By Chaz Rice
Kawasaki introduced the largest-displacement ATV engine ever available (so far) near the site of the largest house in America. The only other appropriate place to introduce this engine would have been Texas (everything’s big in Texas), but Kawasaki already chose that state, in 2001, for the introduction of the Prairie 650 — at that time the largest ATV engine available.
So, in the shadows of the Biltmore House in Asheville, N.C., Kawasaki representatives unveiled an engine that represents the new displacement benchmark.
The Brute Force 750’s engine displaces 749 cubic centimeters — a record for any mass-produced ATV released by one of the major ATV manufacturers as of press time.
This is also Kawasaki’s first attempt at an independent rear suspension. Although overshadowed by the engine, the rear suspension of the machine proved good, and feels like the Yamaha Grizzly 660 may have been somewhat of a benchmark.
Kawasaki decided not to go with EFI on the Brute Force 750 4x4i, but it did pay extra-special attention to fuel delivery. The dual carbs are 2mm bigger than those on the Prairie 700 and there is a new, straighter tract from carb to cylinder. By doing so, Kawasaki says throttle response is improved, as is low-end torque.
Kawasaki increased the bore of the V-Twin’s two cylinders 3mm — a displacement increase of 52cc. The cylinders are aluminum and of an all-new design. Each cylinder features SOHC. The V-Twin also delivers its distinct exhaust note, but it’s a little more pronounced with a new silencer design.
While Kawasaki knows this machine will be well-used by farmers and such, it also knows performance-oriented consumers desire instantaneous throttle hit. The torque of the machine was awesome.
Kawasaki also redesigned the throttle linkage between the carbs.
According to Kawi, the redesigned engine pumps out 50.2 hp. Considering the machine weighs 604 pounds dry, it has an impressive power-to-weight ratio that is sure to get performance freaks salivating.
Adding to that light weight is a smaller, more-efficient radiator Kawasaki designed specifically for this project. And this radiator seemed to keep the 750 cool as the fan didn’t come on a lot, as it does with the 700.
For the time being, Kawasaki is the displacement king. Who will be the first manufacturer to surpass the 749cc mark set by Team Green? Who knows, but for now, this is an ATV thrill ride.
Rest of the Package
Out in the field, the redesigned engine seemed to work well when compared to the Prairie 700. Low-end response feels better and all-around engine performance felt improved. This should satisfy most performance, recreational riders and make the workhorses happy, too. Top end and mid-range felt about the same as the Prairie 700, however.
The chassis is completely new and cushy. It is much taller and wider than the 700, so it feels mammoth when compared to the Prairie 700. If the 700 is a sportbike, than the Brute Force is a cruiser. For taller riders, the handlebar-to-floorboard relationship is more comfortable.
Speaking of floorboards, the Brute Force boasts some great ones. They are much more robust than those found on previous Prairie models.
The most important aspect of the Brute force has to be the suspension — not just the rear, but the front, too. After years of sticking by the rear swingarm and solid axle design, Kawasaki designed an IRS system, which consumers were asking for.
It works well for a first attempt and is on par with its competitors. It does offer a superior ride when compared to the Prairie 700. Over items like rocks and logs, the Brute Force is much smoother.
This was especially noticeable when crossing logs diagonally. With the Prairie 700, log crossings were harsh and the back end kicked the rider in the rump. With the IRS of the Brute Force, diagonal log crossings were much more smooth at the same speed.
There is an amount of squat that can cause the front end to get light when under heavy acceleration. We were able to dial it out with clicks on the five-way preload-adjustable shocks (which was extremely easy to do thanks to good access), but the cushy ride was sacrificed a bit.
That is the compromise between a supple-smooth, fanny-saving ride and high-speed enjoyment. While one tester appreciated the smooth ride and didn’t mind the amount of squat, the other wanted a better-performing suspension.
Riders who wanted to go fast could do so on the Prairie 700. Maintaining a straight line through the bumps was much easier with a solid rear axle. The Brute Force wanted to hop to the side toward the end of the whoops, unless the rear preload was dialed up multiple clicks.
All agreed, however, the front end on the Brute Force was a much-needed improvement on the Prairie. Gone are MacPherson struts in favor of a dual A-arm and preload-adjustable shock setup.
The firm front end was confidence inspiring in the rough stuff, and should handle better when fully loaded. It should also bottom out a lot less than the Prairie does with a loaded front rack.
Both the front and rear worked together to give a smooth ride over tough obstacles like rocks, logs and whoops at low speeds.
When we found out the unit has IRS, we immediately wondered if Kawasaki was able to keep its signature, sealed, oil-bathed multi-disk rear brake system. It was able to redesign the system for use with the new rear end.
But the 750 has a characteristic we could do without. When mashing the rear brake, the stopping power doesn’t let off for a split second after releasing the rear brake lever. We aren’t 100% sure why this happens, but there was some discussion of a possible “suction” effect between the discs when the system is activated. On dry turf and dirt this wasn’t too much of a problem, but there are situations when precise brake control is needed.
The famous Variable Front Differential Control is also a part of the Brute Force. The yellow trigger on the left side of the handlebars sits quietly, waiting to rock the rider’s world. Once selected, the rider has absolute control over differential lock control. It is one of the neatest features on any ATV available.
Up front, one of the first things noticed are the 4-bulb headlights — an industry first. All four light bulbs are on at the same time, and should illuminate the dark nicely. There is Hi/Lo capability, too. This adds to the SUV-like direction many big-bore ATVs seem to be taking these days.
On the front fenders, just in front of the rider’s knees, are two storage pockets. Each pocket is about 3-inches deep and about 6-inches high. But that is the extent of storage for the Brute Force. There is an optional oval storage container that can be bolted onto the left rear quadrant of the machine.
Easy access to items like the battery and air cleaner are nice. Changing and cleaning the air filter is a simple operation. And all the electrical components are high on the chassis and easy-to-access directly under the seat.
Kawasaki is using a new type of plastic for more sheen and durability. The Thermo-Plastic Olefin (TPO) plastic does make a difference in how the plastic looks — it is more glossy. Along with the new plastic are two new colors. The newest standard color is Desert Yellow.
Also added to the color bin is an optional, and more expensive camo plastic, the Realtree Hardwoods Green HD camo pattern.
Another addition is the 12-volt accessory outlet near the rear fenders. This comes standard along with the outlet near the front. The machine also sports the same digital display that is found on the Prairie 700. psb
Chaz Rice is Editor of ATV Magazine, owned by Ehlert Publishing, Inc., and a sister publication to Powersports Business.