Test: Honda TRX500 FPM
This month, thanks to Blue Wing and Otorohonda, Mark Fouhy got to play with…er, I mean test, the 2013 TRX500 FPM for a week and the results didn’t disappoint — nor did the fun factor.
The 2013 test quad was a TRX500 FPM (Four-wheel drive, Power steering, Manual transmission). You can also buy the same bike as an FM (without power steering).
With the new fuel injection unit, the Honda TRX500 FPM has a noticeable increase in torque and power when you give it a handful of throttle, with a six percent and ten percent increase over the previous 500 model. Fuel efficiency proved good alsoThe 50km I did on the bike used 7 litres, from the 15.1-litre tank, and that's not including your 4.5-litre reserve which in total would give you an easy 100km per tank.
The automatic transmissions for quads have improved a lot from the first models, but if you like the control and safety of a manual gear shift riding on the hills, then the TRX500 is still a very good option. I find the gears all well suited to the working speeds required on the farm. Gear-selected is shown in the LCD display as a quick check.
Reverse selection is the same as all Hondas, with the red button to engage on the rear-brake lever. Reverse is only about the same speed as first gear forwards, which can be a nuisance when trying to back out of a wet spot
Like most Hondas, the TRX 500FPM has an initial service at 50 hours and then again at 120 hours. A handy oil change light on the dash lets you know when it's due for a change. With this model, the battery has been upgraded and is now even more heavy duty and mounted under an easily removable panel behind the seat. It's quick and easy to check the oil level (dipstick mounted behind the left-hand side panel), and you'll save on servicing time as the mechanics don't have to undo rusted-up bolts before they can start the job.
The left handlebar is identical to the old model minus the choke lever, which is not required with the fuel injection. The right handlebar is also the same minus the 4WD switch, which is now a mechanical TraxLok lever mounted on the left of the petrol tank.
The TRX500 provides three good lights up front, and the single rear with brake light incorporated. You also have a 12-volt auxiliary plug mounted in front of the 4WD lever on the left, for spotlights, spray equipment etc.
Otorohonda kitted out the test bike with a set of Delitire Maxi Grips. These are a big, chunky, mean set of tyres — the large rubber lugs have plenty of space between them for mud clearing, and also work well at holding onto the hills and climbing on the very dry hard ground. The intentions for your new bike will determine what tyres are best suited to your needs. If your tyres are getting a bit shot, I would suggest looking into replacing them with a good set of knobblies like the Maxi Grip's, before the rain arrives...
Ride quality and handling
I found the ride of the TRX500 FPM quite firm, but given it was straight out of the crate, I'm sure this will free up over time. The TRX500 FPM is fitted with new five-way adjustable shocks, both front and rear, so to improve the ride I put them back to the softest setting. With the swingarm, solid rear axle you will be able to tow more weight on the towbar, without the load bellying the rear end of the bike. There is also less body roll when driving along the side of a hill due to the solid rear axle set up, as opposed to an independent one. I must not forget to mention the power steering of this model — not cheap at around $850 more (excl GST) on the manual version, however, I think it is well worth it as a safety.
Unlike some brands the TRX500 comes with guards covering the sides of the wheels, keeping most of the mud at bay, so you don't have to fork out for guard extensions as extras. Kitting it up for farm use requires a few dollars, including a dog mat for the rear bars, seat cover to protect against wear and tear, heated handlebars if necessary and bull bars. Rear mud flaps are also a good addition to the Honda, especially when towing a trailer to prevent everything on the trailer being covered in mud
The power available from the single-cylinder 475cc fuel-injected 500 was very impressive, and quite a noticeable step up from the previous model. The 24-month warranty provided by Honda is good, and even better is the fact it hasn't had any warranty issues with this model — a bonus when it comes time to trade it in.
With the TRX500 FPM you are getting a solid, reliable workhorse, with key features to get the job done, not a nancied-up, over-powered toy with all the bells and whistles you don't need.
Thanks again to the guys at Otorohonda and Blue Wing Honda.
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