What Size ATV Do I Need to Buy? Youth, Teen Adults, Tall & Small

An ATV, or four-wheeler, is a fun way to explore the outdoors. Whether you are out in the fields or the forests, the right All-Terrain Vehicle can help you navigate any terrain. Nonetheless, ATVs are a considerable investment and require proper research before purchase. What size will you need to buy?

The size of ATV you need to buy depends on the type of riding you’re planning on doing, how big you are if you plan on allowing others to ride, and where you plan to ride the ATV. All these factors will determine the size of ATV that will be a good fit. 

Read on to learn more about how the above factors affect the size of ATV you get. We also analyze what to look for when buying an ATV for children, adults, and teenagers. 

What Size ATV Should I Get?

Wondering what size ATV to get? You’ll need to consider a few factors like:

  • The place you’re planning to ride
  • Purpose of your ATV 
  • Your type of riding
  • Who else will ride the ATV
  • Your Size

The Place You are Planning to Ride

The place you’re planning to ride the ATV is a significant factor as it determines the power you need, and thus the size of ATV you should get. Decide if you plan on using the ATV for hunting, farming, trail riding, or Motorcross racing. 

A 550cc or under is the right size if you’re planning on going for comfortable trail rides or general riding around the home. However, if you’re into steep hill climbing, aggressive trail riding, or hauling, you’ll need to get an ATV with a 600-700cc range. 

An ATV with a 700-1000cc range will be ideal for anyone who likes to explore mud pits and dunes. One thing to note is that the larger the CCs, the more robust the engine. Thus, the more your ATV can handle. 

The Purpose of the ATV

Apart from where you plan on riding the ATV, the ATV’s purpose will determine the size of ATV you need to buy. You can use the ATV for:

Motocross Racing

Although off-roading is a unique type of using an ATV, Motocross racing is more involving as it’s based on agility and speed. ATVs meant for Motocross racing are made to handle aggressive riding, and they feature balancers and front grab bars heel guards. These ATVs have a capacity of 680cc and above with advanced suspension and enough torque. 

These quads are designed for performance and are focused on racing on wide-open deserts or motocross tracks. Furthermore, the ATVs have more ground clearance and deliver unmatched performance and stability. 

Trail Riding

ATVs can also be used to cruise through the trails. After gaining experience, a rider can explore rough terrain to test his limits. These ATVs are about 700cc and up as they are meant for extreme riding.

Recreation 

Recreational ATVs provide versatility. You can use them for hunting, mudding, camping, and any type of adventure trail riding. These ATVs can perform small and big jobs. 

Hunting ATVs

There are subcategories within the utility category. These quads are utility ATVs but are now fitted with different features, accessories, and colors to make hunting easier. A few of the hunting accessories include rack extenders and bumpers, gun scabbards, premium camo paint, and hand/thumb warmers.

Youth ATV

These ATVs are designed for young riders looking to get into this sport. These machines are packed with safety features and are meant for riders ten years or older.  

The Type of Riding You’ll Be Doing

How you plan to ride and where you’re going to ride the ATV play a role in the size of ATV you get.

The first group of people is those who do light towing or snow plowing. These people enjoy casual trail rides to check out the scenery. Also, they won’t ride for a long time. You need these ATVs as a beginner as they are simple to handle and come with automatic transmission. In regards to size, the ATVs within this category will be within the 200-450cc range.

Most riders fall under the second category, where long rides are involved. Comfort is essential, and the group can include farmers and ranchers looking to do more than ride the ATV. Machines within this category have a range of 450-750cc. 

The final category is the riders who love aggressive riding and are looking for maximum capability and power. With these machines, you can race up mountainsides and rush through harsh terrain. These ATVs are big and ideal for people who go game hunting. ATVs within this group have a range of 700-1000cc range. 

Another thing to note is that if you plan on pulling a boat, trailer, or anything heavy, you need to check the ATV’s type of hitch and towing rate, apart from the size. Are you also planning to have more than one rider on the ATV? While most ATVs are designed for a single person, a few can accommodate two riders. Nevertheless, these types of ATVs have long wheelbases for extra stability and a second set of footpegs. 

Who Else Will Ride the ATV

Are you planning to have someone else ride your ATV? The other person could be your spouse, friend, or your children. You need to consider the other person’s capability and experience level when choosing an ATV. 

