Sunday, June 15, 2014

Yamaha Viking vs Honda Big Red

Have quite often looked up various ATV comparisons and reviews, mostly YouTube posts, and have been highly entertained by the comment, mostly American in origin and some pretty vehement, about performance and reliability of the different makes. Manufacturers, amusingly, aren't past slagging each others product either.
The old Taska Colt here has put in a creditable trouble-free year, but I have to admit, we could do with a better representative in the particular work-slot it occupies on the farm. Main problem, its an NZ put-together of Chinese manufacture origin, and although I thought any reliability problems could be negated by cheaper cost of replacement parts, this theory got blown out of the water when the parts supply dried up.
For a while, local 4WD supremo's Cowper Trucks matched parts, or made them up from scratch, but theyve run out of enthusiasm, understandably because of the dead time involved.
So, I resolved to return to the name manufacturers where servicing and repairs would be assured, and ironically, driving past the local Yamaha dealer's yard, I'd often spotted a Big Red Honda on the used lot.
On going in for a more detailed look I got presented with the new Viking with its attractive finance no deposit/2 yrs to pay package, and a weeks trial offer, one I couldn't refuse.
Well, the Viking was great, a real man's machine, looked good, felt good...
  • ton of grunt
  • fast
  • superb suspension over the mogul section of our farm access race
  • excellent over rough ground, (longer wheelbase big help here)
  • great hill climbing
  • without peer down-hill engine braking
  • loved the controls, dial up drive, dash-mounted handbrake, passenger grab bar
  • comfortable seat and driver position
  • stack of room in the cockpit
But I didnt buy it.........
Thought I might as well try the Honda, and finished up deciding to take it instead for the following reasons...
  • beside the Viking its a bloody ugly duckling, and its harder to get in and out of, but its closer to the "motorised wheel-barrow" job description required here
  • its 4 wheels are the same size, for the life of me I cant see why Yamaha put smaller wheels on front of the Viking
  • I like the Honda's bar-treaded Maxxis 25/10/12 Big Horns all round
  • consequently its good in the mud and climbs hills real good, albeit you have to attack them a bit because of seeming higher geared
  • and isnt so good downhill, poor engine braking by comparison, dont know whether its because of low engine compression, or the auto gearbox/clutch not handling the task, or the gearing referred above
  • Dunno about the auto gearbox, thought it would be better than a CVT belt, but the mind of its own on this installation dosent seem quite with it. The old Taska had a manually controllable 3 speed auto hooked up to a 600cc twin, a much sweeter match.
  • and while on the negatives, the short wheelbase and suspension give you a bumpy ride by comparison
  • however.... the Honda's much quieter, I need to be able to potter round the lambing paddocks, tagging newborn lambs etc, without startling the natives.
  • I also contemplate pasture spraying which needs to be done at a constant 17-20 kph, the Honda will do this without an accompanying noise factor, the Viking will require earmuffs
  • and the Honda can sweetly follow at a slow crawl a mob of sheep in from the back of the farm. The Viking just couldnt do this, its either stopped or going, snatch/grab like a snarling caged tiger, and just as bad in low gear
  • the Honda's cargo bed is all plastic, an advantage over the Vikings tin bed inviting rust under the optional bed-liner which you have to buy as an extra. The dogs handle the jump-on over the rounded back and sides better, and I dont hear any scratching and scrabbling around, so they're keeping their footing pretty well on the plastic too.
  • I've been feeding hay off it for nearly a month now, and am pleased to note the headboard's high enough hay isnt falling down the front of the deck, and there's no potential fire hazard build up. The engine's well shrouded as well. 
  • the Honda's only a 2 seater, the Viking 3, but honestly, when would I be carting 2 other passengers around. Cant carry as much gear on the floor as in the Viking either
  • the handbrake's under the seat, despite the dash warning light and the best will in the world, I still now and again forget to release it, cant beat the Viking's up on the dash
  • both vehicles thoughtfully provide drain holes in any areas that catch water, except the Honda has handy little trays behind the seats that dont, neither has it got a dash pocket with a lid
So that's about the extent of the issues that concern me on both vehicles. Nothing much between them 700cc engine wise.
If I had 1000 acres or more and wanted something capable of getting to all corners of the estancia including the least accessible, and back, with grunt and power, then its the Viking, specially if other personnel to be carried.
The Big Red suits my more laid back requirements.
You might ask why I didnt try the new Honda Pioneer, well I did.
Didnt get off square one..., its designed by someone with a 34" waistline, I just didnt fit behind the wheel!

Viking - sexy good looks

Bread and butter Honda cockpit

All plastic cargo deck an advantage

Like those 25.10x12 Maxxis BigHorns all round

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Farewell and Godspeed Little Friends

Its not just us humans that get to have big adventures, these two guys (Waione Coopworth ram lambs) are off to Nepal, but unlike us, they've no idea whats next in store.

They're going to an international aid project there. At first you'd think, too high, too cold, but have been informed Nepal has substantial tracts of flat land, and summers can be pretty warm.
In addition, the project facility housing they're destined for would be the envy of many Nepalese so I'm told.

One of the ram lambs was from a small AI get of Lincoln 201/10, who was the top meat quality index sire of our NZOSR sire reference 2012, so apart from my concern for their future, I'm also conscious of losing some good genetic material. But the supply specs stipulated no duplications in a 5 generation pedigree, and only a handful of my sheep fitted spec.

The purchasers obviously want as diverse a gene spread as possible, given that the females in the shipment mostly came from one single source. 

I felt for them as I dropped them off at the Feilding transit yard on a chilly grey winter evening for the first leg of their journey. If you've worked animals long enough you'll appreciate what company of mates means to them.

Travel well little friends. I hope you're well cared for in your new home, and you get to do us proud.