Handy Hondas

Denby Browning | VOLUME 32, ISSUE 1

Honda unveils new low-emission portable outboards.

Honda Marine launched three new portable four-stroke outboard engines at an event on the Gold Coast in October, 2016. They’re intended for use on small runabouts and tenders.

The new Honda BF4, BF5 and BF6 (4, 5 and 6hp) models replace the BF5 which has been on the market for about 20 years, and are the bigger brothers of the recently upgraded BF2.3. Honda says the new models offer easier starting, lighter weight, lower emissions and an internal fuel tank as well as a few other safety and comfort innovations.

According to Chris New, National Sales Manager (Marine) at Honda Australia, the new range of engines is expected to take a significant share of the under-60hp market, which currently accounts for two-thirds of outboard sales in Australia and is currently dominated by two-stroke engines.

Honda’s technical presentation to the boating media focused on discussions about emissions and stringent new regulations set to be in place late this year.

The discussion began with a presentation by the Chairman of Blue Sky Alliance, Gary Fooks. Blue Sky Alliance is a group of manufacturers and distributors of non-road engine products that supports a move toward low-emission engines. Fooks presented a series of graphs and charts to demonstrate how four-stroke engines produce significantly fewer emissions than carburettor two-strokes.

He also made the important point that direct-injection two-strokes are very clean-running engines with equivalent low emissions to four-strokes.

Fooks stressed that, although the new regulations – modelled on US 2010 standards – will restrict the sale of new outboard engines to only low-emission powerplants, they will not affect the sale of outboards already in Australia nor second-hand outboards.

Honda’s new outboards boast a three-star emissions rating. According to a chart provided by Fooks, the Honda BF6 emits 18.6g per kilowatt hour of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides. According to Fooks, this is the lowest among a range of 6hp engines from well-known four-stroke brands, which range between 18.6 and 24.7g. By comparison, two 6hp two-strokes used as examples emit up to almost 11 times as much.

The new Honda outboards weigh 27kg and are equipped with carry handles for ease of handling.

The integrated fuel tank is a new feature for the small Honda engines and will be attractive for owners with runabouts and tenders – no more bulky fuel tank taking space on the floor.

According to Honda, the 1.5lt fuel capacity gives the BF6 about 43 minutes of running time. Additionally, the BF5 and BF6 are fitted with fuel line connectors for tote tanks, to increase range.

Starting a pull-start engine can be a frustrating and futile exercise at times. Brace, pull hard, curse, check choke and throttle settings and try again. Modern high-compression engines only make the exercise harder. Honda’s solution is a decompression system – not entirely new in the outboard world, but an innovation for Honda. When the rope is cocked, the system opens the exhaust valve briefly to relieve compression. The result is low-tension, less effort and smooth starting.

Another innovation is automatic oil-pressure monitoring. Should pressure drop suddenly, the system limits the engine to 2300rpm, allowing the skipper to get home without damaging the engine. The monitor also triggers a red LED oil-pressure lamp on the front of the engine to alert the skipper to the problem.

Other creature comforts added by Honda’s engineers include integrated rubber engine mounts that absorb vibrations across the rev range.

Pricing for the new outboards ranges from $2399 to $2499. They are covered by a conditional seven-year warranty for recreational use, and three years for commercial applications.

More information at: marine.honda.com.au.