What started as a small group of Teryx4 owners wanting
to try out their new vehicles in the rocks, turned into a full-blown
Kawasaki convention. We had three Teryx4 that were equipped with
long travel suspension and other goodies, one full-tilt Teryx, one
Teryx4 with almost every genuine Kawasaki accessory installed and three
Teryx4 that were stock.
Our plan was to have fun doing a few days camping and
rock crawling on the world famous Rubicon Trail. The Rubicon is
located in Northern California and was established in the late 1800's as a stage coach route between
Georgetown and Lake Tahoe mainly to serve two resort hotels at Wentworth Springs
and Rubicon Springs. After the hotels went out of business and the road
deteriorated it was picked as home for the first
Jeepers Jamboree in
1953. Since then it has gained international recognition and is considered the
"Granddaddy" of all four-wheel trails - a 10 on most scales. The Rubicon Trail
is actually an unmaintained county right of way - the Rubicon/McKinney Road.
Although the trail is most popular with full-sized 4x4's, it has become
more popular for UTVs in the last few years.
The Kawasaki Teryx4 is
a new model for 2012, and seemed like a solid pick for this trip. With
room for four, power steering, a new centrifugal clutch, new v-twin
power and a relatively short wheelbase, it looked good on paper. Most of
us opted for less passengers and more cargo space, but the Knoll
family showed us all how to get three people and all of their camping
gear to the camp spot.
Two different approaches - 1 person with lots of storage or 3 people.
Teryx4 is very flexible.
We decided to start at Loon Lake and camp at Buck
Island. The Loon Lake trailhead is more popular than the historic
route through Wentworth Springs since there is more room to park
trailers, but either route is doable in a UTV. We headed into the
Rubicon on a Sunday morning and only encountered a few rigs coming out.
Last minute adjustments before hitting the trail
Before we hit the trail, a few made last-minute adjustments to their
vehicles. Adjusting the pre-load on shocks helps increase ground
clearance and also compensate for the extra payload. Lowering air
pressure helps increase traction. But taking it too low without
beadlocks, will raise your chances of debeading a tire.
I have been wheeling on the Rubicon Trail for many
years. First with a Jeep CJ7, and now with UTVs. At first the trip
looked like it would be just a few Teryx4s that were all outfitted with
big tires, long travel suspension and seasoned rock crawlers. I
was pretty excited about the opportunity to get into the rocks to see
how we all did. But somewhere along the trip planning, the group
expanded and we now had four standard travel Teryx4s with stock-sized
tires. I was thinking that our trip had gone from taking all the
challenging lines with the modified Terxy4s, to picking easier lines and
stacking rocks for the stock rigs to get through.
Making our way into and through the Granite Bowl near the start of the
Well, real early on it was evident that my concerns
weren't based on my experience with the Teryx4 or these drivers. I
expected that I would be waiting quite a bit, but we were all moving
along without slowing down for anything other than photos!
Two of the more highly modified Teryx4s are well prepared for extreme
We continued on down the trail past Ellis Creek, Walker
Hill and made a stop above Little Sluice. Early in the season typically
means more water on the trail, and we hit our share of it.
As with many off-road trails, the Rubicon is continually under attack by
extreme environmentalists and water quality is one of the big issues.
Lots of work is being performed on the Rubicon Trail by El Dorado
County, Forest Service and volunteers like the Friends of the Rubicon to
ensure erosion is kept to a minimum.
Water on the trail before Little Sluice and coming down the Little
The only issue we had on the way in was a tire that was
pulled off the bead on my 2011 Teryx. Combination of low air pressure,
no beadlock and a wheel that was probably a little too wide for the tire
pulled it off on a rock. We used the Warn XT40 on my Teryx4 and a
VIAIR portable compressor to reset the bead and air the tire up.
Tire repair using our Warn winch as a jack and VIAIR compressor
After the Little Sluice bypass, we made our way out to
another gigantic granite slab and down to our campsite at Buck Island
Buck Island Reservoir - Our camping location was about 100 ft from here.
The next morning, we packed lunch and headed farther
towards Lake Tahoe for a day trip. From Buck Island, we descended
Big Sluice into Rubicon Springs. It was nice to get some of the
extra camping gear out of the vehicles. It was amazing how much gear
(and extra weight) everyone had squirreled away.
Rubicon Springs is privately owned land and has some
great areas for camping or day use. There is a $10 fee for use,
but they do have primitive pit toilets. This area is home to
hundreds during the Jeepers Jamboree each year, so there are plenty of
nice sites available. And if you are looking for a shorter trail
into a nice place to camp, you can park at the trailhead on the Lake
Tahoe side and come in from the east.
We ate lunch at Rubicon Springs, then headed up Cadillac
Hill to the Observation Point. This is a great spot for a break and
Observation Point at the top of Cadillac Hill
From the Observation Point, the trail is not as
difficult out to Lake Tahoe so we decided to turn around and head back
to camp at Buck Island. Cadillac Hill and Big Sluice are much
harder heading up hill and there is a difficult section towards the
bottom of Big Sluice that we were thinking the stock Teryx4s might need
a little help. We were wrong as they all made it up with just a little
extra go pedal!
Once back at camp, some of us went for a chilly dip in
the lake, and then we all sat around the campfire and told stories about
the trip so far. All of us were stoked at how well the Teryx4s had
done the last two days. I think the success of the Teryx4 on the Rubicon
really tells the story of how this new vehicle is ideally designed as an
Key Features for that make the Teryx4 Rubicon Trail
With room for four adults, you can all load up for a day trip
with a cooler in the back. Or decide to camp out and use the
rear seats for all of the extra gear.
Centrifugal Clutch: The Teryx4's centrifugal
clutch feels like it engages as soon as you apply the gas pedal.
This extra degree of precision slow-speed power manipulation
is ideal for rock crawling where precise throttle manipulation is
Power Steering: The factory EPS is may be an
absolute necessity with the 31" light truck tires I have on my
Teryx4, but it also shines with stock tires. The EPS handles
kickback and low-speed maneuvering with ease.
Nimble: Although the Teryx4 has room for
four, it does so without feeling like a land yacht. Its' 86" wheel
base is over 20" shorter than a Polaris RZR XP 4 and turns
surprisingly sharp. Although I did not carry four people, the Teryx4
really did not feel like a four-seat vehicle in the rocks. I
felt like it turned about the same as my 2011 Teryx.
As far as my 2012 Kawasaki Teryx4 goes, I am thrilled
with how it performed on the Rubicon. The combination of HCR long travel
suspension and FOX shocks gave the vehicle more ride height, more wheel
travel and a more comfortable ride. With big 31" Pit Bull Tires on
15" OMF beadlocks, I can crawl over most big rocks with ease. PRP
seats and harnesses make the ride comfortable and safe. Rigid Industries
LED lights are sleek and super bright for any night rides. Warn winch
was used to lift one side of my 2011 Teryx off the ground and VIAIR
portable compressor worked great for the tire repair. SDR roll cage
looks great. And the Factory UTV UHMW skid plate soaks up all the
punishing granite rocks can dish out.