Honda Foreman 500 PS 4x4 Mudder Project
Crafting together great mudworthy quads has become an obsession here at ATV Rider Magazine. After rethinking some ideas about the most commonly built quads, we decided an example should be set for the affordable mild-mannered mudbugs. Locating mods that are in a manageable price range for any quad rider to purchase and bolt on with ease was our goal. We found that most mud connoisseurs want to be able to ride comfortably while on the trails, yet still want the capability to plunge deep into bogs while exiting without disaster. Creating an affordable machine that could do both isn't hard, and if you can control your ego, it doesn't require exuberant amounts of cash either. But you might have to pass up on some of the bling.
Starting with a fantastic Honda Foreman 500 PS 4x4 as our platform, we started constructing our budget mudder. The Honda Foreman has electronic power steering and that gives this build a great beginning. Having power steering gives flexibility in tire size because it will take little to no effort to turn the heavy lugs. Having the Honda name on board gives us reliability through reputation. Luckily, the Honda Foreman is an air-cooled machine with a vented transmission, so there's no need to worry about snorkeling a CVT box, which keeps even more cash in your pocket. The only items we had to snorkel were the front and rear transmission vent lines, carburetor vent lines and, of course, the airbox. Those are the only weak spots that could get us in trouble in the deep stuff.
Even though we kept a very good price point for each product on the build, we felt it worthy to splurge a bit on our wheels and tires. ITP has long been a stout force in the ATV wheel market. With new innovative designs and quality craftsmanship, we decided to use the SS212 for our wheel of choice. The looks of this wheel just captured our attention, and we know that this is a great conversation starter on the trail. Not only is the wheel cutting-edge, but it also gives our Foreman a proud and quite distinct appearance. This was great since we would not have much bling for this build as our budget would not allow it.
Next, we had to pick the right tire for propelling us through the sludge. Having found such a great-looking and tough wheel from ITP, it was no surprise that we could get an awesome tire selection from these guys as well. We chose to run ITP's 27-inch Mud Lite XTR tires because of the tire's serious mud-capable lug pattern and its light weight so that our mild-mannered 500cc motor could churn them with ease. This tire has shown us that it is capable of handling the muck and wears like a champ on the average utility quad, so we should get many great days on the trail with them before they will need replacing. The six-ply rating also tells us the Mud Lite XTRs will remain tough and reliable on those rocky sharp-edged trails. We installed a 27x9-R12 on the front and a 27x11-R12 on the rear. That's a serious amount of rubber to cram into the fenders of our Foreman. But that didn't concern us, as the next modification for our build would give us the clearance we needed.
Getting a good lashing from...
Getting a good lashing from limbs or briars lately? Buy a set of Acerbis hand guards.
The tires had to be stacked and set to the side while we bolted on our next product. We've built a few mud machines in our time, and we knew that our Honda Foreman needed to stay close to stock in order for it to maintain its trailability. So we contacted our friends over in West Monroe, Louisiana, Xtreme ATV Products which manufactures a really cool kit that will give the 2005 and newer Honda Foreman and Rubicon a lift. In our case, we wanted to stay close to the ground while still getting a bit of lift, so we opted for the two-inch version. This will help our machine to stay ridable in most any trail system. The kit comes in one box when shipped but is separated into four smaller packages so that the parts pile or guesswork for installation is eliminated. After inspecting the package, we knew Xtreme ATV had built a really easy-to-install and rigid lift kit. Each part is laser cut from 3/16 cold roll steel and fits like a glove in its specific location. The parts also have a zinc coating for maximum durability. The kit simply requires hand tools, a good jack and, for us, only about an hour to install. It doesn't get any easier than this, folks! There you have it, two more inches of ground clearance and room for those awesome 27-inch tires. We did end up cutting a sliver out of our back fenders just to make sure that we did not experience any scrubbing. But it really was just a sliver.
After getting the swamp monkey into the air, we mounted our wheels and tires except for the right front. We needed to leave this one off for our next mod from SubMarine Snorkel. To make this machine submergible, we needed to make sure it could breath under water. As I mentioned before, we do not have to worry about a CVT snorkel, but we most definitely do have to put a snout on the airbox. We need our Foreman to breathe good when the big one catches us off guard and the fenders disappear from beneath us. The guys at SubMarine Snorkel sent out a great and yet again simple kit to get the job done right. The snorkel comes preglued in three parts or sections, and this seems to make things simpler. The kit is made of black pipe and has a signature SubMarine Snorkel crash plate. This crash plate is a great feature, and if you do happen to find yourself in a bad crash or fender bender, the parts can be replaced easily as the plate is reusable time after time. The crash plate simply bolts to the front rack and each section is connected with rubber boots and hose clamps. It fits pretty good right out of the box with little modifications. The coolest part to our mind was the rubber-hose-style riser coming off the top of the crash plate as it is flexible and bends, a bonus when driving through low tree branches or other obstacles not to mention during a rollover. And just in case I did not mention it, the snorkel looks really trick on our Honda Foreman 500.
Gorilla winches have been...
