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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.

Levi Bath

I'm the co-creator of OffRoad Lifestyles. I live in Loveland, Colorado with my wife and 3 kids. My wife and I have spent a lot of time out on the sand dunes near Walden, CO and we both love offroading and camping.

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