Honda on the Water

Honda Marine BF250
Honda Marine BF250

There are certain brands that are recognized as reliable and that stand the test of time. Honda is one of those brands and enjoys a sterling reputation in the auto industry as having vehicles that are reliable and can outlast other brands. For some, this is also true of Honda Marine’s line of outboards. Owners of Honda outboards, ranging from their 2.3HP portable engines all the way up to their 250HP powerhouse, bestow the durability and reliability of their vessels’ power plants. 

Honda offers a full line of outboards with 2.3-20HP motors in their portable line, 25-100 HP in their mid range and 115-250HP in their high power range. Throughout these lines their engines have modern designs and unique technology that make them a viable option in the competitive outboard market. Honda declared exclusives such as a three way cooling system, VTECH technology, BLAST (boosted low speed torque), a non-linear mounting system, a sealed starter and a torsion dampener and Easy Dock Steering, all make these motors standouts. Other technologies utilized in some of their outboards include an intelligent shift and throttle system, Lean burn control, NMEA 2000 interfacing, separate dual air circuits, 4Front corrosion protection, dual overhead cams, multi port programed fuel injection, auto start enrichment, an on demand alternator, higher amperage at idle, oxygen and knock sensors and a power thrust design feature. All these add up to technologically advanced outboards that are proving to some to be a popular and reliable choice for those looking for an outboard they can rely on.

Honda, with its smallest outboard, the BF2.3HP portable, has managed to use innovative design to create a light 4-stroke motor that starts effortlessly, runs economically and is easy to maintain. With features such as a simple carburetor drain for when the motor is to be stored and the transom clamps that only require a padlock to safeguard while attached to the transom, this motor should be on the short list for anyone looking for a small outboard. Unlike many of its competitors the 2.3HP model is air-cooled, eliminating issues and maintenance required by others. With no water pickup in its lower unit this motor is well-suited for running, trouble free in shallow water. Weighing under 30 pounds this portable outboard is easy to transport and store, making it a great option for small portable craft.

Honda BF2.3

This innovation and unique engineering is not exclusive to the BF2.3. Moving up the line Honda’s larger motors have a wide arrange of technology that help make their motors more reliable, efficient and trouble free. As mentioned above, according to Honda some are unique to its outboards in one form or another. Offered as an option on its BF200, BF225 and BF250 Honda offers iST or Intelligent Shift & Throttle System. This fly-by-wire throttle and engine control system enables “effortless control” with programmable defaults and fine tuning of throttle settings available within the full range of speeds. Installation is simple, utilizing a single communication cable between the throttle and engine with another cable and throttle control added for a second station. The system can control up to four outboards. With multi outboards engine trim can be accomplished with a single switch for all motors or individual trim can be accomplished as needed. Features also include engine speed synchronization with a single handle control.

Another Honda innovation is BLAST, or Boosted Low Speed Torque. Moving the throttle quickly activates BLAST. Simply stated, BLAST advances the ignition timing to its maximum while simultaneously making the air/fuel ratio richer to prevent knock. By doing so torque is greatly increased, allowing for more throttle response with better hole shots and faster acceleration. Offered on a range of motors from its BF40 to its BF250, this technology will get you up on plane faster and more efficiently.

Familiarity with Honda’s VTEC technology may carry over from its well-known and reliable VTEC automotive engines. VTEC or Variable Valve Timing & Lift Electronic Control is designed as “the replacement for displacement,” giving the outboard power where and when needed. It does so by varying the lift and duration of the intake valves utilizing two cam lobe profiles to operate the intake valves. Using the low-lift short duration lobes on the camshaft produces the required optimal torque at low RPM while at higher RPMs a synchronizing piston activates the third rocker arm on a high lift cam. With all three arms locked together the intake valves end up being open for a slightly longer period of time, resulting in more power being delivered at higher speeds. Apart from allowing the power when needed at all throttle ranges it improves fuel efficiency.

Honda Marine BF250

Another feature unique to Honda outboards in the BF75 to 150 range includes a three way cooling system. These are made up of twin thermostats and a separate cylinder head cooling circuit, a separate cylinder block cooling circuit and an exhaust manifold cooling circuit. This system keeps the block slightly hotter, producing more power while maintaining a cooler cylinder head for more durability and allowing for a cooler running manifold. Other powerhead “exclusives” include oxygen and knock sensors on outboards from the BF40 all the way up to the BF250. These sensors are set to determine the correct fuel flow and ignition curve, improving performance and efficiency. There are also unique sealed starters. These starters are inverted within a sealed chamber, protecting them from the harsh marine environment prolonging their life.

Honda belt-driven high output alternators are another feature that make a Honda outboard a viable option for a new boat or repower. Looking at the amp output of a Honda Marine alternator may be deceiving as Honda measures the total amp output at normal operating temperature for a more realistic output. Some other competitors measure output at cooler alternator temperatures that tend to inflate the results. It also provides output measurement information in total alternator output as well as charging amps. Charging amps are the total amps minus the outboard’s ignition requirements resulting in what is left to power accessories. On the BF250 Honda also has what they call AMP+. This technology increases the RPMs automatically by 100 when the engine senses a need for more amps. This results is an additional 9 amps being produced, which can help greatly when idling for long periods of time while running today’s power hungry electronics and accessories.

All these features make selecting a Honda outboard an interesting proposition. Combining all of these features and benefits along with a Honda’s 4Front Corrosion Protection (consisting of a four layer double sealed paint process) along with a five year fully transferable no strings attached warranty, make these outboards from Honda very competitive and an option worth considering.

Glenn Hayes is a writer and photographer based out of west central Florida and has marine industry background spanning almost a quarter century. He can be reached through his web site www.HayesStudios.