So you've never heard of Kasea? More than 10 years ago, brothers Ken and Steve Leighty saw a gaping hole in the youth ATV market and ran with it. Kasea (an acronym for Ken and Steve's Excellent Adventure) has since weathered the storms of criticism, supply-chain problems and manufacturing anomalies. Scot Steffy, Kasea's U.S. sales manager, makes no excuses and offers reassurances of the company's commitment to quality, performance and low price. "We are constantly improving our product and always looking for better ways to do things. We are working with ISO 9002-certified factories and are in constant communication with the assembly line." Highlights for 2004 include the new Skyhawk 250, which we spent a considerable amount of time riding, and the all-new 250cc Explorer off-road buggy.
The Skyhawk family of ATVs offers machines for aspiring riders of any age or size. The Skyhawk Mini 50 ($1299) is a fantastic introductory machine that will allow even the most-timid child to safely build his or her self-confidence and riding skills without feeling overwhelmed by the size or power of a larger machine. The Mini has all the safety features parents expect--wrist lanyard, rear tether, smooth (yet plentiful) power delivery and covered footrests--while offering all the characteristics children can appreciate--electric start, user-friendly controls and full suspension. As your child grows, he or she can graduate to the larger Skyhawk 50, 90 and 170. For those who are more interested in utility machines Kasea offers the Outback 50 and 90 models. Each has full lighting, front and rear racks and full suspension--these would make a really cool pit machine for any adult. While it's easy to find fault in mechanical devices, let us add that children are the future of ATVing, and Kasea has clearly demonstrated its long-term commitment to bringing new riders into the fold. The smaller, child-sized Kaseas are stout units that will provide loads of fun for youngsters. On the other hand ...
Kasea's redesigned Skyhawk 250 is just 6 pounds heavier than a Honda 250EX and more than 20 pounds lighter than the portly Kawasaki Mojave 250, yet it feels top-heavy on both track and trail. The 250's two biggest problems are bump steer and a marginally performing suspension system--the machine bottoms on jumps, packs down when it becomes hot and kicks and hops through the rough stuff. The stock grips are cheap--perhaps what you'd expect to find on a department-store bicycle. Replace them now or wait until they work their way off; it won't take long. Every one of the test units was outfitted with a Big Gun exhaust system, perhaps to alleviate the sluggishness we noted in 2002.
The verdict? Save your money and buy a Yamaha Blaster. You'll get a better-performing package for not much more cash. While the idea of a four-stroke twin powering an ATV is intriguing, the flat power delivery of what is essentially a Korean-made Honda Rebel motorcycle engine did nothing for us. It's not a bad machine, but considering the alternatives and the price, we'd opt for something else. Funny thing is that the Skyhawk 170 actually feels faster than the 250, is certainly lighter and is offered at a great price.
Smaller is definitely better in this lineup: the 50 is one of the better ones we've tested; the midsize youth quads are respectable; but the adult models have some growing up to do. We may be nitpicking this company to death, but based on the solid engineering and performance of its youth quads, we'll likely be singing its praises in a year or two, even on the bigger units.
Kasea is diving headlong into...
Kasea is diving headlong into the buggy market. As with its ATVs, the smaller unit is the better one. We managed to badly break the Explorer 250 ($5499) after just a few miles of riding, but the Adventure buggy (AB-150R) seemed well sorted, especially for its price ($2499). The Adventure two-seater buggy (AB-150R2) runs $2799.