Honda has ignited the popular mid-range outboard market with the release of its new fuel-injected BF75 and BF90 four-stroke outboards, which has the sparkling performance and pick-up of a two-stroke with the low emissions and noise of a four-stroke.
Honda Marine national manager Tim Davies told members of the national boating and fishing media at the world release of the engines last month that they would be impressed with the performance and they certainly were.
“When Honda Marine realised an increasing number of boaters wanted programmed EFI in the mid-horsepower range along with explosive hole-shot performance and exceptional fuel economy, design for a revolutionary new model began immediately – now it’s here,” he said. “They used proven technology derived from the remarkable engine that powers Honda’s No 1-selling motor vehicle worldwide, the Honda Jazz. At 162kg and 163kg, these 1.5L engines are the lightest four-strokes in their class and deliver surprising power-to-weight performance throughout the rev range – and they’re priced bloody competitively.”
Anglers will be impressed with the performance of these new engines, which are aimed squarely at the most popular segment of the fishing boat market – fibreglass and aluminium craft from 4.75m to 5.5m which previously faced the alternative of a two-stroke outboard or chubby four-strokes with lower power-to-weight ratios.
Only a few days after the first engines had rolled off the Japanese production line, there at the Sea World jetty were BF90s fitted to a Haines Hunter 530 Breeze cuddy and a Mustang 1600 Clubsport, and a Stacer 489 Easy Rider sporting a BF75. Both fibreglass boats exhibited impressively short times to plane and sparkling performance throughout the rev range, topping out around 40 knots after the VTEC variable valve timing kicked in from 5200rpm.
The Stacer’s BF75, which doesn’t employ VTEC, was positively explosive, blasting the 486kg bow rider onto the plane with four adults aboard in less than three seconds from a standing start. The Honda team had been so impressed with the performance of this package that they’d ended up indulging in a spot of barefoot water skiing the previous day with the rig. The afternoon chop prevented full exploration of an eye-watering top speed.
Honda says the standing-start acceleration comes from its patented BLAST (boosted low speed torque) technology, in which the engine’s electronic command module senses throttle opening during acceleration and advances the ignition timing and selects optimum air-fuel ratio. The result is certainly convincing where it matters: in the seat of the pants.
The BF75/90 also boast Lean Burn Control for a 20% increase in fuel economy over the previous carbie model and two-way cooling so that head and block each receive the optimum temperature cooling water. There’s a 2.33:1 gearing in a redesigned, low-drag gearcase, durable chain-driven timing and Honda has taken a couple of centimetres off the overall width of the engine to 44cm. The crankshaft-driven alternator punches out 44 amps with 35 amps straight to the battery. Like all of Honda’s range, the BF75/90 meets or exceeds all the world’s highest emission standards including Australia’s OEDA three-star rating.
But apart from the exhilarating pickup, perhaps the feature that many anglers and commercial operators will welcome most is the introduction of a full-featured tiller handle with shift lever, tilt/trim switch, ignition key and throttle friction. Barra trollers, crabbers and many commercial users will be wrapt in having the chance to steer a 90hp donk from the back of the boat and, thanks to a special multi-angle adaptor, they’ll be able to do it sitting down low, up high or standing up.
And as Tim Davies said, these engines are competitively priced with all this new technology only a 5% rise over the old-tech carbed model. Recommended retail price on the BF75 is $12,680 while the long-shaft BF90 is $14,110 and the XL transom version is $14,620. And that tiller model is $13,180.
– Tony Zann
The Honda BF90 isn’t just the best and lightest performing four-stroke in its class – it’s also the nation’s first tiller-steer 90hp four-stroke.
Sparkling performance comes from the Honda BF90’s boosted low speed torque (BLAST) feature senses throttle movement and adjusts spark advance for optimal air/fuel ratios for the multi-port electronic fuel injection.
The BF75 is a sleek engine that can propel the 486kg Stacer bow rider onto the plane with four adults aboard in less than three seconds from a standing start.
The Haines Hunter 530 Breeze and Honda BF90 make an attractive, balanced and potent package.Reads: 3540