We’ve had our Honda Pioneer 1000 side by side for just over 2 years now and during that time it has been willing and ready to take on any rugged task we throw it’s way. From rock crawling to sandy washes, to river crossings it eats up everything in it’s way. This thing is an off-road beast!

This video gives just a little peak into some of the fun we have had while out playing in our Honda Pioneer 1000.

We first saw the Honda Pioneer 700 on display at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when we were there for the MotoGP races in August of 2015. We really liked it when we saw it then and compared it to the other makes and models of side by sides that were available at the time. While it is not as sporty as the Polaris RZR, the Kawasaki Teryx or the Can-am Maverick, it offered all the features we wanted.

The infield at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the 2015 MotoGP Races
The late great Nicky Hayden on the Aspar MotoGP Team Honda

One thing we really liked about it was that it seats 4 people. At the time, there weren’t a lot of manufacturers making 4 seaters, and most of the ones we saw with more than two seats were used models that had been retrofitted with rear seats that looked awkward, uncomfortable and some of them incredibly unsafe. Picture Granny sitting in her rocking chair in the back of the Beverly Hillbillies truck, then take her for a spin offroad.

Gotta love those Clampetts, they travel in style!
2014 Honda Pioneer 700-4

Another plus was that the rear seats fold flat and leave you with a functional dump bed. Which is really useful for hunting and gathering fire wood. It also gives our Cane Corsos a comfortable place to ride when they come along with us, which is almost always.

The optional bed extender gives our pups even more space and allows us room to bring along a cooler, gear, etc. when we have people in the rear seats.

Bed extender purchased from Honda

Finally, it was the only side by side on the market that would seat more than 2 people and still fit inside the super small garage of our Toy Hauler. This was a big deal as we had just purchased our 2015 Heartland Cyclone 4200 in May of that year. While Heartland advertises that the model has a 12 foot garage, the garage is actually several inches shorter, and has a rear bathroom that makes a large portion of it narrower. This was a big sticking point for us as we were just not sure without putting one in the garage if it would actually fit. We definitely knew that if it did fit, it would be tight!

A sticking point for us was the power. Anyone who knows Ryan knows that like “Tim the Toolman Taylor” he likes more power. The 675cc single cylinder engine with a 3-speed transmission just wasn’t quite the power he wanted for the type of off-road play we were hoping to do, especially in the Baja Peninsula.

After leaving Indianapolis, we headed south to Madison to visit Ryan’s Aunt & Uncle and enjoyed some quality time with them wine tasting, sight seeing and relaxing on their deck talking about side by sides. Mainly the Honda Pioneer we had just seen.

The following year when we returned to Indiana for another visit, they were thrilled to show us their new Honda Pioneer 700, and Ryan was excited to take it for an off-road test drive around their property. It certainly didn’t fail to impress us with it’s maneuverability, versatility, and rugged durability. The sticking points were still power, and whether or not it would fit.

That same year, Honda came out with the Pioneer 1000-5 which solved one of those problems with it’s 999cc parallel twin, and 6-speed dual clutch transmission that according to Lee Edmunds, manager of Motorcycle Marketing Communications at American Honda offers “seamless shifting and a smooth, reliable transfer of power.” It also added improved suspension, an extra seat, additional payload capacity, and towing capacity up to 2000 lbs.

At this point, we were ready to buy, but were still stuck on the size. No matter how many times we measured the garage and the Honda Pioneer 1000-5 we were just worried it wouldn’t fit. Our margin of error was literally less than 1 inch all the way around. The only way to be sure would be to load it up in our toy hauler to see.

Anyone who has a 44 foot toy hauler knows what a total pain in the ass it is to hook it up, drive it into town, and try to find a place to park it at a motorcycle dealership (Hooking up to go camping or on a road trip, not so much 😉). We had a dealership offer to deliver it to our house, but only after we purchased it. And there was the big question of what if it didn’t fit and we got it stuck trying to squeeze it in. This is where we sat on our decision again.

In January of 2018, Ryan had to have surgery on his shoulder because of a torn rotator cuff and biceps tendon. The recovery was rough and left him spending a few months off work on light duty and in a sling, while going to physical therapy and follow-up appointments. All this as we were coming up on our trip to the San Felipe Baja 250 races in March and looking forward to riding in on the beach and through the desert. Knowing that Ryan wouldn’t be able to ride a dirt bike the way he likes to, we decided to finally make the leap and get our side by side.

By this time, Honda had come out with a Limited Edition version of the Pioneer 1000-5 which had a beefier front bumper, a full aluminum skid plate and A-arm guards, and was upgraded with FOX QS3 shocks that give 10.6 inches of travel up front and 10 inches in the rear, allowing it to just eat up the kind of rugged terrain we like to play on.

So we hooked up our Cyclone and drove down to Western Honda in Scottsdale, Arizona, where we were barely able to squeeze into the parking lot of the building next door and we gave it a try. We had to loose the beefier front bumper, and strap down the front to squeeze it under the sink in our garage, but it fit. Just barely, but it did!

You can see from the pics above just what a tight squeeze it is. Learning the best way to strap it in was a bit of a challenge as we have broken several heavy duty ratcheting straps in the learning process. We can’t really use the straps that fit over the tires because once the Honda is squeezed into place there is no room to put them on. But with the help of E Track and the E Track wheel chock accessory we have learned how to make it work pretty well with minimal shifting while on the road.

Special thanks to the team at Western Honda for hooking us up with a great deal on this beast and getting us on the road quickly. We highly recommend them to anyone interested in making a purchase or getting Honda service done.

As you can see from some of our pics and video, we have added a few accessories. First off when we purchased it, we opted to add the hard plastic top, as Ryan doesn’t like the fire from the sky raining down upon him. We also got the front windshield to help keep dirt and rocks out of our eyes. We later found out that with the front windshield, we were getting a lot of draft pulling in rocks and dirt from the back, so we added a removeable wind screen on the back which has helped to cut that down quite a bit, and keeps the dogs from jumping out when we stop somewhere.

Side mirrors and a rearview mirror are necessary in Arizona, as is a horn if you want to be street legal, so we added those as well.

We also purchased the rear bed extender, larger cup holder inserts and adjustable swing arms to open the front windshield wider. There are still more accessories we would like to add including light bars, a snorkel kit and a winch. But overall, there is not much necessary in the way of modifications or accessories to do the things we enjoy doing.

The best part of it all has been putting on all the mud!

The only real downside we have had is that the front seat and rear footwell get extremely hot, especially in the summertime. Honda had a recall for this and while the fix seemed to help slightly, it did not fully resolve the issue. Hopefully we will find a better solutio in the near future. Its not so bad in the winter time, as it is like having a heated seat, but nobody wants heated seats in Arizona in the summer.

Overall, we give a hats off salute to the teamat Honda Powersports for making such a great product. Visit https://powersports.honda.com for factory incentives and to see their entire line-up including the Pioneer 1000-5 Limited Edition.

One thought

  1. Hi, check out the cabin heat fix by “design engineering inc.”. I have a pioneer 1000 and just installed it. There is a thermostat that you can set ( we set ours at 150 degrees engine temp) the fan comes on automatically and vents the engine heat down and to the ground. Works pretty well, my wife will now ride in it. It’s about $500 .
    Larry in Tennessee

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