2012 Kawasaki Brute Force 300 Review
Ripping down the trail on a deeply displaced, fire-breathing Utility ATV makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. The adrenaline rush cannot be explained; itís one of those things that has to be experienced to really appreciate. But jumping onto a high-powered ATV isnít the first vehicle a new riders should hop on, and itís not smart to put a younger rider graduating from a smaller ATV onto something so powerful so quickly.
Thatís where the Brute Force 300 enters the picture. This new ATV from Kawasaki in more of an entry-level unit from the company that is ideal for an intermediate rider or a younger rider looking to graduate to a larger vehicle. Most importantly, while this vehicle may be an entry-level unit in the Brute Force lineup, it certainly proves that a small-bore Sport Utility ATV can be just as much fun to ride on the trails. We had our stereotypical doubts that it would underwhelm, but it wasnít until we had some real seat time that we realized the preconceived notions at first glance were totally off beat.
The Brute Force lineage from Kawasaki has long offered quality looks and a level of dependability on the trail, but for utility ATVs (more known for their workhorse ability and not so much their comofort) the lineup still provides great comfort and ergonomic designs that make the vehicle easy and fun to operate. Keeping this in mind, the Brute Force 300 definitely has some of the same exciting mannerisms and does indeed show off its classy bodywork just like its larger displaced siblings. At first glance we thought that Kawasaki had created a ďMini MeĒ version of the Brute Force, but really the BF300 somehow feels like you are actually on a larger quad.
The engine equipped on this new unit is a 271cc liquid-cooled four-stroke thumper that draws in air through its 32mm Keihin carburetor. The carbureted engine is liquid cooled to keep operating temperatures down. A two-speed automatic transmission with a reverse gear included. Kawasaki rates the newest Brute Force to have 20 total horsepower, which is more enough to have a load of fun for the graduating young rider but itís still not a massive jump in the learning curve. It seems to be spot on for almost anyone looking to go to the next level in the off-road arena. Delivering the power to the ground is a shaft drive unit that eliminates chain maintenance altogether.
The front suspension on the Brute Force 300 features dual-wishbone arms that yield 5.2 inches of total travel. This amount of suspension travel means the ride isnít going to be as tiring on the tougher trail systems. Out back Kawasakiís swing-arm design allows the solid axle machine to be flexible up to 5.6 inches, and this will also reinforce the comfort for this smaller displacement Brute Force. In line with other ATVs in this class, the BF300 features coilover gas-charged shocks that come standard.
The main concern when getting an ATV for a younger or beginner to intermediate rider should be its braking ability. Kawasaki was on point with the brakes on this Brute Force, as the ATV utilizes dual 180mm hydraulic discs up front and a single hydraulic 180mm disc in the rear, which provides plenty of stopping power on the trail. The discs are actually drilled as well to help with heat dissipation and clean out of debris on wet or muddy trails. This feature alone is a clear sign of the attention to detail on the machine.
So when you look at this new Brute Force you might notice the front and rear rack system that begs the ATV to be worked like a mule. The steel racks are in place so that when fun gives way to chores the hauling is made easy and with a front rack rated for 44 pounds, which can easily accommodate a bag or two of feed or maybe even a bail of the finest alfalfa hay to take out to the horses. Donít forget about the rear rack as well, which is rated even higher at 66 pounds. This makes for a good bargaining tool for the enthusiast on the farm, as he or she can use the vehicle for yard work while still being able to enjoy it on the trails. If the need to tow arises, the rear hitch on the Brute Force 300 can be labored with a trailer and haul up to 500 pounds. Not too shabby for a small displacement ATV.
Our seat time on the Brute was in Wampum, PA, at the Mines and Meadows riding area. This diverse selection of terrain gave each rider in our group the chance to really put the 300cc engine to the test. Being a larger rider I was admittedly worried that the little slugger would have trouble impressing me, much less hauling me. I was very surprised to find out that I was dead wrong on every point. The four-stroke thumper has so much heart and when the throttle is smashed forward this thing sails. The diversity of the trails offering huge, rutted hill climbs, hard-pack trails where you could run flat out, and a mine that unless you have on the twin 35-watt headlights you wonít be able to see inside of it.
There were rocky sections to test the flexibility of the Brute Force as well as some really gnarly mud. I am happy to say that no matter what we threw at the Brute Force 300 it took it all in stride, and with the comfort of the seating and overall ergonomics of the machine placed really well we had an awesome time. Are there any points of the machine I would change? Well, sorta, but thatís because I am a larger and taller rider. Being that I am a larger rider I need a higher handlebar location. Maybe a 1.5-inch riser could have made it easier for me when I ride standing up, and also a little more for my legs when turning, as I turn really deep and aggressive. These are things that, as I mentioned, would be a tall riderís concerns and wouldnít impact a younger rider or someone smaller. I was happy all day while riding the machine, and even though the 300 doesnít provide the same level of suspension travel as say a sport ATV, it the limited suspension travel held up like a champ.
Building a friendly and easy-to-ride vehicle really seemed to be the goal for Kawasaki with the Brute Force 300. The fact that a rider can graduate without parents worrying that their skill level would be exceeded really puts an option on the table when that time comes. This Brute Force is very simple and maintenance friendly, and with a price of $4199 itís a great bargain all the way around. For more information on the Brute Force 300, visit Kawasaki.com.