MAXXIS KAWASAKI KRX TRAIL TEST

One man’s vision for fun...

 By the staff of Dirt Wheels

Crossing water or dancing lightly through boulders, the added clearance provided by the tall tires and the longer suspension arms is a big help. You rarely scrape the skid plates.

MAXXIS KAWASAKI KRX TRAIL TEST

Maxxis race rep Mike Farmer cut his teeth in the dirt-burning laps on motocross tracks. But, UTVs have gradually pushed his dirt bikes out of the garage. Part of the reason was moving his family to southern Utah with its incredible opportunities for adventure off-roading. The Kawasaki KRX 1000 we tested here is his third UTV, after a Polaris XP 1000 4 and a single-seat Polaris RS1, and Mike has no plans to allow the RS1 to leave the garage in the future. He still likes to head out for mileage-eating fast adventure rides, and he loves the RS1 for those, but more and more often he wants to hit trails where the pace is slower but no less flooded with adrenaline. He is loving the technical trails of Utah. How scared have you been at 2 miles per hour?

Utah’s aggressive sort of technical trails are better at spooking you silly while barely moving than any we have experienced. It is all too easy to find yourself literally teetering on the edge of disaster at the ground speed of an arthritic snail. You don’t need speed for an adrenaline rush. 

With large tires and easy articulation, the Maxxis KRX actually looks like it is tiptoeing through boulder fields. The suspension is absolutely smooth and comfortable.

MAXXIS KAWASAKI KRX TRAIL TEST

A BEAUTY FOR THE UGLY

Kawasaki’s new KRX 1000 has made a huge impact on the southern Utah riding/driving scene. As soon as the machine hits the trails, it was getting rave reviews for how easy it made technical driving. Sand Hollow switched nearly all of its UTV rentals to the KRX, and we see loads of them on the trail. Farmer was one of the early believers in the KRX. After getting some time in a stock one on the Sand Hollow trails, he knew he had to have one in the garage for some trail tuning.

Ed Niemela, “The Suspension Guy,” sells Walker Evans shocks, and he dialed in a set for the Maxxis KRX. They are very smooth. He modifies the stock Fox shocks for $975.

Kawasaki blessed the Kawasaki with a robust chassis and suspension, a comfortable cabin, excellent suspension, great 4WD, and a low range made for tough sections. It has a long-enough wheelbase for climbs and drops without feeling like a stretch limo in tight conditions.

Hunter Safety Products Bighorn Adventure seats provide comfort and support without cutting into the legroom that is so important to a tall guy like Farmer!

Depending on where and how you ride, the engine might not thrill you. Being a normally aspirated twin, it doesn’t have the dune and open-desert thrill-factor acceleration of the turbocharged machines for sale. At this point, none of the Japanese brands have chosen to release a turbo model. They all work with the aftermarket to provide a turbo opportunity, but not off the showroom.

Beefy, high-clearance radius rods are all part of the HCR long-travel suspension kit. The track width goes from 68 to 72 inches when the kit is installed.
Combine Sector Seven LED mirrors with a light bar and the stock headlights, and there isn’t any night driving that will intimidate you. The mirrors light up side trails and corners.

MAXXIS KAWASAKI KRX TRAIL TEST

THE MODS

There are some items that you might call luxury, and then there is the wrap for public relations, but for the most part, the Maxxis KRX is all business. When you are running over a lot of rocks, it is a good idea to start at the bottom. Kawasaki has some excellent protection items for the undercarriage. Mike likes to actually get home from his rides, so he installed them all. In addition, he added a very nice cargo box that fills the rear of the KRX.

While he was under the car, all of the suspension, wheels, and tires were relegated to spares. A full HCR 72-inch-wide long-travel suspension kit was installed. Both of the rear trailing arms and the front A-arms are arched for maximum clearance. Each piece is TIG welded for the best quality. The kit comes with two rear trailing arms, six billet-aluminum high-clearance radius links, four RCV extended axle bars, and all required hardware. Added to the ends of the A-arms are Hymark Performance racing knuckles to add strength and to take the added loads that the 35-inch tires transfer to the front-end parts.

You might think that bumping the tires from 31 inches to 35 inches would cripple the gearing, but it didn’t. The larger tires make sharp rock steps a breeze to roll up.

Controlling the arms are Walker Evans 2.5-inch needle shocks modified by The Suspension Guy. The fully modified WE shocks run $3800, but the shocks alone are $3200. Ed Niemela, The Suspension Guy, will modify the stock shocks for $975. Mounted on KMC Beadlock rims are 35-inch Maxxis Roxxzilla tires in the ultra-squishy competition compound. The tread blocks feel so soft, it seems impossible they could live, but the tires had over 2,000 miles on them when we shot photos and drove the car. We could see wear on the tread blocks, but the traction remained amazing. We expected the grip on rocks, but they grabbed sand and dirt as well.

“Maxxis Mike” Farmer is an outspoken fan of the riding opportunities in Utah. One of his favorite local routes is this Toquerville Falls route. It isn’t fast, but it is fun.

MAXXIS KAWASAKI KRX TRAIL TEST

WHERE YOU ROLL

For technical, slow trails, Farmer removes the front sway bar but puts it back on for more open driving. Farmer is a tall guy, and we wondered about the legroom he sacrificed for the Hunter Safety Products Bighorn Adventure seats. We were shocked to find more legroom than stock! He matched the seats with four-point belts with an automotive-style push-button release. The belts tie into a Tusk harness bar that stretches across the cab behind the seats.

