Honda 300ex

By -
 Tested: 300EX

Gutsy Honda
is Stellar Trail Performer

undefined    Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too? Does your “wish list” of ATV features consist of easy to use 4 stroke power, reverse, a manual clutch and electric start all wrapped around a sport package? If the answer is yes, your choices are limited but your local Honda dealer just may have the best choice available. Released as a ’93 model, the 300EX was an instant hit and more often than not walked away with the title of “Best Sport 4-Stroke”. Even with the current onslaught of high-performance 4-stroke machines, the 300EX still holds it own within its sport 4-stroke segment. Offering sporty performance with comforts and conveniences that the larger cc race/sport class machines don’t offer.
        Based largely on the competent 250X, the 300EX adds more displacement and electric starting to make a good package even better. Though not a standout in every category, as a package it is hard to beat. Offering performance, reliability, comfort and most importantly fun–all in an easy to use package that can please all levels of enthusiasts.

    Built around a 45.3-inch wheelbase, the EX is “all day ride” comfortable,even for riders over 6-feet, but works best for those slightly smaller. Handling is excellent, especially tight, quick turns where the EX really excels. The 45.3-inch wheelbase combined with a wide track footprint is to thank for the excellent handling manners and stability through corners. The negative side to quick low-speed handling is that the high-speed steering can be a little quicker responding than what you may be accustomed to and the machine becomes a little “darty” at speed.
undefined   The double wishbone front and non linkage mono-shock rear offer 6.7″ and 7.9″ of pre load adjustable travel while working together like best friends to offer the best suspension package in its class. The low speed ride is very plush and controlled making one forget they are on a sport machine. As the pace quickens the ride maintains its silky plush feel and superb control, making most trail obstacles disappear. Suspension dip while cornering is negligible and nothing unexpected or unwanted happens. Only when really pushed (perhaps punished is a better term) does the suspension start to object. Large jumps with equally large riders aboard could cause the suspension to bottom but it would do so in a “polite” controlled fashion. Every reasonable obstacle that was thrown in front of the EX was gobbled up and laughed at by the well-suspended 300.


    Starting is easy, though finding the choke switch for cold starts can be a problem the first few times. It is buried deep into the center of the ATV and requires “becoming one with machine” to find it. Never has a machine been more desperately in need of a cable operated handlebar mounted choke lever. Once started, the warm up period necessary for smooth running is a bit longer than average and the choke is mandatory for at least the first few minutes in any kind of colder temperatures. The overly complicated reverse procedure doesn’t help matters and results in frequent stalls when attempting to engage reverse in cold weather.
    Two words sum up the 300 EX’s 282cc 4-valve powerplant–throttle response. The engine parameters have all been carefully chosen to work well together and provide good power with great response, right from the bottom of the RPM range. Great top end power is fun for wide open straight sections and drag races but instant response and muscular low end is what allows a machine to bark out of a corner and lift the front end at will. –We’ll gladly take the bark.
undefined     The engines greatest attribute is the instant, front end lifting low end that pleases both novices and experienced riders alike. Lifting the front end over obstacles, lightening the front for whoop sections or doing your best impersonation of “the Wheelie King” are all very easy aboard the torquey machine. The mid-range power is also good, though not as spectacular as the low-end response. Top end is almost non-existent in comparison and the machine works much better when short shifted using the stronger low and mid-range power. Speed freaks may be interested in a top end oriented pipe and a tooth increase on the countershaft sprocket if the radar verified 52-MPH top speed isn’t impressive enough.
    A conservatively sized 32mm Keihin carburetor aids in providing good throttle response, solid low-end performance and great fuel economy. A SOHC (Single Over Head Cam) with a 4- valve head complete the package and result in a conservative 8.9:1 compression ratio insuring a long, stress free life and plenty of room for high performance improvements if desired.

undefined    The slick shifting 5-speed transmission is typical Honda, smooth and precise-right out of the box. Hopping off the Honda and on to some of its competing models shows the other side of the fence. The overly complicated sadistically designed reverse system is the only transmission low point. It works well but is a pain to use and requires the completion of an old disco dance move to engage reverse. Luckily there are aftermarket options available.

 The steps required:

1.  Push handlebar mounted reverse button
2. Pull in clutch
3. Blip throttle to prevent stalling if cold.
4. Reach right hand down to lower left side of engine and pull up lever.
5. Release clutch and apply throttle.
Note: If you experience difficulty in any of the above mentioned steps, playing the song “Staying Alive” in the background really seemed to help us get the moves right.

     Braking is provided via the familiar triple Nissin calipers that compress dual discs up front and a single center disc in the rear. Brake power is very strong with good modulation and feel. Rear tire lifting stops can be had with just a single finger on the front brake lever and a downward push – no complaint here. With the exception of the reverse lever, all levers and controls are right where they should be and function flawlessly. The thumb throttle is fairly light and comfortable to use, the clutch action is smooth and all switches are smooth and precise feeling.






undefined    The 300 EX is equipped with the usual “tin can variety” swing arm skid plate protection, which is supposed to protect the rear sprocket and disc. Like most other sport machines, an aftermarket aluminum swingarm skid plate is mandatory for everything but dune riding. On a brighter note (literally!), the single handlebar mounted halogen headlight works very well and the wide coverage, bright beam is excellent for nighttime riding. No back up starting provision is available but bump starting the machine is easy enough. The Ohtsu tires did a good job on varied terrain from hardpack dirt tracks to snow offering reasonable traction and performance. An upgrade to Holeshots or one of the many other performance tires available will yield even better results.


undefined    The statement made earlier, “as a package, it’s hard to beat”, pretty much sums up our feelings about the 300 EX. It is a quality built machine with few liabilities and many assets that will please riders of all shapes, sizes and ability. It combines all the right ingredients to make a great Sport 4 stroke machine and chances are it will prove to be the best machine for you.

MSRP: 99



Model: 2000 TRX300EX

Engine Type: 282cc air-cooled SOHC single-cylinder 4-stroke

Bore and Stroke: 74mm x 65.5mm

Carburetion: 32mm piston-valve with accelerator pump

Ignition: Solid-state CD with electronic advance

Starter: Electric

Clutch: Manual

Transmission: 5-speed with reverse

Driveline: O-ring-sealed chain

Suspension Front: Double-wishbone; dual hydraulic shocks; 5-position spring preload adjustability; 6.7 inches travel

Suspension Rear: Swingarm with single shock; 5-position spring preload adjustability; 7.9 inches travel

Brakes Front: Dual hydraulic disc

Brakes Rear: Single hydraulic disc

Tires Front: 22 x 7-10 knobby

Tires Rear: 22 x 10-9 knobby

Length: 67.7 inches

Width: 43.5 inches

Height: 42.7 inches

Seat Height: 30.3 inches

Ground Clearance: 4.9 inches

Wheelbase: 45.3 inches

Turning Radius: 10.2 feet

Dry Weight: 377.0 pounds

Fuel Capacity: 2.2 gallons, including a 0.5-gallon reserve

Color: Red

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