May 16, 2011
We recently got our first look at the new Honda BF60. Weight is a frequent complaint regarding 4-stroke engines, but this compact 998-cc inline 3-cylinder engine weighs in at just 239 pounds. In addition to the standard BF60, the Power Thrust version, with deckboats in mind, offers 50 degrees of right and left steering angle for enhanced maneuverability, as well as increased alternator charging output to power all the electrical options these family boats often feature. There's also a tiller model with fingertip tilt/trim that includes incremental trolling speed settings. Common to all these models, the BLAST system creates surprising acceleration, while Lean Burn technology optimizes fuel economy once on plane. Price had not been set at the time of the launch. The BF60 is available in 20- and 25-inch shaft models to fit a wide variety of fresh- and saltwater applications.
Gathering place: Legacy Lodge & Resort, just outside Atlanta on Lake Lanier.
Huge Lake Lanier sports a very active venue for the nearby Atlanta boating community. The lodge's marina illustrates the popularity of houseboats, deckboats and sailboats in this area.
Recent rains have finally rejuvenated the lake, the center of a Georgia/Florida/Alabama water controversy during the prolonged drought over the last several years. Lanier is back to within a few feet of its normal waterline, making it more easily navigable than it was when it was over 20 feet low in 2007.
Before we got on the water to test the BF60, Honda reps fired up a pair of the company's new portable EU3000 generators. The compact units crank out 3,000 watts of power with minimal fuel consumption, running up to 7.7 hours on 1.5 gallons of fuel. More amazing was the fact that we could carry on a conversation while huddling over them as they ran. Incredibly quiet—and just in time for hurricane season.
But here's why we came. The Honda BF60 EFI. Honda's goal was to design a lightweight engine that pushed the envelope in terms of maneuverability, acceleration, economy and battery-charging capacity.
Not an ideal day for small boats, with a late cold front pounding the Jacksonville coast with 50-knot winds. On the lake, northeast, chilly winds gusting to 30 knots and cloudy skies produced conditions more conducive to duck hunting—although this mallard didn't seem worried that thought would occur to us.
One of the test boats would have been right at home had someone brought a shotgun. This camouflaged SeaArk 1860 DuckHawk is sporting the tiller version of the BF60. In addition to hunting applications, the tiller model features 50 rpm incremental settings to deliver precise trolling speeds between 750 and 1,000 rpm. It also has a handle-mount power tilt/trim switch at the fingertips for more comfortable operation.
Featuring electronic fuel injection and the patented Boosted Low Speed Torque (BLAST) system, the BF60 put the 18-foot skiff up on plane quickly and quietly.
I planted myself on a cushy deckboat behind the Honda film crew shooting the various boats in action. Best seat in the house.
Honda's standard BF60 delivers an industry-best 22 amps of battery-charging power—5 amps for ignition and 17 for electrical toys. Designed largely for deckboats with all the family toys onboard, Honda also offers the Power Thrust BFP60. Its alternator cranks out 27 amps—22 of which are available to feed accessories.
Who would have thought a 60 4-stroke could provide this kind of holeshot with a deckboat? The BLAST system advances ignition timing for impressive acceleration, and the Power Thrust model features a beefed-up 2.33:1 gear ratio.
Honda Senior Manager John Fulcher at the helm.