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MarkinAR

Honda is the greatest ATV builder in history - fight me

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Couple of quick points:

1. the Odyssey, or FL350R. This was 30 years ahead of it's time.  Fast as greased owl crap, reliable, stupid fun.  Never took off.  Fast forward to the RAZR which was just replicating the FL350R.  What would Honda have done with it if it took off in '85?

2. Everything about the ATC.  Reliable, good power for small displacement, easy to work on, simple front to back, still running 30 years later.  My son's 185s is 36 years old and outran a 400 Big Bear the other day until it ran out of gearing and the Big Bear caught it around 50 mph.  I can dig a 110 out of the weeds and as long as it has a little compression, I'll make it run in 2 days for about $20.  Can't do that with a Yamaha 225.

3, 1981 250R.  What happens if you stick a CR250 2 stroke in a trike?  Yeah, a death machine.  Then by '85 the 250R had a 6 speed and would do 70 from the factory.  Death Machine +2.  The 250R gave birth to the trike racing circuit.

4. The ATC 70.  Small, quiet and reliable.  Just never took off.  Gave birth to the entire small displacement chinese quad market.

5. 82 200ES - first Big Red.  The BR single handedly created the UTV market as we see it today in the Ranger, Mule, etc.

6. The ENTIRE chinese quad market in front of us today came from expired Honda patents from the 80's.

7. 300 fourtrax.  By far the most coveted 4x4 in the market right now, absolutely indestructible.  Pick one up a couple of years old, stick massive wheels and tires on it, and you have a mud machine.  Kinda like the Polaris or Can Am...but reliable.  And cheap.

To be fair, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawa, all picked their game up along the way and make good ATV's.  I'll leave the Polaris/CanAm discussion for another day.  While Polaris gave birth to the automatic, the reliability issues of both still exist today.  While great ATV's, I don't consider them any more than specialty machines.

 

FIGHT ME.

or debate...whichever is easier.

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an't fight  you on that ..  My  own  quad  is a 1991 Fourtrax 300FW.  Does everything I want . Bought  used 6 years ago.. Only repair  I've needed to do  on it  is replace the rear axle due to  worn  out splines at the  hubs. and replace  front brake shoes. Still  runs strong and  not  burning oil. Yamaha,  Suzuki and Kawasaki  are also  all  good machines ; as well  as the  Kymco  machines..  I  know  some swear by  Polaris but around here most swear  at the older ones ..They're nicknamed  "Pullhairis" by  the  ones I  know that have  had one in the past .

I don't know  how the newer ones are  because nobody I know  has one ..

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I have always owned Arctic Cats, but if I had to choose a different brand it would be Honda. Being with an ATV club for years now, the most issues we see with machines on club rides are Polaris. Exceptions are those who don't maintain their machine, then it doesn't matter the brand, you will eventually have a breakdown.

Mike

 

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Hmm...I completely disregarded the arctic cat, my apologies for that. There are very few of those in the wild down here. 

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dont have much experience with arctic cat...  i think they are wayyy underrated atvs.  personal fav of polaris and arctic cat.  next prolly yamaha and canam.  my only issue with polaris is i wish they would put some spunkier clutches in their bikes, and please forget the engine braking!!  engine braking is the only thing that bothers me..  but also nice- had a friend that let his calipers wear out (didnt ever replace brake shoes) and still drove his 500 around with no brakes.

im into the bigger quads (500cc+) and in my opinion honda just cant keep up with a cvt tranny.

on the other hand, i have two hondas which dont run, and two (one as of yesterday) that ALWAYS ran after the initial fix up when i bought them.

have a friend that hates his 2012 recon 250 as hes had problems out of everything front to rear.  and he was a honda hugger too.  same story with me.  i loved honda till i tried polaris and never looked back

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another friend with an 04 Rubicon 500 that i had to work on a fair bit just to get it to start (replaced starter, relay and battery) and even when i was riding it around, felt like a was sitting on about 300cc worth of power

have another friend that owns a early 2000s foreman 400 and takes it through a pond while duck hunting and now the whole frame squeaks bad (shocks, bearings, steering linkage...)  i done the same with my 500 and it hasn't given me any trouble

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but, i dont think hondas are complete crap- obviously depends on how its been treated..  if i found a good deal, id buy one.  thats one thing that ill give them- the recons and fourtraxs are fairly cheap.  i just wish honda would make like a cvt rubicon or rincon so they could actually compete with polaris, canam, yamaha, suzuki, arctic cat, and the rest.

