Setting the trend for sport and utility 4×4 ATVs, Kawasaki has produced some of the toughest and most reliable all-terrain machines that still serve as a benchmark for many off-road vehicles today. Among them are the Prairie lineup, the KFX sport/racing quads, and the V-Twin powered Brutes. This review covers the impressive but seemingly overshadowed Brute Force 650.
The Kawasaki Brute Force 650 is among Kawasaki’s legends and most-loved off-road vehicles. With its well-tuned driveline, front differential control, and rugged style, the Brute Force greatly outperforms its big-bore counterparts. It also has easy-to-find parts and is exceptionally fun to ride.
The classic quad is one of the few whose strengths outnumber its flaws, making it endearing to both enthusiasts and new riders. High responsiveness to throttle input and spot-on clutching and power are among its key selling points. The Brute Force 650 has a lot to offer, which you will learn about in this article.
About the Kawasaki Brute Force 650
The Kawasaki Brute Force 650 was an economical version of the firm’s sport-utility ATV flagship – the Brute Force 750. Filling its predecessors’ shoes was not easy, as the Prairie series pioneered the use of a V-Twin engine and was regarded as one of Kawasaki’s best-engineered off-road vehicles. Not to mention that it had to compete against big-bore all-terrain vehicles from other key players in the industry.
To take on the challenge, the Brute Force 650 had to have the best attributes of Kawasaki’s ATV lineup – smooth but massive torque, advanced chassis, suspension, and a rugged style. And it did just that. For starters, it sported angular, modern lines, cat-eye headlights, and a scratch-resistant Olefin bodywork.
It had a stellar V-Twin engine and an equally best-in-class front differential control and engine braking system. Collectively, it reminded riders of the capable Prairie quads and held its own in terms of aesthetics and performance.
How it Rides
With all these striking elements put together, the quad expectedly caters to aggressive riders. Riders coming from owning sport ATVs will find little to no difference in speed and handling – thanks to Kawasaki’s straight-axle rear end. They may even find the Brute Force better at riding technical trails than their former quads.
Additionally, retaining its dual-carburetor setup even in more recent models has become an advantage for the Brute Force when going up to elevations of 9,000 feet or higher. Unlike EFI-fed machines, power loss is negligible to non-existent for this wheeler in those conditions.
Average riders should not feel daunted with the capabilities of this four-wheeler. Fun-loving common folk will enjoy easily pulling off wheelies, burnouts on asphalt, and power slides with this brute. Hunters and ranchers can count on this quad, perform heavy-duty chores, and pass through twisty trails unscathed. Simple creature comforts like its urethane foam make all-day work enjoyable.
Kawasaki Brute Force 650 Specs & Features
A four-stroke, liquid-cooled SOHC V-Twin engine powers it. It has a bore-stroke ratio of 80 x 63 millimeters (3.15 x 2.48 inches). The engine’s displacement is 633 cubic centimeters, and its compression ratio is 9.9:1.
Fuel tank capacity is 4.5 US gallons/17 liters and is delivered by a Keihin CVKR-D32 carburetor. Its brilliant fuel tank location (under the rear of the seat) and reverse-facing snorkel makes this beast a great ride in inclement weather. The radiator is also made compact and placed high in the chassis.
Shifting is handled by a dual-range automatic CVT transmission (later called Kawasaki Automatic Powerdrive System or KAPS for its 2011 model) inclusive of a reverse. Holes drilled into the transmission gears provide this beast rocket ship-like acceleration.
The 2007 Kawasaki Brute Force 650 comes with a driveline switch that lets the rider choose between 2WD or 4WD. Another great feature is the Variable Front Differential Control that engages differential lock on the fly and gives Kawasaki riders the upper hand on slick surfaces, tight turns, and deep mud. The machine can also start from any gear, provided that the rider applies the brakes.
It has an electronically advanced DC-CDI ignition with an electric starter system and an auxiliary mechanical recoil backup. The 650 uses an NGK CR7E spark plug, and has a DC power outlet that provides quick, accessible power for electrical Kawasaki Brute Force 650 accessories. It also has a three-phase AC generator with a rated 25 A output, 14V at 6,000 RPM.
Front tubular wheels are equipped with AT25 x 8-12 tubeless tires, while the rear wheels are mounted with AT25 x 10-12 tires. Stock wheels provide ample grip and excellent puncture resistance.
