We have concluded that the problems we experienced with a BF225 were caused by the engine being too low in the water. As far as I know there are no inherent design flaws with this engine, which is being used by many emergency services worldwide.
Based on our experience with BF and the Etec I would summarise them as follows:
Honda BF 225:
1. Very smooth and quiet, as befits an engine that is basically a marinised version of the US Honda Accord car engine.
2. Very easy to drive, even if you forget to trim in during a turn you will not experience any cavitation problems.
1. The throttle is not as good to use as it looks. Neutral was difficult to find and pontoon manoeuvring was an exercise in forward and reverse lunges. Not pretty!
2. Very heavy.
‘Rude Etec 250:
1. Also smooth and quiet. It has a secondary air intake system which mutes the low speed engine noise. Not even a hint of the nuts-and-bolts-shaking in-a-tin-can din you get with older generation 2 strokes.
2. Good performance, fuel economy and emissions.
3. Very light – 55 kgs less than the BF if memory serves me.
4. No servicing for first 3 years.
1. The 250 is prone to cavitation problems at low speeds in confused water. If you get the trim wrong you are punished. In fairness, this is a prop problem and the importers are doing their best to resolve it at the moment. This will be covered under warranty.
I am now convinced that if you are in the fortunate position of making the choice, an Etec 2 stroke is (at the moment) the only way to go for large outboards. No doubt Mercury will bring out an upgraded version of theirs shortly to compete. I think the big M have been wrong footed with the Verado project.