By Marissa Baecker
In the Okanagan, we are experiencing a fantastic Fall. While most of us have put our two wheels to bed for the winter, our Monet coloured landscape beckons us each day to come play in the outdoors. For some its hiking or hunting and loading that toy hauler trailer complete with dirt bikes or quads or both and heading for the hills for the day, the weekend or longer.
With a gracious invitation from Terry Poirier of Kelowna Yamaha, I headed for the hills for a day. A former motorcycle racer, avid dirt bike rider, quad rider and snowmobile enthusiast, Poirier is always up for adventure and enjoys sharing his knowledge. Upon arrival to meet him for a day in the woods, Poirier was all smiles standing in front of his fully loaded truck. The sight of two dirt bikes and two quads awaiting me kicked in my girlish behaviours and I giggled with delight as my smile grew.
I love riding in the Fall. The cooler temperature is perfect when you are all geared up. Full gear in the summer, while necessary, can be a bit of a crash diet as you sweat out the pounds in the mid-day heat.
Checking out the adventure wheels, it was tough to decide what to try first. Unfamiliar with the area and the terrain it offered, I decided that the seated position of a quad would be the safest bet to start. The Yamaha Kodiak 450 (manual steering) or the Grizzly 700 (power steering).
As we wound our way through trees, across a carpet of multi-coloured leaves, with the crunching sound of tires rolling over dry pine needles, a herd of deer watched our every move hoping not to be seen. An assortment of birds flew overhead, and that cool breeze cleared the visors and our minds.
Poirier led through the woods to a beginner quad loop to try each machine on the same terrain.
The Kodiak 450 is a great starter machine for the beginner quad rider. Some may turn their noses at the fact that it does not have power steering but the steering itself is so easy, that the machine is not hard to handle without it and for any beginner rider, we recommend learning manual steering first to understand the movement of a new machine.
I actually like manual steering as I can really feel the machine and gauge my speed better by knowing how much effort I have to put in as the rider. Feeling the back end slide is a good thing. If I were moving logs around and couldn’t use my speed for turning then yes, I would definitely take the power steering. At lower speeds in difficult circumstances, power steering would be better.
The Grizzly 700 is a multi-purpose machine. As it is built for both recreation and work in the outdoors, it has power steering and the model we had was equipped with an optional winch.
Both the Grizzly and the Kodiak offer up liquid cooled, four stroke engines and electric starters as well as identical transmissions. Each offers a push button 2WD/4WD as well. Our trail riding adventure didn’t call for 4WD and the 2WD was perfect for those flatter, areas without any steep incline climbs.
While each machine offers a different purpose, for me (limited time in the woods on quads), other than the power steering and the power – everything else seemed equal.
Displacement was 686cc for the Grizzly to 421 cc for the Kodiak. Grizzly offers 20 ltr fuel tank to the Kodiak’s 15 litre. Grizzly can haul 600 kg (1,322 lb) to the Kodiak 500 (kg (1,100 lb). Grizzly weighs 294 kg (648lb) to the Kodiak 281 kg (618lb). Ground clearance between the two is one inch difference 11.8 to 10.8, and you will be sitting 2.5 inches taller on the Grizzly.
As for the braking, the Grizzly offers hydraulic disc brakes both front and back while the Kodiak has dual 180mm hydraulic front brakes and multi-disc rear.
Being a beginner quad rider, I was still learning and am happy to share my non-technical experiences. If you are looking to continue your time off road and are considering a quad, check out either of these machines depending on your purpose. Yamaha is offering some great promotions on 2011 models that could see you getting into a quad sooner than you may expect.
As for our day in the woods, nothing short of stellar!