About the Honda Fortrax 300 4X4
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About the Honda Fortrax 300 4X4

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Honda's Fourtrax 300 4x4 has topped the sales charts for the past several years. Powered by the company's proven 282cc air-cooled four-stroke, this full-time 4WD transmits power to the ground through a five-speed transmission with a super-low first gear. Shaft drive with a limited-slip front differential and fully-sealed drum brakes reduce maintenance while a double-wishbone front suspension and a heavy-duty steel swingarm in the rear add to the machine's versatility. But does this machine live up to its top billing? To find out, we mailed surveys to 200 current owners. They ranked individual characteristics in four main categories - engine, chassis, handling and general performance. What did the owners have to say? The rating scale used was as follows: 1 - poor 2 - fair 3 - average 4 - above average/very good 5 - excellent Engine: 3.9Quietness 4.2Power 3.8Cold Engine Starting 3.1Spark Plug Life 3.6Fuel Consumption 3.7Oil Consumption 4.2Top End Speed 3.9Battery Life 4.2Clutch Performance 4.1Lubrication System 4.1Throttle Response4.3 Chassis: 4.1Front Suspension 4.3Rear Suspension  4.2 Suspension Adjustability 3.8Brakes 4.2Weight 4.1Cargo Capacity 4.2Seat Design 4.2Handlebar Design 4.1Footpegs/Rests 4.1Ground Clearance 3.8Wheelbase4.2 Handling: 4.2Stability 4.2Handling on Smooth Trail4.4Handling on Rough Trail 4.2Handling in Mud 4.4Handling on Ice 3.9Handling at Slow Speeds 4.4Handling at Trail Speeds 4.3Handling at High Speeds 4.1Hill Climbing4.3Turning Ability3.4 General: 4.2Riding Comfort 4.2Braking Response 4.2Lighting 4.2Std Instrumentation 3.5Instrument Positioning 3.9Style Attractiveness 4.2Quality of Workmanship 4.5Overall Durability 4.4Reliability/Dependability4.4 service/parts/ repairs: 3.9Initial Dealer Setup 4.2Access To Engine Parts 4.1Parts Availability 3.9Warranty Coverage 3.5Dealer Service3.8 Times Taken in For RepairsNone 70%1-2 24%3-4 6%5+0% The 282cc engine is a little on the cold-blooded side, but owners report no problems. Engine Score: 3.9 Honda has a reputation for producing bullet-proof four-cycle engines. The Fourtrax is no exception. Not one owner reported any mechanical problems. The 300 incorporates a gear-driven counterbalancer to reduce engine vibration and a 32mm carburetor to provide economical operation and crisp throttle response. While most owners praised the 300's throttle response and quiet exhaust note, the powerplant tends to be on the cold-blooded side. Many owners, such as Keith Kephart of Maytown, Pennsylvania reported hard starting when cold. "Cold starting was a bother," confirms Mike Gordon, Rosemount, Minnesota. Grant Jones, Arena, Wisconsin, adds that "it takes a while to warm up the engine. Once it warms up, it is excellent with no coughs or sputtering." Once warmed up, readers were split on the engine's powerband. Most owners were content, but a few wished there were a few more ponies under the tank. "A little underpowered for a 300, but it still goes great," writes Alden McLaughlin, Olamon, Maine. "I am fairly well satisfied, but I think it needs more power," adds Mark Phillips, Sulphur Bluff, Texas. Chassis Score: 4.1 Bumps are soaked up by a pair of Gabriel shocks up front and a single Gabriel unit in the rear. Rear suspension spring and damping rates on the '96 model were altered for improved performance. The overall package drew nothing but kudos from the owners. "I can ride with any machine, and go where anyone else can, and some places they can't," says Mike Thomas, Aberdeen, South Dakota. "It rides very smoothly and goes through about anything," reports Greg Hammerstein, Rincon, Georgia. Handling: 4.2 The Honda also drew high scores in the handling department. It handles all terrain fairly well. "The handling is great at any speed, climbs banks great, will tow about anything," claims Alden McLaughlin, Olamon, Maine. Andy Kostrzebski, Evansville, Indiana, added an ITP Tuff Kit for added traction. "I have yet to get it stuck in the snow with the Tuff Kit," he says. Mike Gordon, Rosemont, Minnesota, likes the unit's versatility and ability to handle mud. "I travel in many different landscapes and don't have to get off and pull it out." The only weak spot reported was a poor turning radius. "A poor turning radius makes it difficult to maneuver in heavier woods," reports Greg Hammerstein, Rincon, Georgia. General Score: 4.2 This is where we found out why the Honda 300 is the best selling ATV on the market. One theme kept repeating itself over and over on the owners' survey forms - reliability and durability. "It's reliable and I can depend on it for plowing snow, hauling materials, trail riding and hunting," says Darwin Holf, Blanchard, Idaho. "It's very dependable for use on the farm," writes Howard Cissell, Loretto, Kentucky. Mike Thomas, Aberdeen, South Dakota, says, "I feel very comfortable packing up my ATV for a seven day trail ride in the Big Horn Mountains and only taking along my basic tool kit, and gas and oil. This machine goes. They don't break down!" These are among the strong testimonials we received. But nothing's perfect. In the case of the Fourtrax, some owners wanted better instrumentation. The unit comes stock with only the bare essential neutral, reverse and oil temperature lights. "It should come with a speedometer/ hourmeter standard," says Thomas. His comment was repeated by several of the owners surveyed. Jack Rulon, Hardin, Texas, also commented on the full-time four-wheel-drive. "I wish you could take it out of four-wheel-drive when it is not needed." It became apparent during this survey that Honda has developed a very loyal customer base. Incredibly, all of the owners surveyed said they would buy a Honda again and all of them said they would buy a 300 4x4 again. This kind of customer satisfaction is very rare and indicates the highest levels of quality and service. Honda has managed raise customer loyalty to a new plateau. Several of these owners previously owned Honda machines and swear they will never switch. "I am so satisfied with my 1987 TRX 350 that I will stay with Honda. Just an excellent machine," writes Grant Jones, Arena, Wisconsin. "This is my fourth Honda four-wheeler. I still own all of them and they all run good. I would not have any four-wheeler but a Honda," claims James VanDyke, Rockey Gap, Virginia. Based on these responses, it's easy to see why the Honda 300 Fourtrax sits on top of the sales charts. It may not represent state-of-the-art or high-tech, but its owners value its simplicity, durability and reliability.

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