Gorilla winches have been saving riders for years, and now we get to put them to the test.
With any good mud build, you're going to need a strong winch to help you out of tough situations. But we all know that getting out of sticky situations without a winch or a few more bowls of Wheaties is not an easy task. This is where Gorilla Winches comes into play. The Gorilla winch line is stacked with great products and many very affordable options for a quad owner's wallet. Our choice was the 2500-pound XTR winch package. This little kit comes with an abundance of necessities to get your winching jobs done. The kit has an 8000-pound snatch block, rubber line stopper, 10-foot corded remote switch as well as a handlebar-mounted control switch. We chose the new waterproof synthetic line instead of the typical steel cable just for the lower cost and safety. The kit has an aluminum Hawse fairlead for the front of the winch. The motor is also sealed and watertight. Gorilla is a great source for ATV mounting plates for its winches, so you can pick up literally everything you need in one-stop shopping. The mounting of our winch required us to remove the front plastics. This is the easiest way to get the job finished right. Again, it is a very simple product to install, and we spent just over 2.5 hours from the first push pin pulled out of the plastics to the last one pushed back in.
Lastly, we chose Acerbis ATV hand guards to protect our hands from debris being thrown around in the mud pit or on the trails. Most hand guards are very easy to mount, but these honestly have to be the easiest mounting that we've installed to date; they literally fell into position without any hassle. Aside from the easy install, they accomplished their job very well, protecting our hands and offering great coverage. And to top it off, they completed the great look of our mud/trail build to perfection.
Getting in deep water is now...
Getting in deep water is now a reality with our SubMarine snorkel.
On our mild-powered rig, we knew that extra weight would lend to less power. The power of any ATV is affected by the size change and added weight of tires and wheels. The Foreman definitely needed a pipe and rejetting to give it a bit more power, but it performed like a champ given the circumstances. Trail riding this Foreman was a dream. The added ground clearance made crossing downed trees and relatively deep creeks a cinch. The power steering turned riding into a dream at lower speeds because it allowed the Foreman to feel like it still had stock wheels and tires on it. Anyone who has built one of these type of machines knows that adding size to the tires creates a difficult-steering quad. But with the power steering, there wasn't even a hesitation or wearing down of our shoulder muscles. Our ITP tires grabbed and clawed with intensity and kept on digging and churning us through and to the other side of most muck. Although the black coloring on our SS212 ITP wheels are prone to be scratched in extremely muddy conditions, ours held up well and wicked away the mud and water. The machined version of the SS212 may be a better choice on this wheel, but that is really up to you.
Once we finally completely submerged our Foreman, we felt at ease as the SubMarine snorkel kit did its job well. No water had been sucked into the machine, and soon our confidence built up for going deeper and deeper. To be honest, we were very impressed with this kit as it was low priced, easy to install and we did not experience any scary leakages throughout our full day of swimming with our budget mudder. Great job on this kit, SubMarine! And just like the snorkel kit, our Xtreme Products two-inch lift kit raised our machine up off the ground, but not too much. The machine remained stable and now had the extra ground clearance we needed to tackle anything Mother Nature threw our way. Once again, we were impressed with this lift, as it was low cost, simple to install and performed with perfection.
Believe it or not, the Gorilla winch saved us a few times when we tried to push our ride to the limit. The only problem I had was that someone must get off into the deep mud to freewheel the winch for towing. This usually turns out to be the rider, yours truly. But it's not a problem when you want to keep that price down, and that's just what we did. Oh well, another great project completed and within budget for anyone just wanting to go mild muddin'!
When we set out to perform this build, our goals were low cost, the ability to trail ride comfortably and the capabilities of going deep in the mud. As for keeping the price minimal, we only spent a total of $1651 to make it happen. The Honda Foreman 500 made an excellent platform to work from and was an absolute blast on the trails. And last but certainly not least, its sheer ability to conquer muddy terrains was made easy with a great set of tires, a two-inch lift kit, snorkel kit and a great winch for those stuck moments.
Honda Foreman 500 PS 4x4 Mudder Project
|ITP Tires: 909/390-1905; www.itptires.com ||Mud Lite XTR, 27x9-12 front: $142.95 ea.; 27x11-12 rear: $161.95 ea.; SS212 alloy wheels: $92.95 ea. |
|Gorilla Winches: 888/657-9997; www.gorillawinches.com ||2500-lb XTR waterproof series: $193.99; Foreman 500 mount plate: $49.99 |
|SubMarine Snorkel: 800/352-6247; www.onlyatv.com ||Foreman 500 airbox snorkel: $199.99 |
|Xtreme Products: 888/768-0977; www.xtreme-products.com ||XTH550 Foreman 500 lift kit: $125.77 |
|Acerbis: 208/622-1000; www.acerbis.it ||Uniko ATV hand guards: $99.95 |
Getting plenty of grip and...
Getting plenty of grip and reliability was the plan. Who knew we would get great looks as well.
"The power steering turned...
"The power steering turned riding into a dream at lower speeds because it allowed the Foreman to feel like it had stock wheels and tires on it."