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Features

2018 YAMAHA KODIAK 450

Story by Matt Lester, Photos: Frank Hoppen
10/4/2017

For as many years as the Grizzly was sold in the US, it was known as just that - the Grizzly 450.

In Canada the 450 was known as the Kodiak. Thankfully, Yamaha has decided on the Kodiak handle for this new ride on both sides of the border. The 2018 Kodiak is virtually all new and represents a significant investment in both development and tooling.

From an ergonomic perspective the new 450 will make you forget the original in one short ride. Yamaha didn’t simply throw a smaller engine into the Kodiak 700 chassis. Nope, it was a complete re-do from right-sized chassis, seating position, tires, rubber engine mounts to redesigned handlebar positioning to give riders more comfort and confidence riding in different positions whether sitting or standing.

The wheel tread has been widened by 3-inches to offer even more stability and the larger floorboards do a fantastic job of protecting the rider’s feet from trail junk. The result is a compact and versatile ATV buyers can enjoy using for work and play and have complete confidence in.

The new 450 feels more substantial from the driver’s seat, too. In corners it’s much more stable and is immeasurably more comfortable than the original as a result of its right-sized chassis and driver positioning. The good news is the new 450 feels narrower at the floorboards compared to its main competitors. Yamaha has done a remarkable job making the entire 450 package fit a wider spectrum of riders.

The tight, winding trails at State Capitol Forest near Olympia, Washington are extremely challenging and provided an ideal test for the Kodiak 450.

Hidden tree stumps, large rocks, seriously scary drop-offs and relentless weaving around trees and obstacles meant you needed to be able to maneuver the 450 like it was an extension of your body. The Kodiak fits like a glove, allowing this kind of agility without even thinking about it.

Even bigger riders in our group expressed how the Kodiak gave them a sense of confidence and assurance in this gnarly riding environment.

The original 450 was known for its tight trail nimbleness and this one is equally as capable in the tight stuff but it stays more level in off-camber situations.

Rough terrain had a tendency to confuse the original 450’s limited suspension travel, knocking the chassis off-course and bouncing the wheels off the ground. Now there’s a plush, well damped and bottomless suspension feel through the bars, seat and footboards.

Yamaha didn’t stop there. Although powered by virtually the same 421cc single cam, single cylinder mill, the new Kodiak gets its own electronic fuel injection system and delivers responsive, smooth power.

EFI is commonplace in the off-road industry these days, however, the Kodiak 450’s system is exceptionally well mapped, delivers quick, effortless start-ups cold or hot and consistent full throttle shift RPM.

The other area of improvement has nothing to do with power. It’s about NVH (noise, vibration and harshness). The 450 engine gets redesigned rubber torsional engine mounts that nearly erase annoying vibes through the bars and seat - something the original 450 was known for.

The all-wheel engine braking also worked flawlessly in these extreme mountainous elevations.

We did find a few open stretches and managed to hit 53 mph. More importantly, the power is always right there when you want it in the mid-range and the time-proven Ultramatic CVT tranny provides silky-smooth automatic shifting.

The 450 is available with both electrically assisted power steering (EPS) and sweet black aluminum wheels. EPS is our favorite modern-day ATV invention, hands down.

If we hadn’t been riding Kodiak 450s with EPS on this day in Washington, it wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun.

The black aluminum wheels speak for themselves. You want them. Other important goodies on the new Kodie include shiftable on-the-fly 4x4, an upgraded digital display, large capacity wrinkle finish front and rear racks and a 2-inch hitch receiver.

No 4x4 diff lock on this one but Yamaha perhaps decided against it to keep the ticket price down as the Kodiak 450 is intended to be, and absolutely is, an affordable vehicle for work and play.

Yamaha has strategically attacked the 450 class with the return of the re-invented 450 Kodiak. This all-new ride demands 450 class buyers visit their Yamaha store and seriously consider the new Kodiak. We’re not kidding!






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