2018 Yamaha Kodiak 450 First Ride

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Without giving too much away before my full test report is printed in the upcoming edition of Dirt Trax Magazine, I wanted to share a few opinions and details about Yamaha’s new Kodiak 450.

Yes, you are reading correctly… I said “new Kodiak 450”. It seems like forever since we’ve been able to report on a new ATV release in a SxS obsessed era and the Kodiak 450 does not disappoint.

When it comes to the new Kodiak 450, Yamaha didn’t simply throw a smaller engine in the Kodiak 700 chassis… nope, it was a complete re-do from re-sized chassis, seating position, tires, rubber engine mounts to reduce vibration, to redesigned handlebar positioning to give riders more comfort and confidence riding in different positions either sitting or standing.

The wheelbase 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 that buyers can confidently enjoy using for work and play thanks to Yamaha’s legendary durability. The narrow, winding trails at State Capitol Forest riding area near Olympia, Washington are extremely challenging and provided an ideal test for the compact Kodiak 450.

Larger sized ATVs would have a difficult time here as there is literally no room for error. 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 ATV like it was an extension of your body and the Kodiak, perhaps more than any other quad, fits like a glove and allows this kind of necessary maneuverability.

Even larger riders in our group expressed how the Kodiak gave them a sense of confidence in this difficult riding environment.

We did hit a few open stretches where I got to wind it out a little and I was able to hit 53 mph. More importantly, the power is always right there when you want it and the time-proven Ultramatic tranny provides silky-smooth automatic shifting.

Electric Power Steering is my favorite modern day ATV innovation, hands down. What I like most about Yamaha’s EPS is it’s soft enough to soak up solid hits and eliminate handlebar whip and firm enough so you can still feel the trail. In my opinion, EPS is not an option, it’s a must-have.

Watch for my full report on Yamaha’s 2018 Kodiak 450 in the next issue of DirtTrax Magazine available on newsstands later this summer!

Matt Lester
Matt Lester
Matt Lester is an Account Manager for Dirt Trax TV. He is also a Contributing Editor and Guest Correspondent on the show focusing on tourism & adventure segments.

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