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2013 Honda TRX500FM Foreman First Impressions


by Pascal Bastien ,

Honda's Foreman lineup has always been synonymous with capability, reliability and convenience. Over the years, this utility ATV has built a solid reputation as a durable and tenacious worker.

Styling was revamped last year, and now the company offers three trim levels: TRX500FM with semi-automatic transmission, TRX500FPM with Electric Power Steering (EPS), and TRX500FPE with both EPS and Electric Shift Program (ESP).

2013 Honda TRX500FM
Photo: Honda

Stability and control
The 2013 Honda TRX500FM Foreman's reasonable seat height and judicious proportions allow riders all the control they want. The light weight of 286 kg also plays a key role: You get the feeling that you are in command and not the machine. The same can't be said about numerous rivals that exceed 300 kg.

The independent front suspension and solid rear axle offer surprisingly good ride quality on rough or steep trails. Honda is a master when it comes to this type of underpinnings. Ground clearance in the back is the only thing that can handicap the performance of the 2013 Honda TRX500FM Foreman on rocky terrain. The aforementioned light weight, combined with a very low centre of gravity, makes riding easier.

Beefy single-cylinder
The latest improvements to Honda's longitudinally mounted, single-cylinder OHV engine (higher compression ratio and larger throttle body) have helped increase power and torque by 10% and 6%, respectively. As a result, the 2013 Honda TRX500FM Foreman is more than potent enough to explore the mountain and haul or tow heavy loads regardless of terrain conditions.

Some journalists at the media launch expressed their disappointment with the performance of the engine at higher revs and at higher speeds. I guess they don't understand or appreciate the true nature of this utility ATV, which is primarily designed as a workhorse.

The 2013 Honda TRX500FM Foreman delivers gobs of low-end torque and uses a highly competent transmission that makes it feel like there's even more at your disposal. In addition, the 475cc powerplant is responsive and flexible enough to handle physical trails filled with obstacles, all the while producing a sweet exhaust note.

Bottom line
A rugged, safe and convenient ATV, the 2013 Honda TRX500FM Foreman looks a bit less utilitarian than the outgoing model, yet still boasts excellent build quality. If you attach little importance to top speed, own a vast land to work on, or simply want to combine play with duty, this one's for you. Just go with your preferred transmission, and consider the EPS option.

Excellent build quality
Power and torque at low revs
ESP transmission is effective and pleasant to work with
Confidence-inspiring centre of gravity

Limited ground clearance over rocks
Lower top speed than most rivals