Review: Honda BF30 outboard motor

By: Andrew Norton

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  • Trade-A-Boat

The Honda BF30 outboard motor still has its advantages.

Review: Honda BF30 outboard motor
The Honda BF30 motor is the only remaining 30hp four-stroke outboard engine on the market with three carbies instead of multipoint EFI.


Originally published in TrailerBoat #282, May / June, 2012.

The Honda BF30 is the only remaining 30hp four-stroke outboard engine on the market with three carbies instead of multipoint EFI. But is this actually a drawback?

Not in my opinion, providing the carbies don’t go out of tune frequently. Regular readers of this column will know that I love carbie engines because of their ease of repair compared to EFI engines (it’s also a genuine advantage in this age of questionable fuel quality). Carbies are easily disassembled, providing they are balanced correctly using vacuum gauges and the linkages between them don’t stretch or become sloppy. So there’s no reason why a multi-carbie engine shouldn’t be considered when buying a four-stroke 30.



The Honda BF30 outboard motor has a three-cylinder, 552cc crossflow powerhead that develops 29.6hp at 6000 rpm with a wide open throttle (WOT) rpm range of 5000 to 6000. The gear ratio is 2.08:1 and dry weight in tiller-steer form with power trim and tilt 79.5kg.

Although the six valves are actuated by a belt-driven single overhead camshaft the engine is a non-interference type where the valves won’t contact the piston crowns should the belt break. Manual-start models have an unregulated 12V 4amp alternator while electric-start models have a 10amp unit. This is quite adequate considering there’s no EFI system to drain power.

The long multifunction tiller arm incorporates an upfront gearshift, ignition key switch, engine condition warning lamps, a power trim and tilt switch and a separate twistgrip throttle with friction control.

Honda MPE recommends servicing the Honda BF30 outboard every 200 hours or annually after the first 20 hours when the valve clearances must be checked. However, if you do a lot of trolling between services I recommend changing the oil and filter every 100 hours or six months to reduce oil dilution through piston ring blow-by. This occurs when four-strokes are run for extended periods at low rpm.

Steve Harvey of Honda MPE recommends using only mineral-based oil in the Honda BF30 engine, whether its Honda’s own FCW (four-cycle watercooled) SAE 10W30 oil or a 10W40 oil for tropical climates. He says that even a semi-synthetic oil may lead to cylinder bore glazing down the track, resulting in power loss and high oil consumption.


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The review Honda BF30 outboard motor was tested on a Sea Jay 4.2 Nomad DLX swinging a 12in pitch alloy prop. This combination was a good match for a top ender-style of vee noser. The engine was fitted with an "Auto Start Enrichment" system which alters the air / fuel mix according to ambient temperature. As a result, the BF30 started easily hot or cold with no oil smoke appearing at any time. It also had low vibration levels across the entire rpm range. It’s worth noting that carbie engines tend to be noisier than injected outboards due to induction roar. However, the Honda BF30 outboard remained relatively quiet at or near WOT.

The Nomad test boat has a stern-heavy layout so planing our 600kg total (including three adults) was easier with two people sitting forward. Once out of the hole, the hull had sufficient buoyancy to handle two adults aft.

Through tight figure-of-eight turns at WOT no prop ventilation occurred and the power trim worked quickly to provide the best trim angle when needed. In a straight line the leg could be trimmed well out without prop blowout occurring, a remarkable feat for vee nosers seeing as they tend to trap more air bubbles under the hull than conventional tinnies.



The recreational-usage warranty is five years and as of March 2012 the tiller steer PT&T Honda BF30 outboard motor had a price of $7109 RRP, with a spare alloy propeller costing $219. All Honda propellers are made by Solas and the company claims its compression-moulded alloy props are much stronger than conventionally-cast units.



The Honda BF30 outboard motor has excellent powerhead access with the carbies and linkages, oil sump dipstick, spark plugs and canister-type oil filter easily reached.

According to the many dealers and owners I’ve interviewed, the three carbies stay in tune between services, so the Honda BF30 outboard does everything it was designed to do while remaining straightforward to repair. Over the years Honda has withdrawn all its multi-carburetted engines save for the BF25 and BF30.



1.9kts (3.5kmh)

 800rpm (trolling)


14.1kts (26.1kmh)

 4000rpm (minimum plane & cruise)


23.5kts (43.5kmh)

5700rpm (WOT)





Mercury F30

Tohatsu MFS30

Yamaha F30B





















OEDA stars




All these engines have multipoint EFI. The Mercury F30B is de-rated from 40hp, hence its higher weight.


Originally published in TrailerBoat #282, May / June, 2012. Why not subscribe today?


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