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Honda at work in the snow
13 February 09 02:34 PM | oliver robinson | 1 comment(s) [Edit]

 

Well this is turning out to be a good time for a long term test on the Honda 420 ES. So far we've had floods back before Christmas so that tested the wading ability of the bike, which was very good. Then it had a good period of lugging the logic trailer round in the muddy fields feeding the sheep so there was a good test of traction and towing ability which again was really good. The power to weight ratio of this bike is unreal we've had a few quad bikes on the farm and this one is by far the best for that.  

Now some of you may have noticed that we've had a bit of snow. So here's another test how does the quad bike handle in the snow and ice.

Traction was a bit of an issue on the deeper snow (a good foot of snow in places) so I let the tires down to 2.5psi (about half the recommended tire pressure) and that helped a bit. I found that the snow got flicked up from the front tires and got stuck in the frame, after a while the steering would lock up, but a quick tap of the plastic mud guard would sort that.     

                        

Ground clearance was a bit tight on the rear diff and drum, but the snow was so soft that didn't matter. The front of the bike is shaped in such a way that it slides over the ground/snow with little picking up on the underside. It's a bit like the hull on a boat a gentle sweep under the front.

As I said last week the bike has a bit of an easy life until March, just a bit of lamping vermin, feeding the rams once a day and checking the crops.                                                                                               

                                       

No problem with the bike as of yet apart from the seats split even more now. And I really really do like the electric shift on the handle bar.  

Honda update....
03 February 09 08:05 AM | oliver robinson | 2 comment(s) [Edit]
Now we have all the sheep inside, the quad bike has less to do. On the farm for the next few months it still has to take hay and feed to the rams in their little field. The bike will still be going round the farm checking the crops and I will be using it quite a lot to go out on the farm and my friends farm controlling rabbits and foxes with the rifle.    

 

I went round the farm filling up all the pheasant hoppers at the beginning of the week. Going through the woods the bike had three bags of wheat on the back and two on the front. The bike handled a little different but I still felt safe on the steep banks even with the extra top weight of the bags.    

I haven’t said much about the specification list on this bike so I will now. The Honda 420 ES has the electric gear shift on the left handle bar, this means that you have both your feet free to move around the foot pegs to balance on rough terrain. I love the electric shift over the old foot peg shifter they always seemed to get blocked up with mud in the winter and you could never get your toe under to shift up.

I don’t know if any of you are aware but Honda launched a new 420 model back in December it’s called the Honda 420 AT, it gives you the option to change the gear box from the manual electric shift to a fully automatic one with the flick of a switch on the handle bars.  It also has independent rear suspension and engine braking. 

Back to the model I’m testing it has front dual hydraulic disc brakes, they are much better in the wet than the old shoe brakes that older Hondas had. The rear is still the same single drum brake. You can select between 2wd and 4wd so that saves a bit of rubber if you’re going to be doing some work around a concrete yard. 

Another good thing I’ve found is that it’s only just over a meter wide so it will fit through most little horse gates and bridle gates unlike the polaris which is wider by a good 6 inches. The quad is so light it hardly makes a foot print in the mud. It’s helped by low ground pressure tyres. I say again any questions you have, feel free to ask.  Speak soon.

 

Likes and dislikes so far...
15 January 09 05:15 PM | oliver robinson | with no comments [Edit]

This last couple of weeks have been bloody cold for those of you that didn't notice. So as you could imagine the sheep have been needing plenty of hay everyday to keep them going. The bike hasn't had any problems to date, which is good.

Yesterday, we started to house some of the ewes as we are due to scan this week. So, I got to test the bike's handling rounding up the sheep on all sorts of different terrain, ranging from steep banks, ridge and furrow to flat fields so overall, it got a full test.

                      

On the banks the bike felt very stable and had plenty of grunt to get up to sheep on the steep parts and good brakes on the way down. They do seem to squeak when you go along a bank, but I just guess that's the front wish bone twist. Turning on the ridge and furrow, the bike showed very little sign that it wanted to turn over when turning sharply. On the flat, the bike gets to its top speed pretty quickly, you can really tell it's got EFI electronic fuel injection. At high speeds, there's no wheel wobble or anything like that.

