Brute Force 750 4x4i Vs. Ocala's Sand Whoops
After an exhausting few months of deadlines and lack of much-needed playtime, the call for an exhilarating adventure couldn't have come my way at a more appropriate time. An adventuresome staff member over at Kawasaki had invited me on a low-key yet exciting journey south to Florida's Ocala National Forest for a day of relieving stress and knocking out some hard-whooped miles aboard the 2008 Brute Force 750 4x4i. You don't have to ask me twice, I'm in! Next thing I knew, I'm hopping states on a tiny plane headed for alligator territory. No worries, though, I was going riding, and that's all that mattered to me.
We awoke early on Friday morning, the sun was gleaming bright orange and I was eager to shred some miles aboard a new machine in a location in which I'd never ridden previously. Along our one-hour journey to the ride spot, I contemplated how I would write this story. Was this a test ride of the 2008 Brute Force or was it a ride adventure story at Ocala OHV? To be perfectly honest, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect out of this trip, but only time could reveal the results. As the day wore on and my overall experience just kept getting better and better, a moment of clarity finally broke through my clouded brain as to what I should do. I'm stepping into new territory here, breaking the mold or whatever you want to call it. This would be an adventure story where I also tested a revised machine in a real-world riding scenario. Actually sounds pretty cool if you ask me. So let's rewind back to the drive down.
As we entered the "driveway" of Ocala OHV-best described as a very long, sandy road where whoops lay deep one after another-I became a little concerned. The reason: These sand whoops were knee deep and went as far as my eyes could see. To be honest, that little voice inside my head that says, "This isn't going to be good" became very loud and annoying. Endless deep whoops and Brute Force 750s don't seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. Normally when I think whoops, I think of tackling them aboard a sport ATV with good suspension, not so much on a ute. But either way, I was here and determined to make the best of it.
What's New For 2008?
Before jumping in deep to our time out riding, you have to get some details. I don't want to bore you with all of the benefits and features of this machine since it's been around for quite some time. What I do want to do is enlighten you on the impressive improvements that Kawasaki has made to the Brute Force 750 4x4i for 2008. This is important in my eyes because Kawasaki made some very key changes to this machine, changes that have roosted it into a new league in my opinion.
First off, the engineers at Kawasaki have crafted a new fuel-injection system into this already powerful V-twin engine. The twin Electrofusion-plated aluminum cylinders are now fed by 34mm throttle bodies controlled by a 32-bit CPU which allows the perfect mixture of fuel and air based on coolant temperature, air intake temperature, throttle position, air intake pressure, vehicle speed and crankshaft angle. That's impressive, right? Along with EFI, Kawi also reduced the spring rate for the throttle return springs and ball bearings in the throttle bodies. This makes the throttle easier to push and fatigues the rider's thumb less throughout a long day on the trail. That's a score for sure!
For me, I must congratulate Kawasaki for not stopping its improvements at the addition of EFI. In the past, I've endured my own frustrations with the suspension and handling of the Brute Force as well as its funky twitchiness in the handlebar. For this year, the engineers have made simple but much-needed improvements to the suspension. Both the front and rear shocks on the Brute Force use dual-rate springs. The soft initial spring rate handles the rough terrains at lower speeds, followed by a firmer second spring rate that comes into play as the springs are compressed farther to handle higher speeds. What's new this year is the Brute's improved suspension valving. I'll get into the suspension performance later in the story, but let me just tell you now, it's much improved from years past.
As you might've guessed, Kawasaki didn't halt at suspension. A new seat urethane that improves rider comfort has been added this year. Green also included slick new polished-aluminum wheels, a sealed storage compartment, beefier CV boots, aluminum footpegs and a factory-installed conduit for the later addition of a winch. All of these improvements indeed equal a much more desirable Brute Force for 2008.
Experiencing Ocala On The Brute ForceAs mentioned earlier, I was a bit baffled by the thought of ripping through the deep whooped-out trails in Ocala OHV aboard the Brute Force 750i. Well, that was until I ripped through the deep whoops and experienced the newly valved shocks. You'd think that motor performance with the new EFI system would be the first words out of my mouth, but the newly valved suspension is what impressed me most. Usually I read and hear about power first from most riders and many media outlets, but I'm here to say suspension and handling are by far the first and most important areas on any ATV. What good is a strong, monstrous motor if the suspension won't allow you to stay in control of your ATV at high speeds? With that said, we surprisingly powered through the sandy whoops with great confidence. Sure, there were those occasional rear-end swaps that can make any of us clench our cheeks a bit too tight, but slightly giving back a little throttle brought everything under control again. I sometimes experienced the usual dreadful kicking and bucking of the rear suspension, but to be honest, it was very mild. For the most part, I steered in the direction I wanted to go, hammered down on the throttle and comfortably blasted through the whoops with a great deal of ease.
Cornering felt precise and accurate even when rough palmetto roots littered the turns. You didn't want to be bucked off or blowing corners on these trails because huge, mossy trees would be eagerly awaiting your arrival with an abrupt thud. Off-cambers could get the Brute a little tipsy as it sits a bit high. With a powerful motor working in conjunction with nicely dialed-in rear shocks, breaking loose to drift fast corners was thoughtless and absolutely thrilling. I'm here to tell you that I was absolutely shocked by the improved handling characteristics of the '08 Brute Force. In years past, I wasn't the biggest fan of this machine's handling characteristics. The confidence gained by the Brute's revised suspension settings allowed me to actually enjoy a day of blasting through the 100-plus miles of sandy whooped-out trails throughout Ocala OHV.
