Celebrating the UTV harvest

Fall is the season of harvest, and harvest festivals are going on this month all across the country. Some of my favorite memories of my dad are of him telling stories about growing up on his grandfather’s farm in Prosper, Texas. On the farm, harvest days were—and still are—the most important days of the year, because that’s when the payoff came for months of hard work—make that back-breaking work. For wheat harvests, teams of combines would work their way north from Texas as the wheat matured, and Dad would work alongside the professionals. He had one work shirt that was threadbare. One day he got too close to the combine, and the thrasher grabbed him by the shirt and started to pull him in. Had the shirt not ripped, I would never have been born, much less celebrate this harvest.

Kawasaki Motor Corp. (KMC) is celebrating it 50th year in America in 2016, and KMC has been helping farmers with harvests and all other farm work since introducing the Multi-Use Lightweight Equipment (MULE) vehicle in 1988. Established in 1966, KMC has had a huge impact on motorcycling, off-road vehicles (OHVs) and personal watercraft (PWC) with the 1969 F21M 250 Scrambler; the 1970 G31M Centurion 100 rotary-valve two-stroke “beginner bike”; the 1973 Jet Ski standup PWC; and the 1974 KX125, KX250 and KX500 motocross bikes. The KX line was the result of Kawasaki’s 1972 500cc MX championship-winning F12MX program, and that championship was touted on national television with a “Come out ahead on a Kawasaki” advertising campaign. Kawasaki also made big waves in road and drag racing with its Z1, Mach III and Mach IV in the early ’70s, spawning the “Let the good times roll” ad campaign of 1973.

Twenty years after inventing the Mule 1000 utility vehicle, Kawasaki introduced its first recreation/utility vehicle— the 2008 Teryx 750 with V-twin power. The Teryx and Teryx4 got major redesigns in 2014 and again this year. And, for 2015, Kawasaki did a complete redesign on the Mule with the Pro-FXT, which is powered by an 812cc inline triple and sports 8.7 inches of wheel travel. For the 2016 harvest, Kawasaki introduced the Pro-FX and dieselpowered Pro-DX and Pro-DXT. Check out the test of the 2016 Teryx4 800 EPS-LE in this issue.

I’ll be celebrating Kawasaki’s 50th harvest this month on my KLX450R trail bike—as I did its 25th on my Jet Ski 550.

UTVs are getting more respect in the off-road racing community. It was cool to see UTV racing on NBC’s coverage of the Red Bull Signature Series’ Frozen Rush. Bryce Menzies defeated RJ Anderson in the first-ever UTV Frozen Rush, and he went on to win the Trophy Truck race ahead of Ricky Johnson. Indy car great Davie Hamilton drove the Robby Gordon Speed Edition Wildcat 1000X pace car at the St. Petersburg Stadium Super Tucks races on NBC Sports. Also, Kawasaki’s 50thanniversary TV ad campaign is cool too.

This year BRP introduced the Can-Am Defender HD8 and HD10 next-generation utility UTVs and turbocharged more of its sport Maverick 1000R line for a total of six choices. Honda unleashed the paddle-shifting Pioneer 1000 and 1000-5, the shortest wheelbase four-plus-passenger UTV. Polaris went big for 2016 with the RZR XP Turbo EPS and XP 4 Turbo EPS, High Lifter Edition RZR XP 4 1000 and Ranger XP 900, RZR S 1000 and ground-breaking General 1000 EPS in three trim levels. As much as I love our “Dune Patrol” XP Turbo for everything from duning to rock crawling, the General is even more fun and comfortable, and the long-travel General may replace the (aftermarket) long-travel Teryx4 as the official Moab “Lump Limo.”

Yamaha celebrated its 60th American anniversary in 2016 with the industry changing YXZ1000R extreme-sport UTV with a high-output, 112-horsepower, inline-triple, sequential-shift, fivespeed, manual transmission; hydraulic clutch; and high-end Fox 2.5 RC2 shocks with rear Bottom-Out Control (BOC) technology. Yamaha has had great success in the Lucas Oil Regional Off-Road Racing Series with Dustin Nelson in the Yamaha Racing YXZ leading the SoCal Regional points ahead of DragonFire Racing-sponsored Corry Weller in the Walker Evans Racing Production1000 UTV class. Yamaha also has a three-year deal with Lucas Oil Off-Road Regionals to sponsor the Yamaha checkered flag.

Last month Yamaha introduced its 2017 YXZ1000R Sport Shift and the YXZ1000R SE with industry-exclusive Fox 2.5 Podium X2 piggyback shocks with high- and low-speed compression and rebound adjusters, dual-rate springs with adjustable cross-overs and Internal ByPass (IBP) technology. The YXZ1000R SS SE will also sport the new X2 shocks.

Yamaha also introduces the Wolverine 700 EPS, a Steel Blue Wolverine R-Spec EPS and Viking color choice, and R-Spec EPS Special Edition. Arctic Cat introduces the Wildcat 1000X Pro with Robby Gordondesigned trailing-arm rear suspension and the Prowler HDX 700 Crew. Arctic Cat also reports that the Yamaha Turbo triple-powered 2017 Thundercat 9000 snowmobile puts out 211 horsepower on the dyno and that the engine would slip right into a Wildcat chassis. How sweet would that be?

Can-Am tantalizes us with its 2017 Maverick Max X mr 1000R and Maverick xc; six-passenger Defender Max UTVs; and new Fox QS3 shocks for select Mavericks (2.0), Maverick Turbos (2.5 BOC) and Commanders (2.0).

Be sure to register to vote so that we can keep our public lands open to the public and enjoy our USFS and BLM trails well into the future. Also, urge your representatives to support HR-4665/S-2219, the Outdoor Recreation Contributions Act, which will fund studies of outdoor recreation’s contributions to our economy. A 2012 study indicated that OHVs contribute 40 percent of $646 billion in consumer spending each year.

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