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Outboard Review

The world's lightest 4-stroke outboard, the Honda BF2D, is a heavyweight performer

Date: 7/28/03
Tackle type: Outboard
Manufacturer: Honda
Reviewer: JIP

Total Score: 8.42

Introduction: No matter what the application is, Honda is still a leader in the design and manufacture of small motors. Built to be high performing and reliable, Honda applies the latest technologies to satisfy both the power hungry consumer and the environment. The Honda BF2D 4-stroke outboard isn't anything like the 2-stroke engines of the past, and offers performance far beyond its small and lightweight attributes.


2003 Honda BF2D(S-type) Specifications

Engine Type 4-stroke OHV 1 Cylinder/2 Valves
Displacement 57 cc (3.4 cubic inches)
Bore & Stroke 45 mm X 36 mm (1.8 X 1.4 inches)
Full Throttle RPM Range 5,000 - 6,000 RPM
Rated Power 2 HP @ 5,500 RPM
Fuel Delivery 1 Carburetor
Ignition System Transistorized Pointless
Starting System Recoil
Exhaust Under water, above propeller
Overall Width 255 mm/10 inches
Dry Weight 12.2 kg/27 lbs.
Rated Power 2 HP @ 5,500 RPM
MSRP (Price as tested) $920.00 ($749.00)

Impressions: From the outside the 4-stroke Honda 2HP outboard is definitely attractive. A silver plastic cover on top with matching grey bottom, the outboard looks simple and sleek. The exterior components consist of the easy to access fuel cap, carrying handles on both sides of the outboard, a 360-degrees handle, engine stop switch. Looking under the cover reveals a clean uncluttered layout. Inside is the carburetor, spark plugs are well hidden but easily accessed with the tools provided, recoil starter, and a built-on gas tank that holds 1/4 gallon of 87 octane fuel. Since the BF2D is air cooled it doesn't have any bulky components such as a water pump, and no oil filter is needed. This already indicates an outboard that will require very little maintenance. Picking up the outboard wasn't even close to back breaking and makes the Honda a great outboard to use for hand launches.


The Honda BF2D small outboard is packed with many useful features


The BF2D that we're looking at is a Short shaft model having a transom height of 16.5 inches (418 mm). At the top of the shaft is a sturdy stern bracket with clamp screws that make installation onto any watercraft very quick and easy. Near the other end you will find the exhaust, a node to help protect the outboard motor from corrosion, and the 3-blade hard plastic propeller which has a diameter of 7-1/4 inches by  4-3/4 inches of pitch. The entire package is well thought out and already gave us a good first impression of this little outboard.


Honda's 4-Stroke Advantages: Building on their experience of building and selling 4-stroke outboards over 30 years in the US, Honda continues to update their technology to provide key advantages over other outboard manufacturers.  In the competitor 2-stroke outboards they relied on gas or air to carry a thin oil film to different components. Whereas the Honda's 4-stroke bathe every critical components in oil under constant pressure. 2-stroke outboards also contains ports on the cylinders and pistons which results in the wearing of certain parts. The new 4-stroke technology uses no ports, and as a result will last longer.


The 2-stroke cylinder design used ports which isn't as rugged as the 4-stroke design that's port-less, meaning longer service life with less maintenance


Other advantages of Honda's 4-stroke motors include less maintenance, easy oil servicing, unlike 2-strokes that burn a lot of oil. the engine efficiency also results in a smooth quieter ride.


Items Included

BF2D outboard Lanyard with switch clip
Tool kit Owner's manual
2 extra cotter pins Emergency starter rope
2 extra shear pins Warranty


E-Spec: As an active supporter of many organizations in the U.S. that focus on the preservation of our water resources and marine life, Honda has applied E-Spec, an advanced technology to tune their outboards to burn cleaner and more efficiently. The Honda BF2D outboard already exceeds the 2006 EPA standards and meet the CARB standards for 2004 with a 2 out of 3 star rating as a very low emission motor.


The low emission outboard uses an underwater exhaust that's pretty clean.  You won't see any blackening near the exhaust after each use.  Also notice the anode that's mounted next to it to help prevent corrosion


New Outboard Preparation: Before picking up the new Honda BF2D outboard, most dealers will provide a free "dealer's prep" which consists of taking the motor out of the box, filling it with the appropriate motor oil, running the outboard for at least 10 minutes, then topping the motor oil to the maximum level indicated on the oil level inspection window.  After that the outboard is ready to enter active duty.