When it comes to the motor of the Brute Force 750, I was already a fan. In the past, I've always been blown away by Kawasaki's ability to build extremely strong, reliable and powerful V-twin motors. But Kawi stepped things up to an even higher level this year with the addition of EFI. This motor quickly barks to life with a lazy push of the start button, slides into gear with nothing less than ease and crisply outputs a ferocious power to the ground without even the slightest delay. It's true folks-this 749cc V-twin paired with EFI is nothing less than a monster. It's a ferocious but controllable type of power that will keep adrenaline pumping and the excitement rolling. And popping the front tires off the ground when needing to conquer obstacles along the trail was as simple as grabbing a handful of throttle. I can say with confidence that this Brute is among the fastest utilities available today, but a comparison with other big-bore utes will have to decide its final ranks in overall speed.
Unfortunately, as exciting as the unique trails of Ocala are, four-wheel-drive wasn't often required. I'll have to pair this test with past experiences of using the four-wheel-drive system on this machine. I remember a couple of years ago, a friend and I pulled a broke-down mud-laden sport quad up a long, muddy, steep grade with deep, nasty ruts lining its center to get my mount back to the parking lot. Ever since that day, I knew that the Brute had outrageous workhorse abilities. Truthfully, I never in a million years would've thought that pulling this sport quad up that hill was even possible, but it was our only option if we wanted to get it out. To my surprise, with a great deal of help from the differential lock, we clawed and hauled the quad to safety. From that day forward, I've been a believer in Kawi's four-wheel-drive system. And as for hauling trailers, logs or whatever chores you put your Brute Force up to, it will do it willingly and without any complaints.
As I try and wrap this up, I wanted to give kudos to a few other details that the Brute Force does well. Accompanying this beast of a motor is a very effective braking system. Both the front and rear brakes stop this machine with authority, and that's comforting after experiencing the power and speeds of which this machine is capable. I also wanted to point out the new seat urethane. It's as comfortable as it is stable, allowing for a long day of riding without unwanted agitation. The new footpegs grip well, while the new polished-aluminum wheels drastically improve its appearance.
The 2008 Brute Force 750 4x4i has left an impressive, lasting impression on me. My biggest complaint from the past was a brutal suspension and twitchy front steering, but Kawasaki has listened to its critics and has drastically improved this monster in 2008. Add EFI, and you've got one of the hottest utility sport ATVs on the market today.
As for my day spent at Ocala OHV, it was phenomenal. Even though I complained of deep sand whoops at the beginning of this story, I must admit that I actually enjoyed riding them. At the end of the day when we were packing up, I met a handful of great people who were coming into camp to ride over the weekend. The only negative thing I can really say is that I wish I could've stuck around to camp and spend the whole weekend riding. What an awesome trip.
Kawasaki Brute Force 750 4x4i
|Retail price: ||$7799–$8049 |
|Type: ||90-degree V-twin four-stroke |
|Displacement: ||749cc |
|Bore x stroke: ||85x66mm |
|Cooling: ||Liquid-cooled |
|Carburetion: ||EFI system with dual Keihin CVKR 34mm throttle bodies |
|Lubrication: ||Dry sump |
|Starting: ||Electric |
|Drive system: ||Shaft, 2x4/4x4 |
|Transmission: ||Automatic CVT with high/low range, reverse, engine-braking, diff-lock |
|SUSPENSION (TYPE/TRAVEL) |
|Front: ||Dual A-arms/6.7 in. |
|Rear: ||Dual A-arms, fully independent/7.9 in. |
|Front: ||AT25x8-12 |
|Rear: ||AT25x10-12 |
|Front: ||Dual hydraulic 200mm discs with dual-piston calipers |
|Rear: ||Sealed oil-bathed multidiscs |
|Wheelbase: ||50.5 in. |
|Claimed dry weight: ||605 lb |
|Ground clearance: ||9.7 in. |
|Length/width/height: ||86.4/45.9/48.5 in. |
|Seat height: ||35.5 in. |
|Fuel capacity: ||5.0 gal. |
|Headlight: ||Four 40-watt |
|Instrumentation: ||Fuel gauge, speedometer, odometer, hourmeter, clock, dual tripmeters; 2x4/4x4, neutral, reverse, low-fuel, low-oil indicators |
|Colors: ||Woodsman green, lime green, Sunbeam red, super black; metallic Nocturne blue |
|+ ||Ferocious power and drastically |
| ||Could get tipsy on off-cambers ||- |
|= ||One of the hottest utes in ’08 || |
Ocala OHV Trail System
The Ocala National Forest is a great place for taking the family or meeting up with friends for a weekend of camping, riding ATVs and experiencing the outdoors. It's unique with sand trails, ponds and plenty of canopied campsites. The vegetation is lush, extremely green and is managed to restore native environments. At this time, Ocala offers the Ocala North and Wandering Wiregrass OHV trail systems. The Ocala North system is longer with six distinct trail loops while Wandering Wiregrass is well suited for day riding.
What's interesting about Ocala OHV is that it's in the process of opening hundreds of miles of new trails. These trails will lead to secluded campsites, small towns for shopping and breathtaking scenery throughout the park. Making a weekend adventure in Ocala would easily be right up my alley. If it's possible for you to take one of your upcoming weekend trips to Ocala National Forest, I truly recommend giving it a shot.