31 March 2000

ATVupdate can boost Hondas market share

By Andy Collings

THE Fourtrax 350 is Hondas replacement ATV for its best-selling Fourtrax 300 model. The new machine offers a larger capacity longitudinally mounted engine, torque sensing limited slip front differential and for the first time on a quad, two years manufacturers warranty.

Honda claims to have just under 50% of the UKs ATV market. And the replacement of its volume selling Fourtrax 300 model with a larger and more powerful machine is hoped to bag the firm even more market share.

"We have built up an enviable reputation in the ATV market with the Fourtrax 300, which we intend to build upon with the introduction of the new 350," says Martin Sanders, general manager of Honda (UK)s Power Equipment division.

The biggest change to be found on the 350 is its larger, air-cooled engine – up 47cc to 329cc compared to the outgoing 300 model. The engine also includes a dry sump lubrication system avoiding the need for a traditional wet sump, which provides 8cm more ground clearance.

Four versions of the Fourtrax 350 are available; TRX350 S and TRX350 ES two-wheel drive models, and TRX350 S and TRX350 ES four-wheel drive models.

A five-speed transmission is fitted to all versions, though the method of control varies. Riding the Fourtax 350 reveals S variants use a motorcycle-type standard foot gear change, while ES models offer an electric gearshift with buttons on the handlebars. Both transmission control systems require the ATV to be in neutral before the engine will start, and selecting reverse remains a complex sequence of pulling on the left hand brake lever while depressing the reverse lock button with your index finger, then selecting reverse gear – either by foot lever or button depending on specification.

All four models are equipped with a waterproof LCD digital instrument panel showing forward speed, engine hours and distance travelled. The panel also includes a clock. Load carrying ability extends to 30kg on the front rack and 60.4kg on the rear rack.

A criticism of four-wheel drive ATVs is the torque steer encountered on loose surfaces. By fitting a torque sensitive limited slip differential in the front axle, Honda reckons to have reduced the torque steering effect. Turning circle too has been reduced, to 3.3m (4WD) and 2.6m (2WD).

Pricing starts at £3799 for the two-wheel drive TRX350 S, rising to £4799 for the four-wheel drive TRX350 ES. Honda says reducing 80% of its spare parts prices by an average of 21% should contribute to reduced cost of ownership.

TRX350 replaces Hondas best selling TRX300.