Somewhere deep in the abyss that is the world of the internet, there lies a review of the Kawasaki Brute Force in which the author calls the big-bore Kawi the "muscle car of the ATV world." He cites big power, less than inspiring handling, and a sound that works your face muscles every time the engine turns over as the vital characteristics that help the Brute to perfectly fit this description. Yet, a description is only capable of so much; more important than the power of words is the way the machine feels: the sheer, raw, startlingly brutal power; the way it's a beast to be tamed rather than a docile sports car meant for the Autobahn; the way you warn your friends who try it out to "be careful." The Brute is different from the nimble, smooth-riding, trail-friendly machines from companies like Honda, Yamaha, and Can-Am. No, the Brute's not refined, it's not easy to live with, and it's definitely not the most logical decision. The Brute is mean, it's loud, and it's almost too aggressive for its own good. Allusions to the Chargers, Mustangs, Camaros, Trans Ams, and GTO's, couldn't be more appropriate.
It's hard, if not impossible, to ignore the Brute Force's mean stance and aggressive bodywork; call it the Dodge Daytona Superbee or Plymouth Superbird styling of the quads if you dare. High fenders with angled peaks are like nothing else in the industry and the dual-circle headlight treatment is a Brute trademark. Nothing can be mistaken for a the big Kawi and you will never glance at another quad and think it's a Brute Force. Oh, and if you look at the Brute the wrong way, you'll get spanked in a staring contest. The quad simply has aggression written all over it.
Instead of boring you with the less important details, I'll cut to the chase about what needs to be touched upon but doesn't require an elaborate description. Here we go: the ergonomics are fine, the digital gauge does its job displaying basic info, and the "pockets" on the front fenders are useless (although you wouldn't criticize a Superbee for its cupholders, would you?). The four-wheel-drive system works well but is fundamentally flawed seeing as very, very few people think a progressive locking front differential is preferable over a push-button on-or-off style system. That being said, all locked up in 4WD, the Brute is damn-near unstoppable. Mud, rocks, hills, you name it, the Brute will eat it up and spit the bones in your face; it's exactly what you want from your muscle car.
More unnecessary though vital info: the suspension is mediocre at best, but there's the aftermarket to go to if you're a hardcore rider with a fancy checkbook. Otherwise, take it for what it is and just accept that the Brute isn't about suspension, end of story. Everything described above is adequate enough to let you focus on the really good stuff, and that's all that should matter. Remember, the Kawasaki Brute Force is a muscle car trapped in a 4WD ATV's clothing. This thing is all about the engine, and oh, does it deliver on its home front.
Words cannot do justice to the 633cc V-Twin that lives under the seat. This is a force to be reckoned with and you really do have to experience it to understand how ferocious, hilarious, and absurd the power is. From the bottom end all the way to the top of the powerband, the engine catapults the quad from a standstill to speeds you wouldn't believe are possible with such force that it truly makes one curious as to how and why bigger engines even exist. To put things in perspective, consider this: a few of my friends have looked me in the eyes after riding my Brute for the first time and, amidst the simultaneous expressions of fear and utter shock, they mumble a phrase that holds its meaning in the word "dangerous." With such a potent nuclear weapon sitting under the seat, you are only half a stab of your right thumb away from face-tearing acceleration. Use said weapon wisely.
But perhaps there's something even more important than how the quad acts: it's the final element in four-wheeler ownership that solidifies its place in one's mind and soul. This final element? Passion. Corny, yes, but without the burnouts, open exhausts, and drag races, a muscle car owner/driver never would have felt the adrenaline rush, the excitement, and the love they associate with the machine. The Brute accomplishes all of this, putting a big ol' smile on your face every single time you throw a leg over it. It's the ride itself that connects a machine with its rider, thus associating one's mind with the fun that riding an all-terrain-vehicle is meant to be.
The Kawasaki Brute Force isn't perfect by any means. Hell, many would call it flawed and confused. Awful suspension, good ergonomics. Uninspiring handling, power to make the gods laugh. But the quad's overall test grade is completely irrelevant: the Kawasaki Brute Force exists to put a smile on your face, to help you make the most of your time in the woods/hills/mud/whatever-your-terrain-is, and also to bring about an adrenaline rush that makes you laugh like a little girl. For this, the Brute can say "mission accomplished." It's violent, in a loving way. It's flawed, but those flaws don't matter. It's a powerhouse and it makes no apologies about it. The Kawasaki Brute Force is a four-wheel-drive, fire-breathing off-road machine that would make the muscle-car guys proud, and for that, I love it.
Video evidence of muscle car roots: I present Exhibit A.
- Ross, 6/18/2013