While big players Honda, Yamaha and Polaris are getting ready to pull the pin on the Australian quad bike market, CFMOTO is in the market for the long haul.
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.