Things I like and things I dislike so far on the Honda are: 

Likes:

- The bike feels safe on the banks

- It's a quiet bike for it's engine size

- Amazing power to weight ratio

Dislikes:

- Seat is very hard and doesn't take much of the shock on the bumps

- The seat has split, not ripped, split

- They don't have a jack plug/power point for a lamp or slug pelleter

- The front and rear cargo racks have been designed for looks: You can't sit a bucket of wheat on there without it tipping back or forwards

Happy New Year everybody
05 January 09 06:27 PM | oliver robinson | 1 comment(s) [Edit]

Well this weather is a nice change it's lovely and cold out on the farm. We had our shoot last Saturday. The bike was used all day to ferry beaters and the odd walking gun around the farm. It's amazing how many people you can get on a bike and logic trailer (4 on the bike 6 in the trailer), but it did make her grunt a little over the bridges. But, yet again, the Honda plugged on and got the job done.                                            

 

With the quad bike being such a nickable item, I have fitted it with a Cat 2 alarm made by Bulldog. I bought it whilst being in America doing the 1000 mile harvest along with a few other random things.

Anyway, the alarm has a remote on a key ring which you can set to either speak and tell the thieves to get off it, or just a very loud buzzing sound that should make anyone run for their lives.     

               

Also, for Christmas I received a rifle rest that can be fitted to the front of the bike and bends round the handle bars (as shown). Now, this is were a jack plug on the side of the handle bars would have been good for the lamp, but that's an extra now.

Wet Week for the Honda
19 December 08 02:16 PM | oliver robinson | with no comments [Edit]

Well we started this week off with just over one inch of rain. As you can imagine, with the ground already soaked it's not making it very easy to get about to feed the sheep in the mornings, but the Honda plugs on through the mud and muck. She struggles up some of the hills as is expected when your towing 300kgs of hay on the trailer.

I'm fed up with the mud and muck spraying off the bikes rear tyres onto the hay in the trailer, so I've fashioned up some rather sexy mud flaps out of some old elevater belting, some 1/2 inch steel box and a length of tube bent at a right angle.

So far we have done 1200 km since taking delivery of the bike and it's still running like new. One minor thing is the seat has a defect in it and it's started to crack. Not a split, it's like the skin on the back of your hand at lambing time . 

First post.....
08 December 08 09:00 PM | oliver robinson | 2 comment(s) [Edit]

My Dad and I run a 800-acre mixed arable and sheep farm in Warwickshire. Our current ATV is used on a daily basis, so we're a great place to bring a new bike to be put through its paces!

Day-to-day duties include winter feeding and all-year-round management of the 650-ewe flock, slug pelleting arable land, boundary spraying, spot treating weeds and turning out during lambing time. Our farm also has a shoot and in the lead-up to the shooting season the ATV is used to fill hoppers and check birds and on shoot days it will be used to tow the game/beater trailer.

Terrain varies from heavy clay low-lying arable ground through to ironstone hillside and woodland. So traction, towing ability and stability will all be tested to find the bike's strengths and weaknesses, especially on our steep grassy banks. 

Since we've had the bike, we've been feeding the in-lamb ewes on the hills and on the low ground in the mornings. This usually involves towing our logic quad trailer (see the pic) fully laden with half a quadrant of hay, and mineral blocks (and the spaniel!).  

                                                

So far, the bike seems to be man enough for most hurdles we put in its way - including pulling the trailer up steep inclines to hay racks on the hill.

Accleration is rapid, much more responsive than our old Polaris. When you need the power - it's there. Grips pretty good, too. Even under load, when you push the throttle it doesn't lose traction.

But, a minor annoyance is that you can't put a bucket on the rear or front cargo racks as they tip over. We've adapted this with a bungee cord. And, the drawbar is so far under the frame that it's a pain to get the trailer hitched on without smacking your chin on the rack.

A great feature is that it fits through bridle gates as it's narrower than the Polaris, but the seat's pretty darn hard when you've spent a bit of time on it slug pelleting!

                                     

The tank does three days of feeding before needing filling up - which usually totals 10 miles a day easily, and the way I drive it's pretty toughly driven.

A few days after getting the bike, we had a lot of rain and we had to rescue some of our ewe lambs on lower lying land (pictures below!). In deep water, the bike didn't seem to cough or even splutter - which was a bit of a relief!

                                       

If we had the option, we'd definitely go for the 12v socket - as this comes in handy lamping.

I'll keep you posted on what we've been doing over the weeks, and if you've any questions just post them on the end of this blog!

Honda Fourtrax
01 December 08 03:00 PM | Isabel Davies | with no comments [Edit]

Over the next six months Phillip and Oliver Robinson will be putting a Honda Fourtrax through its paces on their farm. Read their impressions here on the Farm Tested Blog.