Complete Rig for BF2D Tests

Watercraft Sea Eagle 8, Bass Tracker 8
Outboard Honda BF2D(S-type)


On the Water Tests: Being the world's lightest 4-stroke outboard we couldn't wait to take the Honda BF2 on our road trips searching for new waters that were somewhat troublesome to tow our boats to. We were able to use a portable setup to gain access to many lakes that our Bass Boat was not allowed to launch in.


Useful Features: Here are some useful features that caught our attention and we made sure to highlight them because they shouldn't be overlooked by anyone looking to buy the Honda BF2D outboard.


Centrifugal Clutch: Honda sells the 2HP 4-stroke outboard in two models: BF2 and BF2D. The model we are looking at here is the BF2D which is definitely worth the extra money and a must have feature that makes boating much safer. What the centrifugal clutch does is maintain a quiet and smooth idle when the throttle is all the way down. Once you turn the throttle to go the clutch automatically engages the gears and the propeller begins to spin. This handy feature allows you to take the outboard out of gear while you are fishing or when you first start the motor. Say you want to start it up but your buddy is still standing up fishing and not paying attention to what's going to happen next. In outboards without this centrifugal clutch, starting the motor means the boat will be in motion once it's on.  Your buddy can take a nasty fall onto the boat or even worse into the water from the sudden forward movement. With the deluxe model you wouldn't have to worry about this problem.



Honda provides an useful 360-degree swivel steering arm that allows you to go forward and in reverse at full speeds


Forced Air Cooling: This small engine is air cooled. This means that there's no water pump to cause any problems of being clogged and overheating. A major issue that anglers have to worry about with other outboards. Fishing with the Honda BF2D we are able to plow through weeds and go into shallow coves and never worry about sand getting into any critical components.


360-Degree Swivel Steering: By far this is one of our favorite features.  The outboard can be steered in any direction and the best thing is that you have the option of full throttle. Great in tight places, backing out at full speeds, the 360-degree swivel steering makes your fishing situations a lot more manageable. For instance when we fish in shallow narrow coves, making a turn even with the Bass Tracker 8 isn't an option.  Simply swing the outboard in the opposite direction and give it some gas to get yourself out.


The oil level inspection window can easily tell you if there's too much or too little motor oil.  The screw underneath that is the oil drain plug


Oil Level Inspection Window: All 4-stroke outboards don't burn oil like the 2-stroke motors do. But having the correct amount of engine oil is still important. The Honda BF2D outboard has a built in window for you to inspect if the oil is too high or low. Checking your motor oil should be part of the inspection prior to each use, and this little but useful feature makes the process swift.


Installation: Proper installation is important to ensure maximum performance, safety, and flawless operation of the outboard. First the Honda BF2D should be installed on the center of the boat transom. Next remember that the transom height is 16.5 inches for the S-type, and check to make sure that the anti-ventilation plate of the motor is from 0 to 2 inches below the bottom of the boat. This is critical because if the anti-ventilation plate gets above water, the outboard will be shut off after a few seconds. When properly installed the exhaust should be below the water's surface about 5.9 inches or more. While keeping this in mind, go ahead and install the outboard. In our test we used the Sea Eagle 8 and the Bass Tracker 8. Mounting the Honda BF2 on these portable watercrafts was trouble-free. Simply attach the stern bracket to its proper location and tighten the clamp screws. Finally as a safety precaution, attach a rope, or in our case we used a clip and then rope to the motor and the boat just incase if the outboard ever comes lose, you don't make a donation to the lake bottom.


The S-type, short shaft, is great for small watercrafts and allows you to move about shallow waters without hitting the bottom.  But it does limit you to certain transom heights


Break-in Procedure: Before you put the outboard in gear and zip across the water, be sure to know the break-in procedures to ensure the moving parts will wear in smoothly for best performance and long service life. While some outboard dealers will suggest a 20 hour break-in period, we opted to follow the owner's manual. For the first 10 hours do not run the motor at full throttle. Run it at low to about 60% of full throttle and never let it stay at one speed for a prolonged period. Vary the speed while you're moving about the water. After the first 10 hours complete the initial maintenance and the BF2D is ready to go at maximum speed.


