Yamaha Ko­diak 450 ATV

When it comes to choos­ing a quad bike, there are plenty of fac­tors to con­sider: per­for­mance, com­fort, ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity, and be­ing ver­sa­tile enough for a wide range of tasks. Turns out the Yamaha Ko­diak 450 ATV is the ultimate mid-size ATV, Lyn­d­say Whit­tle

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

We test drove the Ko­diak at an ex-orchard, with plenty of chal­leng­ing ter­rain to put the bike through its paces. Property owner Mur­ray Firth was happy for us to use his place. His an­swer was swift and sim­ple: “So long as I can have a ride when you’ve fin­ished test­ing the ma­chine.”

Turns out he was just as keen as me to see the lat­est of­fer­ing from Yamaha in ac­tion. Both of us ap­pre­ci­ate a func­tional, wellper­form­ing ATV, hav­ing driven many of them over the decades in a va­ri­ety of sit­u­a­tions.

I’m not quite sure what planet I was on when I was think­ing of giv­ing the ATV a bit of hard ex­er­cise be­cause it turns out that we were in the mid­dle of one of the dri­est sum­mers I can re­call – no mud to be found any­where.

TEST

As soon as I took the Yamaha Ko­diak off the ramps of the trans­porter, I took it for a ride around Mur­ray’s 10-acre block and im­me­di­ately headed for what is usu­ally a boggy low point, where in the past I’ve been too scared to take his trusty old Fer­gu­son with the ro­tary slasher on the back.

How­ever, my heart sank, as on this oc­ca­sion it was as dry as a bone. No chal­lenges here to­day, sorry! A visit to an­other usu­ally boggy bit of the property pro­duced a sim­i­lar re­sult and it dawned on me that there wouldn’t be any­where within a coun­try mile that would be wet enough for the task, save dumping 20,000 litres of pre­cious wa­ter on the test bed be­fore­hand.

Just as I was won­der­ing what to do next, Mur­ray ap­peared and an­nounced that he had a cou­ple of main­te­nance jobs that he wouldn’t mind a hand with when I had a spare mo­ment. One job was to cut back some gorse that needed a bit of a trim, while the other was to drill half a dozen post­holes.

As both jobs were at far-flung corners of the property, the Yamaha Ko­diak EPS 450 ATV would be per­fect for get­ting the nec­es­sary chain­saws, post­hole borer, augers, and all of the as­so­ci­ated safety gear that goes with them to the job site.

The front rack has a car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity of 40kg and the rear has 80kg. Our load, by na­ture of its shape, would have weighed in un­der that but nonethe­less pro­vided a good idea of the ma­chine’s load-car­ry­ing ca­pa­bil­ity.

With the ATV loaded and ready to go, I placed one foot on the large footwell and was eas­ily able to throw the other leg over

One of the first things to im­press me about the Yamaha Ko­diak was the com­fort it pro­vided, both in rid­ing po­si­tion and the smooth­ness of its sus­pen­sion.

the seat with­out any hint of my leg be­ing fouled on the load placed on the rear rack.

While it’s fair to say that I wouldn’t be the largest-framed rider who would ever op­er­ate an ATV of this size, there was a tonne of room to mount and dis­mount, and for taller, larger op­er­a­tors to get on and off with ease, cour­tesy of the ex­tra-large footwell and long com­fort­able seat.

SUS­PEN­SION

One of the first things to im­press me about the Yamaha Ko­diak was the com­fort it pro­vided – both in rid­ing po­si­tion and the smooth­ness of its sus­pen­sion.

Speak­ing of sus­pen­sion, I have to say that while I never re­ally got to put the Ko­diak’s long-stroke sus­pen­sion to any mean­ing­ful use on this oc­ca­sion, the close-up photo of the front sus­pen­sion gives an in­di­ca­tion of its beefy na­ture.

Hav­ing car­ried out the jobs with the chain­saws and post­hole borer and de­liv­ered them safely back to the shed, it was ap­par­ent that this workhorse had han­dled the task as if it had no load aboard at all, which left me lament­ing the ab­sence of rainy weather to soften the ter­rain.

SIZE & CA­PAC­ITY

De­ter­mined to find a job to test the Yamaha Ko­diak met­tle, I looked around for some other way to put it to test and spot­ted my stan­dard-size 6x4-foot car trailer. I won­dered if the ma­chine would fit on it, which it did with ease.

This lat­est Yamaha Ko­diak has a heav­ier-duty chas­sis with a wider track and a 600kg tow­ing ca­pac­ity.

I fig­ured it would be in­ter­est­ing to see how it would han­dle tow­ing the 300kg trailer up and down a few hills. Just to make things a lit­tle more in­ter­est­ing, I loaded a 200-litre drum and filled it with wa­ter, giv­ing us an all-up weight of around 500kg.

This job had the two-fold pur­pose of set­ting a test for the ma­chine and of pro­vid­ing some much-needed nu­tri­tion to a re­cently planted com­mem­o­ra­tive tree that was start­ing to wilt in the re­cent heat­wave.