If you have inexperienced riders, you need to go for a small-sized ATV with a 400-550 cc range. Find one with electronic power steering and automatic transmission. That makes riding easier for beginners. Moreover, if older people may use the same ATV, you can opt for an ATV that is 550-700cc. 

Your Size

Although physical size isn’t a critical factor in determining the type of ATV you choose, it’s something worth considering. You can get on various ATVs to decide what size you are comfortable in. Small size may feel too cramped, which is not something you want to be dealing with when out riding.

An adult who is 5’10” will be fine on an ATV that is 400 cc and below. anyone over 5’10” will need a bike over 400cc. Individuals between 6’2-6’3 will need a 500cc and above. Note that there are variations in size within every class. The best way to determine the ATV that fits your size is to get on different ATVs and find a comfortable one. 

What Size ATV Should I Buy for My Child?

Choosing an ATV for your child can be daunting. You want your kid to enjoy riding, but at the same time, be safe while doing it. Most states require that children under the age of 16 don’t operate an ATV over 90cc. 

You don’t want to risk getting a more significant size ATV hoping that your child doesn’t outgrow it, only for it to cause serious injuries. Children under six years of age cannot ride an ATV as they are not within the minimum age requirement. 

Children between 6-11 years need an ATV with an engine size that is under 70cc. That range will help the kid engage in safe riding while offering decent power. Those between 12-15 years need a unit that is between 70-90cc. These engines are suitable for young riders looking for more power and those who have a little experience. Check your little one’s habit of riding the bicycle, as this will tell you about his/her strengths and weaknesses. 

There are three and four-wheeled ATV models. When choosing an ATV for your child, it’s best to go for the four-wheeled model as it provides more stability and balance. Three-wheeled models are not as stable and are outlawed for children in some states. Ensure the ATV is equipped with lights and reflectors. Your child should also use the ATV with the supervision of an adult.

However, note that the above guidelines may differ if your child is small for his/her age. Remember that the rider needs to grab the brake with the hands, touch the gear shift, and reach all controls. Checking all these factors can help you decide on the appropriate ATV size to get. Don’t forget to match the kid with the ATV by confirming a three-inch clearance between the ATV’s seat and the child’s pants when he/she stands. 

Safety Features Fitted on the Quad

The ATV engine is not the only factor to consider when choosing an all-terrain vehicle for your kid. Check to see that the ATV has safety features like a brushless motor, chainless gearbox transmission, hydraulic brake system, wheelie safety bar for balancing, among other factors.

Some models come fitted with the parent-adjustable speed limiting feature. The feature allows you, as a parent, to control the speed of each ATV. What’s more, some models enable you as the parent to set the maximum speed a child can run the vehicle. Also, check to see that the four-wheeler has a seatbelt and a battery cover. 

Types Available

There are plenty of options available, right from sports ATVs to utility ATVs. Maintenance is something you don’t want to forget when shopping for a kid’s ATV. Find a machine that doesn’t have gas/oil, sprockets, or chains. That means you won’t need to invest more time and labor to maintain the all-terrain vehicle. 

One mistake most parents make is to focus on the engine size and ignore the ATC’s overall weight and dimensions. You need to determine if your child can comfortably get on the ATV and control it. The kid needs to be healthy and big enough to reach the control levers while seated and stand on the floorboards. 

Leg Length

Check to see if your child sits on the ATV with feet placed on the pegs; there should be a 45 degree angle when his/her knees bend. The thighs should line up a parallel between the forearm and the upper arm. Your kid also needs to sit upright on the vehicle and place their hands on the handlebars without leaning forward. 

If Your Child Can Maintain the Handlebars’ Grip and Control the Brake and Throttle

As a parent, you need to ensure your child’s seatbelt is locked, check that he/she has protective equipment like a helmet, and have control over the speed your child rides at. Supervising your child and reminding them of the safety precautions makes the ride safe and enjoyable.

When shopping for an ATV for your kid, the rule to remember is that the four-wheeler needs to be at a maximum of three or four times the child’s weight. Your kid should be able to shift their weight from one side to the other and from front to back to keep their balance. You can also go out for an ATV day or test track to compare the different sizes available. 

What Size ATV for Adults?

There’s a no one size fits all when shopping for an adult ATV. A regular ATV for riding around the property or going on trail rides should be 550cc and under. These entry-level ATVs or recreational ATVs are made to be easy to ride with simple handling. You’ll find that some machines have an automatic transmission, while others need shifting without a clutch. 

