Kawasaki Teryx 4 Torture Test at the Hammers.

The new Kawasaki Teryx 4 may just shatter your perception of a sport UTV. While not the fastest UTV on the market in stock trim, the 750 V-twin offers plenty of torque and power to accommodate 4 adults at speeds in excess of 50 MPH across the desert terrain of Johnson Valley. OffRoadPress.com will be doing long term testing of a pair of Kawasaki Teryx 4’s over the next year. The builds will be fairly unique in so far as a side x side comparison between two identical units set up with competitive manufactures after market parts supplied by SXSPerformance.com.

Our first tests have been centered on stock performance of the units in worlds predominantly ruled by larger more expensive OHV’s. Ocotillo Wells, Glamis, and Rock Crawling in Johnson Valley with completely stock units are the basis of our first tests. While the buzz around the new Polaris models may steal the show in the UTV world, the new clutching system and spacious interior of the Teryx 4 are better suited for the recreationalist that is looking for more of a trail based experience.  Kawasaki has built a vehicle that truly is at home on the ranch, in the dunes, or crawling some of the toughest rock trails on the planet.

Our first unit called “Smurf” has served us well around the ranch moving firewood, towing a weed spraying rig, and dragging fields with a harrow. On the weekend we load it up and head to the trails in Ocotillo Wells, Johnson Valley and Barstow for some trail riding with 4 adults. The second unit “T Money” is only a couple weeks old and has already spent a week in Glamis and has hit a group of notches in Ocotillo wells.

The rocks of Johnson Valley can wreak havoc on even the toughest Rock Crawling vehicles. When I showed up in the desert on New Years Eve with a brand new unit and told my friends I planned to go run Chocolate Thunder a hand full of them changed their plans for the day to go see if it was even possible. Dave Cole from the King of the Hammers who was preparing for the event, decided he likes a challenge and joined me as a spotter to see how far we could push a factory equip vehicle in a world predominately ruled by modified Jeeps and Custom Built buggies. (Cole will host the ISA sanctioned Pitbull tires UTV race on Thursday February 9th  2012 during the KOH event) The 26-inch stock tires where dwarfed by the 35 inch and up tires on the vehicles that attempted the obstacles in front of our group, but the completely flat bottom with a full-length skid plate afforded us the advantage of knowing that if we could not power across an obstacle, we could slid across it.


The first thing you notice when you take off in the new Teryx 4 is that the clutching system does not feel like a typical UTV. This allowed us complete control in the rocks. I could literally launch the car forward for a few inches, and then stop the car. One of the seasoned Ultra4 racers in our group pointed out how that would be a huge advantage as we attempted to navigate the trail. The second thing that helped us was the factory power steering. While the rocks can make steering incredibly difficult, the power steering soften the blow and allowed us to freely steer through even the toughest terrain. We did find that the steering would not steer through an obstacle like a full hydraulic system on a Rock crawler, but was sufficient for the small tires and lightweight of the T4. Much to the amazement of the crowd that gathered to watch, we scaled sharp ledges and off camber climbs with ease. The T4 never felt like it would roll over likely due to the mid engine design that placed the center of gravity low and equally balanced.


There are very few people who would attempt to tackle a trail like Chocolate thunder in a UTV, and we understand that, but this extreme case gives us an idea what a stock unit can do against the larger more expensive Jeeps.  At no time did we need to thrash through an obstacle to make it. We used a slow technical approach to completing each obstacle.  When we did get stuck a simple pull from a spotter strap by a single person would in most cases free up the vehicle. As we modify the T4 with larger tires I feel it will become a formable rock crawling machine. We hope to install our first modifications before we return to the Johnson Valley for King of the Hammers, and we use this vehicle for Pre running the Ultra4 race. OffRoadPress.com will be at the KOH event for an entire week, so you can be assured we will be running a few more rock trails with it in the near future.

About the Author

Jeff Knoll is the former Event Director for the King of the Hammers event. He has raced various classes in SCORE, BITD, MORE, and MDR. Following the California 200, Knoll travelled to Washington, DC to meet with BLM officials regarding the Special Recreation Permit policies of the BLM. Knoll serves on the BLM’s Desert Advisory Sub-Committee regarding Special Recreation Permits. Knoll also drafted language for Nevada’s Senate Bill 156 in 2011 regarding action sports safety.

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