle be. Direct your attention to the pilot jet and the choke instead, and perform the needed tests to see if they are causing your fuel mixture to run lean or rich.
Several things cause this noise, such as metal particles in the oil, a stretched timing chain, a broken throttle cable assembly, or a faulty exhaust. The latter is especially true for pre-loved TRX200SXs, which may have been the former owner’s unfinished project before they got sold. Alongside this problem, you may also notice that your wheeler keeps on dying out. To isolate its origin, run a compression test, and specify the noise if it is anything other than an exhaust leak.
Take the plug out and inspect if it is in good condition. Thoroughly clean your carburetor, replace your muffler, and upsize the main jet by one size. Finally, adjust the carb properly when deemed necessary. Make sure to have your vehicle schematics ready, or reach out to more experienced folks to help you with this task.
Founded in 1946, Honda Motor Company Ltd. traces back its roots to race cars, mass-produced piston rings, and automation of military aircraft propellers. These stages led the Japanese firm to become one of the most recognized and successful automotive manufacturers globally. From building and selling motorized bicycles with surplus engines, Honda has transitioned into creating its vehicles like the 1986 Honda TRX200SX. Today, the Japanese conglomerate continues to pioneer innovations in motorcycles, energy solutions, and electric automobiles.
Conclusion – 1986 Honda TRX200SX
Thanks to the 1986 Honda TRX200SX, we now enjoy a solid product line of sport-utility 4x4s of all sizes and displacements from Honda. This tiny but powerful wheeler spawned an entire segment that has evolved to match off-roaders’ skills, needs, and riding preferences. It may be modestly aesthetic on the outside, but on the inside is where the magic truly happens. The TRX200SX never compromises delivering weekend thrills and great yard work and is one quad that even time cannot beat. If it can live through a rider’s childhood, heck, it can survive anything!