February 12, 2020
As a small-farm land manager and country homeowner with more chores and pet projects than weekends available to accomplish them, I think an ATV is primarily a utility tool that needs to be available to work whenever it’s called on, whatever the conditions. Unflinching reliability and versatility are key, as is user-friendliness for the wide variety of riders I may need to enlist to help perform work and get tasks accomplished safely and efficiently. In my world, a strong, dependable ATV is a true force multiplier, while a misguided choice in quads can leave you frustrated and exasperated—and I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum.
This past winter I set out to build the ideal four-wheel work companion to handle five primary home and ranch jobs: snow plowing, field fertilizing and spraying, hauling, and towing. Given the tasks of plowing heavy, wet snow; pushing dirt, rock, and animal refuse; hauling heavy loads on the racks; and towing gear across hill and dale, I decided my base platform should have four-wheel-drive capability and a 600cc engine at the minimum.
Since my wife, family, and friends also would be using the unit to help manage the chores, some type of steering assist would be helpful. For the spraying and fertilizing duties, I needed high rack capacity and an adjustable suspension that could accommodate a decent-sized sprayer and spreader, with ground clearance high enough to navigate cleanly over early-growth soybeans and corn. An automatic/CVT transmission was also a given.
After a comprehensive review of brands, models, features, and value, the logical path led me to the Yamaha Kodiak 700 EPS as the best blend of technologies and capabilities—at the best price. I had experience with the Yamaha brand, owning a somewhat spartan, by today’s standards, 2002 Kodiak 400 that has proven insanely reliable, requiring just two batteries in its lifetime. It starts as easily today as the day I picked it up at the dealer. My first Kodiak’s unfailingly consistent reliability is in stark contrast to the three other barn mates it has outworked and outlasted, so I felt confident in the choice of platforms.
The primary features of the Kodiak 700 EPS that won me over are its power-to-weight ratio with a 708cc 4-valve fuel-injected powerplant, proven Ultramatic transmission, four-wheel engine braking, Electric Power Steering, 1,300-pound towing capacity with a factory two-inch receiver built in, 198-pound rear-rack capacity, fully independent suspension, and nearly 11 inches of ground clearance.
To add increased versatility and capability, I went to Moose Utility for a 60-inch County Plow with multi-angle mount and push tube and a powerful Warn 2,000-pound winch with synthetic rope to manage the snow blade and general winching needs. The heavy-duty plow blade can be angled for optimal material management, and a curved face and rubber plow flap keep snow from blowing up in your face. I have a 300-yard driveway with a 30-degree incline, so this implement might be the most labor-saving ATV accessory I’ve ever owned. This build project would be worth it if for nothing else than to have the Kodiak 700 EPS and plow dedicated for this specific job.
The Warn winch has run flawlessly as a plow blade lift mechanism. And while I’ve never managed to get the Kodiak in a muddy scenario where the locking differential couldn’t get me out, I have managed to foolishly bury the unit to the frame in deep snow on multiple occasions, and the Warn saved me from some back-wrenching shovel recoveries.
For the spraying of acres of corn, soybeans, clover, and native warm season deer bedding grasses, I found what I believe to be the best ATV boom sprayer I’ve ever used—and I’ve been through a bunch of them. The well-kept secret of the CropCare ATV Sprayer belies its capabilities and durability. This 25-gallon workhorse is built to last, with a thick-wall tank and a robust, powder-coated metal frame adaptable to a multitude of ATV racks. A three-gallons-per-minute Shurflo pump is controlled by a large, easy-to-adjust pressure regulator with a large, liquid-filled gauge for precise adjustment. An in-tank filter helps prevent sediment clogs in the system, and a unique, 160-inch X-Fold Boom provides excellent row coverage, with precise chemical application and control via its TeeJet air-inducted flat fan spray nozzles.
To achieve maximum efficiency with the sprayer when applying chemicals in non-row crop scenarios like fallow fields, clover plots, and pastures, I paired it with CropCare’s excellent 2.5-gallon Turf Marker System, which helps prevent expensive overlaps and those maddening missed spots you discover a week later. It works wonderfully and saves time, effort, and expense, and going forward, I’ll never run a sprayer system without one.
With these farm and ranch accessories, the Kodiak 700 EPS performs its role wonderfully as an ultra-dependable utility machine that has more than enough power for ag jobs and heavy snow removal. Its 1,300-pound towing capacity allows me to haul large loads and ATV ag implements without worry of stressing the frame or engine. I regularly over-max the rear cargo capacity when carrying 25 gallons in the sprayer, and the machine barely acknowledges the load. The Electric Power Steering is particularly useful in this scenario, and in general, the EPS provides a great balance between trail feel and ease of use for all types of riders.
What I’ve come to value most in an ATV is reliability. I have precious few weekends each month to accomplish my farm work, and the machine absolutely has to run when the snow starts flying. In this regard, the Kodiak has been just as dependable at -20 degrees as it has at 95 degrees, and its feature set and value distinguish it in an extremely competitive category.