Another category of utility ATVs designed to haul cargo on the front/rear racks is to push a plow blade or farm implement. These vehicles are popular with campers, hunters, law enforcement officers, and those in service. The reason for their popularity is their power. Modern quads have high ground clearance and fantastic traction. 

Utility ATVs also have other features like independent rear suspension, removable headlights, auxiliary electrical outlets, liquid-cooled engines. The engine size of these quads is in the 450-700cc range. 

Sport ATVs combine the ability of utility ATVs with the sporting capabilities of the racing and performance ATVs. This category is more popular and has a variety to choose from. These quads have excellent handling for trail and tack, overall lightweight, long-travel suspension, and peppy engines. You’ll find these quads in TT and Motocross races. These types of ATV with a range of 500-700cc will be ideal.

Another particular category of ATVs is Two-Up ATVs. Companies like Polaris, Arctic Cat, and Can-Am have started manufacturing these ATVs. What makes them unique is the second set of footpegs/floorboards, long wheelbase for extra stability, and a second raised seat with grab bars for the passengers.  

For you to determine the right size of ATV, you need to get on several models to decide which one feels comfortable to handle. 

What Size ATV for Teenagers?

Buying an ATV for youth helps him/her learn endurance, balancing, and activates cognitive functions, among other benefits. Youngsters 12 years or older need an ATV with an engine capacity of 70-90cc. These sizes of ATVs are more powerful and a bit bigger than the 50 cc ATVs for kids.

This quad size works perfectly for kids who are significant to fit on the 50cc. Sometimes you may have a 16-year-old who’s small for an adult quad, will do nicely on a 70-90cc ATV for teens. According to the ATV Safety Institute, when matching a teen to a four-wheeler, there should be at least three inches of clearance between the child’s pants and the ATV’s seat when standing. 

The teen also needs to grip the handlebars and move them to both sides while still operating the brake lever and throttle with one hand. Failure for the child to reach the handlebars can result in serious injuries. Safety is paramount when running a youth ATV. If you are unsure where to get started, the ATV Safety Institute Readiness Checklist is an excellent place to start. 

When choosing an ATV for your teen, you should also look for adult supervisory controls, drive mechanism, speed, power, suspension systems, and brake/foot controls. 

What Size ATV for Hunting?

While out in the woods, the last thing you are worried about is how fast the ATV is. You need an ATV that performs and one that can camouflage and blend with the surroundings. You should also get an ATV that can do the ground clearance, heavy lifting, hitch, and traction. 

When hunting, you need to do quick cornering, climb through challenging terrain, and sometimes pass through downed trees. The size of ATV you get for hunting will also depend on the type of terrain. 

A 475cc engine going up will be enough for hunting. Don’t forget to check the ATV’s ride quality. You don’t want to spend too much time getting your quad through the woods when you should be enjoying your hunting excursion. Check to see if the ATV has a comfortable saddle, better grip, quality tires, and the handlebar’s positioning and footrests. 

The right ATV for hunting needs to have a sturdy bumper and high wheels to lower the impact of knocking things while in the forest. Also, note that some ATVs are meant for adults, and children can’t use them and vice versa. Get an ATV size that suits your needs. If you plan on getting a machine for your kids, you can get a kid ATV. 

If you are going hunting, you should also opt for an ATV with low noise levels as you don’t want to alert the prey of your presence.

What Size ATV for Farm Use?

ATVs are a beneficial tool that you can use for farming to access areas not accessible by four-wheel drives, pickup trucks, or other motorized cars. You can use an ATV to check and repair irrigation systems, herd livestock, supervise field crews, mow grass, or transport things. 

When looking for an ATV for agricultural use, you need to find one with a reverse gear, an automatic clutch, a coil spring, shock absorber suspension system, shaft drive, and a differential with a locking mechanism. All these components provide versatility for agricultural work. 

Adult ATVs for farming need to have engines ranging from 90-700cc and more. The gear ratios should enable speeds of more than 70mph. Remember that the larger the cc, the more powerful and quicker the ATV will be. However, note that this is dependent on how you plan to use the ATV, as this will determine the gear ratio and size of the engine you get.

ATV transmissions are five-speed complete with low and high range, reverse and park, and neutral features. Four-wheel drive is available as an option, but the two-wheel-drive is standard on most ATVs. 

Also, ensure you get a machine that can tow over 2000 pounds, has a rigid chassis, ample interior storage space, and brakes. A farm ATV needs plenty of carrying capacity, including the rear and front racks. These racks can carry up to 150kgs, with the largest ATV having a towing capacity of 450kgs. 

