Re: Just getting started
I too am new to 4 wheeling. I have owned a Honda 185 3 wheeler for years and even though it takes tinkering to keep it running, it just won't die. My hunting buddy showed up with a Honda Rancher 4x4 350 ES (Electronic Shift on the handle bar). I was so impressed I had to have one.
I however, wanted 2W and 4W drive so I went with a Honda Foreman S 450 2x4. It is an incredible machine. As was mentioned earlier, get 4x4 no matter what. I leave mine in 2 wheele until I need 4x. And I find I can "get" myself stuck pretty easy in 2x. Switch over to 4 by and she crawls right out. Sure, you can be carefull and avoid all the fun spots like mud holes, deep ruts, loose sandy creeks and the like and not get stuck with only 2 wheel drive. But you are also avoiding the fun that comes from taking on those spots.
I have 12 hours on mine so far and my friends has over 20. No problems and both are great fun. Top end of 45 to 50 on flat surface. In the thick stuff they both push right on through. His 350 RancherES 4x4 was $4999, my Foreman S 450 was $5700. GET A WINCH ALSO. You can pick up a three wheeler and move it out of a whole. You will not be manhandling one of the 4x4 600 pound bruts out of a mud whole. $450 installed for a Warn 2000 pound winch will pay for it self the first time you get stuck. And yes, me and my friend have already winched each other out of some sticky situations several times each already. But then again, we hits spots everyone else avoids. The path less traveled you know....
I hear nothing but good things about Honda. Their engines have the best reputation for reliability. I may be biased, but give Honda a good look. I could not be happier with the guality, fit, finish and performance of the Rancher and my Foreman.
Let us know what you get.