ATV World magazine recently had the opportunity to spend a bit of time on the 2020 Yamaha Kodak 700 EPS SE – a quad that continues to impress, each time we have one in the fleet. This particular SE version is fully featured with a digital gauge, aluminum wheels, and a winch.  Then its all wrapped up with Special Edition graphics and a flat black paint job 

Yamaha ATVs have always had a close relationship with our riders. Their machines offer up a great balance between North American and Japanese influences, going back a long way with rides such as the 660 Grizzly. We’ve always felt the Griz was one of the best all around quads on the market, and when it came time for our guys to spend their own money on a machine to bring home, more then once it was on the Grizzly.

Just like the Grizzly, the Kodiak has become another favourite, thanks in large part to its 700cc class engine. At 686cc the single cylinder engine isn’t class leading power, but it does pair nicely to the Kodiak’s smaller chassis, as compared to the Grizzly.

By the numbers there is not much separating these two bears when comparing spec sheets. Even at the entry level 450 version of the Kodiak, both machines compare very favourably to one another. This could be seen as creating some market cannibalism between the Grizzly and Kodiak, but in reality, it gives the consumer the ability to pick what bear is just right for them.

This smaller layout and feel of the Kodiak is definitely not a detractor for this machine. Riding the Kodiak, it feels light and nimble, and the power through the Yamaha Ultramatic CVT pulls nicely right out of the hole, though to top speed. In addition, the Kodiak has some of the best controls in the business with a very familiar and straightforward 4WD and diff lock switch, plus the nicest operating shifter and gate mechanism compared to almost every other ATV.

Suspension on the Kodiak is also simple and straightforward, but that’s a good thing. The coil over shocks are preload adjustable only, and although not sophisticated, they do an excellent job of controlling the ATV over all types of terrain. Here, the Kodiak brings 7.6” of travel on the front with 9.1” of travel on the rear suspension and 11.3” of ground clearance. 

In tight technical riding, the smaller Kodiak more than makes up for bigger, more sophisticated suspension systems on the market. It’s size quite often means you can simply ride round difficult obstacles, or at least have more line options to negotiate with. About the only time we found the suspension fall short, was on the trail when we would have liked to pull some damping out of the shocks to smooth out the ride experience.

Electric power steering (EPS) is a also a nice option for this Kodiak. Steering is very predictable with this machine, and there is enough feedback to the rider to avoid the machine feeling numb. Also, assuming riders (both male and female) of the smaller Kodiak may be smaller themselves, the EPS system helps control kickback though the bars when one front tire takes an unexpected hit.

At the end of the ride, the Kodiak represents an excellent value within the Yamaha ATV lineup. It’s a machine that delivers on the promise of all-around performance and utility that we’ve come to expect from Yamaha, and is an excellent option for both a primary ATV, or a second machine for the family.