Choosing the Right Size ATV

ATV’s come in many different sizes so it is important to determine the best fit based on your size, riding ability and needs

Purchasing a new or used atv for sale requires knowing what kind of engine, suspension system, and feel that you want. The size of an all-terrain vehicle is important as well, because this directly affects your comfort while riding. Since an ATV is a significant investment, you should carefully consider what size best suits you and be sure to discuss options with a dealer.  Or, you can continue reading this article for more tips on different considerations come into play when shopping for and ATV or quad.

Liquid Cooled vs. Air Cooled

When searching for an ATV you will also want to consider whether to purchase one with a liquid cooled or air cooled engine.  The liquid cooled engines generally have more power and they are better as work machines.  They also tend to perform better on hot summer days.  Don’t get me wrong, air-cooled ATVs are fine, however, the engine longevity can be less due to the fact that they generally have to work harder and rev higher due to less power than an equivalent sized liquid cooled ATV.

Height and Weight Considerations

Height and weight should be considered, but aren’t necessarily the deciding factors when choosing the right size ATV. Most machines can accommodate the majority of people. Smaller sport quads, however, can be restrictive for tall people, so leg cramps and poor rider comfort are a possibility. Depending on riding style, the size of the ATV or quad might not mean much of a difference, especially if you rise off the seat or crouch often. Since most sized ATVs are fine for most people, a more powerful engine may be required depending on your weight and riding style.

Youth ATVs

Children sometimes ride ATVs as well, and there are machines sized just for their purpose. These are lighter, smaller, and usually less expensive, while some are designed for casual or competitive riding. Specific guidelines on ATV safety for children can be found here.  Youth ATVs are generally sized up to 120cc engine size and sit lower to the ground.  They are also typically two wheel drive and do not have the quality of suspension that an adult ATV or quad would have.  Most youth ATVs also have governors on them which limit the maximum speed – this is a safety feature that is present of many of the youth ATVs.


Quads are usually designed for recreational riders. If you’ve never ridden a quad before, you can pick one that is easy to ride. Even smaller adults can have a fun riding experience. These machines typically aren’t for those who want to tackle boulders and mud and many of them are two wheel drive.  Quads are used for riding on and off trail and often times they are also used for racing.

Choosing the right sized ATV is usually easier than picking one that can do what you want. Some people need an ATV for a casual ride, while others use it for competitive activities on tough courses. Others like a machine that can go from snow plowing, hunting, fishing, camping or cargo handling to dirt racing. The high-performance varieties need to be big enough to accommodate a powerful engine, transmission, and suspension to tackle rugged trails and sandy, wooded, or desert terrain.  Larger ATVs generally start at 400cc and up from there.  I ride a 650 Can AM Outlander and use it for carrying a 35 gallon water drum for tree watering, snowplowing a long driveway, hauling a small trailer full of brush and for some trail riding as well as general off-road riding.  I’ve found that the 650 has more than enough power for my needs and it has plenty of speed to – in fact, it may be too fast:).

For more information and guidelines on ATV safety, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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