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Also known as the FourTrax, the Honda Foreman 400 impressed the market with its release in 1995. With its single-cylinder, four-stroke engine, all-terrain tires, and built-in steel racks, it was the quad of choice for ranchers, industry workers, hunters, and off-road enthusiasts. The 400 was an improvement from the TRX300 and a preview of what was yet to come from Honda.
The Honda Foreman 400 was Honda’s entry into the utility ATV class, and featured a speedometer, triple drum brakes, and an overhead-valve design. It was also the first Honda ATV to have a longitudinally mounted engine.
The transversely mounted engine was revolutionary and replicated in other models like the Honda Recon. The quad also served as a great foundation, as its flaws helped strengthen Honda’s current utility vehicles.
Let’s go over its history, specifications, and issues, as we learn more about Honda’s most influential utility ATV.
About Honda Foreman 400
At its launch, the 1995 Honda Foreman 400 was the largest ATV produced by Honda. The Japanese manufacturer designed the Foreman 400 as a heavy-duty utilitarian vehicle for hunting, light towing and plowing, camping, and hauling equipment. Aftermarket attachments and exterior updates were made available for 2001 to 2004 models.
Although it was 50 lbs lighter than its counterparts due to its longitudinally mounted engine, it was not a light four-wheeler. Still, its ingenious driveline layout and all-wheel-drive more than compensated for its weight, making it very capable off-road.
The Honda Foreman 400 also featured a new overhead-valve design that shortened its height and allowed more ground clearance. Its ample ground clearance, paired with rugged suspension, permitted the quad to traverse smoothly over mid-sized rocks and gullies.
Front and rear racks provided plenty of room for carrying assorted camping equipment or logs from the forest. And its torquey, low-end grunt and easy-to-use reverse gear made towing and going over slow-crawling sections effortless. Almost instantly, the Foreman became a preference for recreational riders, hunters, and farmers.
This 4×4 retained its core configuration during its 9-year production run. Exterior embellishments were only made available for the 2001 year model after the Honda Foreman TRX400FW reached the end of the line in 2004.
Optional add-ons included an AM/FM radio-cassette with speakers, CB radio, high-performance exhaust, lawnmower, oil cooler, power blades or plow, snow blower, utility trailer, and winch.
Subsequently, Honda released a high-performance sport ATV with the same engine displacement in 1999 – the Honda FourTrax 400EX. Both the Honda Foreman 400 and the 400EX became incredibly in demand and visible in every ride area and race track in the U.S.
The Honda Foreman 400 was a welcome ride in households and for people in the agriculture sector, while the Honda FourTrax 400EX excited the slumbering ATV sport industry during the decade.
Improvements Post 1997
The Honda Foreman 400 kept its configuration unchanged through its production run, but it did go through several enhancements, as follows:
- Engine displacement slightly increased for the 1998 Honda Foreman 400 – from 395 to 432.6 cubic centimeters.
- Front and rear suspension travel increased from 4.33 to 5.9 inches.
- Overall length increased from 76.5 to 77.2 inches, as did height from 42.5 to 45 inches.
- Seat height also increased by 3 inches – from 30.9 to 33.9.
- Stock tires changed to Dunlop from Goodyear Tracker ATT used on the 1995 model.
- Due to slight dimensional changes, the Foreman became heavier with a new dry weight of 573.3 lbs.
- The dashboard went from a speedometer to a full LCD showing a speedometer, an odometer, and a trip meter.
- EPS (Electronic Power Steering), TraxLok, and PGM-FI (Programmed Fuel Injection) were made available to Foreman models from 1998 to 2004.
Honda Foreman 400 Specs and Features (TRX400FW)
- Engine – It uses a longitudinally installed four-stroke, air-cooled single-cylinder SOHC engine. It has a bore-stroke ratio of 86 mm x 68 mm. The engine displacement is 395 cubic centimeters (24.1 cubic inches) delivered by a 32-mm vacuum piston Honda Foreman 400 carburetor, and its compression ratio is 8.2:1. It has a forced pressure and wet sump type lubrication system with an oiled double Urethane air filtration. The engine weight is 111 lbs/50.4 Kg, and the fuel tank capacity is 3.18 US gallons/12 liters with a 0.7-gallon reserve.
- Drivetrain – A five-speed constant mesh transmission inclusive of a reverse gear controls the Foreman. It has an automatic centrifugal and multi-plate wet clutch system. Primary reduction is 2.103 (61/29), and the final reduction is 3.153 (41/13) on both front and rear. Its gearshift is left-foot-operated. The air-intake hooks up to a plastic water snorkel – this prevents water ingestion for the Honda ATV during shallow water crossings. Plus, its all-wheel-drive provides excellent traction.
