Ba­sic bike right at home on smaller farms

Central Otago Mirror - - MOTORING - By VINCE SEYB

Hisun might not have any Moto GP di­vas jet-set­ting across Europe, and they def­i­nitely don’t build ex­otic ti­ta­nium-clad AMASu­per­cross ma­chines.

But the Chi­nese com­pany has been mak­ing mo­tor­cy­cles for the Asian mar­ket since 1988, and now em­ploys 2500 staff and pro­duces two mil­lion mo­tor­cy­cles and 100,000 all-ter­rain ve­hi­cles (ATVs) and util­ity task ve­hi­cles (UTVs) per year.

One such UTV – they are also called side-by-sides be­cause they have two seats – that is gain­ing trac­tion in New Zealand is the Hisun Farmer 500, with its ba­sic de­sign and $13,400 re­tail price aimed at those who sim­ply want some­thing for a pur­pose. I was able to put the Hisun through its paces on a small dairy farm in North Taranaki. There’s noth­ing quite like that feel­ing of the crisp, fresh morn­ing air out on the farm.

James had given the Hisun a cour­tesy hose-off in the cow­shed yard, which gave me a great op­por­tu­nity to check it over and get the low-down on his thoughts about the Hisun af­ter a week of use.

One thing for sure is the man­u­fac­turer meant busi­ness when build­ing the chas­sis. The main frame rails are made from se­ri­ously heavy-duty box sec­tion, as are the sus­pen­sion A-arms with am­ple cross brac­ing. A nice touch is the ad­di­tion of sway bars both front and rear.

The plas­tics are a bit less flex­i­ble than some of the other brands and the lack of width on the front mud flaps was ev­i­dent by the large amount of muck on the sides of the ve­hi­cle.

I re­ally liked the fold­ing front wind shield which I be­lieve would be worth its weight in gold dur­ing the cold win­ter months. The lined rear tip tray is a de­cent size and would surely fit two con­ven­tional square bales, the farm dog and a bag of caus­mag. The lights, how­ever, like most farm bikes, are mod­est at best.

As a farmer knows though, even the best look­ing cow in the herd isn’t worth keep­ing if it’s not pro­duc­tive. So is the Hisun up to the job?

I had the whole farm at my dis­posal and as I set off down the farm race I was im­pressed by how well the Hisun’s in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion soaked the rough ground even at 40kmh. It doesn’t come with power steer­ing, but once mov­ing the steer­ing was easy enough to man­age.

I cruised the farm for a while be­fore I found a pad­dock filled with plenty of hills, banks and mounds where I could re­ally put the Hisun to the test.

First of all I tried to find the lim­its to its sta­bil­ity. The Hisun showed great sus­pen­sion bal­ance, but just like any side-by-side the Hisun still gave that un­easy feel­ing when trekking across a hill of any sig­nif­i­cant an­gle. This was ex­ag­ger­ated when seated on the down side of the hill.

When mov­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion I could lean out of the cab and this cer­tainly gave me more con­fi­dence. Mov­ing straight up or down any hill was not an is­sue – the Hisun took it all in its stride, even when I eased it over a small near ver­ti­cal bank.

Ground clear­ance was am­ple, and as I learned years ago grow­ing up on a wet coastal farm that in it­self is worth con­sid­er­a­tion when buy­ing a farm ve­hi­cle.

No one is go­ing to be to be overwhelmed with the power of the Hisun’s en­gine. The wa­ter-cooled sin­gle cylin­der 500cc en­gine pro­duces a mere 23 horse­shoer, and putting this through a CVT trans­mis­sion and a four-wheel driv­e­train makes the Hisun more don­key than Cly­des­dale.

The CVT felt nice how­ever as it was sim­ply gas and go and it cer­tainly made stop­ping to open gates eas­ier. The elec­tronic 4WD and diff lock where sim­ple to use, but I felt there was some is­sue in the high-low gear se­lec­tion. Al­though the lights would glow up on the dash, I found that some of the time the bike wouldn’t be fully en­gaged in gear and it would jump out.

The Hisun’s brakes worked well. The rear brake is an in­board style on the rear drive shaft and the front units are well tucked up in the front rims mean­ing there is less chance of them catch­ing on any rough ground. So where does the Farmer 500 fit in?

I feel like it is worth a look based purely on price. It is fairly well built but pos­si­bly un­der-pow­ered for a big­ger farm­ing oper­a­tion. It doesn’t have the com­forts of the big­ger brands, but this is re­flected in the price.

Photo: VINCE SEYB/ FAIR­FAX NZ

Farm worker: The Hisun Farmer 500, a ba­sic pack­age with

the pri­mary func­tion of cart­ing

stuff around the farm.

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