Honda Motorcycles
1997 Honda 300EX

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SPECIFICATIONS:

            MSRP:                            $4,799USD (2000)
            Model:                             1997 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
            Front Suspension:             Double-wishbone; dual hydraulic shocks;
                                                    5-position spring preload adjustability; 6.7 inches travel
            Rear Suspension:              Swingarm with single shock; 5-position
                                                    spring preload adjustability; 7.9 inches travel
            Front Brakes:                   Dual hydraulic disc
            Rear Brakes:                    Single hydraulic disc
            Front Tires:                      22 x 7-10 knobby
            Rear Tires:                       22 x 10-9 knobby
            Length:                            67.7 inches
            Width:                             43.5 inches
            Height:                             42.7 inches
            Wheelbase:                      45.3 inches
            Seat Height                     30.3 inches
            Ground Clearance:          4.9 inches
            Turning Radius:               10.2 feet
            Dry Weight:                    377.0 pounds
            Fuel Capacity:                 2.2 gallons, including 0.5-gallon reserve
            Colors:                            Red

They should have called the 300EX the 280EX or maybe the 285EX, or Honda should have put a 75mm bore into the little beast. 300 is just a little misleading. Basically unchanged to date, this was my first pure "sport" quad. I got mine in Yellowknife NWT, Canada for $5000Cdn. Yes that is a steal, that's like $3250USD. Yes it was new. No, it was not in mint shape. The dealer dropped it off the truck (or some such) on delivery. I was bummin. Every single piece of plastic on the machine was scratched. If you've seen my ATV's you'll know I'm a bit of a perfectionist. Ok, I lot of a perfectionist, so we added up all the plastic bits and pieces and the handlebars etc and I offered the dealer that much off the negotiated price for the machine. He didn't have much choice.

I'm a pretty heavy guy, and I'm a pretty tall guy as well. Not necessarily the best combination of rider for the 300EX. Yet, somehow, the machine was fine with it. It rode well, pulled very nicely and became my favorite all time ATV. I now ride a Raptor, but that's only because I am a sick individual and cannot find a machine with enough power. If Kaesa came out with a 4 cylinder 1500cc 3 wheeler - I'd own it.

The EX was finished in typical Honda style. The fit and attention to detail was superb. The ergos were excellent, with the exception of the choke location (somewhere in a dark void under the tank) and the reverse (more on that later), however, the little Honda seldom needs the choke and you do get used to finding it pretty quick, so it wasn't that big of a deal. The EX is short. I mean really short. And it takes a bit of getting used too, but once you do, look out. The machine is capable of losing almost anything in the tight bush, and isn't prone to the nervousness that my '01 Raptor displays at speed. Mind you, the 300EX doesn't do 80mp/h either. It does, however, do a dead honest 55mp/h or better and is rock solid stable doing it.

The rear skidder is crap. Chuck it. Now. Before you do extensive and costly damage to the undercarriage. Being in the far North of Canada, I had little option for aftermarket accessories, so I made one out of aluminum. Worked like a hot damn. The stock rear tires are crap as well. Mind you, they do expand into donuts at high speed and probably allow the little EX to go faster than it would with real tires on it. I opted for the 20 x 10-9 Ohtsu tires that come on the 400EX. That smartened the 300 right up. No more tire roll in corners, power slides were the norm. Downside - don't do this if you haven't replaced the stock rear skid plate. What was an already low rear end now becomes an incredibly low rear end. You WILL hit everything. Think aluminum. Thick aluminum.

The brakes are incredible. The Honda will stand itself up on it's front tires almost effortlessly - one finger - I miss that on my Raptor. The suspension is more than adequate, unless you plan on jumping dunes at Glamis - no, forget that, you won't have enough power to get air in the sand. Sand is an interesting beast. It turns a perfectly good powerful machine into an underpowered - "gee is this thing running right" assortment of nuts and bolts. Doesn't matter which machine you have, it has less (far less) power in the sand. As it was with the 300EX. Problem is, when you've only got 15 or so horses to begin with, the sand leaves little left for getting you around. I added a few mods to the 300 to make it sand worthy, and was still left wanting. This, and only this, is the reason I ride a Raptor now. The 300EX is the perfect machine for all the other types of riding I do.

I've had the Honda climb 15' verticles, I have had it roll over sideways, frontwards, and backwards. I've come up short on doubles (and tripples) bailed on verticle hillclimbs, watched it tumble down the hill, all with no effect other than cosmetic. Speaking of cosmetics - that little piece of plastic that goes between the bars - chuck that. I've bought 5 of those. Every time the machine goes upside down (which for me is a lot) the damn thing gets scratched. That pisses me big. $75 bux (Cdn) buys you another. Chuck the stock bars too, they're crap. They are made of lead or something. I've bent them just getting on the quad. Mind you, it'll take a frieght train (or a Mikey) to straighten the damn things back out again. Go figure.
The heelguards suck large too. After time, and bouncing of trees, they get bent back a teeny bit. This allows the tires to grab them and fold them under. $50 bux a piece for those.

O.k. the absolute worst thing about the 300EX, actually the most embarrasing, is the reverse. It's not that big a deal, but it sure lets the doomsayers have their way with the poor Honda. Ok, with ALL Hondas you start in Neutral with the left brake lever (or in this case clutch) out. Press the little red button on the lever, pull the lever in, and with the 4x4's (or the 250EX) step down. Not so with the 300. After the little red button is pressed and the lever pulled, take your throttle hand and reach over the tank and pull up on a lever located on the left side of the machine. Back up (rev-limited I might add) pull the clutch back in, reach over with your throttle hand and push the lever back down. Simple. (yeah right) I got so used to it I was able to do it while rock crawling balancing precariously in the wrong spot on 2 tires. Most of the time I just lift the lever with my foot. The way I see it, I'm glad it's got reverse. (the Banshee and the 400EX as well as most performance quads don't) so I don't care if I have to rub my head and pray to Allah to go backwards, just so long as I don't have to get off the damn machine and carry the front or back end around. Heck, I even put reverse on my snowmobile. 'nuff said.

Every machine has it's quirks, but with the 300EX, and argueably the whole Honda line, the largest single plus is the maintenance. Or lack of it. The damn things don't break. I beat the heck outta that 300 for over 3 years and broke nothing until I started modifying it. I crashed it, sank it (a few times) ran into things with it, forgot to change the oil, you name it. Nadda. Never a problem. If Honda makes the 880EX I'm going back to red. In a heartbeat. That is until that Kaesa 1500 comes out.

The Honda 300EX is the finest sport ATV on the market. (In my humble opinion). Sure, all out performance ATV's will womp it's butt for performance, but that's why I said this is the finest sport ATV. The EX is low (no) maintenance, well suspended, great handling in a single affordable package. I coulda bought 2 of these for what I paid for the Mighty Raptor. If you are looking to ride the sand, forget it. If you are looking to ride everywhere else and you don't give a hoot about having the fastest, latest, greatest, but want reliability, comfort and value - the 300EX is for you.

As always, I welcome opposing views or additional input. Just write me.