BUFORD, Ga. — Honda Marine continues to focus on the portable and mid-range engine segment, introducing to dealers and journalists a trio of 60-pound 4-strokes at a product introduction and demo event here this week.
While the sales of 200-plus hp engines have fueled the outboard industry, Honda said it is outpacing the industry with its mid-range and portable engine sales.
“Honda Marine wants to give end-users products that exceed their expectations for value and performance,” Honda Marine senior manager Mark DiPietro said on Monday. “That is how you want the entry-level user to enter the market. We are working hard to bring in new people to boating so they can step up in the products they choose.”
But while Honda brings new small engines to the market, they are also continuing research and development with their high-horsepower technologies, DiPietro said.
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“We are not standing still. We are doing well in the large outboard segment but, again, we are trying to reach the greatest amount of people,” he said.
To that end, the company has added all portable — BF 2.3 to BF20 — tiller handle engines to online sales availability through its dealership websites, he said.
Honda’s BF225 debuted in 2002, while the BF250 was introduced in 2011. Last year, the BF100 made its debut at IBEX. The new 4, 5 and 6, as well as the majority of the Honda fleet, were installed on 30 boats from 8 to 25 feet at the media event, which wrapped up this morning. Some of the boatbuilding partners at the event included CapeCraft, Clearwater, Blackshear, Manitou, Apex and Alumacraft.
About 70 dealerships — consisting of about 150 people — are attending the Honda dealer meeting today. “By holding the media event alongside the dealer meeting we were able to get more boats and engines here,” Southeast regional communications manager Kathy Graham said.
I drove four boats, including an Alumacraft Trophy 185 with a BF150 and BF5 as a kicker. I liked a couple of the BF5’s safety and operational improvements.
- The red stop button only needs to be touched to kill the engine. Most require the operator to firmly push the button for a few seconds. “It is a safety feature — you know that engine is going to cut out when you hit that button,” OEM sales manager Dennis Ashley said. “It’s not going to kick back on.”
- The tiller arm swings 360 degrees, allowing for easy storage.
- Honda has virtually eliminated vibration of the tiller handle. The engine powerhead is separated from the tiller handle, so while the engine might be vibrating the user does not feel it. “These one-cylinder engines vibrate – everyone’s single-cylinder engine does,” Ashley said. “It’s tough to stop the vibration with all the opposing weights. We’ve isolated the tiller handle. The engine, although it is connected to the handle, is also isolated from the handle. It is vibrating but you are not going to feel it on the tiller. This is important because over the course of time that vibration can cause your hand to go numb.”
- In case of an oil pressure drop, a new low-oil alert will limit engine rpm to 2300, which allows you to continue operation, but at a level that will have less of an effect on the engine.