Rider comfort is essential when using an ATV for farming. If you are planning on using your All-terrain vehicle, you need to find a machine with padded seats. Some units have independent coil suspension to enhance rider comfort. High-end models have power steering that comes in handy when navigating rough and rocky terrain. 

When it comes to size, you want an ATV that can navigate tight corners. Size influences maneuverability. The best size should be 120-inches in width. Ground clearance is another factor you need to consider when evaluating the best ATV size for farm use.

What Other Factors Should You Evaluate?

Below are other things you need to check out when purchasing an ATV:

Transmission

ATVs can either have manual or automatic transmission. Most quads have automatic transmission and come with a belt-drive system and a variable clutch. Nonetheless, you’ll find some models with complex gear-driven systems that are heavy but reliable.

There’s also manual transmission in modern ATVs. These transmissions include the 5-speed or 6-speed with a manual clutch or an automatic clutch system. Most racing ATVs have a manual clutch. That type of clutch allows you to shift with the left foot and left-hand controls to stick to the clutch. That enables you to control traction and engine rpm. 

Note that automatic transmission will add to the cost of an ATV. However, once you mastered operating the manual clutch, you’ll be okay operating an ATV with manual transmission.

Shaft-Drive vs. Chain-Drive Systems

Chain-drives need maintenance as you need to tighten the chain and replace the sprocket regularly. They have decreased ground clearance, which makes them unsuitable in rocky or muddy conditions. However, the chain-drive system is affordable to make and lighter. This drive system allows you to change gear ratios by altering the front/rear sprocket.

On the other hand, shaft-drive systems on the front and rear need little to no maintenance. Modern quads have this drive system. 

Electronic Fuel Injection

An ATV with Electronic Fuel Injection enables the ATV to work correctly despite the elevation you choose to ride. The system also reduces any performance issues you may encounter when riding in places with sea-level changes. With EFI, you can climb the mountain and ride to the beach without changing anything on the ATV. iT 

The EFI also reduces any chances of the engine overheating. Moreover, you won’t have to deal with issues of starting an ATV in cold weather. 

Nevertheless, some ATVs are carbureted and are cheaper compared to those fitted with Electronic Fuel Injection. The problem with this system is that when riding the ATV, you’ll notice a performance difference. 

Power Steering

Power steering is an excellent feature to have on your ATV as it ensures the handlebars won’t be pulled out of your hands when you hit a rock or bump. If you’re looking to add this feature to your ARV, you’ll need to part with $1,000. The best thing is that electronic power steering prevents strain on your shoulders and arms when going for a long day’s ride.

Two-Wheel vs. Four-Wheel Drive

Should you get an ATV that is the 2-wheel or 4-wheel drive? The decision lies in the terrain you plan on riding the quad. A 4-wheel drive works when climbing steep hills, navigating through muddy sections, and crawling on big rocks and logs. ATVs that are four-wheel drive carry more cargo, plow more snow, and pull trailers and other farm implements.

Worth noting is that most four-wheel-drive ATVs have a button that you can use to switch to two-wheel drive. You can opt for a 2-wheel drive if you’re not planning on riding in extreme terrain. 

Drum Brakes vs. Disc Brakes

ATVs with disc brake systems are durable, stop better, and work better in wet and muddy conditions. You won’t have issues with the brakes freezing in the winter. In the older days, most ATVs had disc brakes. The problem with disc brakes is that they get water inside during winter, which can be a significant problem.

Conclusion

There isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to ATVs. The size of ATV you choose will depend on its purpose, the terrain you plan on riding the ATV, and if you are comfortable reading the handlebars and other controls when riding. All these factors will determine the right ATV size for you.

Which ATV Should I Buy, Utility or Sport?

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) can be categorized into two main categories utility and sport. There are many variants of the ATVs. When you decide to purchase one, it is normal to want to weigh your options.

Utility ATVs make for the best purchase due to higher ground clearance, more straightforward operation, softer ride, and utilitarian options, while Sport ATVs are for those who are most passionate about competitive speed and performance.

This article will explore the considerations that an ATV buyer should employ when deciding on what model of ATV to purchase. We will look at the key characteristics of sport and utility ATVs to allow you to become a knowledgeable buyer.

Difference Between Sport ATVs and Utility ATVs

When deciding what ATV to purchase, it is important to start by knowing the main differences between a sport ATV and a utility ATV. These differences come down to design and function.

