YAMAHA has launched a completely new ATV quad, the Kodiak 450. With 80 per cent of the Yamaha quad range being purchased for agricultural and commercial purposes, Yamaha has endeavoured to engineer a quad that can be ridden comfortably all day, can be easily maintained, and comes with a laundry list of accessories. Safety is also a big part of the new Kodiak launch, with Yamaha focusing heavily on education and training.
The Kodiak receives a completely new chassis to accommodate an all-new 421cc single-cylinder engine and EFI set-up. Those familiar with the outgoing Grizzly 450 would notice the fresh new bodywork and a longer, narrower seat. The wheel tracks have been widened and lengthened for increased stability and ground clearance, while the suspension set-up has seen an increase in travel. From the use of rubber engine mounts to reduce engine vibration, wider-foot wheels and raised handlebars with relocated shifter for increased cockpit comfort, Yamaha has gone above and beyond to increase rider comfort… even the thumb throttle has received an ergonomic update.
At its launch, we pushed the capabilities of the Kodiak 450 over varying terrain – muddy water crossings, rutted-out hill climbs, steep descents and rocky tracks – and we got a good sense of what can be achieved with this entry-level ATV workhorse. It’s comfortable to ride, with the longer-travel, gas-charge suspension soaking up corrugations and ruts, making it nimble enough to handle tight, single-track terrain and confident enough to tackle steep, rutted-out climbs.
Having a play with the on-the-fly-4WD button and low-range gearing proved more of a confidence booster than anything else, as almost all the terrain we tackled could be used in 2WD and high-range. However, selecting 4WD and low-range afforded more control and is a great aid for less-confident users.
The new brake set-up runs discs on the front and a sealed rear brake; the sealed rear brake set-up has been designed to be extremely low-maintenance and reduce noise. The rear brakes are somewhat lacklustre, but the front brakes take up the slack; you wouldn’t want to rely on the rear brakes to pull you up in a hurry on their own.
The fuel-injected 421cc engine is mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that has a centrifugal clutch pack allowing the drive wheel not to spin against the belt at idle, to reduce heat and wear. Throttle response is sharp and all you need for any working environment; it’s enough to have fun with but not to get you into too much trouble. And tool-free access to the often-neglected oiled foam air filter negates any excuse not to keep up with maintenance.
The payload of the Kodiak is extremely impressive, with 40kg capacity rack up front, 80kg capacity rack on the rear, and an ability to tow 600kg. This might keep the 4WD in the shed for day-to-day jobs on the farm, until you need to travel far with a lot of gear.
The model we tested had an optional power steering upgrade that’s well worth the extra $1000. The Kodiak comes with a 12V power outlet and is prewired to accept an optional 2000lb or 2500lb Warn winch. You can fit out the little workhorse with a windshield, gun holder, cargo boxes, cooler carrier and even a seat warmer. There is a Snow Plow available, but unfortunately you’ll have to order that from overseas.
The Kodiak is extremely capable and a well-thought-out design, representing extremely good value and a bit of fun. There are two variants: the Kodiak 450 retails at $10,299, and the power steering model (EPS) as standard at $11,299.