Today’s off-road enthusiast is very lucky. Less than a decade ago, such a nice technologically advanced and fun vehicle, could only be dreamed about. Thankfully, today there is a multitude of very different forms of vehicles to choose from and the recent coming of this entirely new type of vehicle, the RUV, a recreation utility vehicle (that’s what Kawasaki calls theirs), a UTV, side by side or ROV as it is now more officially called by the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association, as changed the face of the ATV world and expanded it into a much vaster one.
Off-road activities are now possible for a much greater number of people who are intimidated by the straddled quads and just simply don’t have the skills for a two-wheeled kind. Thing is, pretty much anyone can see themselves driving this type of vehicle. Driven like their car, more trail time can certainly be enjoyed on these, as they require much less physical effort from users.
Boldly go, where hardly anyone went before.
The spot chosen by team green to present the new versions of their young but already popular Teryx R.O.V. (Recreational Off-road Vehicle), Boulders OHV Area near Lake Pleasant, Arizona, had all the needed elements to please our testing needs, and more. In this secluded and unevenly surfaced area, such a vehicle seemed totally at its place; looking like much more of a logical choice of vehicle than any other. More room for cargo, longer range, specifically built for the toughest of trails. Operating it at a slow safe and steady pace, one can enjoy its surroundings a little more in this relaxed seated and back rested position than on a straddled ride which needs your constant attention, even at such slow speeds. Normal cars look like the odd machine here, trapped on those few lines of paved roads scarcely cutting through the vast breathtaking landscape. We would be getting a much more immersive experience, here and about, deep into the vastness.
Dried up river beds made for seemingly man made play trails specifically designed for such a vehicle; filled with grapefruit sized sharp edged rocks that could chew up your tires in a flash, but perfectly flat, wide and curvy. This is where I really got a feel for what this mean and lean green machine was capable of. Now driving this Teryx with extras like piggyback fully adjustable suspension and cast aluminium wheels, hard as I would a rally car, the buggy behaved predictably and the occasional power slide was only possible if I would give it a bit of help by exaggerating my moves on the steering wheel. Of course it wasn’t long until I was doing it on every possible occasion; the steering was light and easy enough to do so all day long. This is no normal behaviour for someone who isn’t already knowledgeable of the rides very limits. These little power slides of mine were done only when very little forward momentum was present, only after having turned three quarters of the curve slowly, would I gun it and give it a little help with the steering wheel.
Looking hotter and performing better
The 2009 Kawasaki Teryx 750 FI 4×4 Sport is equipped with many enhancements over its 2008 predecessor. Actually, all Teryx models have received a new performance facelift. The added Teryx Sport version for the 2009 lineup is almost the exact same with just a few extras such as the iconic green colour, cool looking wheels and a different set of shocks. The new CVT system provides additional driver feedback on the instrument cluster through the CVT belt warning system which alerts the driver when excessive load conditions may cause belt or transmission damage. The Teryx is well fitted with the largest tire in the category; 26-inch Maxxis tires which are mounted to 12-inch aluminium-cast rims which greatly contribute to its improved ground clearance of 11.7 inches. The tire design was specifically developed for the Teryx to maximize forward traction and provide aggressive cornering and sliding capabilities.
The aluminium wheels are much lighter and recessed within them are front disc brakes well protected from debris. The 200mm discs are squeezed tightly by 27mm twin-piston calipers which are rigidly mounted to deliver enhanced brake feel and increased control. Sealed in the rear oil bath, unaffected by debris, are the hydraulically operated rear brakes. This braking system, encased in the rear differential, is a virtually indestructible setup. This and Kawasaki’s highly effective Engine Brake Control which was perfect and not overly abrupt when quickly backing off the throttle, gives the Teryx excellent braking capabilities.
A fun, yet safe amount of power
The 2009 Kawasaki Teryx 750 FI 4×4 Sport is powered by a powerful 749cc, V-twin engine that provides enough from the low-end and loses a lot of its torque at the higher end. I was expecting, at least on the Sport model, a certain gain in power and a much more capable suspension. Few changes were made to this element, better shocks yes, but the same geometry. It really would have been great to see it with lengthened A-arms and longer travel, the Sport model would have truly deserved its name and set itself more apart from the base model. The new fuel injection system was a must and it will really make a difference for all-seasons users. It constantly feeds the perfect mixture despite different temperatures and altitudes, through a set of Mikuni 34mm throttle bodies. I tried jerking the ignition key quickly, hoping it might fire up with half a rev, but it didn’t come alive. A second normal attempt had the ride purring in a little over a full turn of the crankshaft. We had already asked if a power gain should be expected, and we were told it was a negligible 1 or 2 hp’s; too bad…
A great choice, for reasonable sport riders
It has enough power for most ordinary people and power sliding on flat gravel roads will be possible on the Teryx, but certainly not recommended. It will be tricky to keep on all fours as momentum is gained too quickly from lack of wheel spin. Kawasaki did not disappoint with the new Teryx, but did leave us on our appetite with their all-new Teryx Sport, which we would have liked to be more of an upgrade like the Polaris RZR S is to the basic RZR. The suspension is better on the new Teryx Sport; with double wishbone and aluminium-body gas-charged shocks equipped with piggy-back reservoirs offering fully adjustable preload and rebound/compression damping. A sway bar helps control body roll. An appreciable improvement could be felt in the handling from last year’s model but the ride was still much stiffer than what the Polaris RZR S offers. Still, on both these rides, the rear end can sometimes go crazy on you if ridden too hard in series of whoops.
Jumping a side by side is certainly not recommended, but knowing that some will try it anyway, know that they pretty much all have a tendency to pitch down up front and that any take-off with a rolled edge isn’t acceptable to launch from. You will need a very edgy straight cut lip to launch the front up high enough and thus let the machine naturally stabilize itself back for a nice and flat landing of all four-wheels at the same time. The Polaris sport oriented machine does a little better on that end, but then again, the Teryx is much less expensive and leaves you with some extra bucks you can use at personalizing the suspension to your liking. The chassis is a ladder type, with tubular carbon steel. The lime green color scheme with black accents and aluminium rims, already make the new “Sport” Teryx worth the extra cost. It also comes in a killer looking Monster Energy Special Edition, in black with green bars, bumper and springs. The Teryx is surely a fun and sturdy vehicle worth buying. Oh yeah, and it turns on a dime!
For more information on the above mentioned models, please visit the Kawasaki Website