Purpose of a Utility ATV

ATVs are not all for sport or recreation. ATVs also have a role as practical work vehicles. A utility ATV is designed to meet the range, load, and accessibility requirements of work-specific tasks.

Their form-factor, ability to navigate different terrain, and ease of use, make them effective modes of transport in work-specific environments, such as ranching, and task-specific activities, such as hunting.

Purpose of a Sport ATV

A sport ATV is primarily designed for recreational and sports use. This ATV classification is an umbrella term that encompasses a large number of niche ATVs. There are sport ATVs specifically designed for racing, jumping, stunt riding, etc. and lack the practical aspect found in utility ATVs.

Sport ATV designs tend to incorporate more resistant suspensions and responsive engines than utility ATVs. They are also lighter in weight. This results in an end-product that provides optimized riding performance.

When Is a Utility ATV Right for You?

The answer to when a utility ATV is right for you is simplified if you have no interest in using your ATV for recreational use. Likewise, if you have a specific task in mind that you feel will benefit from the mobility offered by an ATV. These can include:

  • Farm work and ranching. From shepherding livestock to hauling hay, spraying fields, plowing, and carrying equipment to repair fencing, a utility ATV can become a workhorse for farm and ranch-related work.
  • Forestry work. Covering the vast distances involved with forestry work and wildfire prevention work involves navigating difficult and nearly impassable terrain. The nature of the work also calls for being able to carry or haul different payloads. A utility ATV is ideal for this.
  • Security and monitoring work. A utility ATV is an economical alternative for patrolling and monitoring large open areas. They provide speed and agility to security work.
  • Hunting. For reaching hunting areas that are deep in-country or that require traversing inhospitable paths, the utility ATV is well-suited for these tasks. Their payload and hauling capability make them ideal for carrying gear and extracting large game.

Can You Use a Utility ATV for Recreational Purposes?

If you decide on purchasing a utility ATV because your needs matched one of those listed above, that does not mean that you cannot use it for recreational purposes.

Most utility ATVs can be used recreationally. However, it is important to note that they will likely not match sport ATVs in terms of speed or responsiveness. For most casual recreational ATV riders, however, this should not be an issue as they don’t tend to ride their ATVs to performance limits.

An advantage that comes with using a utility ATV recreationally instead of a sport ATV is that it is better suited for off-roading. Utility ATVs tend to have larger ground clearances and softer suspension systems, making riding down rough trails safer and more comfortable.

There is an argument to be made that if your whole purpose for purchasing an ATV revolves around off-roading and rough country trailing, a utility ATV would be your best choice even if you have no work-related application for the ATV.

On the other hand, if your recreational riding is more speed-intensive or competitive, the limitations in the utility ATV’s performance may compromise your enjoyment of the vehicle.

There is also the issue of specialized equipment that might be attached to your utility ATV that would not make it suitable for recreational use. If you intend to purchase an ATV for both utility and recreational use, make sure that specialized accessories are removable.

When Is a Sport ATV Right for You?

If your only intended use for the ATV is for recreational use, a sport ATV might be a good choice for you. However, it is imperative to analyze how you define your recreational use scenario.

Sport ATVs are suited to those who seek speed and responsiveness. Being lightweight compared to a utility ATV, a sport ATV is going to deliver a faster ride even when sporting an engine of the same size or smaller as that used in a utility ATV.

However, as mentioned when discussing utility ATVs, a sport ATV will have lower ground clearance. This means that if you intend on riding it in rough terrain, you may encounter obstructions that a utility ATV would otherwise clear.

A sport ATV will be able to handle rough trails. However, it will not be able to overcome some larger obstacles that may be encountered in deep off-road situations, such as rugged foliage, weather-trounced trails, or the absence of a track altogether.

A good analogy to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to opt for a sport ATV is to view them as ATVs’ sportscars. They are going to outperform utility ATVs on speed and responsiveness but not on the smoothness of the ride nor the handling of rough trails.

What Are Side-by-Side ATVs?

A side-by-side “ATV” is one that is manufactured with two seats lined up side by side in a single row. Models exist that have two or three such rows for even more passengers. The category of ATV is reserved for single rider machines by the American National Standards Institute.

However, since many manufacturers do market these vehicles as ATV variants, it is understandable for some people to include side-by-sides in their purchasing consideration.

