Which ATV is the right one for you? By D. West


In this issue you’ll find our annual “Dirt Wheels ATV Buyer’s Guide.” It has every quad available for 2020. The number of ATVs on this year’s list is about the same number as on last year’s list. What that means is the ATV market still holds its own even with the continued growth of the UTV market. Your local powersports dealer may sell more UTVs these days, but not everyone prefers a steering wheel over handlebars. The sales of quads remain high enough that the manufacturers still make a point to offer a good choice of machines for that audience.

4×4 riders get the biggest choice of machines these days. The lowest-priced 4x4s are in the 400- to 450-size range. From there the price can go up considerably depending on how much power and fancy features you want. A word of advice for beginner riders: a 1000cc, twin-cylinder 4×4 should not be your very first quad. Those things can do 0 to 60 mph about as quick as today’s fast motorcycles. It takes some riding experience to avoid sudden surprises caused by an overly anxious right thumb.

The most significant advancements for 4×4 quads this year comes in the form of improved sport performance. In other words, some of them now come with awesome suspension that features sophisticated shocks and more wheel travel. They can go so quickly down twisty trails that we now include these top-level 4x4s in the sport quad category. For 2020 Polaris has even increased the width of their Scrambler and Sportsman 4x4s to improve cornering at higher speeds.

For the traditional sport quad rider who prefers chain drive and a solid rear axle, this year’s “ATV Buyer’s Guide” doesn’t offer him any additional choices over last year. However, the good news is that he can still find two fast options at his Yamaha dealer. The Raptor 700 and YFZ450R continue to get technical advancements even without any competition. This could not be said in previous years when Yamaha’s Banshee was the only high-performance quad available. It stayed pretty much the same for nearly 20 years. But still, we applaud Yamaha for being the one manufacturer who has always made sure to offer sport quads in its lineup. 

One area that the manufacturers still do a good job is providing excellent ATVs for young riders. In this “Buyer’s  Guide” we have them listed in the Youth category. The 50cc models are engineered well for the skill level of the youngest riders, and when they grow a little bigger, the 90cc models will fit them just right. For a beginner teenager, the best machine might be a 250cc quad with an automatic clutch or CVT. These can be found in the sport quad section, but their power level is easily controlled by a novice rider.

Okay, so which ATV in this “Buyer’s Guide” is the right one for you? Have fun making up your mind as you study the photos, list of features and specs.

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