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What are the Different Types of ATVs?

Kids on ATVs
Kids on ATVsMatt Finley

ATVs come in many different shapes and sizes. The different types of ATVs are designed and manufactured for different uses including racing, pit-vehicles, recreation, hunting, ranching, military, emergency services and industrial. Just about anything you can think of.

While the most common type of ATV is of the four-wheeled variety, there are also ATVs that come with three, six or even eight wheels. And there are some eco-friendly ATVs hitting the market that run on batteries like the Model One EUV from Barefoot Motors.

The different types of ATVs range in size from as small as 50cc youth ATVs up to 700cc Sport quads, 800cc Utility ATVs, and SxS' going over 1,000cc.

The size of most engines are measured in Cubic Centimeters, or "cc". This measures the volume of the cylinder. For multiple cylinder engines, the "cc" measurement is of all cylinders combined.

Aside from the number of wheels and different sizes of ATVs, there is also a distinct difference in ATVs based on its intended application. The most popular types of 4 wheeled ATVs are the 4-wheel drive Utility ATVs, Sport ATVs and Side by Sides.

Utility ATVs

Utility ATVs are the most popular type of ATV. This type of ATV typically has short travel suspension, a big motor and more accessories designed for working or hunting.

Utility ATVs are used in industries such as agriculture and ranching where repair work, feeding and other tasks are done. They are also very popular with hunters who traverse rugged terrain, often carrying heavy cargo. Electric ATVs are becoming popular with hunters because they can move more quietly.

You see a lot of Utility ATVs being ridden at recreation spots like desert OHV areas and on private property. Some are bought with every intention of being used as a tool but often see just as much recreation time, which isn’t a bad thing.

Sport ATVs

Sport ATVs are the second most popular type of ATV in the USA. Ranging in size from 250cc on up to 700cc, these All Terrain Vehicles are lightweight, have lots of suspension to handle jumps, bumps and turns. These quads can be highly modified and enhanced with literally thousands of accessories to alter style and performance based on numerous criteria.

Sport ATVs are much quicker than their utility based brethren and extra care goes in to designing them to be as light as possible with very forgiving suspension and responsive engines. Sport quads are used in sanctioned racing because of their speed and suspension advantages over other different types of ATVs.

Side by Sides

Side by Side ATVs are sometimes referred to as SxS or Rhino’s. They’re like golf carts, only with suspension equal to that of sport quads, with larger, more powerful motors. SxS, with their ability to carry passengers and cargo, their light weight, extreme suspension and short wheel-base, are able to take you and your friends to places you might not have thought possible.

SxS are becoming the most popular of the different types of ATVs in small rural communities. Some towns allow them to be registered on-highway use. They are used as “pit vehicles” at races and other events to provide more versatility in transportation and mobility. Fire and Rescue or military often get them highly modified for specific applications.

Children's ATV

Children's ATVs are smaller than the other different types of ATVs. They usually come between 50cc and 110cc, and in some cases go up to 125cc. They offer little or no suspension, little power and an automatic transmission or no gears at all.

Youth ATVs are geared towards riders with little or no previous riding experience. Children’s ATVs are usually limited to weights that do not exceed around 100 to 150 lbs depending on the make and model.