HOW TO: Get ready for winter fun!

Products & tips for man & machine

As the temperature drops during the winter months, our riding duties at the magazine do not stop. In California, the riding actually gets a lot better during the winter. The dirt is moist, the traction is plentiful, and the air temperature is comfortable for long rides. However, for some of you living in or going to the colder climates of the world, riding in the winter is a whole different experience. To get you ready for winter time fun, we put together some helpful tips and a look at several products that will help you enjoy those frigid winter rides.

Most of your wintertime riding might involve chores around the house or farm. If this is the case, a seat warmer, grip and thumb warmers will make the job much more comfortable.

This unique paddle wheel works well in mud or snow and is lighter than a typical snow track. You can get them through 4 Paw at Wearing warm gear in the winter will not always make you happy. Getting your ATV winter ready is just as important. However, good warm clothing will keep you warm on and off of your ATV.


When you are readying your ATV for a cold winter ride, it is a good idea to check the air pressure in your tires. When the temperature drops, so does tire air pressures. It’s not uncommon to lose two to three psi in a tire with a dramatic temperature drop; and that’s a lot when an average ATV tires only requires four to eight pounds for safe operations.
In real icy conditions you might want to look into running a set of studded tires. To go the cheap route, you can add hundreds of tiny square edge sheet metal screws to the knobbies of your tires. Or if you’re a little more serious about traction, you can get purpose built ice spikes to outfit your tires. Or to save the hassle of installation, you can buy tires already outfitted with the ice spikes. Companies like, (412) 824-8850, specialize in spiked ATV tires. Their spike-quipped Maxxis tires are on the expensive side with a price range of $225-$315.
To go a different route, Maxxis has a snow-specific tire called M910-4snow. These tires are available in tall, 22-inch sport quad tires only.
For the ultimate in traction, you might want to look in to one of the track systems offered by either Apache, Mattracks, Tatou or 4Paw. These systems are for the deepest snow only and may not work that great for all around cold weather riding. However, the Apache, Tatou and Mattracks products will allow you to take your quad into snow of any depth. Their large footprint helps distribute the weight of your machine so it doesn’t sink.

The Thermo cap from LC Enterprises will fit on most ATVs. It’s an easy way to keep track of temperatures all year long. They are available in 13 and 16-pound units in a variety of colors. Give them a call at (951) 940-6068 or visit them on line at
A simple half windshield like this one from Extreme Metal Products, (216) 267-5335, will do wonders for keeping cold air out of the cab of a UTV. They direct the cold air right up and over the occupants while not trapping dust or fogging up like full windshields do.

Now that you have decided to keep riding this winter, there are a few ways to keep your quad’s engine performing at its best in the cold. One is to change you engine oil to a lighter weight during the winter. This will make starting easier and warmup time quicker.
For example, if you run a 20/50 weight oil during the summer, change to a 10/40 or 10/30 during the winter. The same can go for the gear oil found in your front and rear differentials.
It is critical to check and change your radiator fluid before the temperature goes below freezing. During this time of year, straight water in a radiator and circulating through the engine could cause catastrophic damage if it freezes.
When water freezes it expands, and your engine’s cylinder and head will not. Freezing water (when the quad sits) could cause cracks in your cooling system. In most conditions a simple 50/50 mixture of a brand name antifreeze and water is enough to keep your quad’s liquid-cooling from freezing.
As far as running your quad in extremely cold temperatures, it is imperative that you make sure your quad’s engine is up to a proper operating temperature before the riding begins; this should be over 100 degrees. Optimum water temperature is 190 degrees. On most radiator fan equipped quads, you will see the fan kick on at about 210 degrees then shut off when the water cools down to around 180.
The best way to keep track of engine and water temperature is with a quality gauge. There are several styles to choose from; CV Products has a temp strip you can stick to a flat spot on the radiator, and ESR has an inline temp gauge that you install in your lower radiator hose. The most unique gauge we have found is the LC Enterprises Thermo Cap that replaces your stock radiator cap. This product has a built in temperature gauge and automatic relief valve set at 13 or 16 psi, in case your engine starts to boil over. All of these gauges can and should be used year round.
Most ATVs are designed to work in all types of weather conditions and they do it well. However, one mechanical component needs to be paid attention to, and that is drum brakes. If your machine has drum brakes, you want to make sure the drums do not collect water then sit, or they will freeze.
As in any weather conditions, be sure your brakes are operating properly before you get up to speed. In most cases, a frozen drum brake will not allow your wheels to turn rather than not stop your quad. If this is the case, a light tap with a hammer, stick or rock on the drum will free them, or simply rock the machine back and forth until they free up. The friction of movement will eventually thaw all of the frozen water.

Rain gear over the top of warm clothing works well to keep cold wind off of you and the snow will not penetrate it and turn you into a popsicle.


Probably the most important part of fun winter riding is keeping yourself warm when out on the trail. Along with winter riding gear, there are a variety of other products you can install on your ATV to deflect cold temperatures.
Simple handguards or rock deflectors will keep your fingers from freezing up. On a cold day, at near freezing temperatures, the wind chill of a quad traveling at 30 mph is 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

ATVs can run a street bike style windshield to cut down the wind chill. At 30mph, 30-degree weather can feel like 15 degrees. Go any faster, and the temperature drops as well. One of the most unique ways to stay warm on cold rides is with the ATV Cocoon. The poncho type garment snaps onto your quad’s fenders and traps engine heat around your body. If it gets a little warm all you have to do is undo a few snaps or open up the collar.

More comfort for your hands can be found in the form of grip warmers. These battery powered flat strips of metal can be installed under your grips and switched on when needed. Typically they don’t get hot enough to melt your grips, and work well enough that you won’t need to wear extra thick gloves when you go riding. Companies like Kimpex, Rocky Mountain ATV and Moose have seat, grip and thumb warmer products in a reasonable price range between $16-$50.
One of the most unique ways to stay warm when your are riding this winter is with the ATV Cocoon. This product is like a big poncho or overcoat that you wear, and then it snaps onto your ATV’s bodywork. The $99 Cocoon traps engine heat and comes with its own storage bag so you can keep it handy and ready to use when the temperature drops. The ATV Cocoon will deflect wind, rain and bitter cold and will unsnap from the ATV immediately if needed. ATV Cocoons are available in red, blue, green and Real Tree Max4 camo colors.
For UTV drivers, a windscreen or a full cab straight from your dealer or companies like Moose and Curtis will keep both occupants warm day or night. One we like is the Curtis RCS (rapid convertible system) cab, because it can be mounted in seconds by just one person after all of the hanging hardware is installed. Curtis has these quality cab systems for the all Rhinos and the Teryx. Give them a call and stay warm.

Mattracks, (218) 436-7000
Apache, Can-Am dealer
4Paw, (503) 625-9786
Maxxis, (770) 962-8229
ATV Cocoon, (800) 810-4840
Rocky Mountain ATV,
Curtis Cabs, (800) 343-7676
CV Products, (800) 448-1223
ESR, (805) 489-1999
LC Enterprises, (951) 940-6068
Tatou, (800) 336-5437

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