Basic bike right at home on smaller farms
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.
Farm worker: The Hisun Farmer 500, a basic package with
the primary function of carting
stuff around the farm.