Long Term Report – 2012 Kawasaki Brute Force 750 4x4i

Long Term Report – 2012 Kawasaki Brute Force 750 4x4i

2012.kawasaki.brute-force750-4x4i.green.front-left.riding.over-rocks.jpgIt’s our job to let you know exactly what to expect from every vehicle we test.  We want you to know what a machine is capable of long before you hand the dealer a check, and that means everything from fit and finish to average maintenance tasks.  We use our test ATVs exactly like you do; for work duty, for weekend play, and as hunting buddies.  After a year with the Kawasaki Brute Force 750 4x4i here is what we’ve found. 

Conditions of Use

Our 2012 Brute Force 750 4x4i test model was used for ordinary trail riding, for pulling a load such as a lawn roller or trailer, in mud, on sand, and in snow.  Typical operation was at varied RPM ranges.  Riders ranged from intermediate to expert, and from petite females to husky hunters.   

Oil Used: Mobil-1 Fully Synthetic 5w30 

Oil Filter: Stock Kawasaki from dealer

Air Filter Used: Stock Kawasaki air filter – Dual Density foam

Air Filter Oil: PJ-1 Aerosol delivered Foam Filter Oil

Tire Pressure: 5 lbs Fnt & Rear for hard trail, normal riding & work duties, 3 lbs Fnt & Rear for sand 2012.kawasaki.brute-force750-4x4i.green.front.riding.on-trail.jpg

Engine & Drivetrain

Valve/Head: No appreciable or noticeable loss of power, compression, or valve noise

Cooling System: No leaks.  Maintains coolant level

Shaft Drive: No joint failures or excessive backlash on Cardan type CV joints

CVT Clutches & Belt: Minimal belt wear.  Clutch still operating smoothly

4WD System: No failures in 4wd system to front end

Rear Differential: Maintaining recommended oil level with no leaks

EFI Mapping: Excellent starts at all temperatures, no backfire, no hesitation under acceleration.

Engine Noise: No noticeable increase in engine noise

Exhaust: Exhaust and muffler still retain tight fit at joints, no vibration, very little discoloration, and negligible corrosion on stainless steel system.  Sound levels same as when new. 

Battery: Battery still holding charge and cranking cold engine quickly and easily, even at temperatures of 20 degrees F 

Shifting: Much improved over previous Brute Force models.  Gear changes generally easy except when there is a load on the drivetrain such as on slopes.2012.kawasaki.brute-force750-4x4i.camo.right.riding.up-hill.jpg

Bodyword & Controls

Control Layout: Good Control layout

Digital Instrumentation: Excellent!  Easy to read, and easy to use

Levers/Throttle/Switches/Shifter: High Quality controls.  Throttle has good feel and throw.  4wd button easy to use on thumb throttle housing.  Shift lever has positive engagement.  Key is easy to reach but out of way.

Seat Cover & Seat Foam: Seat has grippy, textured surface.  Foam is thick enough to provide support and allow body position changes.  Foam did not break down or take on moisture.

Bodywork: Excellent, high quality plastic is pliable and durable.  Resists scratches and can take an impact.

Spash Protection: Good protection from both front and rear fenders.  Foot wells drain quickly.  HOWEVER, with no center baffle splash from one front tire can cross through chassis ahead of engine and soak foot on opposite side.  

Lights: Good illumination and spread from both front lights which point to where vehicle is headed, but not necessarily into turns. Acceptable center mounted tail light.  2012.kawasaki.brute-force750-4x4i.close-up.console.jpg


Oil Filter: Good access on front lower section of motor – easy to change.  Standard     Kawasaki filter readily available, but high quality aftermarket filters available also at stores like CarQuest, Napa, etc.

Air Filter: Excellent access, easy to remove.  HOWEVER we easily pulled the center threaded stud out of its molded plastic housing which leaves the filter unfastened.  This could allow the filter to shift position during operation which would allow dirt to enter throttle bodies.  We epoxied nut back into housing and placed half a tennis ball between lid and filter top for extra insurance against pop-out – See article called Kawasaki Filter Fix from August 2011 issue.

Drain Plug: Good access, easy to reach

Dip Stick: Excellent access, easy to read

Coolant Reservoir: Good access under right front fender.  Easy to check coolant level.

CVT Cover Drain Plug: Excellent.  Easy to remove and includes a clear rubber cover for quick checks

Adjustments: Easy adjustments on cables, and for rear brake actuation lever2012.kawasaki.brute-force750-4x4i.close-up.air-filter.jpg

Electrical: Excellent access to fuses under seat


Shocks: Five way preload adjustable.  Good on most trail bumps but will bottom out, and when rear end bottoms can make the rear end hop.  Does have significant body roll thanks to soft springs.  A dual rate spring may improve this.

