What Size ATV to Buy

An All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) is a motorized vehicle that is safely designed to be used off-road. They should have low-pressurized tires that can easily travel over bumps such as fallen branches. The seat is positioned in between the four wheels so that the driver can easily straddle it while reaching forward to the handlebars. 

There are two types of ATVs to choose from - type I and type II. The former is designed for only one driver without a passenger, and the latter type allows enough room for a passenger as well as the driver. 

ATVs are not a one size fits all type of vehicle and the majority of manufacturers advise you to research the correct size of ATV before you commit to a purchase of one. There is often a minimum age recommended for each ATV, as different sizes of people require different sizes of ATVs. 

What Size ATV to Buy

Too many people don’t realize that ATVs come in different sizes and buy the wrong size to either save money or try and get the highest quality option. Luckily, the price of an ATV doesn’t directly correlate with the quality, so you don’t always have to spend the most money to get the best quality.

There are a few factors about yourself and your plans for your ATV to consider before you choose the size of ATV for you. These factors will affect the size that you need, so it’s helpful to have all of this information in one place. 

Luckily for you, we’ve collated all of these factors and written about them in this handy article. By the time we’re finished, we hope that you will have a much better understanding of the different sizes of ATVs and how to choose the best one for you. 

First things first - how are ATVs sized?

ATVs are often sized in the form of CCs or Cubic Centimetres. This measurement displays how large the engine of the ATV is, for example, a 1,000cc engine is much larger than a 50cc ATV. You shouldn’t opt for the largest CC number straight off the bat without researching them first. 

50-70cc

These are the smallest ATVs available and they’re often reserved for younger children who want to ride their own ATV. They’re often smaller in size as well as the engine with measurements being close to only 50 inches long. 

We would recommend children under 12 using a 50 to 70cc ATV to help them grasp the basics of these vehicles. 

90-125cc

This size of ATV is a step up from the under 12s model and therefore is the logical step for children between the ages of 12 and 16. They’re slightly longer than the latter vehicle with a length of around 60 inches. These sizes are a good transition ATV for beginners who are growing up around ATVs. 

200-300cc

Another step up, the 200 to 300cc ATVs are for teenagers above the age of 16 who are seasoned in the sport. Adults of smaller statures can also use this size of ATV if they’re just learning the basics of the sport. 

Adults using this size of ATV should refrain from using it for long periods of time due to the smaller engine size. If you want to use it for longer amounts of time, you might want to consider opting for a slightly bigger engine. 

200cc ATVs measure in at 65 to 70 inches long, 250cc models are around 66 to 76 inches long, and 300cc ATVs are the longest option at 70 to 75 inches. You can also opt for 350cc engines that come equipped with a longer but thinner body, with a length range of 76 to 79 inches.

400-500cc

400 to 500cc ATVs are among the most popular sizes to purchase because they’re the most versatile options. They’re also large enough to use on farms, trails, and across ranches, but they also don’t cost as much as the bigger sizes. 

When the price is right, the majority of ATV riders enjoy this size. As women are often smaller in stature than men, this is the ideal size for them. The length of these ATVs ranges from 72 to 94 inches long. There are not that many sizing options to discuss between this range; however, 450cc ATVs can range from 71 to 83 inches.  

550-650cc

The next size up is for people who enjoy competitive trail riding and hauling items around. This size is often also necessary for taller people to allow for their extra weight and height. These ATVs range in length from 84 to 94 inches, and they stick to the status quo with an average width of 46 to 48 inches. 

700-1000cc

This size of ATV is for serious riders only, with people who enjoy aggressively trail riding, climbing hills, mud play, and hunting. 700 to 1000cc is also usually the correct size for the average male who enjoys riding often. This can be put down to their additional height and weight difference from females. 

700cc models have a general length of 72 to 93 inches. 800cc ATVs can come in a varying length from 83 to 94 inches, and 1000cc vehicles range from 84 to 95 inches. These ATVs are not only the most powerful, but they’re also the most expensive. These should only be purchased for advanced and serious ATV users.  

How to determine the right size of ATV for you

Now that you know a little more about how ATVs are sized, the next step is to determine which size is the best option for you. There are a few factors that you should consider so that you can make an informed decision about this, and we’re going to discuss them below. 

Your Size

Your height and weight aren’t the main consideration to think about when choosing the right size of ATV for you, but it’s a good starting point and it’s always worth thinking about. A good rule of thumb to follow is that people under a height of 5 foot 10 inches will need a smaller ATV, and people over that height will need a larger ATV. 

