Honda plays new tunes

HONDA’S much heralded 75/90 horsepower four-stroke outboard models were warmly welcomed by the company’s NSW dealer network at a launch on Port Hacking in Sydney’s south in November, 2006. Despite atrocious boating conditions the mood amongst the assembled dealers and boating journalists was upbeat as the new product was positively received. Honda Australia marine manager Tim Davies is confident the new BF75 and 90 four-strokes would be healthy sellers if orders placed by dealers at various gatherings prior to (and including) the Sydney launch were an indication.

Davies told Powerboat he expected the BF75 to make inroads into Australia’s popular 60hp outboard sector as the new Honda 75 is comparable and competitive on all fronts, especially on weight – the BF75 weighs in at a 162kgs (90hp/163kgs) which is claimed to make these the lightest four-stroke engines in their class.

Much has been made of the technology of these new outboards coming directly as a result of Honda’s automobile range. The BF75/90 feature a Honda Jazz inspired 1.5L SOHC 16-valve in-line four cylinder engine and Honda’s brand of valve timing, VTEC, has been carried over successfully from Honda’s sportscars to its BF 150 and BF225 outboards with good results.

VTEC now carries across Honda’s complete outboard range. In basic terms, VTEC varies the lift and duration of the engine’s intake valves to provide more low end torque and provides more power through to the high end of the rev range. An Engine Command Module is the overseeing force behind Honda’s VTEC and BLAST (Boosted Low Speed Torque) systems. BLAST is designed to accentuate the low end torque required for good holeshot acceleration – an attribute more solely associated with two-stroke outboards in the not too distant past. While the ECM determines throttle opening and advances ignition timing to develop more power at low revs, the BLAST system is activated by a quick thrust of the throttle (as per a holeshot) and advances the ignition timing accordingly; Honda’s programmed fuel injection (PGM-FI) delivers go juice via a sequential multi-port electronic injection system.

So does all this impressively named technology work as well as it sounds? Tim Davies had claimed the new Hondas delivered out-of-the-hole performance comparable to competitor two-strokes. Judging by the smiling faces of dealers who’d had a run in one of three demo boats fitted with either a BF 75 or 90, Honda appears to have definitely done something right.      

A turn behind the wheel of a new Stacer EasyRider Sports 489 fitted with the BF75 from a standing start into a southerly gale saw the 75 easily jump the tinny, three-up, onto the plane with definite two-stroke like punch. The engine ran on strong throughout the rev range. The ability to hold a normal conversation at WOT is also a bonus.  

The BF90 installed on a 530 Haines Hunter Breeze was also a strong performer. While Davies had made apologies for the pre-production engine not running 100 per cent due to its late arrival prior to the launch, only a Honda engineer may have noticed anything amiss. The 90 proved to be a strong performer, easily pushing the heavier fibreglass Haines Hunter out of the hole; no flat spots throughout the power curve were experienced. For fishermen who like to troll, the BF75/90 appears to happily run at 500-600rpm in gear.  

Other refinements featured include a high performance gear case claimed to reduce hull drag and porpoising, and aid acceleration and top speed. The BF75/90’s alternator is good for supplying up to 44 amps with a claimed 35amps available for battery charging, and a new centre mount tiller handle design offers improved manoeuvrability for those who prefer tiller control. Honda offers optional digital LCD instrumentation which incorporates fuel management and an electronic engine alert monitoring system.

For those who like to know their outboard is doing the right thing by the environment, Honda Marine is a vocal supporter of the recently introduced Australian OEDA voluntary emissions scheme (along with the five other major outboard distributors) which recognises all outboards sold in this country and rates them according to emission levels with a star rating – the BF75/90 receive a three star rating signifying ultra low emission levels. With the release of the BF75 and 90, Honda has a couple of serious challengers in the popular mid-range segment of the Australian outboard market. For more information contact Honda on (03) 9270 1111; website at:

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