Beauty & Brawn

Kawasaki Brute Force 750 ATV

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

Kawasaki’s Brute Force 750 doesn’t pre­tend false mod­esty. It’s a big ‘Su­per Black’ beast with an ag­gres­sive stance, goto-hell ac­cel­er­a­tion and go-to-hell ev­ery­thing else.

It’ll tear up the ground like a stick of dy­na­mite if that’s what you want, but in the right hands it has a sub­tle tal­ent for re­duc­ing dif­fi­cult ob­sta­cles to an ex­er­cise in throt­tle con­trol.

As far as we know, this is the only ATV with a lever-ac­tion front diff lock with ben­e­fits that can be ap­plied in­cre­men­tally. It’s like ask­ing for more trac­tion and get­ting it. And then, when you’ve fin­ished with it, you put it back in the box.

When Ul­ti­mate Mo­tor­bikes de­liv­ered our re­view Brute Force 4x4i, it didn’t ap­pear to be hid­ing any se­crets. It looked the way all full-size 4WD quads look; square, chunky, full of barely con­tained en­ergy and slightly bored – apart from the bright yel­low diff lock lever, it had no real dis­tin­guish­ing fea­tures.

That changed when we fired it up. The 749cc V-twin in this ma­chine is man­u­fac­tured in Lin­coln, Ne­braska (US) and makes this the first Ja­panese 4WD ATV to sound like a For­mula One car in a bot­tle. A big bot­tle.

But this is not the largest or heav­i­est ATV on the mar­ket. Com­pare the Brute Force with the Po­laris Sports­man 850 SP and you’ll find that the Po­laris is still chunkier with a dry weight of 349kg. Since ‘dry weight’ means with no fuel or oil, you could prob­a­bly add an­other 20kg to that.

The rea­son we men­tion this is be­cause the Kawasaki’s power steer­ing feels a lit­tle light to us, as if it were de­signed for a heav­ier quad. Then again, the fact that it ac­cel­er­ates so fast and has a top speed of about 120km/h is a valid rea­son for the power steer­ing to feel slightly twitchy. It has a big job to do, keep­ing the ma­chine’s propen­sity for pil­lage un­der con­trol.

GE­NIUS LIT­TLE LEVER

Con­trol is one of this ma­chine’s strong points, and much of it swings on learn­ing to use that lit­tle lever on the han­dle­bars.

We’ve heard rid­ers com­plain that a mod­u­lat­ing diff lock is a waste of time: “Just an­other con­trol you have to mess around with.” We beg to dif­fer.

Granted, ex­tend­ing a sin­gle fin­ger might sound like too much hard work for some peo­ple, but we be­lieve the diff lock on this ma­chine is a bright yel­low stroke of ge­nius. When you learn to use it prop­erly, you too will re­alise the ben­e­fits.

And what might they be? Well, there’s al­ways the big log test. In our video of the Brute Force (go to http://bit.ly/TFMbrute), you will see Reg Grant and the Kawasaki climb over a large pile of logs, the re­mains of a long-dead Eu­ca­lyp­tus punc­tata.

The quad hes­i­tates as it tries to get the front wheels over the first log, at which point Reg ex­tends his fin­ger and pulls in the lever. The front wheels grab trac­tion and the quad then crawls up and onto the first ob­sta­cle. Hav­ing done the hard bit, Reg then re­leases the diff lock lever and has no fur­ther need for it on his way through the jumbled pile.

Reg made it look easy – and, for a rider of his abil­ity, it is. The only ev­i­dence he’d crawled over a nasty ob­ject was a scrape mark on the skid plate, a three-piece plas­tic de­vice which prom­ises lit­tle pro­tec­tion for rid­ers who have to ne­go­ti­ate rocks, creek boul­ders and other de­fi­ant ob­jects.

For­tu­nately, Kawasaki has gen­uine alu­minium skid plates. For a com­plete set, pro­tect­ing ev­ery­thing be­tween the front and rear CV joints, the price will be very close to $1300. If you can af­ford it, or even if you can’t, we’d rec­om­mend it.

Money can’t buy ev­ery­thing, of course, but you get a lot for the money with this ma­chine.

