The best type of four-wheeler is the one that complements your lifestyle.
So before you reach for your wallet, read up on the four different kinds of ATVs that exist.
There are four types of ATVs on the market today: some are designed strictly for hunting and hauling, some for off-road racing, while others kick serious butt on some pretty intense terrain.
If you like exploring uncharted territory with a few passengers, there’s an ATV designed to carry the masses (not really, but you get the gist). Planning a hunting trip with some close friends? There’re a variety of quads that can be modified to include more storage space and hauling equipment. Or maybe your entire family has caught the off-roading bug, even the kiddos, and everyone wants their own machine. Well, moms, rest easy because there’s a class of miniature rides made for tykes of all sizes.
When you know exactly what you want out of your ride, the pickin’s aren’t quite so daunting. Here’s a brief breakdown of the four different types of 4-wheelers you can choose from:
The name really does speak for itself for this particular class of four-wheeler. Tough, durable, and by all means powerful, the utility class of ATVs, or ‘UTV,’ is designed for the working man or woman, and the hunter.
Typically, these bad boys range from 800cc to over 1,000cc in engine size, making them capable of impressive feats of power. And since most utility ATVs feature exceptional cargo capacity and towing capabilities, they’re a hot commodity on the farm and/or ranch, when using a truck is either impractical or altogether impossible. Rest assured, with this type of quad, hauling equipment and animal feed will be a cinch.
Of course, plenty of riders use UTVs for recreational purposes (myself included) as well as for specialized work, but exercise caution since travel suspension is on the shorter side.
In addition to my UTV, I also own a 570cc sport ATV, which is about midrange as far as this class of quads goes.
Quick, lightweight, and responsive, sport ATVs are designed for adventurers and thrill-seekers. They don’t typically exceed 700cc, but some companies, like Polaris, are switching things up with their Sportsman® line. Travel suspension is off the charts in this category, and for good reason: they have to take riders where no other off-road vehicle can go.
What’s nice about these rides is that they can also be altered to fit the aesthetic you’re looking for and the performance you’ve been craving. Nerf bars, clutch kits, and aftermarket exhausts are the most common mods implemented in this four-wheeling class.
One thing’s for sure, tackling jumps, bumps, and turns is about as second nature for the sport ATV as making honey is for bees.
I’ve had a particular side-by-side on my wish list for a while now, but according to some members of my family (I won’t mention names), two quads is far too many. Still, if you have the garage capacity and you plan to make off-roading a family affair, then a side-by-side is your ticket.
Comparable to a golf cart in size, side-by-sides are pretty equal in power and agility to the sport ATV, only their motors are even more powerful. And rightfully so, since these machines are designed to carry passengers and cargo.
They also feature the most able travel suspension of any of the four types of ATVs on the market currently, making them pretty popular in rural parts of the country where driving and hauling on smooth pavement is basically a pipe dream. Oh, and did you know Fire and Rescue teams, and even the military use side-by-sides for certain tasks? (I’m just building up my argument for the missus, folks.)
ATVs for Youths
I, myself, have two little ones at home, and both of them want to be “just like dad.” Naturally, they want to ride whenever I do, but my quad only has room for one passenger. So, for Christmas last year, Santa brought them each a little 50cc scoot.
I know what you’re thinking, moms, because I had a very...insightful conversation with my wife about this topic. But after she saw how manageable these machines were for our tiny novices, she changed her tune. Power is slight on ATVs made for children, and the transmission is automatic so they don’t have to fuss with gear changing—and let’s be honest, even some of us adults consider shifting a hassle.
Since ATVs for youths have negligible travel suspension, though, be careful where you take them; in other words, the smoother the path, the better. And, parents, do us all a favor and don’t go trying to ride your child’s quad—the vast majority can only support up to 100 pounds!
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