I make it very public that I’m not a fan of motorbikes. Oh, I can see their appeal, don’t get me wrong! They are relatively inexpensive, rather entertaining to use and are also cheap to run. However, their pros for recreational use do not outweigh the cons of day to day living that include dressing up to ride it, living in fear that it will fall over and treating the common event of rain as a potential death sentence. They are just not for me. So if I wanted the same sort of kicks that a bike offers, but would rather not fall victim to the UK’s often miserable weather, what is left for me? The quad bike may just be the answer.
Honda don’t like people calling their product a quad bike as I guess it makes it sound too much like a child’s toy as opposed to a capable piece of equipment, but to us laymen this Japanese ATV is indeed a quad bike. It is called the Fourtrax and I took it into Scotland’s wilderness to find out exactly how much rough and tumble it could take.
This specific Fourtrax is the AT 2/4wd and for those who don’t speak Honda that means it has an automatic transmission with the ability to switch between rear wheel drive and all-wheel drive. The engine is a 420cc unit with direct injection. The gearbox holds five cogs and when combined this little tank will do just over 50MPH… ON ANY TERRAIN! The argument of whether it is more of a car or bike and the placement of this review on a predominantly car orientated site can wait. Between deep icy lochs and imposing mountains the Fourtrax is quite an experience.
Operated by a lever throttle, the Fourtrax’ performance is unleashed at the mere twitch of your thumb. Acceleration is brisk and in tandem with its heavy-duty suspension it will literally fly over anything you lay down before it. The seating position feels very natural as the quad moves around beneath you and makes it very easy to shift body weight to counter unwanted roll. The vast amount of torque at your disposal makes this little machine as versatile as a mountain goat. It will climb steep slopes, rocks, wade through deep water and mud, as well as wrestle with ruts. Its off-roading capabilities are undeniable and there is no doubt that these machines are truly the ultimate tool for going off of the beaten track.
In two wheel drive mode in an open space the Fourtrax is a riot! It is possible to get the rear end to kick out in spectacular fashion, potentially coating innocent bystanders with mud. It is at its most agile in this state and the rider/machine relationship grows with every mile of admiration. However, in this mode you can find yourself getting quite stuck with the rear wheels spinning hopelessly in a desperate bid to find traction. Yet clicking it into all-wheel drive and being gentle with the throttle seems to get the bike out of almost any difficult situation. The steering does become a lot heavier when all four wheels are engaged with power delivery and so whilst at its most capable like this, it does require a surprising amount of upper body strength.
On tarmac the Fourtrax bumbles along quite nicely, obviously it isn’t the last word in refinement being a working vehicle, but with the abilities to scale mountains a pot hole is not match. The digital display is clear with a functional layout and the thick padding on the saddle is more than adequate for the period of time you are likely to be riding. The gearbox will merrily clicks away in a well-mannered fashion whilst left in auto, but it is equally happy with you taking control to pick an appropriate cog.
At £7,800 this Fourtrax ATV is a costly toy to obtain, but let’s not forget, it is so much more than a rich man’s play thing. It is the greatest off-roader man has ever made.