The rocky and root-strewn switchbacks of the 100,000-acre Capitol State Forest outside Olympia, Washington, proved to be good testing grounds for Yamaha's all-new Kodiak 450 ATV. Powered by a 421cc liquid-cooled, electronic fuel injected engine, Yamaha's versatile off-roader overcame even steep rock climbs while clocking better than 50 miles per hour down the forest's logging roads.
So, how does that Kodiak 450 with 25-inch tires, 10 inches of ground clearance and a full-length skid plate, translate into the long days and nights of constant hazard and climatic extremes on the farm and ranch? Yamaha bets the answer will be "very well."
Yamaha ended production of its previous Kodiak 450 line two years ago. In that time it has produced a compact, On-Command 4WD vehicle built to hug the ground. The 2018 Kodiak 450 is the smaller cousin to the Kodiak 700. Both Kodiaks trace their heritage to the big bore, market-leading Grizzly 700 ATV (the Kodiak 700 and Grizzly 700 mount 708cc engines).
The 650-pound Kodiak 450 is not just a full-sized Kodiak with a smaller engine. It runs on a "torquey" power plant (Yamaha's word for low speed, high torque), with good cold-start characteristics and reliable fuel delivery. Its Ultramatic transmission has a centrifugal clutch that maintains constant belt tension for reduced wear. An optional electric power steering (EPS) system provides predictable steering assistance matched to road conditions. EPS adds about $1,000 to the base cost of the Kodiak 450. The EPS package includes a handlebar-mounted halogen headlight.
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The big and sporty Grizzly is built for recreation. The compact Kodiak 450, with all-wheel, downhill braking is practical for work and easy to use, Yamaha says. For example, the Kodiak 450's seat sits lower to the ground than the Grizzly. The positioning makes a full day of mounting and dismounting the ATV (checking calves, fixing fence, scouting fields) less of a physical chore.
The Kodiak 450 carries 88 pounds and 176 pounds respectively, on beefy front and rear tube-type racks. The ATV tows 1,322 pounds. The Kodiak comes factory pre-wired for an optional 2,000-pound Warn winch.
The track width of the 2018 Kodiak 450 is 3 inches wider compared to older-model 450s. The extra width improves driving precision and by that measure, operating confidence, Yamaha says. The extra width allowed Yamaha to mount longer, higher-quality gas-charged shocks to this Kodiak 450. It's a design consideration that dampens the jolt of roots, trees and rocks.
Much thought went into the design of the driver space. Good driver ergonomics equals comfort, and it builds operator confidence. Handlebars, floorboards and seat define the boundaries of that space. The Kodiak's tall handlebars are swept back to accommodate a range of rider heights. The gated shifter has been pushed up and forward out of the driver space. The plush seat is fairly narrow, but 4 inches longer than the previous 450 to accommodate a variety of rider shapes and sizes. Its wide floorboards and narrow chassis creates a sizable, open space for feet and legs that are both protected by the Kodiak's front fenders.
Then, there are those nice, often underappreciated tweaks manufacturers make. Rubber engine mounts reduce vibrations from the engine area of the Kodiak 450. The throttle control is larger and curved, improving throttle control through tight turns. A new LCD instrument cluster gives information on speed, transmission status and fuel level. The Kodiak 450 has under-seat storage and a 12-volt power outlet. The foam air filter can be changed or cleaned without tools.
The base Kodiak 450 without EPS sells for $5,999. With EPS, prices range from $6,899 to $7,149. Colors are Red, Hunter Green, Armor Gray (with aluminum wheels) and Fall Beige (with Realtree Xtra).
For more information go to: www.yamahamotorsports.com
Dan Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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