The Japanese have us pegged. Given a choice, we Americans usually want more power and more speed. Too much power? Bah! Just make sure it's also comfortable and safe, but not TOO safe. Enter the Brute Force 750.
Only a year after introducing the Prairie 700 4×4 with its powerful V-twin engine, Kawasaki has unveiled yet another four-wheel-drive ATV that sets new standards of performance. Farm Industry News was invited to try it out at a sneak preview on the fields, mud bogs and forests of the private Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.
Unlike a lot of new product introductions that are tightly controlled to the point of being unrealistic and, well, boring, this event was as wide open as we wanted it to be. A few beginning riders/journalists who valued their necks wisely chose to play follow the leader at a sensible pace. But with years of farm and forest ATV riding experience under my belt, I chose to go with the advanced group, which perhaps wasn't as wise as it was fun.
It turned out the advanced riders included a group of speed-crazed hooligans — my kind of guys. But as I ate their dust, it quickly became apparent that their riding skills far surpassed those of a simple farm boy.
There was the guy from the ATV racing circuit who represented a Web site called ATV Rage. I watched in awe as he immediately started popping wheelies, tearing across the field at 35 mph on only two wheels. After grabbing some big air jumping over humps on the motocross course, he then drove through a 3-ft.-deep stream with water up past the seat. When the machine didn't stall and miraculously pulled itself out, Mr. Rage gave the Brute Force a big thumbs up.
Also in the advanced group was a guy from Kawasaki's Team Green racing group who was kind enough to slow down and wait for me on quite a few occasions. This guy climbed up incredibly steep slopes and drove over rocks and logs that looked impossible to me. Then I followed and was amazed that I could do it too.
Things went well until I got cocky and decided to try and grab some of my own air on the motocross course. Big mistake. Once airborne, I had no idea what I was doing and flipped the machine, and myself, over backwards. Fortunately the dirt was soft and I had a helmet on, my only injury being my pride. The machine's automatic kill switch stopped the engine immediately. After I sheepishly got up and tipped the machine upright again, it started right up, seemingly no worse for wear except for a slightly bent rear luggage rack. Sorry about that, Kawasaki.
Power plus control
The Brute Force is powered by the industry's largest and most powerful engine — a liquid-cooled, 749-cc V-Twin fitted with SOHC four-valve heads and plated alloy cylinders. Based on the Prairie 700 4×4, the Brute Force 750 4×4i offers riders the highest peak torque and highest peak power in its class, as well as superior acceleration with a top speed of 67 mph. Even with its incredible horsepower and sturdy chassis, the Brute Force weighs only 604 lbs., just 2 lbs. more than the Prairie 700 4×4.
But power is nothing without control, so one of the most notable features of this machine is a finely tuned yet extremely rugged suspension. Combined with all-new double A-arm front suspension, the fully independent double wishbone rear suspension offers a comfortable ride and excellent handling at all speeds and over rough terrain. I drove the machine for an entire afternoon, probably much faster and over much rougher terrain than I should have, and was still very comfortable at the end of the day.
The Brute Force has an easy-to-operate, smooth-shifting, automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) with “selectable” four-wheel drive. But my favorite feature was Kawasaki's variable front differential control. With the little yellow “diff lock” lever always within reach of my left hand, I couldn't find a way to get this machine stuck. The traction was tremendous. Though there wasn't anything for us to pull at this event, I could see how the diff lock in low range could prove very handy when starting out pulling a heavy trailer.
A sturdy double-cradle chassis, dual-piston front disc brakes and Kawasaki's sealed, oil-bathed, multi-disc rear brake system round out an all-around excellent package. With the seat removed, it looked like it would be fairly easy to do general maintenance such as spark plug and oil changes.
Other features include a four-bulb headlight; storage compartments in the left and right front fenders; oval storage compartment located opposite the muffler; a large 5.4-gal. fuel tank; front and rear cargo racks with a total weight capacity of 264 lbs.; 12v accessory outlets at the front and rear fenders; space to fit a winch inside the front guard; and a trailer hitch bracket. Base price: $7,599.
Yes, this brute comes ready to work. But can anyone operate it without opening it up to grab a quick smile? I doubt it. You might want to think twice about buying one of these if you've got teenagers around who you'd like to see take over the farm or go off to college one day. And if you get a chance to buy or drive the Brute yourself, for gosh sakes wear a helmet. With this much power waiting to be used, you never know when you'll get the urge to crack the throttle.