The farm quad industry and its regulators are at odds over the fitting of rollover devices on these machines.
With engine ranging from 400 to 1000 cc and lots of specifications, they suit many farmers much better than a basic quads.
Kawasaki reports its Mule SX-XC Bigfoot is finding favour with many dairy farmers for its no-nonsense specifications, ease of use and operating economy so we tested one to find out more.
Revamped in 2017 and taking some design detail from the larger Pro series, the SX has a tubular, ladder style chassis said to offer rigidity and a comfortable ride. That ride quality is better with a greater pre-load on the springs up front for a more level ride, and softer in the rear to improve user comfort.
The rear swing arm carries the engine and rear wheels on a separate subframe/cradle, pivoted centrally to remove vibration.
Power comes from a 400 cc single cylinder, air cooled engine with standard carburation and although the power is not stunning it’s enough for normal fetch, carry and move on a typical dairy farm.
The engine starts and reaches constant idling quickly, then the driver selects high, low, neutral or reverse with a central dash mounted lever. Drive is taken from the engine by a belt driven automatic unit, and a heavy duty transfer case has 2- or 4-wheel drive selection.
It’s interesting to note that the machine can be started in gear if the brake pedal is depressed. Maximum speed is 40km/h.
The front axle incorporates a limited slip differential, while the rear uses a lock up unit activated by the dashboard control and aimed at pushing through tough conditions.
Out on a sodden Waikato farm the Bigfoot was easy to live with, allowing the driver easy access with its slightly higher stance because of 26 inch tyres mounted on 12-inch rims. This set-up also gives a big tyre footprint offering good stability, great traction and ample ground clearance.
Towing capacity is 500 kg at the trailer hitch the well laid out cargo tray holds 180kg. The machines weigh 90 kg.
The tipping tray, equipped with a drop-down tailgate, has a 1.5 mm diamond plate floor for strength and a 25 mm tie down rail around its upper edge.
Dual seats with inertia reel seatbelts offer comfort and safety. Ahead of the driver the dashboard presents full information and easily understood controls for gearshift, 4WD and diff lock selection
The rack and pinion steering is precise with low effort, making the machine very manoeuvrable with a tight 3.6 m turning radius.
Drum brakes are fitted to all four wheels, each protected from ingress of water and mud by triple lipped labyrinth seals.
Creature comforts include a glovebox, radio mount, halogen headlights, DC power socket and a pair of cup-holders. Add to that the current special offer of a glass windscreen with wiper and a moulded roof, then Bigfoot will have minimal effect on your back pocket.