The different ATV sizes don’t come with clear size requirements, so the best thing to do is to get on a few different sizes and get a feel of the different lengths and widths. As we detailed above, there are subtle differences in the sizes of each ATV, and you might prefer the feel of a larger ATV despite being under 5 foot 10 inches. 

Just remember that you need to be safely secured to the ATV and comfortable enough to ride it throughout the entire duration of your activity. Don’t choose an ATV where the handlebars feel too far away to be comfortable for hours on end, because this could compromise your safety. 

Riding Style

The style of riding that you’re anticipating using is going to affect the size of the ATV that you use. Of course, every rider is going to enjoy using different techniques and ride throughout the trails in different ways, so fitting your riding style into one box can be difficult. 

Having said that, there does tend to be three different riding styles that are the most commonly used. Even if you don’t think that you’re conforming to a typical riding style, read the descriptions below, and see if your style relates to one of them the most. This will give you a better understanding of the correct ATV size for you. 

The ‘wouldn’t dare push the ATV’ riders

These riders don’t feel the need to try their luck with the ATV and are perfectly happy riding around at a sensible speed. They typically use the ATV to travel around their farms, acres, or property to transport items or plow snow, for example. 

The maximum speed is almost never reached, and they don’t use the ATV for long periods of time because they don’t have to. These machines are often ideal for beginners or people who don’t want to ride their vehicles for longer than they have to. The ideal ATV size for these riders is 200 to 450cc. 

The ‘enjoy testing the ATVs limits’ riders

This type of rider is the most common, because who doesn’t like testing the limits a little? We’re sure we’ve all tried to reach the maximum speed of our vehicles, whether it be a car on the freeway or an ATV over an easy trail. 

These riders often need to put more effort and care into their ATV search because they’re going to be using it for longer periods of time, which means the vehicle needs to be comfortable enough to withstand these consecutive hours.

Although they might be going over advanced trails, these riders don’t necessarily dive straight through the muddy marsh. Instead, they take the more sensible approach and ride around it. 

Farmers may also prefer this size of ATV if they’re looking to use their vehicle for more than just transportation. These ATVs can be used for dragging heavy equipment to where it needs to be. For these riders, we’d suggest 450 to 700cc ATVs. 

The ‘aggressively test the ATV’ riders

Finally, these riders want to get the most out of their time on the ATV trails. They’ll speed with little care of puddles and ditches, and they’ll race up the side of a steep hill without even stopping to think about what could be on the other side. 

Hunters, particularly that of game, make the most of large ATVs because their prey moves so quickly. Of course, it makes sense that the biggest ATVs are suitable for these riders, and they’re going to be 700 to 1000cc in size. 

The Environment

The environment where you’re going to be riding your ATV is another important factor to consider before committing to one size. The environment - whether it’s flat or hilly, open, or full of tight corners - will impact the size that you need. Knowing where you’re going to be riding your ATV the most will allow you to determine how much power you need.

The last thing you want to do is opt for a 400cc ATV to ride across sand dunes, only to find that the vehicle does not have enough power to take you up the first incline. Not only will rolling backward down a hill be very embarrassing in front of your peers, but it can also be dangerous. 

Easy trails that are relatively flat and simple often only require an ATV up to 500cc in size, but harder trails are often more taxing and require a larger ATV. Trails that include a lot of steep hills will require an ATV sized 500 to 700cc. Finally, 700 to 1000cc ATVs are needed for boggy and marshy trails, as well as sandy or harsh terrains. 

Depending on your skill level and how much you want to challenge yourself, you’ll need a correlating size of ATV. You need your ATV to be able to keep up with you through the exhilarating challenges you’re bound to face. 

Additional Passengers

As we’ve already mentioned, there are two types of ATVs on the market - type I and type II. The latter size is, of course, larger than the former, so if you’re anticipating taking passengers on rides with your ATV, this is something to consider before purchasing a type I ATV. Type II models are long enough for two passengers to use it safely - safely being the operative word. 

Sure, you could use a 1000cc ATV for two people due to its generous length, but if the manufacturer hasn’t built it for two people, you could be compromising the safety of both you and your passengers. 

Joint Custody

You should evaluate who you’re going to let ride your ATV because they will also need to be factored into the equation. For example, if a 6-foot tall man purchases a 700cc ATV and wants to share it with a 5-foot tall female, the vehicle is not going to be safe for the woman to drive. 