A side-by-side shares most of the powertrain characteristics of an ATV. The main difference being in the steering, acceleration, gear shifting, and braking mechanisms. These will resemble those found in cars as opposed to ATVs that use mechanisms resembling those of motorcycles.

In terms of design and function, side-by-sides are found in utility and sport variants. They mirror the applications and limitations of sport and utility ATVs. If you include side-by-sides in your list when deciding on what ATV to buy, you can apply the same analytical criteria that we have presented for ATVs regarding performance.

Where special consideration needs to be added to side-by-sides comes in transportation. While you can transport most sport and utility ATVs in the back of a full-size pickup, side-by-sides are different. Due to their wider and longer form-factor, most will require a trailer to be transported to the locations where they will be used. That is something that you should factor into your consideration.

To learn more about side-by-sides and the UTV category of vehicles, click here.

Types of Transmission

Both sport and utility ATVs are available in manual and automatic transmissions. Due to the performance preferences of the demographics that predominantly opt for sport ATVs over utility ATVs, manual transmissions are the most common transmission for that classification of ATV. Conversely, manual transmissions are more popular with utility ATVs.

What type of transmission you choose should depend on your experience with ATVs, who will be using the vehicle, and its primary use.

Automatic Transmissions on ATVs

An ATV with an automatic transmission will make operating the unit easier. This can be advantageous if you are new to ATVs. Different people with varying degrees of experience will be driving it, or if the vehicle’s use will be for utilitarian purposes requiring the driver to focus on multiple tasks simultaneously. This also holds true if you plan to use the ATV on hills and slopes.

Most ATV automatic transmissions will have a lever to choose between high and low gear. The former setting will provide you more speed while the latter will provide you with stronger torque — ideal when hauling or pulling heavy loads.

In terms of cost, automatic transmissions will add slightly to the cost of the ATV compared to the same unit with a manual transmission. It should be noted, some ATV models, especially in the utility sector, are only available with automatic transmissions.

Manual Transmissions on ATVs

Much as with a motorcycle, the manual transmission on an ATV allows you to have precise control over the engine’s RPMs. This can be very beneficial when you want to apply maximum power under ideal traction conditions and less when you need to compensate for poor traction.

When adding the transmission type to your calculus in determining which ATV to purchase, make sure to factor in the complexity required to operate an ATV manual transmission. The process is very similar to that of a motorcycle. Shifting gears requires you to employ the clutch, gear lever, and throttle at the same time. If you are on a slope or hill, the brake also comes into play.

With practice, the process becomes second nature. However, if you only plan on using the ATV occasionally or plan on allowing other less experienced riders to take the controls, having a manual transmission can be a net negative compared to the added performance that it provides to an experienced rider.

Manual transmissions can be very beneficial when taking turns, especially at a higher speed. By controlling when a gear shift occurs, you avoid the potential of an automatic transmission shifting gears in the middle of a tight and fast turn. The result of that can be a momentary loss of control or balance.

That level of added control is why manual transmissions are more common in sport ATVs. With greater speed comes a greater need for responsiveness. Manual transmissions contribute to that. When performing repetitive tasks, especially at slower speeds or requiring stronger torque, manually shifting gears can become tedious and tiring.

Should You Buy a New or Used ATV?

After you have decided whether a sport or utility ATV is best for you and you have taken into consideration the collateral details — such as type of transmission, size, color, etc. — you need to consider whether you want to purchase a new or used ATV.

Much as with a car, the advantages of opting to purchase a new ATV include:

  • The ATV would have an active manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Mechanical failures would be less frequent.
  • Spare parts would be more readily available compared to older models.

The disadvantages of choosing a new ATV are basically related to cost. A used version of a similar model of ATV will be considerably less expensive in the used ATV market.

If you plan on making full use of the ATV on a regular basis, the advantages of opting for a new unit makes practical and economic sense. However, if you want to purchase an ATV solely for recreational use a handful of times during the year — or if you merely want to see if ATV riding is something you and your family will enjoy — a used model would be best.

Account for the ATV “Learning Curve”

Excluding purchases for a specific and proven utilitarian purpose, a first-time ATV purchase will usually be accompanied by a learning curve and a period of acclimation to the machine and ATV riding in general.

New buyers often fail to take this into account. Instead, they opt for what they believe to be their “ideal” machine. This is more often than not based on their aspirations for the “ATV lifestyle.”

