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ATV Buying Guide

ATV Buying Guide

If you are looking to add the fun and function of an all-terrain vehicle to your life, you might have a few questions about choosing the right one for you. With our ATV buying guide at the ready, find out all the key components to consider before making this important purchase.

Type of ATV riding

The first thing to look at with our ATV buying guide is the type of riding you intend to do with your new set of wheels. While an all-terrain vehicle can be used on pretty much any kind of terrain, there are certain types of ATV better suited to certain terrains over others. For instance, if you intend to do a lot of jumps or tricks, you will want a lighter sport model over a bulkier utility model which focuses more on stability than speed. If you want an ATV for work purposes, you most likely want a utility model. If you want an ATV for fun trail riding, you want a sport model. It is important to know what you intend to use the ATV for to make sure you get the right type of your needs, terrain, and activities.

Types of ATV

  • Sports. A sport ATV is usually a sleek and stylish option designed for speed and agility. The frame is slender to help with streamlining and speed. This ATV type is lighter in overall weight which helps with jumps and speed alike. This category also offers some of the best performances in suspension to accommodate the speed and landing of jumps.
  • Utility. Unlike a sport, a utility ATV is not about flash. This type of ATV has less speed and flash to offer, but it brings more stability and better towing power. The engines are designed to be work horses for pulling, towing, handling tough terrains with ease, and getting the job done. They are stable, easy to maneuver, and compact in design. This type isn’t designed for jumps or racing so the suspension isn’t as great as sport, but they usually bring more in the way of engine and longevity overall. While they aren’t speedy or flashy, a utility ATV is reliable for work purposes.
  • Sport-utility. For those looking for a mix of both, a sports utility ATV blends certain elements of both into one model. This is a machine of compromise that works for some riders. For instance, it will have some of the speed of a sports model but with the bulkier body of a utility. The engine might give more power than your sports model, but the suspension isn’t meant for jumps or tricks like a sport model. This is a hybrid that is ideal for both work and play but does come with some compromise.
  • Youth. Many states have laws in place that a rider under a certain age should ride a youth specified ATV. These ATVs are smaller and lighter which is ideal for younger riders. The engines on these models are not built for speed or tricks which makes them great for young riders just familiarizing themselves with ATV riding. They also have parental controls, so a child needs a parent to start the machine up in some models.

Used or New?

Aside from the type of ATV, the other big consideration when buying your first ATV is whether to go new or used. A new model will give you the peace of mind of knowing everything is in prime condition and brand new whereas a used model might come with a few hidden problems. A used model is usually the more budget friendly option which most likely will paly a role in deciding between the two. A new model will last longer than a used, but if you are handy with repairs or plan on upgrading in a few years anyway, a used model could be the better choice for you. The decision of new or used is an individual one with no right or wrong answer.

Features to Consider

Regardless of the type of ATV or whether you are buying new or used, there are main features you need to look at to make sure you get the right outcome for your riding needs. These figures will vary based on the manufacturer, model, and ATV type.

  • Engine displacement. Engine displacement is the engine’s cylinder cubage and is counted in a cc measure with a larger figure being higher powered. For instance, an engine with an 150cc is more powerful than an engine measuring a 100cc engine displacement. The right engine power will depend on your preferences as a rider. For instance, younger and less experienced riders should start with a lower engine displacement while competitive riders will naturally need a higher-powered engine.
  • 4 stroke or 2 stroke. Another matter dealing with the engine, the choice between 4 stroke or 2 stroke engines is an important consideration. A 4 stroke engine means the pistons go up and down twice which results in 4 strokes and offers a more powerful, efficient engine. A 2 stroke has pistons that only go up and down once. A 2 stroke is the less efficient, less powerful option but many on a budget may opt for a 2 stroke over 4 stroke engine due to the more affordable cost.
  • Gear shift or automatic. The gear of an ATV can be either a clutch you adjust on the handle bar as you ride or an automatic option. The easier option is the automatic since the engine will naturally adjust the transmission based on speed without you having to do anything. Most riders choose automatic for the simple ease, but there are old school riders with a preference for the feel of controlling the shift while riding.
  • Disc or drum brakes. Disc brakes use hydraulic pressure to help stop the vehicle while drum brakes operate under the traditional method of brake pads rubbing against the wheel and using that friction to bring the vehicle to a stop. There are benefits and drawbacks to both, so you should figure out which one is right for you. For instance, drum brakes are more common but require more upkeep and repair than the newer disc brakes.