Dual front disc brakes equipped with dual-piston calipers and enclosed oil-bathed multi-disc rear disc brakes provide stopping power. The rear brake system is integrated into the shaft drive and is sealed inside an aluminum swingarm, keeping it dirt-free and maintenance-free. It pairs with an exclusive Engine Brake Control system that electronically observes ground speed and utilizes the engine’s compression to slow the four-wheeler down.
You have a choice between MacPherson Strut or dual A-arms with 6.7 inches of wheel travel for your front suspension, depending on whether you prefer IRS over the straight-axle setup. The rear suspension utilizes an aluminum swing arm with a single preload-adjustable shock and 7.2 inches of travel.
Its well-engineered A-arms layout provides an ideal caster angle and delivers light and responsive steering, making for an excellent, non-restrictive ride. IRS-equipped trims offer 9.7 inches of ground clearance on all fours, while the straight-axle trims have 7.3 inches of ground clearance at the rear.
The overall dimension is 86 x 47.6 x 45.9 inches (2,185 x 1,209 x 1.166 millimeters – L x W x H). Ground clearance is 7.56 inches; seat height is 34 inches. Its wheelbase is 50.9 inches. Curb weight is 293 Kg/646 lbs – 20 Kg more than the vehicle’s dry weight and increasing by barely 7 pounds for the 2013 model. It also has a turning radius of 10.17 feet/122 inches.
It has a double tubular steel frame (with a 3.5° caster angle and 15-mm trail) and plastic body material, which helps with the Brute Force 650 upkeep. A sizeable saddle and adjustable footpegs atop full floorboards provide added comfort for all-day trail rides. 45-watt semi-sealed beam and front fender headlights provide superior light distribution.
How Much Does It Cost?
The list price of the Kawasaki Brute Force 650 started at $6,599 and did not move for the first few years. The last production year model cost $8,199. All model years and trims were available in Woodsman Green, Aztec Red, and Super Black finish, with the hunting-inclined Hardwoods Green HD costing $400 more than the base price. Interestingly, camouflage-trimmed IRS models cost less than same-trim straight-axle models.
Mid-condition Brutes would typically be around $4,080 tops. Low retail value for 2005 to 2013 models cost between $2,050 to $3,525. These prices are not far from auction listings and online trader sites, which sell the quad – 2008 to 2012 Brute Force 650s – from $2,125 to $3,630. Some of these pre-loved machines come with new motors, plastics, or tires.
Fewer Brute Force 650s are (ironically) seen in trade sites and auction listings compared to its big-bore sibling, the Brute Force 750, which is known as the king of all ATVs. Furthermore, the older model years hold their value better than 2008+ models.
Muscle Quad Problems
The 2006 Kawasaki Brute Force 650 was especially famous even during pre-launch, as it was anticipated to have gone through mechanical improvements that should address known issues with its 750-cc sibling. Whether this was true or not, only those who put their leg over the quad would know.
You should find out about its problems and corresponding fixes, based on Kawasaki Brute Force 650 reviews by enthusiasts and owners. Let us go over each below:
1. Cold-starting Problems
The earlier model years of the Kawasaki Brute Force 650 were known to have hiccups when doing cold-starts. This identified issue was later fixed with the fuel-injected versions. Of course, there is still that occasional sputter and cough on a cold February morning, but nothing too serious of a concern.
It also takes some getting-to-know of your Brute to understand this fact – its V-Twin engine retards the ignition until it reaches a certain RPM, thus affecting startups. Veteran Kawasaki owners know too well that you will need to use the choke more frequently during cold weather.
There may be some cases where the issue is not due to a change in ambient temperature. If you have difficulty starting the engine – for instance, it turns over but would not start – you will need to check a few things. First, ensure that the valve found under the seat is turned to ON and not to PRIME.
Other than that, you may need to have a professional intervention. Some owners reported that the dealership had found either an obstruction in the petcock valve or a carburetor fault where it is not getting any gas.
2. Drive Pulley Issues
This problem happens when the quad already has between 4,000 and 25,000 under its belt and is not exclusive to the Brute Force 650. It can be quite worrisome as the noise starts low but eventually escalates into a screeching/grinding sound.
Other reported symptoms include engine misfiring, oil leaks, low gas mileage, and slippage. The problem is mainly caused by worn-out or eroded splines and can be remedied by regularly lubricating these parts.
3. Electrical Problems
The 4WD actuator has always been an issue with the 2005 Kawasaki Brute Force 650 or a 2010 model. This has an easy but pricy fix, which is to replace the actuator. Be prepared to spend $400, though. The fuses under the seat also need a good inspection.
