First Ride: 2012 Kawasaki Brute Force 750 4X4i EPS
Kawasaki steps back into the spotlight in 2012 with a revised Brute Force ATV platform that includes more power, new looks and the addition of power steering. The testing grounds for our Brute Force 750 4X4i would prove worthy of a wide gamut of obstacles. The wild woods of Timber Mountain OHV in Medford, Oregon, set the stage to grind the machine and prove to the media it is a worthy performer.
Kawasaki made strides to improve and refine its Brute Force 750 4X4i for the 2012 model year, with the engineers providing one of the biggest updates with the addition of electronic power steering. This would be one more item to get the media talking and get ATV riders pumped about this new machine. Roaming into the sleepy little town of Medford, Oregon, we found ourselves captured by the sheer beauty of the lush greenery, cool climates, high altitudes and spectacular mountainous views. This is where Kawasaki would not only give us a new and well-refined machine, but it would also prove again that even in the current economy the company is actively pursuing the industry spotlight by refusing to sit still and wait.
The new Brute Force 750 4X4i with electronic power steering was unleashed upon the off-road world for 2012. This KYB-built power steering unit was adapted to select Brute Force sport utility ATVs and with torsion sensing technology, rider input to the bars is computed and then diagnosed before the on-board ECU gives instructions as to how the power steering will react. The amount of assist is lowered as the Brute picks up speed until at a given point it no longer assists at all. This is to help the rider feel more in control at higher speeds. According to Kawasaki, this will result in precise control for the rider.
The power steering is a great addition, but Kawasaki was not done refining the already awesome Brute Force 750. The V-Twin fuel-injected Brute Force 750 has always attracted the go-fast riders in the ATV world, but now with many changes by the masterminds in the Kawasaki laboratory there is even more to the punch. The company developed a new head and cylinder for the powerplant that lays down even more power to the ground. The compression ratio was increased by simply bolting on a set of KVF650F cylinder heads, and with the addition of a new cam design that reduces friction while increasing lift the project was off and rolling.
The final step to improve the engineís performance came at the end of the line at the exhaust. The exhaust tube length has been revised with the addition of two more pass through holes in the exhaust canister, allowing the fire within to get out in a hurry. With a refined fuel-injection mapping and 36mm throttle bodies, the Kawasaki Brute Force 750 will be a brute force for sure. With the addition in power there is also a lot more heat, and keeping such a big engine cool required a larger radiator. But Kawasaki took it a step further by adding larger fan and radiator hoses to help combat as well. This means that the slow days on the trail wonít hurt the heart of the brute, and when the rider decides to really smack this Brute on the fanny everything will work as planned!
Some great features returning on the Brute Force 750 are the variable differential control, which is located on the left side of the handle bars. This little lever lets the rider control how much front differential lock they need for any specific trail obstacle. The lever is simply pulled in and the more it is compressed the more front diff lock you will have. This is good for really tough, rocky terrain or steep hill climbs.
We have talked a lot about speed, and with the invention of go-fast ATVs there has also been strides made in the stopping department as well. The front brakes on the Kawasaki Brute Force are dual-piston calipers with the rear being sealed in the differential itself. The rear multi-disc brake assembly is simply amazing, as it is sealed in the differential, bathed in the diff oil, and has wear resistance that has been claimed to last the life of the ATV if properly maintained. The great thing about this brake setup is that it is not affected by outside trail conditions. If the front brakes are not sealed and get wet they can slip for just a second, but the rear brakes on the Brute Force 750 will always be there when you need them!
The ride is what itís all about at the end of the day, and we had our turn to really tweak up the Kawasaki Brute Force 750 4X4i EPS just to see if the hype was justified. The rugged terrain in the Timber Mountain OHV ride area took us higher and higher until we could almost see heaven. The Brute Force has a very comfortable saddle, and even though I ride standing most of the time it was like a really nice recliner each time I did sit down. Every control was just within reach, and for my riding style it fit perfectly. The independent suspension both front and rear helped soak up the harshest areas on the trail while keeping the quad stable, and even with the changes to the springs on the suspension the machine still rode very well.
There is the need for a tougher tire if you plan to do a lot of trail riding, as the stockers are only 2-ply tires. It has been my experience that the 6-ply tire would be better for really rocky terrain and an aggressive riding style. The power steering assist IMO could use a bit more help in the stopped to 5 mph area, as it was still just a bit stiff compared to its competition. The power in this machine is incredible and with only the snap of the throttle the front end gets light. I had no trouble launching the front wheels as I encountered the rocks and downed trees.
Click here for more 2012 Brute Force specs.
Overall the machine is pretty much ready to go for trail riding and needs little to nothing in terms of upgrades. This machine is great for a full day of riding, and it leaves you dreaming of the next ride. Youíll have to experience it for yourself to understand, so what are you waiting for?