Kymco's best handling chassis brings the fun on a budget
Every manufacturer has fought for the ground they hold in the off-road market. Kymco brings its machines to the battlefield every year and this company continues to strive for the entry-level rider who needs a budget machine to get out on the trail. With the 2015 model year upon us we were given the opportunity to ride the latest Kymco offerings, including the MXU450i in True Timber Camo.
Climbing out of our truck at the Big Buck farm in Union, SC we were excited to start the day’s adventure. ATV.com is very familiar with the area as this is the ground where every year the Grand National Cross Country series comes to town. For a full weekend in the spring, Big Buck allows men and women to test their machines against the tight wooded terrain. Henry Turner and his son Hank manage the almost 600 acres for off-road fun and the area is not open for public riding, which means the trails are ripe for great riding. Between the GNCC and a couple of enduro events during the year, the property stays quiet as the tall grass grows over the starting areas. This is a great place to test the Kymco lineup and we were excited to get started.
The MXU450i is a familiar machine. We have ridden this worker several times in the base and LE versions. For the 2015 model year a True Timber camo pattern has been added to the color choices. True Timber is a South Carolina-based company that has given Kymco this opportunity to add something extra for its hunting crowd. We quite like the look of this camo pattern on a Kymco machine.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2012 Kymco Maxxer 450i
Using a revamped four-stroke engine with a single overhead cam, four valves, liquid cooling, and fuel injection, the MXU450i is a treat for sure. Getting the power to the ground is the belt driven or CVT-style transmission. This a common platform for most utility ATVs these days and with a left front fender-mounted shift lever you can select Low, High, Reverse or Neutral at your discretion. Simply press the rear brake pedal and slip the shift lever through the drive modes. Mounted on the bars you will find the 2WD and 4WD selector switch. A quick push in activates the servo for 4WD. Add in a little engine braking and the MXU450i has a stable platform for steep descents and getting whoa’ed up in general.
The suspension on the MXU450i is four-wheel independent A-arms that allow up to seven inches of wheel travel. Using a gas-charged preload adjustable shock to smooth out the rough trails, Kymco has set this machine up for general trail use rather than high speed. This is where we have to reel ourselves in a bit and realize that this line of machine will give a budget minded consumer an option for enjoying the day’s adventure all while keeping a few dollars in the wallet.
With a respectable level of ground clearance (10.5 inches), the MXU450i will drift over many trail obstacles with ease. This also helps when crossing downed trees or traversing shallow streams. This is probably Kymco’s best handling chassis to date. Braking on the 2015 MXU 450i is handled by dual hydraulic discs up front and a single hydraulic disc on the rear. Stopping the 608-pound vehicle is not a problem as long as the terrain cooperates.
Other notable features include the digital gauge between the bars. This gauge tells you many things, including speed, fuel level, gear indicator, high beam indicator, and even the time. A two-inch receiver hitch is mounted on the rear. Front and rear racks can carry up to 225 pounds – 75 pounds up front and 150 pounds in the rear).
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2011 Yamaha Grizzly 450 4X4 EPS
As we mentioned in the beginning, we were checking all of this new equipment out at the Big Buck farm where many cross country races have been held. The trees could be very tight and with recent rains the ground was still reeling from moisture. Off-camber trails had plenty of slick sections to test our minds as well as the MXU450i. Rocky, root-covered up hill sections would offer plenty of excitement.
After a briefing in the morning, we set out onto the almost seven-mile course. The first thing I noticed about the MXU450i was its cushy seating. It had a comfortable feeling, which would be good for a full day of rough riding, should we intend to sit down at some point. The excitement of this fun ride kept us up on our feet most of the time. We found the footwells offered ample room for larger riders and seemed to provide good protection from the elements and South Carolina mud. We do wish the footpeg had a bit more height or maybe just a taller edge to the teeth to give that confidence of control once filled with mud. Maybe even a slight kick up on the outer edge would work. Not a deal breaker, but worth mentioning.
This chassis is the same, generally speaking, as the sportier Kymco Maxxer 450. The handling of that particular steering and framework seemed to be very effective, but we found the MXU less predictable. Steering effort is heavy at slower speeds, though not as much as other models in the same class.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2014 Honda FourTrax Rancher
Rolling on the 450i powerplant, a rider can really feel a smooth power delivery and ample grunt from this platform. Sometimes keeping a rider subdued makes the ride more fun and there was enough power to have loads of fun without the risk of getting in over our heads. A tad more bottom end for getting the engine rolling off idle and overall reaction when the thumb throttle is pressed would be nice, but with tough EPA restrictions maybe the programming is decreased to comply.
Riding the MXU450i we kept in mind that an entry level rider will not push the limits like maybe a more experienced rider would. Our MXU450i was a total blast to ride and with just a few personal preferences mentioned we had picked a model year favorite almost immediately. Kymco offers this MXU450i in Camo and an Limited Edition model at price points of $6,399 and $6,699. It is definitely worth a look when searching for a new machine.
|2015 Kymco MXU450i Specs|
|Engine:||443cc liquid-cooled SOHC 4-stroke, 4-valve|
|Transmission:||CVT Automatic H-L-N-R; Shaft Drive|
|Driveline:||On-Demand 2WD/4WD with Engine Braking|
|Front Suspension:||Independent Dual A-Arm/7″|
|Rear Suspension:||Independent Dual A-Arm/7″|
|Front Brakes:||Hydraulic Dual Disc|
|Rear Brake:||Hydraulic Disc|
|Front Tires:||24 x 8-12|
|Rear Tires:||24 x 10-12|
|Length/Width/Height:||83.6 x 43.4 x 46.9 in|
|Curb Weight:||608 lbs|
|Ground Clearance:||10.5 in|
|Colors:||True Timber Camo|