2014 Honda FourTrax Foreman 4X4 ES First Ride 0
It’s been 30 years since Honda introduced its very first ATV meant to make life on the farm and jobsite easier. Three years later the Foreman 4×4 was introduced. Now 27 years later, Honda has introduced the sixth generation of this four-wheeled workhorse. The latest iteration builds on the strengths of the previous model that hit the showroom floor just two years ago. We traveled to Paso Robles, California to take a spin on the private hunting grounds of Camp Five Outfitters to see how the updated 2014 FourTrax Foreman 4X4 performs on the trail and to possibly bag a wild boar with the help of the camp’s guides and Weatherby Rifles.
The Foreman retains the same 475cc engine as its predecessor that features a longitudinal layout for reduced mechanical loss with a parallel drivetrain. Our test unit was an ES model, meaning it had Honda’s Electric Shift Program (ESP). This gives the rider control of the gear selection via buttons on the left handlebar. Rowing through the five-speed transmission is as easy as pressing a button. Shifts are delivered with a lurch and a jerk unless you completely get out of the throttle. This can be fun after you get used to it, but at first it feels unrefined. You’ll be shifting quite a bit on the trail to keep the Foreman in the meat of its low-down torque. When putting around the ranch you can leave it in second or third and forget about pressing buttons, utilizing the friendly engine character.
The chassis of the FourTrax Foreman is all new for 2014, the changes aimed at improving ride comfort and increasing durability while shaving off five pounds. The frame has been completely redesigned to optimize handling and shares nothing with the previous model. The swingarm is a new unit as well and has a rubber bushing pivot for better shock absorption and is less susceptible to damage from the elements in comparison to a bearing design. Suspension travel has been increased by half an inch both front and rear. Out on the trail the ride quality is as expected for a utility ATV – controlled and firm, yet not harsh. At sane trail speeds it is more than enough suspension to get the job done, and doesn’t falter until you push the Foreman past its intended usage. The front suspension soaks up most trail irregularities while the rear will buck a bit on square-edged hits and bigger bumps.
Handling is also trail-worthy thanks to a stable feel in the corners at most speeds and angles. When really pushed (once again past the normal utility ATV usage) the front end does tuck a bit making it more difficult to come in hard on the brakes and slide out under power, but at nine-tenths it works well. Steering effort is light thanks to the Electronic Power Steering that has been reworked in terms of architecture and software. The EPS also dampens the steering when smacking into roots or ruts.
Honda has added a locking front differential for the first time dubbed TraxLok, integrating the 4X4 button and diff lock into the same switchgear. Selecting both is easy with just a press of a button for four-wheel drive while the diff lock requires a flick of the switch cover over the 4X4 button and then another press to activate. The systems work well and will allow you to climb up and over whatever you have the traction and ground clearance to negotiate.
The reverse selection switch is still a fiddly affair requiring pressing in a button and pulling the rear brake lever in. Only then you are allowed to select reverse. At this point you release the brake to move backwards. If you are a Honda ATV owner you can do it in your sleep, as it’s been the same since almost the beginning. For a new user it can get annoying until you learn the steps and rhythm of the reverse process.
Honda has given the Foreman a new look with plastics that cover more of the engine, a larger front bumper, and a new seat. The seat is all-day comfortable and the reach to the bars and floorboards is comfortable for just about any sized rider.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to test the increased carrying capacity of the racks as I failed to take down a wild boar, but Honda claims an increase of 23 pounds on the front to 88 pounds and 43 pounds at the rear for a rear capacity of 176 pounds.
As the Foreman approaches nearly 30 years on the market, Honda continues to improve and add user-friendly designs to its elder statesman in the utility category. The 2014 Honda FourTrax Foreman 4X4 once again fulfills the needs of those that work and play.
2014 Honda FourTrax Foreman 4X4 ES with Power Steering Specifications
Engine: 475cc Liquid-cooled OHV Four-stroke Single
Bore and Stroke: 92mm x 71.5mm
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Fueling: Keihin 36mm Throttle Body
Ignition: Full-transistorized Type with Electronic Advance
Starter: Electric with Optional Auxiliary Recoil
Transmission: ESP Five-Speed with Reverse
Drive: Direct Front and Read Driveshafts with TraxLok
Front Suspension: Independent Double-Wishbone; 7.28in Travel
Rear Suspension: Swingarm with Single Shock; 7.28in Travel
Front Brakes: Dual Hydraulic 190mm Discs
Rear Brakes: Sealed 160mm Mechanical Drum
Front Tires: 25×8-12
Rear tires: 25×10-12
Seat Height: 34.2in
Ground Clearance: 7.5in
Curb Weight: 646 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 3.9 Gallons
Colors: Red, Olive, Blue, Honda Phantom Camo
Warranty: One Year Transferrable