After sampling the one and only Foreman ES PS at the Honda Training Center in Colton, California, what seemed like forever passed before we finally got our grubby mitts on a unit to test without parental supervision. The short test loop the Honda gang had set up was certainly adequate to assess the skills of this enhanced ATV. But we wanted to try it outside the lab on trails like most of you ride, and at last we had our chance.
Now, you're most likely asking, "What's so exciting about a power-steering-equipped 500cc utility?" In truth, quite a bit ... if you're the right person. Sure, Yamaha has its 211cc-larger Grizzly on the market, clearly aimed at the sport-ute crowd. And it is definitely a hot rod, while the Foreman is more of a pickup truck with a slightly different target audience-farmers, ranchers and other working-class ATV users. But as we all know, pickups aren't all work and no play, and we were about to find out if that held true for the $7049 Honda.
Negotiating tight quarters...
Negotiating tight quarters and rocks without making the rsider work too hard is the Honda's forte.
As we discovered in the initial ride, the handling was better in the PS model, not only because of the power steering boost, but also due to the stiffer springs that allowed us to hit obstacles much faster and harder without that painful bottoming. So we set out, with our trip through Arizona and New Mexico as a backdrop, to find tough terrain in both states that would help us get to know this new machine better. We weren't disappointed, and I was soon playing photo monkey and having to spend the majority of the time in the seat. Oh darn, more riding. Funny thing about having a medium-sized ATV with power steering underneath you-suddenly rock gardens look like fun, and logs become an excuse for catching air. The little Foreman turned out to be an exceptional leaper as I made pass after pass for Neric and Purtymun. Landing could be a thud, but a minor one, and the suspension soaked up the abuse so well that, on one hop, I didn't even realized that I was getting all four wheels off the ground. I like that kind of cushiness on a 4x4.
Turning was really only limited by wheelbase and how far I could crank the handlebar. High-speed, downhill, off-camber turns were sketchy, but I think that was a combination of things, least of all, that inertia problem-having enough force to alter the direction of me and the 600-plus-pound ATV. It was nothing out of the ordinary, though, and situations like this are beyond the help of PS anyway. However, pushing the bar around was so easy that, frequently, I had to look at the 2WD/4WD switch to check if the Foreman was even in 4x4. In the sandlike gravel, the difference was more noticeable, as I could get the rear end to swing around easily in 2WD.
A worker bee with a playful...
A worker bee with a playful persona, the Foreman ES PS begs for rough terrain.
So much for this being a work-only machine. The Foreman line (from the baseline $6449 manual shifter to the $6649 ESP-equipped electric shifter) is Honda's top-selling utility. Owners rack up the miles on these dependable pack mules, but the big question for Honda was, "Would its potential customers be willing to shell out another $400 for the benefit of power steering and one-handed operations?" Also, how focused on work are the engineers? Check out the solid rear axle-identical to all the working Honda ATVs, since they are easier to maintain, let you tow more without squashing the rear end and, important here, cheaper. With all that focus, it still works well as a happy trail machine, and for those not needing massive horsepower, it's perfect. The EPS lets the rider control the power better, too, though the 475cc single is not a revver but a torque-meister. Is this the best quad for you? Sure, if you need something for work on your property that can also take you hunting or fishing, explore new trails or simply cruise your favorite forest.
"Log in way?" No problem....
"Log in way?" No problem. Bryan Nylander demonstrates how easy is it is to launch the Foreman.
Honda FourTrax Foreman 4x4 ES PS
|Retail Price: ||$7049 |
|Type: ||Longitudinally mounted single-cylinder, four-stroke OHV |
|Displacement: ||475cc |
|Bore x Stroke: ||92x71.5mm |
|Cooling: ||Air-cooled |
|Compression Ratio: ||8.5:1 |
|Carburetion: ||Keihin CV 36mm |
|Ignition: ||CD with electronic advance |
|Starter: ||Electric with auxiliary recoil |
|Drive System: ||Shaft, 4x4 with TraxLok and torque-sensitive front differential |
|Transmission: ||5-speed automatic with reverse; Electric Shift Program |
|SUSPENSION (TYPE/TRAVEL) |
|Front: ||Dual A-arms, independent/6.7 in. |
|Rear: ||Swingarm with dual shocks/6.7 in. |
Power-sliding the big Honda...
Power-sliding the big Honda is no problem, thanks to power steering.
|Front: ||25x8-12 |
|Rear: ||25x10-12 |
|Front: ||Dual hydraulic 180mm discs |
|Rear: ||Sealed 180mm mechanical drum |
|Wheelbase: ||50.7 in. |
|Claimed Dry Weight: ||600 lb |
|Ground Clearance: ||7.5 in. |
|Length/Width/Height ||83.0/46.8/46.5 in. |
|Seat Height: ||33.9 in. |
|Turning Radius: ||10.8 ft |
|Fuel Capacity ||4.2 gal., including 0.9-gal. reserve |