Honda Marine Australia recently gave Fishing World (and a select number of fishing/boating publications) an exclusive preview of Honda's new 60hp outboard, the BF60A EFI. At Nagambie, north of Melbourne, two pre-production versions of the BF60A (tiller and remote control) were on show fitted to two Australian built boats - a Stacer 479 Sunmaster SVS runabout and Makocraft 440 Estuary Tracker Tournament.
Chris Schultz, Honda Australia's Marine manager, said the rationale behind previewing the BF60A prior to its official release was to both gather feedback from boating journalists for relaying to Honda Japan - to potentially develop the production version further - and ultimately help consumers make a more informed choice when buying a new 60hp outboard.
"It's a very important release for us", says Schultz.
"The sixty horsepower has probably been a long time coming...probably moreso in Australia than other areas because Australia has such a big aluminium boat market."
Schultz says that Australian boaties typically like to fit their craft with maximum rated power. With the release of the BF60A he says it should fill a gap for Honda in a market segment where many boats are maximum rated to 60hp and help the company compete more directly with other manufacturers.
While slotting into Honda's successful line-up between the BF40/50 and BF75/90 models, the BF60A differs markedly as it doesn't borrow technology from Honda's automotive division, (e.g. Honda Jazz as on BF75/90) instead is an almost from-the-ground-up design; some features are also seen on other Honda outboards, namely BLAST, Honda's form of combined air/fuel ratio advanced ignition timing technology that delivers impressive two-stroke like acceleration.
A three cylinder 998cc engine block forms the basis of what looks to be the lightest engine in the four-stroke class. Honda has obviously burnt the midnight oil in its quest to rid its four-strokes of "fatty" tags, the BF60A achieves this admirably with a competitive weight of 110kgs (116kgs for Power Thrust gearcase version) thanks to weight saving in areas such as the mounting frame (aluminium) and the use of resin materials in the engine's inlet manifold and lower mount cover. For the record, Yamaha's FT60 weighs 116kg; Mercury EFI 60 112kg; Suzuki DF60 162kg; Evinrude E-TEC 60 DI two-stroke 109kg.
Impressive performance without sacrificing fuel economy appears to have been foremost with Honda's engineers when designing the BF60A. The induction system is fairly complex, ultilising a four valve per cylinder head, electronic fuel injection (EFI), BLAST (boosted low speed torque) and ECOMO (Economy Controlled Motor - formerly known as Lean Burn) to achieve impressive out of the hole performance and good economy.
Judging by on water testing of the two engines, BLAST isn't just a marketing buzzword. A healthy blip of wide open throttle "engages" BLAST and provides Honda's new 60 with impressive performance to rival the other outboards in its class, including DI two-strokes. Fuel flow performance demonstrated by Honda's marine technical specialist, Darren Milgate, indicated the worth of Honda's combined BLAST and ECOMO (Lean Burn) technologies. Holeshot usage via the Makocraft 440 of around 13 litres per hour quickly dropped to just over 7 litres per hour at 4110rpm (21.6 knots) with the influence of ECOMO.
Honda looks to have kept emitted noise from its new 60 to a minimum, with idle noise levels seemingly on a par with the quietest outboards in the class. The BF60A features a new wedge cowling design that differs from the BF40/50 and BF75/90 and a totally new water trap exhaust that increases corrosion resistance and eliminates the potential of water being sucked back into the engine. Environmental factors have been well considered with the BF60A exceeding 2008 CARB emission standards and is OEDA three-star rated for ultra low emissions. The oil filter too is tilted to allow removal without the possibility of oil leakage occurring after servicing.
On the tiller model, the handle features ignition switch, four position angle adjustment and a four lamp indicator for monitoring engine function. The gearshift is mounted on the tiller handle as is a tilt switch directly atop the throttle for easy operation. Impoundment and estuary anglers should warm to the trolling switch, which provides 50rpm increment adjustment with each push of the switch - the function is cancelled via throttling the engine to 3000rpm. The new 60 has been designed to provide a greatly reduced turning circle thanks to its 50 degree steering system.
Available in two gear case configurations, the BF60A's standard design is an all new streamlined gear case; the optional Power Thrust gearcase is derived from BF 75/90 models and suited to commercial operations (e.g. oyster farming, houseboat).
The BF60A features an under flywheel alternator (no belts) capable of supplying 18.5 amps of charge current (23.4 amps on Power Thrust model), a trim limit switch to prevent fouling of the cowling transoms, and is NMEA 2000 compatible for connection to a wide range of marine electronics.
Honda's BF60A will be covered by a 5-year warranty and is expected to be released in Australia in July.
For more information go to: www.honda.com.au
VIDEO: On The Water - Honda BF60A