4. Short Handlebars
Big-built riders are more likely to complain about this, as the wheeler’s narrow handlebars may feel a bit awkward for them. If you happen to have the same problem, get a replacement set to widen the bars to your preference and steering comfort.
5. Steering Control Defects
The 2005 Kawasaki Brute Force was part of the recall that happened in the same year and the Prairie 300 to 700 models. The company received 42 reports of ball joint separation that led to the steering problem, posing potential crash hazards.
6. Weak Plastic Floorboards
Riders who have taken this beauty out for a spin noticed that it only took cold weather to make the plastic brittle and contact with an unknowing rock to break it. If you live in rocky areas like Pennsylvania, you may want to think about replacing the stock with sturdier aftermarket floorboards.
7. Unstable Tie Rods and Seals
Rear output seals for fuel-injected Brutes have been reported to have issues but can be replaced with parts from the 2012 model. Tie rods, on the other hand, are inherently fragile and only made weaker with lift kits and bigger tires. Front A-arm bearings that bolt to the quad’s frame are also not that strong and may require an aftermarket kit.
This list is not exhaustive. Other issues observed by owners include fuel pumps not lasting long (for fuel-injected models), vacuum issues for carbureted models, and the wheeler’s propensity to flip over.
While these may seem glaring, do not let them deter you from experiencing the ride quality the Brute Force 650 has to offer. Some off-roaders would even trade their Trailblazers in a heartbeat for it.
Kawasaki Brute Force 650 Top Speed
The top speed of a 2011 Brute Force 650 is 69 mph and has 41 hp at 6,500 RPM. The 2010 model offers slightly higher ponies at 42 hp at 6,500 RPM, generally the same horsepower for all other model years. The 2016 Brute Force 650 4x4i has 47 hp at 7,500 RPM.
Torque remains almost unchanged across all model years at 52 Nm (5.2 kgm or 37.9 ft-lb) at 4,000 RPM for the 2005 Brute and a slightly higher 5,500 RPM for 2007 models and up.
Like with any other all-terrain vehicle, you can add lift kits, bigger knobbies and rims, performance exhaust, and a bigger main jet to try to increase your top-end speed. However, bear in mind that these mods may not always work for your Brute, depending on the make and model year that you purchased.
As pointed out in the previous section, some of these upgrades may even result in engine or performance problems for your wheeler.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What fuel should I use for the Kawasaki Brute Force 650? Recommended fuel is regular unleaded gasoline with a minimum pump Octane number of 87 and a research Octane number of 91 or higher. 4.8 to 5.4 US gal should be enough to fill your tank – refer to your owner’s manual for the fuel capacity specific to your Brute’s model year. Make sure to use fuel with less than 10% ethanol and less than 5% methanol to avoid fuel system damage or vehicle performance issues.
- What kind of oil does a Kawasaki Brute Force take? The Brute requires 2.17 quarts of engine oil (disassembled), 1.63 quarts (without), and 1.85 quarts with oil filter replacement. The recommended oil viscosity is SAE 10W-40 with an API classification of SJ type or higher (up to SL for 2007 and up model years) and should meet JASO MA standard.
- Where can I get the best aftermarket parts for my Brute? There are many affordable deals from online resellers, parts dealers, and professional outfitters where you can get aftermarket Kawasaki Brute Force 650 parts. Try BikeBandit, Dennis Kirk, or get OEM ones from the manufacturer (if budget is not your concern).
- How much weight can a Kawasaki Brute Force 650 pull? The towing capacity across all models is 1,250 lbs. The quad also provides a combined rack capacity of 264 lbs.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. is a world-renowned producer of ATVs, side x sides, and watercraft, and is the maker of the Kawasaki Brute Force 650. From 1878 as a shipbuilding business, the Japanese company has grown into aerospace and energy systems, hydraulic machinery, motorcycles, off-road vehicles, transit, and personal watercraft.
Conclusion – Kawasaki Brute Force 650
In a nutshell, the Kawasaki Brute Force 650 is a fantastic vehicle that truly shines off-road. Yes, it can be unpredictable in some situations. But its excellent power delivery, comfortable design, and great features make negotiating obstacles on the trail a blast. It requires upper body strength to maneuver the quad and a certain level of tolerance for a bumpy ride – things to be expected of a straight-axle machine.
Nevertheless, there is no other four-wheeler with a bigger fun factor. With some love and ingenious modifications, nothing can beat the Kawasaki Brute Force 650.
Kris is an avid off-roader and outdoor enthusiast who loves to brave the elements and take on challenging terrain. He also enjoys sharing his passion and knowledge with others so that they, too, can appreciate the ride.