It was the second day of driving a Kawasaki Teryx like a mad woman on the Hatfield-McCoy trails in West Virginia. I had zipped through mud puddles, traversed over huge boulders, revved up slippery inclines and even through drove through a raging river! Yep, I was feeling pretty confident with my new found skills as I a first time UTV (Short for utility terrain vehicle, but Kawasaki refers to it as a side-by-side vehicle) driver.
I round the corner and slam on the brakes. A sheer cliff of rocks stare back at me. Where was all that new found hot-to-trot confidence? I had seen the Teryx scramble over challenging terrain with the ease of a mountain goat in the Swiss alps, but this looked way too steep. I thought I would tip over if I tried it, wary of my past experience of ATV’s tendencies to topple over.
One of the guys in our group was ahead of me yelled, “Do just it!”. I took a deep breath and stepped on the gas gingerly. Sure enough, the Teryx handled it like a champ, taking me safely down the rock cliff (photo below was right before the steep cliff!).
After three days of trail riding, whizzing through the gorgeous fall foliage with the Appalachian mountains in the distance, I was a side-by-side convert. It was the best time I’ve had (and dirtiest) on four-wheels in a long time. Just a side note vocabulary lesson: when you take off your helmet and have a perfect ring of dirt around your mouth, it’s called a dirt snout!
And if I can do it, anyone can do it. As a novice rider, here are five things I loved about the Kawasaki Teryx:
Like a Car
Unlike an ATV, that handles more like a motorcycle, if you can drive a car, you can master this. The power steering is easy to handle and the gears are the same as if you’re driving an automatic car. And the odometer/gas gauge is a large digital display, easy to read, even when you’re going fast. Also the seat is adjustable and sits high enough for excellent road visibility.
Of course, a helmet is the first principle when operating a Kawasaki Teryx. But, as illustrated in my story above, it’s much safer than an ATV. You have to work really hard to tip it and the bars that surround the vehicle are there to keep you safe in case you do roll it. (I never saw anyone tip and I was riding with crazy daredevils!) And just when you think the vehicle won’t make it because the terrain is too difficult, it does—with ease.
Getting jolted around goes with the territory when you’re on an off-road adventure. Amazingly, the bouncing around was minimal, even when hitting rocks or potholes. Thanks to suspension provided by coil-over FOX Podium shocks, you won’t need to see your chiropractor afterwards.
If I lived on a farm or a ranch, I’d totally invest in a Teryx. It’s pretty amazing what you can load up the vehicle with: holds up to 600 lbs and can tow up to 1,300 lbs! Like a pickup truck, it has a roomy flatbed in the back that lifts from the back to easily unload stuff and storage compartments for your purse or picnic behind the seats.
Like the Ferrari of UTVs, the design is aggressive, sleek and so sexy! Plus, green and orange are two of my favorite colors. In addition to the candy green color in these photos, the 2015 Teryx comes in burnt orange. I thought the gear was pretty cool too: check out the pink interior in my Kawasaki jacket below. For an uber-lux ride, all it is missing is heated seats and steering wheel!
Don’t Take My Word for it
Mind you, I love speed and I love motorized toys, such as snowmobiles, ATVs and jet skis. But I’m certainly no techie when it comes to comparing specs between last year’s model and this one or reviewing a Kawasaki Teryx versus another brand’s.
For that information, I’ll direct you to a UTV (utility terrain vehicle) expert that I met on this trip: John Crowley, founder of UTV Guide. Check out his daughter’s 2014 Kawasaki Teryx review, a experienced rider in her own right.
More West Virginia Fun
My article published on HuffPo about the trip: Six Things I Learned in West Virginia
If you’re planning a trip to explore one of the largest off-road vehichle trails in the world, head to Hatfield-McCoy Trails website.
Need more ideas on cool stuff to see and do in West Virginia? Hit up the state’s tourism site.
Images by Alfonse Palaima aka Fonzie, with exception of second to last photo by Adam Campbell.