16 March 2001

Kawasaki claims latest is most powerful so far

ByAndy Collings

KAWASAKI claims its new KVF650-A machine is the most powerful ATV yet.

Powered by a liquid-cooled 633cc V-twin engine, rated output is said to be 41hp.

Other key features of this ATV, which Kawasaki says is "new from the ground up", include a front differential lock system and engine braking. These two developments, combined with the machines ample power, will perhaps prove to be the biggest selling points for the 650.

Lack of effective engine braking has traditionally been the downside of automatic transmissions requiring brakes alone to be used to control steep descents. It is a problem several ATV manufacturers have only recently overcome.

Kawasakis system is to lock the transmissions variable speed, primary drive pulley flanges when the throttle is closed to prevent higher gear ratios being created – as it would normally do when drive loads are reduced. Locking the gear ratio in this manner allows the engine to provide an element of braking. Predictably, it is more noticeable when the engine is shut down when the transmission is in a lower ratio, or if Low rather than High range has been selected.

The 650s front axle differential system is both interesting and, some would say, innovative. A small lever on the left-hand handlebar is progressively pulled to apply an ever-greater degree of differential lock. This feature will undoubtedly find favour with operators working in difficult terrain.

An adjustable rear suspension should also meet with approval because the mono-shock unit can be set to suit conditions and comfort. Front suspension comprises the well proven MacPherson system which allows nearly 18cm (7in) of wheel movement.

In terms of styling, the 650 is still very much a Kawasaki build, but various tweaks have improved its appearance. The dashboard comprises a compact multifunctional, digital instrument panel and displays speed, clock, hour meter and fuel contents, plus indicator lights for neutral, reverse gear, 2WD/4WD, low fuel and oil pressure.

New styled front and rear carrier frames have capacities of 40kg and 80kg respectively.

Access to the engine would appear to be adequate for standard maintenance duties and removing the seat reveals the ATVs electronics, battery and a small tool box.

If there is to be criticism of the 650 it is perhaps the lack of storage space in which the usual bric-a-brac of the farming world accumulates, such as bale string, hammers, staples and worming bottles.

But overall, if its a powerful, robust ATV that is required, then the Kawasaki 650-A could warrant consideration. &#42

KAWASAKIKVF650-A

Engine Liquid cooled, V-twin, 41hp.

Transmission Two-range automatic.

Brakes Front discs, Rear internal wet disc.

Suspension Front MacPherson, rear Mono-shock.

Towing capacity 567kg.

Price £5850.