Usage: Now that the Honda 2 HP outboard is prepared and installed properly, we began to fully apply it on the water while fishing. Being the world's lightest 4-stroke 2HP outboard, and even lighter than some 2-strokes, the Honda BF2D comes out to be only 27lbs. without fuel and motor oil. At this weight the outboard is very portable and it only takes one person to handle. During our tests I was able to carry it from the truck and mount it onto the test watercrafts just like mounting an electric trolling motor, but without the battery hookups.


Starting: Starting the Honda outboard is similar to starting a gas lawn mower. First attach the lanyard to your wrist and then insert the emergency stop switch clip in the engine stop switch. For fishing purposes we found that it's best to either clip the lanyard to your life jacket or pants so you will have the ability to use both of your hands to fish, tie hooks, and more. Next open the fuel tank vent by turning it a few times and move the fuel valve lever to the ON position. When starting a cold engine, pull the choke knob out while a warm engine can be started without this procedure. Finally simply turn the throttle grip to the start position and pull the recoil starter just like a lawn mower. It's important to let the engine warm up slightly at idle before pushing in the choke and start moving.


The flexible lanyard and clip must be inserted to start the outboard.  It's for your safety just incase you go overboard or when emergency stops are required


With the use of a transistorized ignition system, the BF2D motor starts up pretty easy every time. Normally it would take only two to three times when the engine is cold, and once only when warm. But to make life easier each and every time you take the outboard out, here are some tips you can follow. Be sure to use new fuel that's 86 or higher in octane. After each use before pulling off the lake, turn the fuel valve lever to OFF and run the outboard until it dies. This eliminates any fuel that's sitting in the carburetor and fuel line. And lastly, be sure to keep a regular log on the hours you have ran on the motor so your outboard is maintained on the proper service schedule.


Steering: When your body is positioned correctly in your watercraft, steering is a simple process.  By this we mean your sitting position. For example on the Sea Eagle 8 inflatable fishing boat, the back seat is at the same level of the outboard mount. Sitting low and close to the Honda BF2D gives you better access to the steering handle. In the Bass Tracker 8, you sit much higher. So to drive you would have to face sideways to be in a comfortable position to steer. To prevent turning too fast the outboard has a steering friction bolt. This also serves as a way to hold the boat on course while cruising.


The Honda BF2D outboard does not have a reverse gear, but there's something that's even better. As mentioned above this outboard has a 360-degree swivel steering. This feature is really handy while fishing, moving about tight places, and it gives you a ability to go full throttle in reverse, but for your safety that's not recommended.


The pictures on the left are showing the tilt lever lock from both sides.  On the top right is the thrust receiver that needs good lubrication.  Bottom right is the transom angle adjusting bolt to provide the correct trim angle


Tilting: The outboard can be tilted to approximately 75 degree while mooring, beaching, and launching. Once the maximum angle is reached the tilt lever will engage to hold it in place. Once you're ready to put it back into the water, simply hold onto the outboard to prevent it from coming down too fast, and pull the tilt lever. Then lower the outboard slowly. While tilting with a full tank of gasoline, remember to turn the fuel tank vent until it's completely closed or fuel will spill out.


Power: Rated at 2HP, this small outboard outputs plenty of thrust to drive our test boats, which aren't the most hydrodynamic of all watercrafts. Because the shape of the BT8 we noticed that at full throttle we would go at speeds faster than the pontoon can handle, forcing water into the front of the boat as we plowed across the lake.  The speed the Honda BF2D provides is enough for any angler fishing lakes, ponds, and even around protected bays/sloughs in small watercrafts.