- Ignition – It has a DC-CDI (Capacitor Discharge Ignition) electric starter system with an emergency recoil starter. Its charging system is a triple-phase output alternator.
- Lubrication – Honda Foreman 400 oil capacity differs with and without an oil filter change. At draining, it is 2.1 US quarts. At disassembly, it is 2.84 US quarts, and at oil filter change, the capacity is 2.21 US quarts. Use Honda GN4 4-stroke oil or equivalent motor oil for top performance. Make sure that it also has an API service classification of SF or SG.
- Tires – The front wheels are Goodyear Tracker ATT AT24 X 8-11 tires, while the rear wheels with Goodyear Tracker ATT AT24 X 10-11 tires. The wheelbase is 50.2 inches.
- Brakes – Front brakes use dual-sealed hydraulic drum brakes, and the rear uses a single-sealed mechanical drum.
- Suspension – Independent double-wishbone with a double-tube damper allowing 4.33 inches (110 mm) of travel. The rear suspension utilizes a swingarm with a double-tube damper to mount dual rear shocks allowing 4.33 inches (110 mm) of travel. This suspension design lends to the overall turning radius of 11.5 feet, which makes for smooth handling.
- Dimensions – The overall length is 76.5 inches, and the width is 45.5 inches. Its height from the ground is 42.5 inches with a ground clearance of 7.3 inches. The seat height is 30.9 inches. Front and rear treads are 33.5 inches each. Dry weight is 551 lbs (249.5 Kg); GVWR can go up to 1,059 lbs – a combination of 574-lb curb weight and a maximum weight capacity of 485 lbs (220 Kg) that covers passengers and cargo.
- Exterior – This Honda 4 wheeler has a double-cradle steel frame and plastic body material that is durable and easy to clean. It comes with foot pegs that allow for a more aggressive riding position. Its dashboard has a multi-function speedometer that also provides mileage information and is very useful for farm work. Front and rear cargo racks handle respective payloads of 66 and 132 lbs. The four-wheeler also has a total towing capacity of 850 lbs and features a tow hitch as standard equipment, and full fenders that provide water protection.
- Lighting – Two 25-watt headlights mounted on the front fenders and a 45-watt assist headlight all use multi-reflector lenses for superior light distribution. It also has a 5-watt taillight and a 1.7-watt indicator light (for oil, reverse, and neutral). You can change to Nilight 7-inch Round Cree LED Headlight (view on Amazon) for better visibility during late-night wheeling. This set comes with matching fog lights too.
- Electric Shift Program (ESP™) – This feature was introduced in the 1998 Honda Foreman 400 and other Foreman models. It enabled upshifting and downshifting with push-button ease and catered to riders who were daunted by operating a conventional manual gearbox. An onboard electronic control module or ECM monitors information from the quad’s four sensors to control the gear’s speed and clutch engagement. The transmission-shifting speed also varies according to rider style. Best of all, it is not battery-dependent and equips an auxiliary shift lever should the rider need to shift manually.
- TraxLok – Allowed riders to shift between two-wheel and four-wheel drive, depending on if they required nimble handling or extra traction. It was made available in 2002. TraxLok was an intuitive wheel-drive-changing system, as it only engaged when the speed difference between the front and rear wheels was lower than 6 mph.
Honda Foreman 400 Issues
Sometimes, the Honda Foreman 400’s neutral indicator won’t light up when you turn on the ignition. Having this problem can be quite troublesome as the wiring diagrams in the Honda Foreman 400 service manual do not deal directly with this issue. So in case you encounter this, the first two things you will need to rule out are your battery and 30-amp circuit breaker.
If both of these check out, inspect your 5-pin connectors. One is located under the seat cover and the other below the handlebar location. To test, either use a jumper cable or do a ground test on the hotwires connected to each to see where the power is not flowing. If all else fails, seek professional assistance from your local mechanic.
If you think that the cause is the from the shut off gas, ensure that the valve is off and not on reserve. You may also want to take your carb apart and check the float. If you can squeeze gas out of the edges with your fingernail by pushing on it while holding your needle and seat valve open, then it’s saturated and sinking.
The seat should be clean with no corrosion, and the needle (if metal) should be smooth on the tapered pointy end with no ridge worn into it by the seat. Otherwise, you will need a new needle, seat, and rubber tip too. Check the float level and see if it’s been apart before as it might need an adjustment.