Similarly, are you going to let children or teenagers learn how to ride on your ATV? If the answer is yes, you should consider opting for a smaller model to allow for them to learn the basics before jumping into the deep end. Friends are another consideration - although they might be the same build as you, their experience level might not be up to yours.

If you decide to let others ride your ATV, you need to consider their skill set before purchasing one. Giving a beginner a 1000cc ATV to ride might intimidate them or even harm them if they don’t know what they’re doing.

Newbies and teenagers will need to get their bearings on a 400 to 550cc ATV, while spouses who share the vehicle will need to compromise on a 550 to 700cc model. We’d say that the 550 to 700cc range is the safest bet to go for when you’re going to be sharing your ATV - it’s not too small that you can’t do anything with it, but not powerful enough to scare beginners away. 

What About the Children?

Now that we’ve covered the bases if you’re planning on buying yourself or another adult an ATV, but what if you’re shopping for a child? Children can ride ATVs and most of them enjoy the activity immensely, but how do you know what size to purchase for your child? Here we’ll discuss the right sizes for children so that you don’t have to worry about buying them a vehicle that is too big or powerful for them. 

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has published some guidelines concerning youth-sized ATVs. These guidelines are very insightful and we advise you to read them before committing to a purchase. However, if you don’t have time to do so, we will outline a few in this article. 

The CPSC guidelines are as follows:

  • Children under the age of six should not ride ATVs. 
  • Ages 6 to 11 should ride 50cc ATVs. 
  • Ages 12 to 15 should ride 70 to 90cc ATVs. 
  • Ages 16 and above should ride 125 to 700cc ATVs.

As you can see, the guidelines are very broad and simplistic, which is why many people have a difficult time comprehending them. Sure, the guidelines tell you the maximum size of the ATV that a child should be riding when it comes to their age, but 125 to 700cc is a vast range that leaves little explanation of what to do next. 

These guidelines will only help you so much in choosing the correct size for a child, and there are other considerations to think about before blindly following the CPSC guidelines. It’s also worth checking whether the state that you’re in has any rules concerning children and ATVs. You don’t want to invertedly be breaking the law, do you? 

Looking from the outside in, youth ATVs look almost identical to adult vehicles - just smaller in size. However, the size of the engines is much smaller and less powerful than adult counterparts for obvious reasons. 

Don’t be fooled by the small size; however, some youth ATVs can pack a punch if they’re designed to be used for youth competitive racing. If you don’t want to buy your child an ATV that they can use to go riding off into the sunset within seconds, the engine size is very important to pay attention to. 

Youth ATVs are generally not constructed as well as adult versions because they’re often not taken as seriously. Don’t worry, we don’t mean that the youth ATV that you buy is going to combust into smoke and flames as soon as you get it out of the box, but it is worth remembering that the manufacturers are likely not to have put as much care and attention into the process. 

For this reason, if your child is going to be riding without your supervision, you might want to take extra precautions when it comes to the quality of the ATV. Don’t just go for the cheapest model, but also don’t be fooled by the most expensive models - these could just as easily be of poor quality. 

The best way to get around this is to use a trusted seller and take a test drive where possible. If you’re a seasoned ATV driver, you should be able to tell the quality of the vehicle while running it for a few minutes. Of course, you might not fit on the seat very well, so perhaps settle for pushing it around next to you.

To size your child up next to an ATV and see if it is the correct option for them, ask them to put their feet on both of the footrests with their hands on the handlebars. In this position, you should be able to see at least three inches between your child and the seat. This will allow enough room to act as a buffer between them and the ATV to avoid injury. 

Your child should also be able to have full control of the handlebars, meaning that they should be able to turn them all the way to both sides. This is a safety measure to ensure that your child will have full control of the ATV while it’s in operation. 

Make sure that they can use the throttle and brake without any hassle, with only one hand if the ATV has been built with this intention. Finally, check that your child can move their weight from one side to the other, and front to back. This allows you to see how they will balance on the vehicle to avoid them falling off and injuring themselves. 

You should test your child on multiple sizes of ATVs following our advice above. Testing more than one model will give you a better understanding and idea of which size is best for your child. Remember, as children are always growing and developing, you might need to update the ATV as they grow. 

