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2018 Yamaha Kodiak 450 Press Ride: Playing with a Bear in Washington’s Woods

A Grizzly Bear can be an aggressive, ferocious beast, but the new Yamaha ATV built for sportsmen and recreational trial riding and entry level riders is anything but wild. It’s quite tame, in fact; unless you aren’t careful.

The new Kodiak 450 is powered by a 421cc fuel-injected engine, and its all-new chassis features a compact-footprint that the company believes will appeal to mid-size ATV customers. While the machine may seem small in comparison to the larger Kodiak, it can easily accommodate larger riders.

“Since the introduction of the Kodiak 700 to our family of 4×4 utility ATVs just two years ago, we have received an extraordinarily positive reception for a value-packed vehicle that is both hard working and fun to ride,” said Mike Martinez, Yamaha vice president of ATV / SxS operations. “This year, we’re expanding the ATV line again with the all-new Kodiak 450, a mid-size multipurpose ATV bridging the gap between the entry-level customer desiring comfort and confidence, and the experienced rider seeking precise handling and class-leading off-road versatility.”

Yamaha brass have done quite a bit of research to find a gap in the market between recreational, sportsmen riders and new riders looking to do some moderate trail riding. We got to explore the Capitol State Forest near Olympia, Washington in late July to see how it handled the tight, technical trails up the mountain. At first it didn’t seem like it would be much of a challenge, but when we hit the narrow trails with tree roots poking out from under the brush on the sides of the trail, we got our money’s worth of excitement and then some!

Yamaha’s Public Relations Manager Scott Newby told us that the Kodiak 450 was designed with a variety of riders in mind. “We think it’ll fall into 40% Trail Riding / 40% Utility / 15% Hunting and 5% Other uses.” He noted that the biggest differences between the Kodiak 700 and the 450 is that the 450 is more geared toward the first time buyer and less experienced riders. “From a usage perspective the Kodiak is a little more Utility focused.”

The 700 Kodiak and Grizzly represent the bulk of the 4×4 market (50%) while the 450 is about 21%. According to Yamaha the entry level buyer is very price sensitive, which is why the $5999 MSRP should be on target. The Kodiak 450 includes EPS and Non-EPS versions; Ultramatic automatic transmission with high, low, reverse and neutral; natural-feeling engine braking throughout the RPM range; On-Command 2WD/4WD system; adjustable dual A-arm suspension and more.

Plenty of accessories are also available for Yamaha dealers to showcase to their customers including a new integrated winch and mounting plate kit – with wiring already pre-installed by the factory, custom overfenders, gun boot mounts, rack extensions, cooler carriers and more.

Yamaha thinks that the 450 will not compete with other products they offer because riders are generally younger. “This entry level buyer is price sensitive and younger than the SxS buyer so we do not see this buyer going to SxS. Higher end 4×4 ATV buyers as they get older tend to migrate towards SxS,” Newby concluded.

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