5 hours ago, MarkinAR said:

Hmm...I completely disregarded the arctic cat, my apologies for that. There are very few of those in the wild down here. 

but yes ive never touched an arctic cat so i cant root for them personally.  would buy one in a heartbeat if i found a good deal tho!!

hey@MarkinAR, maybe you could get my 86 350trx to fire..?  its on 50psi compression rn..  it blew up as i was riding it up the drive.

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hate kawasaki..  just wanted to throw that in there...  friend that works on a bunch of atvs feels the same..  kawis are really good at having engine trouble..

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50 psi compression is enough to run, but may have to push start it with another ATV... Had a Bayou once that would pull the front wheels up with 60 psi and it should really have 150. 

We see a lot of dead Polaris around here bc the gumbo is murder on belt drive and everyone lifts them and snaps axles. 

But you're right that in modern big displacement ATVs honda has fallen behind. They've stuck with a more traditional style. 

Post 2000 or so the market has changed a ton. 

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Ive seen from other club members two issues with Polaris, the CVT is grip and slip so they need to replace the belts more often and the lack of engine braking.

One thing I do like about Arctic Cat is you can download the service manual and wiring diagrams for free. My 2007 machine did have harness issues which was a known problem for that year machine. Once I added protection to the harness it never gave me any more problems. Beat the snot out of that machine and rode it to 16,000 miles then sold it for parts.

Some model year Cats used Kawasaki engines and were known to eat belts the and engine was not reliable, they then switched to Suzuki engines for a few years then produced there own, known as the H1 and H2 motors. Smaller machines use the Kymco engine which I have found so far to be reliable. One machine I have with this motor is coming up on 10,000 miles and other then the fan sensor going bad, the motor has run well with no issues.

Mike

 

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12 hours ago, MarkinAR said:

50 psi compression is enough to run, but may have to push start it with another ATV... Had a Bayou once that would pull the front wheels up with 60 psi and it should really have 150. 

We see a lot of dead Polaris around here bc the gumbo is murder on belt drive and everyone lifts them and snaps axles. 

But you're right that in modern big displacement ATVs honda has fallen behind. They've stuck with a more traditional style. 

Post 2000 or so the market has changed a ton. 

yea...gotta be careful about getting water in the clutch on cvt units, best to treat it like an air intake.  i have a 800 that will most likely blow a couple axles, just because ive lifted it 4 inches (max is usually 2-3in with stock a arms, axles, and no portals..  but its done great so far.  same would happen to any atv even the bigger hondas like the rincon that have independent rear suspension..

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my experience has been that for the most part (of course there are exceptions with everything) that polaris has the most reliable motors, trans and all..  but have smaller issues that come with any cvt independent susp atv.  and personally id rather change an axle here and there then have the solid rear axle.  and although the manual, footshift, and es bikes are a lot of fun to goof of with, when it comes to actually getting down the trail, id prefer a cvt drive-train.

4 hours ago, mikeexplorer said:

Ive seen from other club members two issues with Polaris, the CVT is grip and slip so they need to replace the belts more often and the lack of engine braking.

One thing I do like about Arctic Cat is you can download the service manual and wiring diagrams for free. My 2007 machine did have harness issues which was a known problem for that year machine. Once I added protection to the harness it never gave me any more problems. Beat the snot out of that machine and rode it to 16,000 miles then sold it for parts.

Some model year Cats used Kawasaki engines and were known to eat belts the and engine was not reliable, they then switched to Suzuki engines for a few years then produced there own, known as the H1 and H2 motors. Smaller machines use the Kymco engine which I have found so far to be reliable. One machine I have with this motor is coming up on 10,000 miles and other then the fan sensor going bad, the motor has run well with no issues.

Mike

 

so i didnt know arctic cat used kawi motors- that would turn me away in a sec..  what years were they using kawi motors?  were they having trouble with the suzuki motors too?

so i think overall, it depends on what youre looking for..  a farm beat up machine that you need big power out of i little engine at low speeds, i might consider a footshift or es.  for trail riding, mudding, or pretty much anything else, i would prefer a cvt.  even with the belt/axle issues they have along the way.

