Kawi Teryx Does Battle In Tough 800 SxS Class

Two-seater more competitive than ever

Published in the July 2014 Issue July 2014 Powersport News Lane Lindstrom

In the last issue of Dirt Toys Magazine, we talked about how well positioned the Teryx4 is in the 4-seat 800cc class of side-by-sides. Part of that positioning is due to the vehicle itself as well as the relative lack of competition in that narrow segment.

That’s not the case with the two-seat Teryx. It faces some stiff competition in the two-seat 800cc side-by-side segment from the likes of the Polaris RZR and Can-Am Commander.

So how does Kawasaki’s two-seat side-by-side stack up?

With the changes Kawasaki has made, the Teryx for 2014 is that much more competitive in that popular class. Those changes include a new and larger chassis, a bump in horsepower, premium Fox shocks, added comfort and better handling. Add to all that the Kawasaki Strong 3-Year Limited Warranty and the Teryx is definitely ready to tackle the tough 800cc side-by-side class.

We were able to see firsthand how all the new changes meshed together on a two-day ride on the Hatfield-McCoy Trails in mountainous West Virginia. The trails we covered over the two days were ideal for seeing how the Teryx handles all sorts of different riding situations. We covered nearly 130 miles those two days and it was a good test for the Teryx.

Add To That

In our first initial report on the Teryx after that test ride last fall, we talked about three first impressions: EPS, power and rear storage compartments. To those we would add two more: handling and ergonomics.

Let’s take them one at a time.

We think the electric power system on the Teryx is one of the best in any side-by-side. It flat out works and works well in every imaginable condition. And we experienced just about every condition you can imagine over the course of two days of riding on the Hatfield-McCoy trails. We drove over rocks, logs, through the mud, more rocks, ruts, hardpack, through switchbacks, fast, slow and then even faster. We thoroughly thrashed the machine over everything those West Virginia trails had to offer. And the EPS performed flawlessly. It is spot-on. And how Kawi’s EPS minimizes kickback in the rough stuff is very impressive, especially in four-wheel drive when any vehicle’s steering really has to work.

Kawasaki is now making its Showa-built EPS standard equipment on all Teryx models. As Kawasaki points out, the Showa system eliminates the traditional power steering pump, so steering inputs don’t rob engine power, and because Kawi’s EPS is only active when the engine is running, there is no battery drain.

Power To Please

Next is power, which is one area where Kawasaki helped the Teryx be more competitive in the 800cc class. The bump in power on the upgraded V-twin powerplant is impressive which, according to Kawi, is 26 percent more horsepower and 12 percent more torque. Those gains are mostly in the low-to-mid range. The displacement on the Teryx goes from 749cc to 783cc for 2014.

To get that extra power and torque, Kawasaki engineers used a new piston featuring a revised crown that raises the compression from 9.3:1 to 10.7:1 while also revising the cam profiles to improve combustion efficiency. A larger 35 mm diameter (compared to the previous 31.88 mm) exhaust collector has been tuned to optimize power delivery. So while Kawasaki managed to churn out more power, it also improved fuel economy by 20 percent.

Where we noticed this power increase the most was in the rough terrain, going over logs and rocks and through a couple of up-to-the-axle mudholes where the torque combined with the horsepower allowed us to challenge tougher obstacles. Admittedly there were a couple of times we felt the engine was laboring a bit, but those were on steep ascents. We never felt like we were not going to make it, but rather that it was work for the Teryx to get there. That was minor, however, compared to the overall boost in power and the increased capabilities of the vehicle.

Some might think it’s a little silly to tout some storage compartments when talking about a side-by-side, but it’s how and where those storage compartments are on the Teryx that make them notable. You see, the Teryx is just 7.5 inches shorter than the T4, which isn’t much considering the T4 has rear passenger seats. The Teryx uses some of the space for two dust- and water-resistant compartments. There is 48 gallons of total storage space between the two compartments, which are sealed and have latching lids. All this storage is addition to a 28 by 43-inch, 600-pound payload capacity cargo bed with a gas-assisted tilting bed.

True To Their Word

We carried food and extra clothing in the storage compartments and, as mentioned, drove through lots of muddy and dusty conditions and indeed, the compartments are dust and water resistant. Not many competitors offer that kind of storage in size and in protection from the elements and trail conditions. And the tilt bed is one area where the Teryx has a one-up on the T4. You can access the storage compartments with the cargo bed down on the Teryx—it doesn’t have to be tilted up. The side panel is even removable, allowing even easier access to the storage compartments.

