Jeff was contacted by a friend of ours (we call him "Nuck") from Pennsylvania about where to ride in Arizona. Jeff and I had some FREE time giving us the chance to go out and show him some of our favorite trails.
We met just after sunrise at our staging area between Phoenix and Florence AZ. After introductions and unloading we headed out. Nuck was riding a Honda 420 with power steering, Jeff was on his Suzuki King Quad 700 and I had a 2010 Kawasaki Teryx 750 Sport. which was provided to me as a test machine from UTV Off-Road Magazine.
Our first stop was a steep hill that we went down and up a couple of times. I asked Nuck if he would like to take the Teryx for a run. That was a mistake!!! He had never been in a side by side before but you could not tell by the way he drove this machine. He drove it much like I do most of the time - FULL THROTTLE. After we got him to stop I said to Jeff “well he seemed to like that so let’s go over to the hill with a jump at the top” After I showed him a couple of times he climbed back in and hit the gas. Oh My!!! What have I done? I had a hard time getting Nuck to let me back in the Teryx. He could not believe how well a stock machine handled and the sound of the throaty 750 twin in his words is ADDICTING. I agree, the sound of the Kawasaki is awesome and the massive torque is outstanding. When you hit the throttle you are pushed back in your seat as the smile comes on your face.
After many jumps we headed down the road to a trail called Lower Woodpecker. I was back in the seat of the Teryx and attempted to climb an almost straight up rock face. The rock threw me off to one side and the sand was dug out so much I could feel the machine at the tipping point. Nuck threw a big rock under the driver’s side rear tire and climbed in. The help gave me more balanced weight distribution. (What was he thinking getting in with me) Well, it worked as the Teryx jumped on top of the rock. Next , I lined up for the big obstacle that the Jeep guys like to tackle which is a steep rock wall. The Teryx climbed up the wall without even slipping a tire. This thing is an awesome rock climber. I have seen Jeeps with full lockers struggle on this obstacle at times.
Now it was Nuck’s turn to go through the twisting, turning, boulder strewn obstacle that we take the quads through. Nuck had one wheel then the other high in the air but used great body english. He did have a few times he wished his Honda had a low range and a locker but we found out he is definitely a rider.
He was surprised as he stopped and I pointed to the Indian pictographs right over his shoulder.
Next came Jeff. He made it look easy as he was rocking and rolling. I think he was enjoying Earth Day. Since he made it through with ease I asked him to go through again but this time with the Teryx. How could he refuse? As he lined up for his assault he asked me if he was on the right line. As I nodded he hit the gas and walked to the top with ease.
So off we go to another trail playing on obstacles along the way to Upper Woodpecker. Nuck wrestled the Teryx back from me and could not believe how easily this side by side would climb over large boulders and rock faces. If it gets really tough all you have to do is pull the full locker handle in the center console next to the gear shift to fully lock the front differential. Once you are done with the tough stuff just push the button on top of the lever and release the locker. So simple, someone that has never been in a side by side can easily use this feature.
Just to see how this worked, Nuck tried to straddle two large boulders without pulling the full locker lever. As he almost got to the top he almost fell in the crack as both front wheels were not pulling. He backed up, locked in the 4 wheel drive and climbed to the top with no problem.
It was a blast watching someone that had not driven a side by side before having a great time. Most quad people I ride with for the first time have the miss conception that side by sides are slow vehicles that are only good for the dunes or forest service roads. Many times I have heard them remark that they think this is going to be a long day waiting for me. After a short time they realize they are having a hard time keeping up and are amazed at how capable these machines are at rock crawling and fast trail riding.