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The older 650 V2 cats were Kawasaki motors, I think they were produced from 2004-2007.  My first machine was a 2007 400 which had the Suzuki motor. I beat the snot out of that machine and sold it with 16,000 miles on it to a friend for parts, The upper frame was going and the lower frame was already welded twice. At 14,000 miles I sunk it good in a mud hole and it started burning oil like crazy. Dealer rebuilt the motor, Ran it for another 2,000 miles before selling it. He took the motor and transplanted it into a 2006 400 TRV which they guy who owned it blew up the motor at 800 miles (what he did was not known, but the quad was in pristine condition) The rest of the parts he kept. All 4 axles were good, both diffs, and the 4WD worked perfectly. I could not use these parts because my 2012 has a different assembly so the axles and such are different.

They did not have any issues with the suzuki motors, they just switched production to their own motors, known as the H1 and H2 motors.  Then for the smaller sized models such as the 366 and Alterra, they are using Kymco motors. I have two of these machines, only issue I had common to both was the fan sensor going bad.

So we have three machines total, one as a spare.

Mike

 

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On 9/11/2019 at 12:54 PM, MarkinAR said:

FIGHT ME.

or debate...whichever is easier.

I think Honda in the 80s was the standard for all others to be judged by, but since then my opinion is they're bloated and lackluster.  Honda to me is synonymous with reliability and nothing more.  Since the 80s it's like they haven't even tried to compete with Suzuki or Yamaha and have mainly rested on their laurels of brand recognition by churning out machines that excel at nothing except always working when you push the button.

Suzuki had the quadzilla and where was Honda's answer to that?  Yamaha offered the Banshee and how did Honda respond?  Yamaha has 5 valve heads and what's Honda doing?  What about the Warrior with 6pd tranny and reverse from any gear?

Even going back to the 80s to compare the Honda 250x to the Suzuki 230s (the first fully suspended sport quad, btw), true enough that the 250x was faster, but the 230 had a longer stroke which meant boring it out increased the cc's more.  If you bought a 250x, there wasn't much you could do to meaningfully increase power, but the 230s had big bore kits to increase the cc to 260 at 10.5:1 to run circles around the 250x.  Then in 1989, Suzuki released the 250s which had a +1mm bigger rod bearing, meaning it would take a KZ1000 streetbike piston for 280cc in a 300lb (wet) machine.

Another thing I like about the Suzukis is the top end of the 230 is the same for the 250 4x4 models and the 250s top end is the same as the 300 4x4 models.  So if I buy spare parts for one, then I have spare parts for everything.  And all the cams will interchange.  I have a 250s cam in a 4x4 quad.  And that's a quad with 15 forward gears and diff-lock!

But the Honda 250ex is the quad I ride everyday simply because it excels at nothing which means is works for anything and, most important of all, it always works.  I changed starter brushes 2 or 3 times so far and still haven't needed to work on the engine.  It's a pushrod engine with no oil filter and a marvel that it can take such a beating for 14 years and never die.  It's not the fastest, but it's fast enough for an all-around-quad.  It can climb and descend hills that 4x4s can't.  It can be pushed over logs that 4x4s need to winch over.  And it doesn't get pinned between trees like 4x4s.  Kids can ride it.  Seniors can ride it.  Even thrill-seekers can find fun in it.  It's the best all-around quad on the planet.  That's pretty much how I see Honda: the best at nothing, but good for anything.

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I am  also  a  Honda man  because when  you're deep in the woods you want the machine that got you there to  get you  back.  At 76  I don't need the fastest  or the  most powerful and pretty looking ..  I want a machine that does everything I want it to do and doesn't  need a warehouse  full of spare parts to  keep doing it,  and I  might add  one that  doesn't eat  up  my  pension funds  to  keep  going .

 

Edited by davefrombc
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My money would be on Honda. I bet if you look at all the atv’s including the trikes that are still on the road or bikes that are sitting around in garages that are nothing more then a cleaning away from a running bike Honda would be the front runner ! 

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56 minutes ago, MarkinAR said:

Ah, a worthy adversary! All good points, thank you for that. 

Thanks man.  All manufacturers have something to like and dislike about them.  I kinda think Honda gave up after the threat to ban ATVs in the 80s and then the 2-stroke emissions thing.  No sense competing when the government is attacking them.

42 minutes ago, davefrombc said:

I am  also  a  Honda man  because when  you're deep in the woods you want the machine that got you there to  get you  back.  At 76  I don't need the fastest  or the  most powerful and pretty looking ..  I want a machine that does everything I want it to do and doesn't  need a warehouse  full of spare parts to  keep doing it,  and I  might add  one that  doesn't eat  up  my  pension funds  to  keep  going .