Farmer was not unhappy with the power of the stock KRX, but he added an EVO exhaust system. We often don’t feel much difference with exhaust systems on CVT cars, but the KRX gained a nice response and snap at low rpm. We expected the giant tires to soften the response, but, thanks to the exhaust, they did not. On the other side of the engine is a KWT Filters X2 particle separator. Unlike other products that separate particulates from the intake air, the X2 requires no electricity.

Confident in his ability to avoid flats, and trusting the deep sidewalls of the Roxxzilla tires and his Maxxis tire repair kit, Farmer carries no spare. His plan is to repair the tire or employ the Beadlock wheels, to let him limp back home, or find help.

He does carry a Safecraft fire extinguisher and a small Rotopax fuel container on the roll cage. He also added a one-off, not-for-sale HCR aluminum roof, and a bargain light bar. The light bar is almost an afterthought with the Sector Seven Spectrum LED mirrors. They spray light forward and the side while providing a stellar view to the rear. Combined with the stock headlights, they do the job.

KWT’s particle separator requires no additional power source, so it is an easy install compared to other products. It keeps the stock filter clean longer.

INSIDE JOB

Inside the car are radios and an intercom system from Rugged Radios. One reason for the roof is to mount the radio antenna for the car-to-car radio. Farmer likes the total absence of wind noise with the Rugged headsets, but they do severely limit helmet choices that will work with them.

Evo’s exhaust adds some bite to the power and response down low. It also bumps up the bark. For the trails we were on, the car hardly ever revved up.

MAXXIS KAWASAKI KRX TRAIL TEST

NO JOKE

We were fortunate to have a Kawasaki KRX 1000 Trail Edition along for our test. We absolutely love the car for trail exploring and driving. Farmer’s KRX is at a whole other level. It has better traction, completely superior ground clearance, and better off-camber stability. It is also more comfortable inside with that added legroom that surprised us.

We can’t say enough about the suspension. The ride is absolutely compliant with smoothness in the chop and rough that the stock machine only dreams of. The ride babies the car’s occupants. We stayed on tight, technical, and slow trails for the most part, and the Maxxis KRX was a total wonder.

Seal Savers CV boot protectors are always on the Maxxis KRX. It gets coil savers over the shocks when conditions are wet. Both do a great job adding easy and quick, but effective, protection.

MAXXIS KAWASAKI KRX TRAIL TEST

BIG FANS

We didn’t pound any whoops or even face much quick driving. That was fine with us with the front sway bar links removed to allow the front suspension to react more smoothly and with better articulation. For faster driving Farmer puts them back on, and we would do the same. As the engine rpm climb and the speeds bump up, the taller (and no doubt heavier) tire and wheel combo do mute the top-end pull of the stock car, but we would expect that when jumping up 4 inches in tire size! We were impressed that the stock gearing in high and low range was fully up to the task of rolling those 35-inch tires.

We often drive machines that are so focused in a single direction that they lose the do-it-all ability that makes a sport UTV so fun and capable. Farmer has avoided that with this build. We didn’t find anything that the stock machine would do that the Maxxis KRX would not do better, except perhaps fit on a narrow trail. Mike Farmer is deeply involved in tire technology and testing, so it should be no surprise that he made sure that his project KRX is a true performer.

MAXXIS KAWASAKI KRX TRAIL TEST

PARTS AND SERVICES

Evolution Powersports: (715) 247-3862, www.evolutionpowersports.com

Magnum slip-on muffler: $649

FX Powder Coating: (435) 635-2935, www.creativemetalfx.com

Powdercoating: Price varies

HCR Racing: (888) 928-7223, www.hcrracing.com

HCR long-travel suspension system: $5,499.99

Hunter Safety Products: (623)233-9711, www.huntersafetyproducts.com

Bighorn adventure seats (sold in pairs): $960

2” 4-point auto-buckle harness: $115

Hymark Performance: (844)888-8863, www.hctpowersports.com

Performance racing knuckles: $1,195

Kawasaki: www.kawasaki.com

2020 Kawasaki KRX Teryx 1000: $20,499

HMW skid plate: $399.95

KQR tail box: $349.95

Rock slider set: $279.95

Lighted rear-view mirror: $69.95

Tow hook: $19.95

KMC Wheels: www.kmcwheels.com

KS234 5-in. Addict 2 machined beadlock: $240 ea.

KWT Filters: (888) 340-5055, www.kwtfilters.com

X2 particle separator: $399.99

Maxxis Tires: (800)4-MAXXIS, www.maxxis.com

Roxxzilla 35-10-15 comp compound tires: $315 ea.

Rocky Mountain ATV: (800)336-5437, www.rockymountainatvmc.com

Tusk harness bar: $99.99

Rotopax: (801)299-1885, www.rotopax.com

1.75-gal. fuel container/mounting bracket: $97.90

Rugged Radios: (805) 541-1696, www.ruggedradios.com

RRP696 intercom with digital mobile radio and OYU headsets: $1,736

Safecraft Fire Suppression Systems: (800)400-2259, www.safecraft.com

Model PB5: $259 to start

Seal Savers: (951)757-0458, www.sealsavers.com

Pro Series coil savers: $39.95-$49.95

Pro Series CV savers: $34.95-$109.95

Sector Seven: (866)466-4762, www.sectorsevenzone.com

Spectrum mirrors w/ universal clamp: $799.95

The Suspension Guy: (714) 343-3399, motoxed@aol.com

Shock tuning by Ed: $3,800 (includes Walker Evans 2.5 shocks)

Union Graphics: (208)680-7202, www.uniongraphics.com

Complete UTV: $600 to start

Walker Evans Racing: (951)784-7223, www.walkerevansracing.com

2.5” coil-over piggyback shocks: $3200

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