It is not unusual for a first-time ATV buyer to purchase a unit that is not the best for them as operators or fulfill the purpose they wanted. This is why buying the most expensive ATV that you can afford, the newest, or the most powerful, is not always a good idea.

Keeping your options open should be the rule of thumb for a first-time ATV purchase. Avoid locking yourself down in terms of functionality. Choose a category of ATV at a price range that will allow you to become familiar with ATV-ing and safe ATV operation comfortably.

It is for this reason that a first-time ATV buyer might want to consider a utility ATV with an automatic transmission over a sports model with a manual transmission, for instance.

As you become more experienced with riding ATVs, as you develop practical experience riding and maintaining them, you may discover that your original intention to own and operate one has changed.

By that time, you will be more knowledgeable about what type and model of ATV you need. This will put you in a better position to make an informed purchase and make selecting a higher-priced or particular ATV model a wiser choice.

Pros and Cons of Sport ATVs

Pros of Sport ATVs

  • Lighter in weight compared to utility ATVs.
  • Faster and more responsive.
  • Easier to transport to riding locations.
  • Ideal for racing and other competitive events.
  • Design and aesthetics add a “cool factor.”
  • Enhanced suspensions for safe high-speed turns, bumps, and jumping.
  • Generally less expensive than utility ATVs.

Cons of Sport ATVs

  • Lack of storage and payload space.
  • Lower ground clearance compared to utility ATVs.
  • Lower torque makes them inadequate for towing.
  • The same enhanced suspension that offers excellent handling can make for an uncomfortable bumpy ride.
  • In most cases, it requires a manual transmission to get the most out of the vehicle.

Pros and Cons of Utility ATVs

Pros of Utility ATVs

  • Most can be used for practical as well as recreational purposes.
  • Higher ground clearance makes them a better option for true off-roading.
  • Allow you to carry gear and other payloads.
  • Suspension allows for a more comfortable ride.
  • Strong torque makes them well-suited for hauling and towing.
  • It can be used in a wide variety of work-specific tasks.

Cons of Utility ATVs

  • Not as fast as sport ATVs.
  • The added weight makes them more of a challenge to transport to riding locations.
  • Their suspension is not optimal for high-speed turning or jumping.
  • Designs lack the “flash” of sport ATVs.
  • Generally more expensive than sport ATVs.

The Final Rundown

The decision to purchase an ATV is discretionary when for recreational purposes. When for business and operational applications, it can be seen as a capital investment for your business.

In either case, the determining factor for choosing one will be how you intend to use the ATV.

If payload, torque, ground clearance, and off-road capabilities are essential, the utility ATV is the best bet. If speed and responsiveness are what you seek and you have no intention of using your ATV for any utilitarian purpose or subject it to intensely rough terrain, the sport ATV makes a sound choice.

Are Dirt Bikes Faster Than Quads?

The debate around quads vs. dirt bikes is an age-old one. People usually side with one or the other because a lot of things are subjective when it comes to these two offroad rides. However, there’s a clear answer if we wish to compare their speed.

Dirt bikes are faster than quads because they are lighter and can take sharp turns more quickly. Even if a dirt bike and a quad have the same engine, the bike has a better power to weight ratio, which makes it accelerate much faster than an ATV with the same motor.

ATVs don’t always perform slower than dirt bikes, though. Read on to learn more about their speed, whether faster speed means less safety with dirt bikes, and how you can choose which one is best for you.

Why Are Dirt Bikes Faster Than ATVs?

The most significant factor that makes dirt bikes go faster than quads is weight. A sport ATV can weigh twice as much as a dirt bike. An average dirt bike weighs around 215 lbs (98 kg), while you can expect an average ATV to weigh 590 lbs (268 kg). That’s only an estimated average; the actual weight will depend on the size of your engine (cc). But overall, two-wheelers are much lighter than four-wheelers.

This lighter weight allows dirt bikes to move more quickly and effectively in narrower spaces than quads. Also, you’ll be able to climb hills faster on dirt bikes.

As we’ve discussed, ATVs and dirt bikes have the same engine—weight is what makes all the difference. Imagine two vehicles: a quad weighing 400 lbs (181 kg) and a dirt bike weighing 230 lbs (104 kg). If they have the same engine, which one will go faster? Of course, the dirt bike as it can accelerate more quickly than four-wheelers, thanks to its greater power to weight ratio.

With that said, ATVs don’t lose all the time when it comes to speed. Dirt bikes have two wheels, and quads have four, which means they have more traction. Because of this, they can perform better on muddy, slick tracks and flat tracks.

