honda atvHonda

FOREMAN S (TRX 500FM)

Honda’s long-serving best seller. 475cc aircooled petrol engine, five-speed foot gearchange. £5600 + VAT.

Our rating: 1st

Honda’s long-serving best seller. 475cc aircooled petrol engine, five-speed foot gearchange. £5,600 + VAT.

Looks, build quality ++++

Engine now panelled in completely, boosting integrated appearance. Looks and feels a quality product.

Equipment, cost +++

Base S model has no frills beyond a LCD info display, switchable 4wd and a limited-slip front diff. No recoil starter.

Practicality ++++

Modest towing capacity is partly offset by reasonable rack payloads, a lidded box up front and another behind the seat. Some lamp protection comes from racks plus replaceable mudguard extensions.

The exhaust is well clear of the unhelpfully recessed towball and the footwells tend to fill with mud below raised grips. It was the most fiddly to get underway (especially if left in high gear when engine switched off) and it can’t start unless in neutral. Reverse engagement is still far too much of a dance. Electroshift/hydrostat transmissions are alternatives.

Performance ++++

The grunty, urgent 475cc single in this light machine supplies plenty of poke. Snappy response can be very useful to float the front over obstacles the clutch engages at low revs so drive is effectively constant.

It’s also easy to hold constant target speed. There’s no low range but a wide ratio spread helps first gear is very short, but the step from 4th to 5th is big.

Fuel consumption ++++

Comfortably the most economical of the petrol ATVs, not least because the test route’s steady-speed sections allowed lower-rev operation than with the automatics. Light weight and engine/gearbox layout help, too.

Brakes +++

Average stopping distance from a disc/drum setup. Excellent engine braking from low first gear is maintained in reverse.

Ride, comfort, noise +++

Engine barks once away from quiet idle. The ride is on the stiff side the front can kick over bumps and the beam back axle doesn’t help. But a good riding position eases long stretches in the saddle.

Handling, steering ++++

Medium-weight, brisk steering is backed by a tight turning circle. Some handlebar shimmy travelling fast over rough land. Feels very handy and controllable on awkward terrain, partly as the narrow seat lets you stand naturally and shift bodyweight effectively.

Maintenance ++++

Aircooled, so there’s no water to check or radiator to care for. Battery easy to find under the seat. Engine dipstick is now hidden behind a pop-out cover.

Weighted score 3.57. A good work tool. Quality, performance, economy and handleability all more than offset the too-lively ride and top-brand price.