The increasingly popular UTV/side-by-side sector offers a wide range of choices for farm or rural mobility, which has been made even broader with a new machine from Yamaha.
For those looking for an ATV to take on heavy loads or tough conditions, it would be difficult to come across a more capable machine than the Yamaha Kodiak 700 EPS.
Shod on heavy-duty, 25-inch diameter Maxxis tyres, carried on 12-inch steel wheels, and weighing 307kg, the 700 is certainly a large machine, but its physical attributes mean it’s good for 600kg at the tow-bar and a useful 140kg spread between the front and rear racks.
Out on the farm, the Kodiak – despite its weight – is easy to point in the required direction thanks to the electronic steering system that keeps effort light and offers good feedback over changing surfaces or terrain.
The SOHC 4-valve 686cc single-cylinder, fuel-injected engine starts easily and quickly settles to a steady tick-over. Hitting the throttle results in smooth, rapid progress, aided by Yamaha’s Ultramatic CVT system, which has a toothed drive belt kept under constant tension. This gives excellent downhill retardation, with all wheel braking delivered by the one-way sprag clutch set up.
Sitting on the machine, the wide, long seat accommodates all sizes of riders, while full length footboards give a sense of safety and stop seasoned bikers from “putting their feet down” before the vehicle comes to a stop.
Countering the turn of speed, disc brakes all round bring things to a controlled stop, with the right hand lever controlling the twin discs at the front and the left lever or the right foot pedal actuating the rear single disc.
On the farm race, the ride quality feels very pliable, edging towards soft, but certainly leads to a very comfortable ride. A double wishbone, A-arm set up utilises specially designed KYB shock absorbers, offering 180mm of travel at the bow and 230mm at the stern.
Pulling an 80-teat calfeteria loaded with 500 litres of milk along the main farm race and through muddy gateways was certainly taken in its stride, with 4WD only engaged to stop the front tyres washing out on turns. The flat contours of the central Waikato meant there was never any need to hit the diff-lock button.
A couple of weeks with the 700 suggests it would be easy to live with and maintain.