I did think that ask­ing an ATV of this size to drag half a tonne (plus its own weight of 295kg) up and down slopes of around 20 de­grees would be ask­ing a bit much, but the task was han­dled with ease, with­out the need to shift to low range or ac­ti­vate the push but­ton four-wheel drive func­tion.

At a tad un­der 450cc, the en­gine’s ca­pac­ity is ac­tu­ally 421cc

and is fuel-in­jected. There was plenty of power to carry out any task I asked of it on the day. Not only did it tow a load that was fairly close to its rated ca­pac­ity up steep gra­di­ents but the en­gine (along with Yamaha’s Ul­tra­matic ATV drive sys­tem) also did a great job of pre­vent­ing the trailer from push­ing the unit on the down­hill runs, where I barely needed to touch the brakes.

FEA­TURES

Right from the mo­ment I threw my leg over the Yamaha Ko­diak, I knew I was in for an en­joy­able day’s ride. All the con­trols are positioned per­fectly for some­one of my size (I’m 165cm tall/ short and weigh 72kg). Steer­ing the ATV was easy thanks to elec­tronic power steer­ing (EPS), a fea­ture I found par­tic­u­larly handy when need­ing to back the trailer into a tight spot.

Nat­u­rally, it would de­pend on the sit­u­a­tion the pur­chaser in­tended to use the Yamaha Ko­diak in as to whether they both­ered to fit rear-view mir­rors or not. In this in­stance, where I didn’t have any mir­rors, I had to turn my head and op­er­ate the throt­tle with the thumb of my left hand – a task that would have been nigh on im­pos­si­ble with­out the ben­e­fit of power steer­ing.

I par­tic­u­larly liked the large LCD dig­i­tal dash, which was eas­ily read­able even on a scorch­ing bright sum­mer day. How­ever, I would have liked indi­ca­tors to in­form me when the ma­chine was shifted to high and low range to ac­com­pany the neu­tral, re­verse, and park indi­ca­tors on the dis­play panel.

The shifting lever for these func­tions was on the left-hand side as it would nor­mally be in a car or truck, but the raised H-L-NR-P be­side the lever was dif­fi­cult to see – the soli­tary nig­gle I had at the end of the day.

Shifting from 2WD to 4WD is car­ried out with a sim­ple push of a but­ton sit­u­ated on the right han­dle­bar, with a 4X4 icon il­lu­mi­nat­ing when four-wheel drive is ac­ti­vated.

Both the Yamaha Ko­diak 450 and 700 are fit­ted with three head­lights: one sits amid­ship and turns with the han­dle­bars and two con­ven­tional car-type lights are tucked in be­hind the bush bar. This is a handy fea­ture which still gives for­ward light­ing, even when the front rack is car­ry­ing a load ob­scur­ing the han­dle­bar light.

A mid-mounted tail/stop light is also part of the stan­dard pack­age. A fea­ture I thank­fully didn’t get to use, which is in­cor­po­rated in the de­sign of the tow bar, causes the tow bar to shear if the trailed im­ple­ment over­turns, pre­vent­ing a rollover of the tow­ing ve­hi­cle – a nice safety fea­ture in­deed.

VER­DICT

The Yamaha Ko­diak 450 proved its ver­sa­til­ity in trans­port­ing a host of everyday tasks, in­clud­ing tow­ing a trailer with 200 litres of wa­ter among other chores. While any of these jobs could have eas­ily been car­ried out with the trusty old trac­tor, it would have meant dis­con­nect­ing what­ever im­ple­ment was at­tached to the trac­tor at the time.

The ATV was ready and wait­ing to be put to work at a mo­ment’s no­tice. Not only that, it’s also com­pact enough to be ex­cep­tion­ally ma­noeu­vrable and is quick on its feet as well. It’s ideal for all man­ner of jobs on a work­ing farm, but I was par­tic­u­larly im­pressed with the smooth­ness of the changes with shifting through the trans­mis­sion ranges. I man­aged to get it up to 35km/h on a short length of track, with plenty of speed left for any­one with greater dis­tances to cover.

With tons of room for get­ting on and off (even with a load on the rear 80kg-ca­pac­ity rack), once seated, I felt that I could’ve sat there all day with ab­so­lutely no com­plaints.

Also, the sus­pen­sion gave a smooth ride, with the ex­tra-wide foot­print pro­vid­ing a feel­ing of sta­bil­ity on slopes. While the test ATV wasn’t fit­ted with a winch, all Yamaha Ko­diak 450 and 700 mod­els are pre-wired for this func­tion.

The Yamaha Ko­diak 450 proved its ver­sa­til­ity in trans­port­ing a host of everyday tasks, in­clud­ing tow­ing a trailer with 200 litres of wa­ter.

1. We test drove the Ko­diak at an ex­or­chard, with plenty of chal­leng­ing ter­rain to put the bike through its paces 2. The Ko­diak 450 fea­tures a push but­ton 4WD and thumb throt­tle 3. The shifting lever for neu­tral, re­verse, and park func­tions is on...

This lat­est Yamaha Ko­diak has a heav­ier-duty chas­sis with a wider track and a 600kg tow­ing ca­pac­ity

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