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On test: Honda Fourtrax ATV

Now in its sixth year of production, the Honda Fourtrax is ageing well and really looks the part.

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Our model was a TRX 420 FA specced with switchable electric or automatic shift transmission and independent rear suspension (IRS).

 

Unlike the rest of the test ATVs, which use a belt driven-derived CVT, Honda has stuck with a five-speed sequential gearbox for this range of bike.

 

This can be operated in manual mode using handle bar-mounted buttons, or switched to automatic. In manual it is very natural to drive, much like changing gear with your foot. However, because your left hand is occupied with gear changing duties, it means you cannot carry anything.

 

A quick flick into auto mode soon solves this though, which is very impressive. It pretty much changes gear when you would expect and adapts depending on the load. For extra oomph, it has a kick-down function.

 

However, electronic nannying means the bike does need to be absolutely stationary when changing from forward to reverse, which can make manoeuvring around the yard a bit frustrating at times.

 

But with all these electronics, how reliable will they be when faced with the rigors of farming?

 

For day-to-day duties, the Honda is an excellent bike.

 

Plenty of torque and power is delivered smoothly from its 420cc engine and it rides well across a variety of conditions.

 

The riding position, compared to the others, is nice and low, with well-positioned bars, resulting in a balanced machine.

 

Economic

It probably does not quite have the convenience of driving a CVT, even in automatic mode, but as we expected, and as the fuel consumption table shows, by keeping the revs down and the gears up, it was pretty frugal, especially with a laden trailer.

 

Having a more traditional transmission means the Honda has proper engine braking, which instilled a lot of confidence when towing a trailer downhill.

 

However, hitching up to a trailer is no fun. The ball is located just too far in and under the rear of the bike, which makes for a lot of back straining while you are trying to hold a drawbar in the air and manoeuvre it into place. If you were doing this a lot, I think you would soon be considering one of the others.

 

Storage is limited too, with only a small box at the rear.

 

Specifications

  • Engine: 420cc liquid-cooled
  • Transmission: five-speed, electric or automatic shift
  • Suspension: Independent double-wishbone front and rear
  • Braking: Double disc (front) / single disc (rear)
  • Tyres: 24 x 8-12 (front)24 x 10-11 (rear)
  • Fuel capacity: 13.3 litres
  • Dimensions: 2,055mm (L) x 1,172mm (W) x 1,163 (H)
  • Wheelbase: 1,255mm
  • Ground clearance: 231mm
  • Unladen weight: 271.5kg
  • Load rack capacity: 30kg (front), 60kg (rear)
  • Towing capacity: 385kg
  • RRP: £7,806
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