The built-on fuel tank only holds 1/4 gallon, but that's enough for this low gas consuming Honda outboard


Gas Consumption: There are many advantages of running a Honda 4-stroke outboard, and gas consumption is one of them. Gas prices are up and fuel efficiency is probably a big factor when going fishing, especially if you fish all the time. With the Honda 4-stroke engine you are able to run much longer than 2-stroke motors going on the same course. Not only will the BF2D consume less gas, it also burns fuel more thoroughly meaning lower emissions which is quite important in many lakes. To give you some specific numbers, we were able to cruise Anderson Reservoir from one end to the other with only 1/2 of a gallon while using the Bass Tracker 8. At the time of the test these are the data of the lake: Current storage (acre-ft): 43,468.6, Capacity (acre-ft): 89,073, % Capacity: 48.8%.  Take our word for it, it's pretty far and it took less than 1 gallon of 87 octane gas, and that was during the break-in period.  After our first maintenance we noticed even better fuel mileage!


Reliability: Like Honda automobiles, motorcycles, and lawn mowers, the 4-stroke BF2D outboard is very reliable. Talking to long time boaters, dealers, and from first hand experience, Honda outboards rarely fail. The Honda outboard we tested gave us no problems on or off the water. We were able to fish comfortably knowing that at the end of the day getting back to the launch ramp would not be a problem. After the break-in period and many hours running the BF2D outboard the Honda engine continued to start everytime without any hiccups. With some TLC the motor will give you many years of life as long as it's properly maintained.


The Honda 4-stroke 2HP is quite simple and is a very reliable motor.  Great thing is that it's air cooled, no water pump to deal with


Maintenance: While Honda's 4-stroke technology spells a more reliable outboard, it also means less maintenance. The BF2D is a simple small motor and doesn't have much mechanics to cause any problems in the near future. Just follow the schedule for oil changes, lubrication, and other tasks to ensure best performance and a longer life of your outboard. The basic maintenance can be messy, but it isn't that complicated and can be done by yourself using the tools that are included with your motor, and a few other items that most people should already have around the house. If you choose to do the lubrication yourself, you must go out and purchase a grease gun which is anything from $10-$30.


The lower gear unit holds a very small amount of gear case oil (SAE 90) and is very easy to maintain by yourself


Warranty: The Honda BF2D outboard is trustworthy, quiet, burns little fuel, has useful features, and performs above expectations. So what more can we ask for? Well, Honda stands behind their 4-stroke outboards and includes a 3 year limited factory non-declining warranty if it's purchased for pleasure use from an authorized Honda Marine dealer.  And just recently Honda enhanced their Emission Control System warranty by including additional components such as the oil pump and lubrication system, oil filler cap, and the exhaust manifold and valves.

Honda BF2D Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A solid construction with good components to ensure the highest quality matched with a 3 year warranty on almost the entire outboard 9
Performance At 2HP it gives enough power to get you where you want to fish while consuming less gas than 2-stroke motors.  It has many features that will assist you in moving around like the 360-degree swivel steering and a full throttle in reverse.  The outboard is quite and starts up every time  8.5
Price 2HP outboards are hard to come by and when buying a Honda, it's worth paying for something that's reliable and will give you many years of service, plus it comes with an incredible warranty 8
Features Packed with many features that are very useful to both boaters and anglers 8
Design (Ergonomics) The BF2D is the lightest 4-stroke 2HP outboard and is easily portable.  The design is attractive and easy to use 8
Application A small outboard that's great for lakes, ponds, and even protected bays.  This Honda engine can be mounted on many types of small watercrafts for fishing, and can also be used as a backup or trolling motor 9

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Honda Reliability L Messy oil changes
J 4-Stroke benefits L Might need new tools for self- maintenance
J Lightweight/Easily portable  
J Great warranty  
J Easy to operate  
J Very low emissions  

Conclusion: While many lakes are starting to ban 2-stroke motors the demand for 4-stroke outboards has increased. Many of the big marine outboard manufacturers make a 4-stroke engine and deciding on which brand you choose it can be a difficult task to make that final selection especially when they all include attractive features. We chose to first fully analyze the BF2D outboard because of the great history Honda boasts with 4-stroke technology, and other types of small engines designed for automobiles, lawn mowers, and motorcycles. The Honda BF2D outboard comes with 4-stroke advantages which include less maintenance, more reliable components, lower emissions, quieter operation, and more economical fuel consumption. Even though the 4-stroke doesn't give the punch you would normally see in a 2-stroke, it definitely has its benefits, and plenty of power for most anglers after it builds some momentum. The Honda BF2D is a excellent small outboard that's portable, easy to operate, and comes with many useful features that will meet your small watercraft needs. 









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