14 January 2000

Biggest yet ATVon course for America

A NEW model planned for the top of the Honda range of ATVs will feature a 500cc engine – the companys biggest power unit so far. The introduction will also mark Hondas first break with air cooling for its ATV engines.

Although already previewed in the United States, production of the new models is not scheduled to start until later this year. Sales will be restricted to the American market initially, where the new ATV will be called the 2001 Fourtrax Foreman Rubicon, and it could be 18 months or more before it arrives in the UK.

The liquid cooled engine has been, says Honda, designed specifically for ATV operation and has a number of unconventional features.

To reduce the overall height of the engine and maintain a low centre of gravity without reducing the ground clearance, the camshaft operating the four valves has been tucked away below the cylinder head. Another move to reduce engine height is the removal of the oil supply from its usual place in the sump to a new location in a separate external tank.

Another break with traditional Honda ATV design is to be found in the transmission. The unit is an automatic drive system, but one that avoids use of belts and is claimed to be quiet and compact, and also to provide engine braking.

There are three operating modes, a maximum torque setting for heavy pulling work, a performance mode for normal driving, plus an electric shift programme, and these are selected by a control lever on the dash panel.

Specification includes a torque-sensing front differential and full-time four-wheel drive. Price details for the United States or the UK are not yet available.