Although replacing the old ATV with a new one costs more money and might make you unwilling to do so, it’s important to remember that the safety of your child comes first. Unfortunately, the majority of injuries and death associated with ATVs involve children, so the correct size of ATV for your child is essential. 

The Difference Between ATVs and UTVs

UTVs are just like any other ATV, except for the difference in size. ATVs are often only made for one passenger in mind, although some can come with space for two people to share the seat. UTVs; however, either house enough space for two or four people. Think of an ATV and a car mashed up into one beast of a vehicle. 

UTVs appeal to some people more than ATVs does because of a few interesting features and benefits. For starters, you don’t have to depend on moving your body while you’re riding to keep your balance. UTVs have a wider surface area which makes them more stabilized and secure than ATVs. 

However, ATVs can be much more convenient if you’d prefer to ride faster or competitively race through trails. ATVs are much more nimble than UTVs because they don’t need to accommodate more than two passengers. This is very beneficial if you’re going to be traveling through tight areas and corners. ATVs also allow you to take these corners at a much faster speed.

UTVs are better for people who are looking for convenience while they travel across their acres or farms. They’re also more comfortable; however, this might be due to the fact that you won’t be driving as quickly. Anyhow, if you want a more comfortable and relaxing experience, UTVs might be the way to go.

On the other hand, ATVs are great if you want to transport it easily on the back of your truck or car. Trying to transport a UTV on the back of your truck will be much more difficult, so if you want an easily transportable vehicle that needs to be used in different locations all the time, an  ATV might be the best option for you. 

However, if you’d prefer to transport bigger loads or more people, a UTV is definitely the preferred option. UTVs will provide you with more strength to transport heavier items such as tools, machinery, and even an ATV! 

ATVs are smaller than UTVs, which makes sense why the former is much less expensive than the latter. This doesn’t just apply to the long run - ATVs are also cheaper to upgrade and repair. Should you need to update the suspension or the four-wheel drive, the bill will be much smaller if you have an ATV. 

Finally, UTVs are better for people who love to show off and impress their peers with personalization. The UTVs give you more space and options to let your creativity run free and make your vehicle your own. You also have more options to improve the performance of the UTV. This type of vehicle is the best choice if you’re constantly wanting to update your belongings. 

Four-Wheel Drive

Moving back to talking primarily about ATVs, the number of wheels you opt to drive with is another factor to think about when choosing the size of your vehicle. ATVs can come with two- or four-wheel drive and the option you choose will depend on the environment you’re planning on riding in. 

Four wheels are better though muddy puddles and marshy fields, as well as steep inclines. The additional wheels help your vehicle to haul itself over large items such as rocks and branches. Four wheels offer you more strength to move and transport things with your ATV, so if you’re planning on using your ATV for hauling, four-wheel drive is almost certainly preferred. 

On the other hand, a two-wheel drive is better for people who want to save money and who aren’t going to be driving across particularly harrowing terrain. Most people will advise you to opt for a four-wheel drive, but if you want to save money and don’t think you’ll need it, feel free to choose a two-wheel-drive ATV. 

A lot of four-wheel-drive ATVs come with a button that you can press to switch between two- and four-wheel drive. The ability to switch between the two is very beneficial because you can decide which setting you want to use for each use. 

Some higher-quality ATVs even come with automatic sensors that switch between two- and four-wheel drive without the driver having to do a single thing. This is another great benefit if you think that you’re going to be using both of the options a lot; however, the added bonus will certainly heighten the price point. 

What About Three-Wheeled ATVs?

Three-wheeled ATVs sound good in theory; however, they were discontinued over thirty years ago. Despite that, there are still a few models floating around on the market. We would advise you to not opt for this type of ATV because they were discontinued for a reason. 

Three-wheeled ATVs were much more common to flip over and cause injury to the driver. This is because the one front wheel causes less stability, making accidents much more likely. Also, people tend to use three-wheeled ATVs to perform unsafe stunts such as wheelies. 

We would always advise against choosing one of these ATVs and instead promote opting for a new four-wheeled ATV. 

Final Say

We hope that you’ve found something insightful within our article and that you feel more confident about how to size an ATV to your personal experiences. The size of the ATV that you need will depend on your body size, where you’re going to be riding, how you’re going to be riding, and whether or not you’re going to share the ATV with other people. 

Sizing ATVs for children is different from adults and you should be even more careful when choosing the correct size for a child than an adult. As the CPSC guidelines are pretty vague, there are a few methods of how to choose the best size for your child. 

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