TOP 10 4×4 ATV UPGRADES
— The right accessory parts make a difference —
By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Perhaps there are people who buy an off-road machine on a whim, but most of us need a reason, or even reasons, that we need or want it to justify the cost. From the moment that 4×4 quads hit the market, they have been popular with buyers. For many years the majority of reasons people had for purchasing a 4×4 quad had to do with utility. Buyers selected 4×4 quads to work on the farm, to travel to fishing holes, to carry game out of the woods or to transport camping gear. People still buy 4×4 quads for all of those reasons, but now there are more reasons. For one, people buy them because they are simply fun to ride. As sport riders more frequently choose 4×4 quads for fun riding, the manufacturers have made them more fun to ride. The current crop of IRS, EPS 4×4 quads are amazingly fun to ride, but are as effective at working as they ever were. More than a few riders buy 4×4 quads primarily to play in the mud, and there are even a few that buy them to race.
A modern 4×4 quad, and especially one with IRS and EPS, will take you farther than any straight-axle sport quad, and they do so in comfort. We have reached trails on 4x4s that sport quads will never see. Like most stock machines, these hot-selling ATVs benefit from upgrades to protect them from trail abuse, perfect them for your favorite activities, or get them ready for specific types of riding or competition. We generated a list of useful parts that we suggest you mount up to your favorite 4×4!
What fun is riding a 4×4 if you aren’t occasionally directing the wheels towards questionable obstacles? Fortunately, we generally install a winch on our machines, in addition to carrying tow ropes and shackles. Companies like Warn make winches for all types of ATVs. They require little modification to install.
Most 4×4 ATVs have cargo racks installed on them. These racks can be utilized to tie down equipment for ranch use, mount rack bags or boxes to store trail tools, and much more. Once or twice a year we make it a point to strap rack bags to our rides, and fill them with camping equipment, tools and food. Then we head out for a night or two of camping.
There are many different companies that make rack bags, gun boots and other storage solutions for off-roading on ATVs. Make sure you adjust your machine’s suspension for any additional weight you add to your machine.
Front and rear bumpers are another important protection item. Generally, a front bumper is more crucial riding in adverse conditions. Most 4x4s have the radiator up front, and one trail-dance with a tree could destroy vital parts your machine needs to make sure you get home safely. Bumpers also act as hand-holds or lift, tow and winch points if you get stuck.
We are always fans of anything that protects our expensive machines from damage. 4×4 ATVs have plenty of moving parts, some of those can break if they aren’t guarded. We always start by installing either aluminum or poly skid plates onto our 4×4 machines. This protects the underside of the quad from rocks, trees and any other trail debris that might find its way through the light-duty stock skids. Quality skid plates can prevent frame tubes from bending or crushing. Companies like Ricochet Off-Road offer full belly skids, along with A-arm guards. A-arm guards lessen the chance of you bending your control arms and protect your axles.
It is no secret that stock ATV grips tend to be a bit uncomfortable and stiff. Fortunately, that’s a cheap and easy fix. There are many ATV grip companies that offer softer and more comfortable compounds. Don’t forget about heated grips for cold conditions.
Hand/brush guards aren’t always necessary, but if you ride in bushes and trees constantly, they certainly help protect your hands. We have had branches stick in our controls, rocks from roost bust our knuckles and had wet and cold digits. Another good suggestion is to purchase fleece-lined hand mitts for cold weather riding. They slide over your controls and provide a layer over your hands to keep them warm.
ELECTRONIC POWER STEERING
The 4×4 ATV market remains the best-selling ATV segment. The flavor range is vast, and a lot of manufacturers offer models with electronic power steering. If you can spend the extra coin while purchasing a new machine, get EPS. This isn’t a suggestion, it’s an order! If you already purchased your ride and want to cut down on fatigue and add comfort and control, install an EPS kit. SuperATV offers kits for many different makes and models!
WHEELS & TIRES
A proper wheel and tire setup for the trails you love to ride can be crucial. Stock tires are general all-terrains that work well at most things but might not be great at anything. Generally, the standard tire carcass ply rating is 6, and they make 4×4 tires from 4–10-ply and sometimes more. Flat prevention is great, but so is a great tracking tire for what you ride. There are mud, rock, sand and desert terrain-specific treads to choose from. Make sure you get the right rubber for your ride!
Stock wheels do the job, but you can’t go wrong with a beadlock wheel that lessens the chance of blowing a bead off the rim and will keep your tire attached when you get a flat. Wheels also come with wider offsets so your quad will feel more stable if you like wide-open, high-speed riding.
Higher-end ATVs (generally sport 4x4s) come with great shocks these days. However, most stock shocks are basic and don’t come with much adjustment. You have options! You can go to companies like Elka Suspension or Fox to purchase multiple performance levels of new shocks. If your shocks can be disassembled, you can contact shock rebuild companies that will rebuild yours with new springs and valving.
Work and play never stop, so dim lighting shouldn’t cause you to quit. Hunters, hardcore trail riders and ranchers don’t turn their rides off just because the sun goes down, so we have great reasons to suggest improving your lighting.
You can find stock replacement bulbs, high-output LED light bars, pod lights and more. LED lights are very bright without drawing a lot of power from your charging system. Many companies offer quality lighting products for your rig. You may have to get crafty with mounting solutions for certain ATVs.
An entire portion of the off-road aftermarket caters to riders messing with mud. The products that allow you to play Captain Nemo with your 4×4 quad literally fill entire catalogs. There are snorkel intake kits, highly specialized tires, unique wheels, lift kits, portal gear-reduction units, high-clearance suspension components and more. Clutch kits are big winners here as well, though they are not limited to mud. Just about any CVT-equipped quad can benefit from a clutch kit. There are good reasons to upgrade to a better air filter as well.