Compact Equipment

OCT 2018

Compact Equipment is a magazine dedicated to equipment owners and operators of small, nimble, tool-carrying construction, landscape and ag equipment — such as skid steers, mini excavators, compact tractors, generators compressors and beyond.

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10 Compact Equipment OCTOBER 2018 lights, rotating beacons, LED light bars, headrests, soft grip handles, brush and lamp guards, toolboxes, Kubota-branded rubber cargo mats and nine different tire and alloy wheel as- semblies that come in cool colors like green, black and silver. "This is the first time we've delivered 50 new accessories — 50 plus actually," said Gifford. "These accessories are not on our other machines. These are all only for the Sidekick." The Sidekick will also be offered in four distinct colors — another first — Kubota Orange, RealTree AP Camo, green and black. The uber cool black version is already attracting tons of attention. "We kind of did it as our special edition, our upper model, kind of our flagship," said Gifford. "You get a little bit more aggressive look with that machine." Kubota is encouraging customers to build their ultimate customized utility vehicle with the Sidekick, but it's also reassuring those customers that this off-roader is made to work as well. Kubota quickly notes that the Sidekick has a class-leading 2,000-lb towing capacity, and it's standard equipped with a trailer hitch, so go haul something already. The Sidekick's cargo capacity carries up to 15.2 cu ft or half a ton of gear, tools, spoils, firewood, camping supplies or whatever you can fit in there. That cargo box comes with an optional electric hydraulic lift for fast and effortless dump- ing. The unit's high tech too: The regulator and fully-shield- ed generator are controlled by a microcomputer to ensure stable power for any attachment, including work lights, LED headlights, heaters or winches. How Does It Drive? During operation, the most immediate impression of the Sidekick was the smoothness. Acceleration and speed were quick, fluid and featherable. Units are equipped with a continuously variable transmission with centrifugal clutch (CVT Plus) that provides plenty of torque for quick and smooth bursts of speed. Tuned front and rear independent suspensions offer smoothness, and engine-assisted braking allows for less fatigue and increased safety during descents. The Sidekick comes with selectable full-time four-wheel drive, and electronic power steering (not hydraulic power steering) improves both handling and stability. Even at high speeds, the Sidekick absorbed big bumps and rugged terrain. As I whipped around an old, out-of-commis- sion golf course on the shores of Lake Lanier, I challenged my unit over moguls at 35 mph, and it barely registered in the cab and steering. "The geometry is so smooth on it," said Gifford. "We've changed our geometry in the front suspension. Then we made a speed sensitive motor, so as speed increases, power decreases to the steering. It becomes manual as you go for- ward. The result is you get a better feel, better control and greater stability at higher speeds. With our new geometry, as you drive them out there today, as you steer into a corner, and you let go of the wheel, it will track right back to center." The innovative steering geometry is one of a number of standout features on the new Sidekick. As the UTV market matures, new market segments are emerging with more op- tions. The crossover space, which lies between lower-cost, en- try-level machines and high-power recreational machines, is bringing real utility to the medium-duty market with heavier payload capacities, more reliable engine offerings, quicker speeds and lots of accessories. Farmers, large estate owners, park services and customers with the need to move product and people over long distances quickly are turning to these multipurpose utility vehicles. "Speed, cargo, towing," rattled off Gifford. "We did a sur- vey, and that's what people wanted the most. Our customers really set that bar high for us to really bring them the best- balanced multi-purpose machine out there. And what we learned during our surveys and studies is that the competi- tion may give them one, maybe two of those, but not all of them. So our team went out there and developed that ma- chine that delivered the customer the complete package." Keith Gribbins is associate publisher of Compact Equipment. VISITING KUBOTA MANUFACTURING AMERICA IN GAINESVILLE, GA. Kubota Manufacturing of America, or as everyone called it on my trip KMA, is the U.S. manufacturing hub for Kubota's zero- turn mowers, sub-compact tractors and utility vehicles. It em- ploys more than 1,600 and is based in Gainesville, Ga. I got the opportunity to tour the KMA facility after test driving the com- pany's new RTV-XG850. The facility just opened up in April 2017 and is still beautifully new. KMA expanded its operations with a new 502,000-sq-ft facility just three miles from its existing opera- tions. The facility has the capacity to produce up to 75,000 units annually. Kubota has been operating in the state of Georgia for more than 40 years. Today, KMA is in Gainesville, and its Nation- al Distribution Center (NDC) and Kubota Industrial Equipment (KIE) facility is in Jefferson, producing Kubota equipment and implements including loaders and backhoes. Trade journalists tour the new KMA facility.

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