Wow you're 76?  Much respect man!  My dad is 76 and I can't get him to understand the importance of downshifting.  It's a common problem with people who didn't grow up riding: they get the atv into top gear then fry the clutch trying to go uphill.  I'm always hollering "Downshift!  Downshift!"  I wish someone would offer a CVT machine that is small (350lb) so non-enthusiasts can ride.  That said, the 250ex still has the original clutch in spite of everyone trying to destroy it.  It's amazing how durable those machines are. And no one would ever guess it has push rods.

The only trouble I've had is starter brushes, but I use the starter a lot.  I ride to the garden (200ft) and shut it off, then back up to the house and shut it off, then to the pond and shut it off, then back to the house and shut it off, yada yada... I use it like a scooter or something just to save me walking lol.  Brushes are $5 on ebay and I keep a stock of them in my warehouse.

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I  bought  my  '91 300 Fourtrax FW  about  10  years ago and the only repairs I've had to  do to  it  is new front  brake shoes  and  a  new  rear axle and  hubs .The axle  was pretty much toast when  I  bought it  but ran  it  for about  5 years  before the splines on the  left side finally  completely  gave out so  in  effect  if  I  had traction ok  on the front I  had 3 wheel drive  and  if  not  I had  one wheel  drive  LOL. Yup   turned 76  6 days ago.  I still  think  I'm  30  until  I try to  do  what  I did at  30.  Takes me a lot longer  and I  need a  lot more help to  do it  now,  and I  hurt a  lot  more afterward    :D  I  rode   dirt  bike  and drove  standard  tranny cars  and trucks  for years so  definitely  familiar  with downshifting .. Both  my  Blazer  ZR2  and  Sierra  2500 HD  are automatics now so  the  quad is  the  only  manual  shift.   Didn't  ride  quads  until  I bought the  Honda  so I definitely was a late starter on them .

Edited by davefrombc
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1 hour ago, davefrombc said:

I  bought  my  '91 300 Fourtrax FW  about  10  years ago and the only repairs I've had to  do to  it  is new front  brake shoes  and  a  new  rear axle and  hubs .The axle  was pretty much toast when  I  bought it  but ran  it  for about  5 years  before the splines on the  left side finally  completely  gave out so  in  effect  if  I  had traction ok  on the front I  had 3 wheel drive  and  if  not  I had  one wheel  drive  LOL. Yup   turned 76  6 days ago.  I still  think  I'm  30  until  I try to  do  what  I did at  30.  Takes me a lot longer  and I  need a  lot more help to  do it  now,  and I  hurt a  lot  more afterward    :D  I  rode   dirt  bike  and drove  standard  tranny cars  and trucks  for years so  definitely  familiar  with downshifting .. Both  my  Blazer  ZR2  and  Sierra  2500 HD  are automatics now so  the  quad is  the  only  manual  shift.   Didn't  ride  quads  until  I bought the  Honda  so I definitely was a late starter on them .

Yeah those spines are aggravating.  If you don't get that wheel nut really tight, a little play will develop and then it's only a matter of time till the spines go.  On my quadsport I've done everything but weld the nut on to keep it from wiggling loose over time because my spines have play.  Dad always drove cars standard trannies too because he thought automatics wasted gas, so he understands the concept, but on cars he can see what gear he is in while on the ATV he can't.  With a car, he can leave it in 5th gear and come to a stop while pressing the clutch, then shift directly into neutral or 1st.  On the ATV if he does that, then he's at a dead stop trying to find 1st from 5th, which is a pain in the butt even for me.  I downshift as I slow down, so when I'm stopped, I'm in 1st already.   Also when I'm riding I keep a mental note of what gear I'm in.  He just doesn't ride enough to become accustomed to it and I find that's a problem common to people of any age.  It seems there is a market for ATVs that are easy to drive for people who really don't want to become experts at riding, but just want to tag along with other riders occasionally, like dad.  The 4x4s are too big and the Chinese ones are too small or they handle strangely.

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Ha, funny you should mention a wheel nut backing off.  My oldest is working through a Kodiak he bought at a bargain and as soon as he starts riding we find all 4 axle nuts are loose, there are no cotter pins, and at least 2 of the hubs are completely stripped.  If i could only get my hands on the numb nuts that left the axle nuts loose....

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