Foreman models often got overlooked when it came to updates by engineers. Several new models were unleashed from Honda factories, all-the-while the 1998 version of the Foreman TRX450 sat waiting patiently for a trendy makeover.
For 2005, the wait finally ends. Honda revamped one of its more popular models with larger displacement and a whole new appearance. The new Foreman TRX500 jumps into the same class as its bigger brother, the Rubicon TRX500, just with 25cc less displacement. The Foreman 500 is offered in three separate variations: 2WD with conventional shifting, manual-shift 4WD and 4WD with ESP (Honda’s exclusive Electronic Shift Program that allows push-button shifting). It’s a makeover long overdue for a Foreman TRX450ES that received ATV Magazine’s ATV of the Year in 1998.
Honda wanted the Foreman 500’s powerplant to respond when riders jammed down the throttle, so displacement was the first thing to go on growth hormones. The all-to-frequent manufacturer motto “There’s no replacement for displacement” held true for the new Foreman as it gained 42cc (now 475cc, up from 433). The new thumper had noticeably more pull than the old beating chest of the Foreman. The four-stroke, air-cooled powerplant remains longitudinally mounted, but it now sits on a redesigned frame.
The altered frame increases the length nearly 6 inches to 83, while the width (46.8) gains 1.5 inches. The added length might bring concern to truck owners that have extended cab and like hauling their ATV in the back opposed to a trailer; it is now 5 inches longer than the standard 6-foot-6 bed. A drop of the tailgate should fix that, though.
Another hot (well, sort of) addition to the Foreman 500 is a new oil cooling system featuring dual oil coolers. Honda says the second oil cooler, mounted higher in the front fender for better protection, was bolted on in response to overheating and hot running Foreman 450s. The oil is still routed through the lower oil cooler in its traditional position before entering the second high-mounted cooler. Honda claims the lower cooler is prone to clogging from mud and debris, while the second added cooler is protected, allowing greater cooling capacity.
Also, a larger 4.2-gallon fuel tank — 1 gallon larger than previous models — keeps the Foreman 500 out tackling chores longer. And, to keep the rider more comfortable longer, independent double-
wishbone suspension (6.7 inches of travel) helps keep the ride smooth.
Honda’s last main mechanical additions in its makeover of the old workhorse are dual front disc calipers with a built-in scraper system to remove mud and snow from inside the front wheel, helping prevent build-up of debris. After riding the new Foreman through mud and a shallow creek, the brakes still seemed to respond well.
Honda’s new-look Foreman 500 might have many consumers stopping for a double-take at dealerships — its styling went under the knife for ’05. Keeping with the trends, “SUV-type” plastic graces the 500. The new body is definitely an eye catcher and automatically invokes thoughts of change. The new plastic with two-piece boot guards kept us clean during test rides.
A new water-resistant left-side glove box compartment with a twisting closing pin — much like a hood pin in NASCAR — keeps wallets and other dry goods safe. The compartment isn’t very large, though, so stuffing multiple items inside might become a task.
On the 4WD Foreman 500s, a multi-function LCD digital meter with readouts for fuel gauge, gear position, speedometer, odometer, tripmeter, hourmeter/clock and oil change reminder make riding the new beast that much easier.
With a cluttered market of 500 models for consumers to zig-zag through, finding a niche is the key to successful sales. That’s why several major manufacturers make several versions of their 500 models — already 24 and counting. Honda took notice early on, but it added a new Foreman 500 to its lineup to fight for more marketshare: the 2WD package.
The 2WD Foreman ($5,299) is significantly cheaper than other models in its class. It’s noticeably lighter up front, but is more than enough quad for most everyday chores. We navigated deep mud with no problems, but the 4WD safety net that gives peace of mind while riding was missing.
Honda’s 5-speed manual shift 4WD Foreman ($6,299) is more reminiscent of traditional ATV riding. The foot shift gives riders more control. TrakLok, which allows smooth shifting between 2WD and 4WD, was also a nice feature. Switching into 4WD while powering up steep inclines was a cinch.
But for just $200 more than the 5-speed, Honda’s exclusive Foreman 500 with ESP is recommended. Easy push button shifting still gives the rider the control it wants, while stopping that often frustrating foot shifting maneuver — especially when the rider has big feet. Riders still have the choice of automatic shifting on both 4WD models.
The 2005 versions of the Foreman TRX500 were an obvious step up from previous versions after test riding all three models. Honda now offers a more diverse purchasing package and a better looking, more powerful ATV than its TRX450 predecessor.
Copyright 2004 Powersports Business