Theoretically, quads would have more acceleration than a dirt bike if the power to weight ratios were equal. I’m saying this because they have more contact patch (the amount of tire touching the ground). Their extra weight also helps traction to some extent.

However, in real life, they have (compared to their heaviness) less power and more weight. So a dirt bike is faster, more maneuverable, and accelerates quicker than a four-wheeler. Of course, a lot of it also depends on the rider.

Advantages of Higher Speed

Since dirt bikes are so fast and convenient, they’re often used in racing and sport. On the other hand, ATVs are heavier and not suitable for high-speed racing. Riders can also perform more stunts and tricks on dirt bikes. In contrast, it can be dangerous to do the same on ATVs, especially for inexpert drivers.

This brings me to another point: dirt bikes give you more adrenaline rush than ATVs. Their higher speed and better flexibility offer a more thrilling adventure. I’m not saying ATVs aren’t fun, they are, but you would have to be an excellent rider to drive them at high speeds. Whereas dirt bikes naturally offer the thrill of jumping off hills and going super-fast.

Does This Mean Dirt Bikes Are Less Safe?

We’ve talked about high speeds, stunts, and hill-climbing. While that’s cool and all, there’s another critical matter to discuss: the level of safety.

This may seem obvious at first. Dirt bikes go faster, and people perform more stunts on them, so they’re more prone to accidents, right?

Well, yeah, quads are involved in fewer accidents, but there’s more to it. And if you believe ATVs are safer than dirt bikes, you’re in for a surprise.

A John Hopkins study shows that dirt bikes are safer than ATVs. Riding ATVs causes a lot more deaths than riding two-wheelers. To give you the stats, quad-crash victims are 50% more likely to die. They’re also 55% more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) and 42% more likely to be placed on a ventilator.

But ATVs are more stable and comfortable to ride for beginners. Why these surprising results? Quads are undoubtedly steadier than dirt bikes. The stability of ATV gives people a false sense of security. As a result, they try to corner too fast or ride on uneven tracks.

However, the center of gravity of ATVs is too high, so they’re likely to flip over. Remember that there’s no crash protection for the rider, so an ATV rolling over you can be extremely dangerous.

If you were in a bike accident, you could get away with strains and sprains, and you’ll probably be thrown off the bike. You may still break a bone, but it’s nothing compared to an ATV accident.

If you were riding a quad and got into an accident, its massive weight could break your neck or back, resulting in death. Even if you’re lucky, the chances of you getting injured severely are very high.

The bottom line? Dirt bike accidents happen more often than ATV accidents. Still, the latter can be much more fatal, which means dirt bikes are overall safer.

Choosing Between ATVs and Dirt Bikes

If you’re looking to get a new off-road companion for yourself, speed and safety aren’t the only factors to consider. There are many things you need to look for when comparing a dirt bike with an ATV. Here are some important ones:

  • Learning: If you’re a beginner, a dirt bike can seem more intimidating, and there’s also a learning curve involved. ATVs are more beginner-friendly and are forgiving for kids.
  • Comfort: Quads have a larger seat than dirt bikes. Sitting down on a quad is more comfortable than sitting on a dirt bike, which is designed for you to stand up more than sit down. Overall, the ATVs are more comfortable.
  • Utility: With ATVs, you can pull and drag heavy machines or a utility trailer. They can also carry passengers, so they’re more functional. Dirt bikes, on the other hand, are usually not used for work.
  • Maintenance: An ATV, of the same rider class as a dirt bike, is more expensive. Not only that, but the maintenance costs of ATVs are also higher. So if the price is a concern, a dirt bike is the way to go.
  • Convenience: ATVs are restricted to two-track trails only, while you can ride a dirt bike on many tracks. Dirt bikes take up less space, and you can even carry them by yourself if you ever encounter a malfunction. The same cannot be said for ATVs.

To summarize, if you want more out of your vehicle than just thrilling rides, go for an ATV. It can be useful in handling heavy machines and other stuff. But if you’re only looking for breath-taking adventures and unforgettable memories, a dirt bike should be your pick.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to speed, dirt bikes are faster because they weigh less but have the same power as ATVs. The only exception would be a flat or a muddy track where ATVs could have an advantage because of their increased traction.

Surprisingly, even with higher speeds, dirt bikes have been reported to be safer than ATVs. However, both these vehicles are fun to ride, and you’ll need to choose based on what you want from your ride.