A few long months after first laying eyes on the radically redesigned 2014 Kawasaki Teryx at Kawasaki's dealer show in San Diego, Calif., we finally had the opportunity to test the machine in its native habitat. Our trip would take us to the mountainous regions of West Virginia to visit with our friends at the Hatfield-McCoy trails.
We got to spend some serious one-on-one time with the Teryx as two days of riding was planned the Pinnacle Creek and Pocahontas arteries of the Hatfield-McCoy trail system.
The 2014 Kawasaki Teryx is all new under its skin and with this comes some pretty impressive improvements in durability, economy and handling not to mention great looks. If you look at the overall appearance of this Teryx you will immediately notice the longer frame. Look hard enough and you will realize that this is actually the Teryx4 Double X design with a slightly modified ROPS certified upper half. This frame design not only gives the machine a more rigid lower framework with welded joints (instead of bolted joints), but it is designed to improve the overall handling as well. Handling is key in the engineering department at Kawasaki and these guys stepped up to the plate with a bat loaded for home runs.
Every 2014 Kawasaki Teryx model produced will now feature Electronic Power Steering. If you have driven with EPS you may not ever want to drive without it again. EPS is geared to give the driver great assist in steering at lower speeds where turning a big 1580-pound machine is toughest. We all use our 4WD system from time to time and with the extra help from EPS your arms and back will thank you.
Moving to the suspension, Kawasaki added a touch of style by color matching the front and rear dual A-arms and shock spring to the rest of the vehicle – Our test unit was dressed in Candy Lime Green. This dual arm setup controls 8.0 inches of travel up front and 8.3 in the rear. Dampening the hits for the Teryx is none other than FOX shocks. FOX Podium piggyback, coil over spring shocks have pre-load adjustment and 24 points of compression adjustment for the discriminating driver. This will allow owners to tailor the ride to their liking.
Sitting in the new Teryx you will appreciate the very comfortable high back seats we've come to love in the Teryx4. The digital dash is positioned so the driver can clearly see all of its important information and the gate-style shifter allows easy changing of the drive positions. A spacious glove box, passenger handhold and parking brake lever are some other key items in the cab of the Teryx. The Teryx LE was decked out in custom stitched color-matched seats to finish off the cool accents for our special model.
Storage has been a concern in the past for the cross country adventure crowd. For 2014 Kawasaki has tried to squash that problem with 48 gallons of sealed storage behind the seats. The bed is also more accommodating as it can now haul an impressive 600 pounds. Bed dividers can be used to separate or secure gear into sections of the bed and several tie-down loops installed in the bed allow you to easily secure your belongings. Kawasaki even included molded cup holders in the tailgate for trailside lunch stops.
We can't talk about changes to the Teryx without bringing up the new 783cc liquid cooled four-stroke refreshed V-Twin powerplant. This engine pushes the big Teryx up the trail with a claimed 26% boost in power 12% increase in torque. Most of this gain can be found in the low to mid range where we will all need it when loaded for a long day of mountains and mud. This added power will not cost you any more at the pump as Kawasaki boasts a 20% increase in fuel economy!
We flew into Beckley, WV to meet with our friends at the Hatfield-McCoy trail system. Leaving the Azalea room after our Machine/Ride briefing in the beautiful Twin Falls State Park Resort, we headed out to the Pinnacle Creek trailhead for the start of our two-day adventure. We were to drive to our hotel in our new Teryx, which was almost a full day's ride away.
Our 2014 Kawasaki Teryx LE fired up and immediately the adrenaline began to flow. The rumble was instant and with a little less noise and vibration in the cab compared to prior year models.. Testing out the upgraded engine power seemed to be the goal of the day, but as we rode it became more apparent that the comfort of the high back seats and the power steering were a little more important.
The Hatfield-McCoy trails are full of varying terrain and the tight sections were a little slick from a dusting of rain. The Maxxis Bighorn tires kept the grip in control for the most part, but the powerful V-Twin would allow for a little wheel spin when we pressed intently on the go pedal.
Climbing darn near anything in this machine is very confidence inspiring and we always felt as if we had a capable machine under us. Upon switching the Teryx into low range and 4WD the rocky sections and really bad washed out sections of two trails in particular became a walk in the park. Though we did have some moments where wheel placement was our salvation, the new Teryx and its longer 85.8-inch wheelbase helped us conquer the rough spots.
The low-end grunt and torque of the 783cc engine proved very controllable and smooth for those crawls out of the bad sections at Hatfield-McCoy. But time spent at a snails pace was short as the testosterone kicked in and before we knew it there were a half dozen editors ripping up the trail.
Thanks to its very controllable and predictable handling, the Teryx allowed for some really great runs through the trails. Braking on the 2014 Kawasaki Teryx was also optimal as we had several opportunities – whether it be panic braking or setting up for a turn – where the dual hydraulic discs up front and the sealed rear brake system both proved worthy.
Our ride took a little different route on the second day but the terrain was similar. We decided to play with our shock settings to see just how different each click would be and after half of the second day had passed we were softer than the stock settings. This may change from driver to driver depending on riding style, but it seemed to work better for us. We also had a passenger the second day, which allowed more of a balanced machine in the corners and climbs. It actually seemed to help the suspension work better as well. The FOX shocks took many hits and kept on giving great dampening in the heat of battle.
After two very good days of riding in several changing weather conditions our test was finished and the 2014 Kawasaki Teryx (starting at $15,799) proved itself to be a force to be reckoned with. We love the comfort, styling and overall great looking performer from front to back. Maybe we will get more time in the newest green machine so we can “Let the good times roll”!