LOOKS THE PART

We’re tempted to say the Kawasaki Brute Force 750 ATV shares with the Suzuki 500 AXi an in­de­fin­able qual­ity that adds to its ap­peal. True, you need more than star qual­ity to carry and tow heavy loads, but hav­ing a ma­chine that looks ca­pa­ble of do­ing it eas­ily makes the task it­self seem eas­ier.

This quad is ac­tu­ally what the in­dus­try now likes to call a hy­brid. It has all the tough bits for car­ry­ing, tow­ing and go­ing off road, but also the fun bits for rid­ing fast, slid­ing through gravel cor­ners and blast­ing up hills.

You’ll never need more power than this en­gine gives you. Few Ja­panese ATV man­u­fac­tur­ers quote en­gine per­for­mance fig­ures but Kawasaki isn’t shy about it. The fuel-in­jected V-twin de­vel­ops 50hp (37kW) at 6750rpm and max­i­mum torque of 59Nm at 5250rpm. And yep, that’s enough.

The tow rat­ing is 567kg but, to be hon­est, we have no idea how man­u­fac­tur­ers de­ter­mine tow rat­ings. You’d ex­pect a larger, heav­ier ma­chine like the Po­laris Sports­man 850 SP to have a higher tow rat­ing, and it does, but at 680kg it’s more than 100kg higher. Maybe man­u­fac­tur­ers give their ma­chines a tow rat­ing they be­lieve the mar­ket will bear. Maybe farm­ers hook up what­ever they be­lieve their ma­chines will tow.

There’s cer­tainly plenty for the V-twin to do here but, oddly, the only thing it can’t do well is slow the ma­chine on a de­scent.

The V-twin has less en­gine brak­ing than we ex­pected. Where the Suzuki 500 Axi en­gine hap­pily re­strained its down­hill speed to 2km/h with no brakes, ol’ Su­per Black whis­tled down the hill at 7km/h and count­ing. This was dis­ap­point­ing and the only weak­ness we found in the 750 Brute Force, a quad we liked very much in ev­ery other re­spect.

SET­TLE DOWN

Off-road the Kawasaki has no chinks, un­less you con­sider the lit­tle plas­tic skid plate to be less than ideal. There’s noth­ing un­usual or in­no­va­tive from the CV joints at one end to the CV joints at the other. (There are no grease zerks, ei­ther.)

The sus­pen­sion is what you’d ex­pect on al­most any 4WD ATV – in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion front and rear, and shock ab­sorbers with preload ad­just­ment only.

Ride qual­ity on the Kawie is firm, def­i­nitely not as plush or ‘set­tled’ as the last quad we eval­u­ated on the same ter­ri­tory – the Suzuki KingQuad 500 AXi.

It’s not harsh as such, more the ride you’d ex­pect on a hy­brid with gobs of power and a sus­pen­sion setup de­signed to keep it all right side up. You wouldn’t want a Brute Force 750 with sloppy sus­pen­sion.

The 25-inch, rather than the more com­mon 26-inch, six-spoke cast alu­minium wheels look a bit small but don’t seem to ef­fect ground clear­ance in any mea­sure­able way, and we know from ex­pe­ri­ence that the Duro rough ter­rain tyres on this ma­chine are ca­pa­ble and durable.

The front brakes are strong, but the wet rear disc feels a lit­tle weak – as most wet brakes do. But­ter­fly ad­jus­tors are there to re­move any slack in the lever, and they suc­ceed, but you’re still rid­ing with the same type of brake and liv­ing with its in­her­ent weak­ness. Ad­just away. It’s still a weak brake.

Stor­age space is quite good, with a small pocket on the back of each front guard and a larger, shal­low waterproof box at the front, where on most ATVs you’d find the ra­di­a­tor top-up point.

The air fil­ter is easy to get at, so is the en­gine oil filler point, and the racks are steel.

To en­gage 4WD you push the but­ton and get 3WD – didn’t know that, did you? – but when you haul in the diff lock lever you ac­tu­ally do get 4WD, and plenty of it.

The Brute Force broad­casts the mes­sage that noth­ing short of a tank trap will stop it.

Pho­tos by Barry Ashen­hurst

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