This idling problem usually happens after a carb replacement and could be distinguished by glowing exhaust from the motor. It could be due to an incorrect air/fuel screw setup or CDI problem. Make sure the throttle screw is backed out, the butterfly valve is fully closed, and that the boot between the motor and carb is fine.
Likewise, your air/fuel screw should be set somewhere between 2 to 2-1/2 turns from lightly seated. For carb replacement, compare the new jets to the old ones for a size match. If you don’t find any problems with any of these components, installing a new CDI electric starter will make your machine run like a top.
When your quad stumbles to take fuel thru midrange but runs decently on higher RPM, check that your regulator and rectifier are not toasted. Otherwise, other Honda Foreman 400 parts like headlights, taillights, and engine control units may eventually be affected. Tanks, fuel line, inline fuel filter, air filter, and carb should all be thoroughly cleaned with no foreign material. A new petcock and spark plug would also help. Check for vacuum leaks too.
A sonic cleaner would help with thorough carb cleaning, but cleaning the pathway from pilot jet to pilot screw can sometimes be partially blocked. Soaking the carb in hot water with soap for about two hours will fully soften the build-up. Then with both pilot and pilot screw out, hold your finger over the small pilot screw hole inside the carb bore and use a compressor to blow into the hole to clean out any blockage.
Other things to verify are the float level being too high, a vapor lock, or a leaking primer pump. Your four-wheeler will usually show signs past half throttle if the voltage is too high at idle.
Choked Up Acceleration
Symptoms include engine starving for air after a smooth start-up or the idle stuck on high after hitting the throttle. You can fix this with a carb rebuild, but make sure to change the diaphragm and the plunger/needle with it. Inspect your quad’s safety wiring in the parking brake as it tends to mess up the timing with the brake on.
Examine the boot between the carb and engine for any tears or holes. You can spritz a bit of carb cleaner on the boot between the carb and cylinder head – if the idle changes, then you have an air leak confirmed.
When cleaning the carb, check for debris in the petcock and fuel lines, as alcohol in winter blends can cause residue. Use a fuel filter too. Additionally, there are very tiny orifice tubes in motorcycle carbs that can usually be removed.
Use a brake cleaner and spray through the tiny tube the can comes with and high-pressure air. Dipping and spraying without removal will not work.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How much is a Honda Foreman 400 worth? The list price of the 1995 model was $5,999. The 1997 Honda Foreman 400 increased the following year to $6,099. Interestingly, the 2001-2004 models went down in cost by $200 compared to the 1997 model despite offering more features. Resell prices are between $865 and $3,675.
- What is the Honda Foreman 400 top speed? The top speed of the Honda Foreman 400 is 45 mph. Some owners have reported speeds up to 48 mph. Increasing tire size, adding a lift kit, and power mods will increase the speed.
- What is high mileage for Honda Foreman 400? In general, 10,000 miles is high mileage for any ATV. For the Honda Foreman 400, the highest known mileage is 20,000 miles. Along with mileage, make sure also to check the total hours.
- What size battery does a Honda Foreman 400 have? The Honda Foreman 400 requires a 12V, 200-CCA (Cold Crank Amp) battery with an assembled dimension of 5.80 x 3.26 x 5.71 inches (L x W x H).
- How much weight can a Honda Foreman 400 pull? The ATV’s rated maximum towing capacity is 850 lbs (385.6 Kg), which applies to all year models of the Foreman.
- Where is the Honda Foreman year and VIN located? You can find the VIN on the front left side of the frame near the A-arms. The sticker may come off on older Foreman 400 models.
- Is there a year model I should avoid when buying a Honda Foreman 400? Most issues seem to come from the 1997 and 1998 models. Before making a purchase, make sure to research and investigate the history of the vehicle thoroughly.
Honda Motor Company Ltd. is the pioneer of the sport ATV industry and is the maker of Honda Foreman 400. The Japanese manufacturer had come a long way since its founding in 1946. While the company continues to produce top-of-the-line automobiles, power equipment, and commuter motorcycle models, it has yet to make a comeback with an industry-leading and revolutionary sport vehicle. Today, Honda has secured its place as a world leader in robotics, AI, mobility, and energy solutions.
Conclusion – Honda Foreman 400
Since its launch, this 4×4 hardworking brute has been tried and tested. It can carry you through a busy six-day work week and then become your weekend warrior. Its plush suspension enables you to traverse on rutted creek beds, steep inclines, and massive boulders.
It has some flaws, but none that cannot be resolved through minor upgrades. Its simple yet innovative design provides you an enjoyable ride and smart solutions. Honda never ceases to amaze the anticipating market, and it successfully did once again with the Honda Foreman 400.