Kawasaki Teryx FI SxS quad
The Kawasaki Teryx FI side-by-side is not only a bit of fun but also a great option for farmers in need of a reliable workhorse.
Kawasaki might not have the market share in farm motorcycles, ATVs or side-by-sides (SxS), but it does produce some excellent equipment.
I still rate the Stockman 250 as the best two-wheel farm bike on the market, so I was looking forward to testing the performance Teryx to see how it shaped up.
Kawasaki's Teryx FI SxS isn't comparable with any other side-by-side on the market. It's wider, longer and more powerful, yet cheaper than perhaps its nearest competitor, the 480kg Yamaha Rhino. Other than great suspension, the differences are so great that it's not really fair to put these two-seat machines in the same sentence.
Stability and power
Measuring 1485mm wide, the Kawasaki Teryx felt stable in a variety of different situations, helped I'm sure by its 630kg weight and long 1930mm wheelbase.
Rated with 46hp, there were no problems with power output from the 750 fuel-injected V-twin power plant. The Teryx would take me up fairly steep inclines in low ratio, without the engine dropping its revs. Not unexpectedly, it did tend to drop away when I powered up the slopes in high range, which was where I discovered one of the true advantages of the Teryx over more conventional side-by-sides: long-travel Kayaba suspension, which follows the contour of the bumps better.
The Teryx enjoys 190mm of suspension travel on the front and rear. Despite multiple ruts and sheep tracks, the Teryx held a straight line without jumping around much and it rode miles better over the bumps than most farm-oriented competitors: their short-travel suspension struggles to keep the wheels on the ground.
The front suspension has five-way adjustable spring preload, while the rear enjoys similar spring preload but also a remote reservoir and rebound damping to control the return rate of the shocks as it travels over each bump.
With many farm SxSs governed to just 40kph, it was nice not to have such a low restriction driving the Teryx, with its 70kph governed limit. Even driving backwards the Teryx is fast. I could drive in reverse so quick that I took a quick glance at the digital speedo when it eventually hit the limiter, which read a fast 31kph on a slight downhill.
I was more than happy to find that Kawasaki has put an engine/transmission braking system on its Teryx. Being electronically controlled, the Kawasaki Engine Brake Control (KEBC) is intelligent too. Slowing from speed, the engine braking hardly makes a difference. However, it kicked in very well when I needed it most: going down hills. On really steep sections, it'll still pay to do some braking yourself. However, on most slope situations I could take my feet off the controls and let the Teryx do all the talking.
The Kawasaki I tested had a pair of front disc brakes and the rear brake was specced quite different to what I normally see on a light utility farm vehicle. A set of multi-plate discs are housed inside the differential which control the stopping of both rear wheels together, as fitted to most large Kawasakis. In an ideal world, I always prefer a disc brake on each wheel to avoid locking up an un-weighted inside wheel, when it may otherwise retain traction if independently braked. This is more critical on hill work than flat ground.
Braking power was never a question though, as I tested a number of near top-speed hard stops on reasonably flat ground. The 200mm front discs and Nissan two-piston calipers are well protected inside each wheel hub. But during one part of the test, the last thing I needed were the brakes! Little did I know I was about to give the Teryx the ultimate test...
In the mud
With the light-steering Teryx in selectable 4WD without the diff lock on, I drove through what appeared to be a crossable bog. Without a set of mud grip tyres, it probably wasn't the best idea, but we've all done it and unfortunately the Teryx-length bog-crossing point turned out to be very deep - deeper than the axles.
I got as far as the other side where a near high lip prevented further forward motion, with the rear wheels firmly stuck in the centre of the deep bog. As you do, the easy-to-change ratio stick was run through reverse, low, reverse, low and so on, including using the variable diff lock, to try to get over the lip. To no avail. Its high 295mm maximum ground clearance suddenly didn't seem to matter! The mud had other ideas and with the wheel treads full of it, I found myself well and truly stuck in the mud!
Of course, the bog was in the most distant paddock away from help, so I had to find my own solution to bringing the Teryx home before a search party was sent out to witness my embarrassment. I knew the optional winch was fitted but I couldn't find the controls. Small twigs, branches and a good push from my son certainly helped the cause but collectively were not quite enough to break free from all the 'sticktion' created by the axle-plus deep mud.
Another look around for the winch controls revealed the long cord remote in the large glove compartment - much welcome news by now - so I plugged it into the dash electrical outlet and we ran the pretty long winch cable to a small tree over 10m away.
After I took up the slack, the winch made all the difference and the Teryx pulled itself out of the mud, while I gave it throttle and thumbed the winch remote at the same time. Perfect, except it left the Teryx more than a little dirty.
Along with the Trax Equipment-supplied 3500kg KFI winch, our test Kawasaki Teryx was fitted with an optional Kawasaki roof, mag wheels, front carry rack (with gun place) and top bulbar. The tow bar and tow ball come standard, as does arm retention webbing (not fitted to our test Teryx). Mud grip tyres are also optional and recommended if you're like me and try your luck in deep bogs.
Overall, the Teryx is a performance side-by-side for farmers who enjoy good suspension, like to have a bit of fun and want the confidence to take on those hard-to-get-through tracks.
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