More power and lighter steering...sign us up!
Riding the constant ups and downs of today’s ATV market has left many companies stalling out in the area of development and redesign. There are, however, a couple of manufacturers who are steadily improving their lineups with refinement.
Kawasaki is no stranger to the crazy world we live in and the constant decisions it takes to keep the company afloat. Kawasaki has consistently grown over the tough times and the 2012 model year is no exception.
The Brute Force 750 has been Kawasaki’s flagship ATV for a number of years. Kawasaki chose to give it a serious overhaul for 2012, including the addition of power steering. When we were asked to roam the wilderness of Medford, Ore. on this new and improved Brute we had to say “Oh yes!”
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In 2012 the masterminds behind Kawasaki’s massive Brute changed many things around. The engine seemed to get a really good makeover, but before we get that far let’s look at a creature comfort that most other sport utilities already had on the rack. For 2012 Kawasaki came to the game with power steering! Yes, you read it right. Better late than never and for most that means refinement or perfection before installation. Kawasaki has installed power steering on select 2012 Brute Force 750i 4X4s and this unit should appease the masses.
The speed-sensitive KYB EPS actuator has many integral parts that when working together help give the rider precise control. The actuator is controlled by an EPS ECU, which masterminds rider input and delivers assistance via many parameters for the output. Being speed sensitive the EPS allows the rider to maintain control as the Brute Force picks up speed. The amount of assist is decreased as this happens. The rider should notice the electronic power steering most in tight, tough terrain as well as when the four wheel drive is locked in as the steering tends to get tougher at these times.
Moving into the powerplant on our new 2012 Brute Force 750i it was clear that there were many interesting changes to make the excitement level climb. The tried and true reliable power of the Brute Force 750 V-Twin has proven itself time and time again. With many miles in Baja myself on the Brute Force, hearing they were adding to the power output was just another bonus.
Starting with the cylinder heads, Kawasaki compresses the fuel charge just a bit more as it improves the low-end grunt of the Brute. The resourcefulness of Kawasaki is simply amazing as it has used the heads off the KVF650F and found the extra power. Having higher compression in the cylinder means several other changes are very important to the success of the HP output. This compression increase would go from 8.8 to 9.3 and that’s a good combustion chamber volume increase. The camshafts had to be evaluated as well and with a new grind on the cam lobes even more power had been located. This means timing was adjusted as well and the package was finished.
Or was it? The engineers decided to work over the exhaust a bit and by redesigning the tube lengths as well as adding a couple extra pass through holes in the canister they had really brought the power to the V-Twin that we all knew was in there. Tie this all in with revised fuel mapping in the ECU and you have a stronger package for the trail.
Another key feature that is engine related is the cooling system upgrades. The cooling of that massive V-Twin is very important to Kawasaki and with the 2012 Brute hosting more engine power and expectations, Kawasaki slipped in a new larger radiator as well. The radiator, which is raised in the frame just a bit from the previous models, will be a little less vulnerable to trail debris according to Kawasaki. Adding larger radiator hoses and a new larger fan to the new radiator theoretically means these three components should keep the Brute really cool when the going gets tough.
While the addition of power steering and some added power are obviously the big news, we would be remiss to not talk about the wonderful colors and SE models available in the Brute Force stable. The colors are as follows, so listen up. The standard non-EPS Brute Force 750 is offered in Aztec Red and that’s it. The EPS models will dress up in Super Black, Scout Green, as well as a Real Tree APG HD camo pattern. The absolutely beautiful Special Edition EPS model is offered in a Metallic Tungsten Gray. The SE model will get a couple of extras, which include machined cast wheels and the Metallic Tungsten Gray color. All of the Brute Force 750 4X4i ATVs will have a new graphic design that brings the beast out of the dark ages.
Our test area near Medford, Ore. is called Timber Mountain OHV and even though it had many challenges it was no match for the 2012 Brute Force 750. Ascending into the higher elevations of Timber Mountain the air was very cool and the Brute Force powerplant seemed to love it. This is a direct reflection on the Brute Force fuel injection and its ability to adjust to any altitude. The 749cc V-Twin has 36mm throttle bodies that regulate the fuel delivery and with DFI (or digital fuel injection) the delivery was spot on. With a very quick and powerful response from the engine it was very easy to loft the machine into orbit over trail obstacles. This new power will put a smile on any avid rider’s face.
Getting higher into Timber Mountain meant we had a few obstacles to cross and with the variable front differential control at our fingertips, the ability to lock the front wheels in at our discretion was a great feature. If you need more pull from the front end you control the amount with just a gentle tug lever located on the left handlebar.
Climbing up through the rocky terrain brought a little more focus on the new electronic power steering. The steering, even though assisted, seemed a bit heavy off the bottom and could have possibly benefited from a little more assist in the 0-5 mph range. The performance of the KYB steering unit was better than not having any help at all and like any new product it could use a little more refinement.
Is there anything we would change? Perhaps the addition of 6-ply tires instead of the two-ply units Kawasaki had mounted. The fact that the group only had one flat all day proves that general trail riding would not be a problem with only two ply tires, but in rocky terrain the security of 6-ply rubber would put us at ease.
Overall the Brute Force 750 performed very well and like always the comfort and easy feeling when riding the shone through all day. This machine can be trail ridden effortlessly for hours and it doesn’t leave the rider feeling beat up. Also, the location of every control feature felt spot on to us, which shows Kawasaki’s attention to detail. Finally, the 2012 Brute Force 750 4X4i EPS (MSRP $9,999) is an absolute workhorse and would no doubt help ease your burden should the need arise.