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Farms & Farm Machinery - - First Drive -

This would be a great learner ma­chine. It feels com­pact and, thanks to the speed-sen­si­tive power steer­ing, it’s easy to make it change di­rec­tion.

The rid­ing po­si­tion feels nat­u­ral and, since the trans­mis­sion is one of the slick­est in the in­dus­try, you think of it only when chang­ing from 2WD to 4WD or from high to low range or vice versa. As far as ‘push the but­ton and drive’ goes, it’s fool­proof.

A bunch of mon­grel farm journos rode the Ko­diak all day dur­ing the of­fi­cial launch, and I’d have to say that de­spite the go­daw­ful dust I en­joyed it.

With­out get­ting mushy about it, the Ko­diak does what mid-size ATVs do best. It feels small, ma­noeu­vrable, light on its feet, and best suited to tech­ni­cal rid­ing where ac­cu­rate wheel place­ment and throt­tle con­trol are all im­por­tant.

Top speed is about 80km/h but you need no more than that when you’re pok­ing along at low speed all day. What you do need are ex­cel­lent er­gonomics, a re­spon­sive bot­tom end and a big, wide seat for big, wide bums. This is a ca­pa­ble ATV with ex­cel­lent sus­pen­sion.

The fa­mil­iari­sa­tion course Yamaha pre­pared for us wasn’t chal­leng­ing but did give me an op­por­tu­nity to gauge over­all brak­ing power.

The front disc brakes are strong and pro­vide plenty of feel when you have to stop in a hurry. I like ‘em. The sealed rear brake, not so much.

Man­u­fac­tur­ers put rear brakes in a sealed en­vi­ron­ment be­cause the rear of an ATV is where all the muck is. En­clos­ing the brake pro­longs ser­vice life and re­duces main­te­nance, but in just about ev­ery in­stance, sealed brakes have lit­tle actual brak­ing power. So it is with the Ko­diak.

The strange thing is that the rear brake feels a lit­tle more ef­fec­tive through the lever than through the pedal.

Yamaha says down­hill en­gine brak­ing feels ‘nat­u­ral’, and prob­a­bly does, but in low range it’s ac­tu­ally about av­er­age, def­i­nitely not as good as en­gine brak­ing on the Suzuki 500 KingQuad, pos­si­bly the in­dus­try’s most com­plete mid­size ATV.

On the other hand the Ko­diak has bet­ter down­hill brak­ing than some brands, and that’s why we say it’s av­er­age.

As one of the Yamaha blokes said when we were dis­cussing sta­bil­ity dur­ing the prod­uct launch, “It’d be nice to make the Ko­diak as wide as a Humvee, but that wouldn’t help when you’re try­ing to coax a mob of cat­tle out of the scrub”.

True, of course, but you have to give Yamaha a thumbs-up for mak­ing the Ko­diak as wide as it can be with­out com­pro­mis­ing ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity.

Power is nice too. Bot­tom-end ac­cel­er­a­tion won’t rip your sun­nies off but it’s lively enough to help you change di­rec­tion quickly with a blip on the throt­tle. Smooth power off the bot­tom also helps when you’re climb­ing over logs and rocks.

This en­gine is per­fectly matched to the Ko­diak’s job sheet but the first thing I no­ticed was how smooth gear se­lec­tion is. On cheap quads the se­lec­tor mech­a­nism has to be wrenched through the gate, but the Yamaha’s se­lec­tor moves like a chain­saw though cheese­cake.

Bar height feels OK but tall blokes will have to reach down when they’re stand­ing, and that can be un­com­fort­able. I doubt that bar ris­ers are pos­si­ble but it’d be nice if they were.

Above: The small odds and ends box is the only stor­age area on this ma­chine

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