Honda’s latest versatile side-by-side comes with more power, improved suspension and a tilt bed.
Markham, ON. November 2, 2020
Model Updates: The 2021 Pioneer 520 is an evolution of Honda’s compact multi-purpose side-by-side, the Pioneer 500. This versatile machine hosts a number of upgrades, including a more powerful 518cc engine, upgraded suspension and a handy tilt bed with Honda Pro- Connect accessories capability.
Outdoor activities are made simpler and more enjoyable with the right tools, and from hobby farming to adventurous excursions, few tools are as “right” as a versatile side-by-side with the ideal mix of manoeuvrability and power. That perfectly describes the 2021 Pioneer 520 which, compared to the popular Pioneer 500 that preceded it, features increased cargo options and a more powerful engine—a great combination for everything from hauling garden equipment to accessing a favourite fishing hole.
The versatile Pioneer 520 elevates the multipurpose side-by-side’s utility and practicality with a more powerful 518cc engine, upgraded suspension, handy dump bed and compatibility with Honda Pro-Connect accessories. The result is the same excellent ergonomics and reliability, along with increased overall performance for even greater satisfaction for all customers, whether they’re diehard side-by-side enthusiasts, folks stepping up from an ATV, workers seeking a tool to help them perform their chores, or some combination thereof.
2. Model Overview
The Honda Pioneer family of multipurpose side-by-sides has always been about fun, rugged, reliable performance; all of which certainly apply to the Pioneer 500. Introduced in 2015—one year after the midsize Pioneer 700 and a year before the flagship Pioneer 1000—Honda’s smallest side-by-side was a great, mobile tool for the ranch or farm, but in a compact size. It didn’t take up much room in the garage or shed, and its 50-inch width let it fit in the bed of a full-size pickup truck and on width-restricted trails that are normally the realm of ATVs. The Pioneer 500 quickly earned a reputation as a compact, high-quality, reliable, fun, affordable side-by-side, a status that was enhanced in 2017, with the introduction of an innovative five-speed transmission with automatic and manual shifting modes.
New for 2021, the Pioneer 520 is an evolution of the Pioneer 500, boasting a new tilt bed that, a more powerful 518 cc engine and upgraded suspension. Welcome news to everyone from hobby farmers to outdoor enthusiasts.
3. Key Features
3.1 Chassis & Suspension
- New 450 lb capacity tilt bed with Pro-Connect accessory compatibility
- 50-inch vehicle width maintained
- Improved shock damping on double wishbone suspension
- Longer-wearing all-terrain tires
The most obvious change to the Pioneer 520 is the addition of a 204kg/450lb capacity dump bed, which provides users with greater utility. Interior bed dimensions are 25.9” long x 38.7” wide x 9.8” high, and Honda has packed in a lot of functionality, incorporating recessed rings for 20 litre buckets, ridges to help position milk crates, slots to hold a wood divider and five D-rings for tie-downs. There are even cup-holder rings in the tailgate.
In addition, the Pioneer 520 is Pro-Connect compatible, with 10 latches located around the bed’s perimeter, to easily accept Pro-Connect accessories—including cargo boxes, bed rails and chainsaw mounts—without the need for tools, improving flexibility and convenience. A total of 41 accessories are currently offered, some of which are interchangeable with other Pro-Connect compatible Honda side-by-sides and ATVs. Examples include a bed rack, cargo boxes, a chainsaw mount and more.
One popular feature that the Pioneer 520 carries over from the Pioneer 500 is its 50-inch vehicle width, a signature design element that has proven popular with customers. The compact size means the Pioneer 520 can be ridden on public ATV trails everywhere, maximizing the vehicle’s versatility. It can even be loaded into the bed of a full-sized pickup truck for transport.
Most of the Pioneer 520’s other physical dimensions are also identical to those of the Pioneer 500. Overall length is 2.4 inches longer at 105 inches, but wheelbase is still 73 inches. Front and rear suspension travel are 14.7cm/5.8in and 15cm/5.9 in, respectively, and ground clearance is 8.5in, great for tackling uneven or challenging terrain.
Honda’s engineers also made improvements to the shock damping for increased comfort and control. Front and rear suspension are modern independent doublewishbone designs; the rear suspension has adjustable preload to tailor the ride height to match loads.
All four rims have 12-inch diameters and are equipped with new, longer-wearing 24-inch-diameter all-terrain tires—24×8-12 up front and 24×10-12 in the back. This setup makes for a good balance between traction, easy steering and good manoeuvrability in tight quarters. The front brakes comprise dual hydraulic calipers with 200mm discs, while the rear brake is a single hydraulic caliper with a 170mm disc—a combination that provides substantial braking power.
3.1 Chassis & Suspension
- Powerful 518 cc, fuel-injected, longitudinally mounted engine
- Increased low-to-mid range power and torque
- Air filter and battery box placement improved for ease of maintenance
- Shift mapping re-tuned and calibrated for reduced shift shock and improved shift rhythm
The Pioneer 520 is powered by the proven, fuel-injected four-stroke 518cc engine found in the 2021 Rubicon ATV, but tuned for a side-by-side application. The power plant has bore-and-stroke figures of 96.0 mm and 71.5mm— 4 mm greater in bore, respectively, than those of the Pioneer 500’s 475cc mill. As a result, it offers increased low-to-midrange power and torque, making it great for tackling chores or scrambling up trails while exploring challenging terrain.
Power is fed directly to front and rear driveshafts, with no belt drive to maintain. Once again, it is mounted longitudinally in the chassis – an arrangement that allows direct driveshaft alignment to front and rear wheels for maximum drivetrain efficiency.
At the same time, ease of use is prioritized. The new air cleaner is more readily accessed, as is the battery box- by lifting the bed. Two drive modes—two- and four-wheel drive—are selectable on-the-fly via an easy-to-reach, dash-mounted knob. The five-speed automatic transmission with reverse takes the hassle out of gear selection. The manual mode, operated with paddle shifters on the steering column, gives the user shifting control when conditions warrant. Compared to its predecessor, the Pioneer 520’s shift mapping has been tuned to upshift at lower engine speeds, improving shift rhythm.
Calibration has been adjusted to optimize shift shock, and manually overriding automatic mode is possible through a wider rpm range.
Honda Canada Motorcycles
Honda Canada Inc. was established in 1969 and is the sole distributor of Honda motorcycles, scooters, ATVs and sideby- sides in Canada. The Honda Canada Motorcycle Division is responsible for sales, marketing, and operational activities for these products through authorized Honda dealers. For more information on Honda Canada powersports products, please visit: https://motorcycle.honda.ca/