Friday, 09 June 2017 09:45

Side-by-side hits sweet spot

Written by  Mark Daniel
The Honda Pioneer 500. The Honda Pioneer 500.

For years the quad market has been nibbled at by side-by-side (SxS) vehicles with their better carrying capacity and driver protection and, depending on options, shelter from the elements.

The Honda Pioneer 500 has a good following among people looking for a compact machine: dimensions 1270mm wide x 2605mm long and a kerb weight of 485kg; it’s easy to manoeuvre and light on the ground.

Using componentry carried over from the venerable TRX 500 quad, a 475cc single cylinder engine delivers 29hp from its mounting low in a robust ladder-framed chassis.

A conventional transmission has five forward and one reverse speed, with shaft drives to front and rear axle differentials.

A maximum speed of 65km/h is complemented by engine braking delivered by a shaft-drive set, and the machine has no belt drives to wear or break when pushed hard.

For the 2017-18 season several upgrades should find favour with users, particularly an auto-shifting function in the transmission. Allowing the ability to operate the machine in a set-and-forget mode, the transmission smoothly shifts through the gears under acceleration, and downshifts as speed is reduced. It is selected by a dashboard mounted switch, and the operator can override the function at any time using paddle-shifters under the steering, or select manual shifting if required.

Also upgraded is the suspension: dual-rate springs in all corners act with the dual wishbone suspension to offer a smooth ride with up to 295mm of travel.

Testing the machine over several days and about 100km on a large dairy farm in central Waikato brought an extremely positive response from all operators. Their key observation was “you sit in the machine, rather than on it”, getting a feeling of safety and stability, probably enhanced by the substantial roll frame.

Also getting a big tick were the half doors with safety nets and torso protection bars, easily opened with quick-release door knobs.

Operators said the maximum speed of 65km/h was more than enough for a dairy operation, and they noted the ultra-low first gear was well-suited to following cows down a race at idle.

The windscreen and roof options tick the boxes.

 

More like this

Changing face of farm transport

You may be old enough to remember the movie: the year 1971, and Sean Connery aka James Bond is chased by security guards on red three-wheel motorbikes with huge knobbly tyres.

Big red still delivers

HONDA’S BIG TRX500 had dropped off our radar recently, with a wave of large capacity imports taking more of the quad limelight.

 
 

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Asleep at the wheel?

The Hound hears that the jokes were on PM Bill English who was in fine form at the recent Ahuwhenua…

Go South

What is it with Massey University academics and their hatred of agriculture?

 

» Connect with Rural News

 
 

Markets

South Island wool sale eases

South Island wool sale eases

The 4700 bales on offer saw a 74% clearance with mixed results, however all prices paid locally are still above…

Wool continues to ease

Wool continues to ease

The 7250 bales of North Island wool on offer saw a 72% clearance with most types easing further.