Since we just mentioned the difference in the length of the Teryx vs. the T4, we would also point out that the ’14 Teryx is an inch longer than the ’13, due to Kawi using the same double-X frame design as is found on the T4. Interestingly, the ’14 Teryx wheelbase is 85.8 inches (virtually the same as the ’14 T4) compared to the ’13’s wheelbase of 76.0 inches. That explains the increased feeling of stability on the 2014 version. However, while the wheelbase is longer, it doesn’t give up any handling or cornering characteristics.

The handling is very predictable and thus confidence-inspiring thanks, in part, to 26-inch Maxxis Bighorn tires, precise EPS and new-for-2014 high performance piggyback reservoir coil-over Fox Podium shocks and a sport-focused suspension. Kawasaki officials point out that these Fox Podium shocks are tuned (spring rate and damping characteristics) specifically for the 2014 Teryx and are on all four corners of the vehicle. With 8 inches of travel on the front and 8.3 in the rear, the found the Teryx could handle a lot of rough stuff.

With spring preload and 24-way compression damping, you can just about tailor-fit the ride to the terrain and your liking. We wish we would have adjusted the shocks earlier in our ride in West Virginia. We admit we should have adjusted the shocks sooner into our ride but didn’t, and the vehicle’s ride was a bit harsh at times. But we finally turned the clickers one click and the ride was instantly better. Then, on day two of the ride, we played with the shocks a little more and got an even better ride. Yes, we still bottomed out once or twice but you might remember us saying we thrashed the machine; shame on us for not adjusting the shocks sooner.

Great Cockpit Layout

The high-back bucket seat(s) are plenty comfy and helped soften the bumps and we like the feel of the padding. The seats are also adjustable forward and aft.

In fact, the overall feel of the entire cockpit—which includes the doors—is great. We rode the Camo model of the Teryx both days and appreciated the hard suntop (comes standard on the LE and Camo models), especially when it started raining. The gauges are easy to read, the gear shifter and emergency brake are strategically located, two DC power outlets and two cup holders, shock-dampened seat belts and there is plenty of room for us as we never felt cramped either as driver or passenger. Another cab feature we like is the ease of switching from 2WD to 4WD, even with gloves on. It’s just a nice overall cockpit design and package.

Three versions of the Teryx are available for 2014: the base blue 800 FI 4x4 EPS ($12,999), 800 FI 4x4 EPS Camo with Realtree APG HD camouflaged bodywork ($14,299), and candy lime green 800 FI 4x4 EPS LE ($14,999). The added features of the LE include the aforementioned hard top, a front bumper brush guard, high-intensity LED headlights, lightweight cast aluminum wheels, shock springs and suspension arms that are color matched to the bodywork and 3-tone high-back bucket seat covers.

Even with all the changes in the Teryx for 2014 the question remains: Is there room for the Teryx in the competitive 800cc two seat side-by-side category?



2014 Kawasaki Teryx


Engine: 4-Stroke SOHC V-twin cylinder

Displacement: 783cc

Fuel System: DFI w/two 36mm Mikuni throttle bodies

Cooling: Liquid

Fuel Capacity: 7.9 gallons


Transmission: Continuously variable belt drive transmission w/high and low range, reverse and wet centrifugal clutch

Drive System: Selectable four-wheel drive with locking front diff


Front Suspension: Dual A-arm, piggyback reservoir Fox Podium Shocks with adjustable preload and 24-way compression damping, 8 inches travel

Rear Suspension: Independent, piggyback reservoir Fox Podium Shocks with adjustable preload and 24-way compression damping, 8.3 inches travel


Brakes: Dual hydraulic discs with 2-piston calipers (front), sealed, oil-bathed, multi-disc (rear)


Front Tires: 26x9-12 Maxxis Bighorn

Rear Tires: 26x11-12 Maxxis Bighorn


Wheelbase: 85.8 in.

Length: 117.3 in.

Width: 61.6 in.

Height: 74.8 in.

Ground Clearance: 11.0 in.

Curb Weight: 1,542.8 lbs.


MSRP: $12,999

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