A-Arms: Good durability both on A-Arms and low maintenance pivot bushings

Steering: Very good in standard model.  Excellent and smooth with EPS. (Electronic Power Steering)   Calibration of EPS excellent at all speeds

Tires: Resistant to cuts.  Clean out well in mud thanks to open pattern and a large pad on each lug provides smooth ride on hard pack trails.  Good traction on rocks and slippery trails.  Acceptable traction in sand or snow.   

Wheels: Tough.  Cast aluminum.  Light weight and no leaks.  Bulletproof!

Brakes: Front brakes adequate.  Rear brakes spongy and weak.  Takes lots of force at lever for full rear brake engagement 2012.kawasaki.brute-force750-4x4i.close-up.rear-suspension.jpg


Frame: Dual perimeter tube chassis.  Frame is strong but not so rigid it beats up rider 

Fasteners: High quality metric with nylock nuts in many places.  Some use of plastic push-pin fasteners which will become loose after a few in/out cycles.

Paint & Plating: Good corrosion protection on frame thanks to powder coat.  Zinc plating on all fasteners and some steel parts

Towing: Sturdy, standard hitch at rear.

Storage: Excellent front and rear rack system with tough, powdercoat finish and tie down loops.  Dual storage compartments, one on left fender, one on front hood.  Front hood compartment good sized but lid can come loose.  We lost lid on way to ride site.2012.kawasaki.brute-force750-4x4i.close-up.engine.jpg

Tale from the Trail

The Brute Force 750 4x4i was an all-new machine from Kawasaki but it carried the best traits from previous Brute Force models combined with a healthy dose of technological upgrades.  Kawasaki also gave the Brute Force 750 a sporty, yet robust look to make sure no one would mistake it for previous models, but it’s what’s under the skin that counts.  

The new chassis was designed to be stronger, yet lighter than previous versions.  Redesigned shock mount locations improve suspension geometry and response, and Independent Rear Suspension helps maintain maximum ground clearance while keeping the ride smooth.  Kawasaki also gave the Brute Force 750 new, low maintenance A-Arm pivot bushings and a torsion bar at the rear to help control body roll during aggressive cornering.  Five way, preload adjustable shocks do a good job on most trail obstacles and ruts although it is possible to bottom them with severe hits, and we believe a dual rate spring or a slightly stiffer torsion bar would help control body roll a little better.  Overall though, the suspension will get the job done and it’s only when really pushed do you begin to find its limits.2012.kawasaki.brute-force750-4x4i.green.left.riding.wheelie.jpg

Like all Brute Force models the new 750 4x4i engine offers plenty of power and instant throttle response.  Everything from the throttle housing through the exhaust was designed for increased performance and longer life.  A new cylinder head provides higher compression, and a new cam with increased valve lift both contribute to better low RPM torque.  Even the piston rings have been redesigned to help reduce oil consumption and blow-by gases.  At any point in the power band throttle response is excellent and it’s fun to crack the throttle and listen to the V-Twin rumble.  At the front of the frame a larger radiator is mounted higher in the chassis for better protection, and because utility ATVs often run a lot of electrical accessories the new Force also gets a 33.5 amp alternator.  Overall engine maintenance is pretty easy thanks to a large, easy to read dip stick, a spin on oil filter, and an easy access air filter.  We inadvertently popped the filter off its mount however but epoxied the nut back into its housing, and we sincerely hope Kawasaki takes our experience to heart and looks at the filter mounting system one more time.  Transferring power to the ground is the Kawasaki Automatic Powerdrive System (KAPS) CVT system.   The transmission features High, Low, Neutral, and Reverse, and we thought the clutching was excellent.  Both the air intake and CVT snorkels breathe from a location high in the chassis to minimize dirt or water intake, and a thicker, stronger belt increases belt life. 2012.kawasaki.brute-force750-4x4i.close-up.under-seat.jpg

We like the look of the new bodywork on the Brute Force 750.  Overall quality is excellent and it has proven to be tough and very resistant to scratches.  Once aboard, everything feels natural.  Controls are within easy reach, the handlebar bend is comfortable, and the thumb throttle has a good blade angle and range of motion.  At the center of the steering column is an excellent digital display, and the seat has a nice, grippy surface.   The floor boards drain water away quickly but we wouldn’t mind a slightly taller foot peg.  Splash protection is generally very good except when water would splash through the engine compartment and soak our foot on the opposite side.  Storage is quite good, but the heavy duty racks are outstanding and the new tie-down loops were a stroke of genius!

On the trail the V-twin engine delivers a throaty but not obnoxious sound.  A jab at the throttle brings a lighting quick response from the engine, and clutching was excellent without any hesitation.  On work duty the engine is easy to control and the Kaw has no problem towing a trailer.  4wd is easy to engage and a front axle differential stands ready for when things really get sloppy.  Power out of the corners is excellent, and steering from the Electronic Power Steering is calibrated perfectly.  Braking can be a little mushy however, especially from the rear brakes, but engine braking is outstanding.  The Kawasaki Brute Force 750 4x4i is a blast to ride and it definitely blurs the line between sport and utility.  It’s an outstanding performer!

April 22, 2012

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