The Best Trail Blazers for ATV Riders
One of the best parts of ATVs is that they have so many uses. Maybe you can use it as a tool on the farm, or for fun on the sand dunes. ATVs can even help with rescue and emergency missions. But for every use, there’s a different type of ATV. The same ATV that gets you over rocky terrain in the mountains isn’t going to help much on muddy riding trails. So maybe you’ve discovered that the ATV you have isn’t exactly suited to your local riding conditions. Well, never fear, the folks from TMS are here! Let’s tell you about eight of the best ATVs for trail riding!
What Makes an ATV Good for Trail Riding?
Like we said above, not all ATVs are made the same. So what are the qualities that make a good ATV for trail riding?
- Drivetrain – If you’re going to be out on the trails, conditions won’t always be perfect. Getting stuck in the mud, towing out a buddy, these are all things that are going to regularly happen. ATVs with adjustable 2WD, 4WD, and differential locking will help you get through any terrain. Luckily most ATVs come fully equipped these days, but it’s something you want to make sure of before you make a purchase.
- Storage space – One of the best parts about trail riding is making a day of it! Whether you’re out for a few hours or sunup to sundown, bringing supplies is a necessity. Of course, you want drinks and snacks, but also you need to be prepared for emergency situations. First aid kits and towing tools are just a couple of things you should always bring with you.
- Good shocks and tires – Trail riding can mean all sorts of different things. Steep inclines, rocky trails, mud, you name it. Having a good set of shocks is going to help you get through all of it without a sore saddle. Tires are going to be just as important if you want to make it through without getting towed the whole way.
The Best ATVs for Trail Riding
Now that we know what we’re looking for, let’s take a look at some models. Not every model on our list hits all of these marks 10/10, but every rider and need is a little different. Even though we’re talking about trail-riders today, there are just so many ways and reasons to ride out there. From National Forests to private trail systems, these are some of the absolute best trail riding ATVs for beginner riders all the way up to the pros!
8. Yamaha Raptor 700R
- Engine Type – 686cc liquid-cooled SOHC 4-stroke; 4 valves
- Transmission – 5-speed with reverse; wet multi-plate clutch
- Drivetrain – X-ring chain; 2WD
- Dimensions – 72.6 in x 45.5 in x 43.9 in
The Yamaha Raptor 700R is a great multi-use ATV. It’s classified as a sport which means it’s good for a few different types of riding, and trail riding is one of them. The 700R has the distinction of being the best-selling ATV of all time, so there are years of experience to prove just how good it really is.
The Raptor has a few nice creature comforts. It has a seat that was meant for long rides, and also an electric starter for reliable ignition. However, you do need to keep in mind that the trails weren’t the only thing this ATV was designed for. It lacks a few of the more rugged features you’ll see in some of the other ATVs we talk about, but this is great for beginner riders who are transitioning from road to trails and other terrains.
7. Kawasaki Brute Force 750 4x4i EPS
- Engine type – 4-stroke, V-twin, SOHC, liquid-cooled
- Transmission – Automatic CVT (H,L,N,R)
- Drivetrain – Selectable 2WD/4WD with variable control front differential lock, shaft
- Dimensions – 86.4 in x 46.5 in x 48.0 in
If you’ve got a little more experience and want something a little more rugged, the Kawasaki Brute Force is a great model. It’s a solidly built machine, ready to tackle rocks, mud, and steep inclines. It also has racks on the front and back for tying storage compartments to or anything else!
Something else to consider is all of the accessories you can get for the Brute Force. In addition to putting miles of trail behind you, it’s also great for working on your property. There are available windshields, snowplows, and more to make your toy into a workhorse when you need it.
6. Polaris Sportsman XP 1000
- Engine Type – 952cc liquid-cooled ProStar SOHC 4-Stroke Twin Cylinder
- Transmission – Automatic PVT P/R/N/L/H; Shaft Drive
- Drivetrain – True On-Demand AWD/2WD
- Dimensions – 83.25 in x 47.6 in x 50.75 in
Not everyone is on the trail just to clock some miles. The Polaris Sportsman XP1000 is an ATV made with hunters in mind. Whether you’re out before sunrise or after dusk, you’re covered with high-intensity LED lightings. The Sportsman has an optional, easily detachable gun scabbard to fit your rifle or shotgun. It also has extended front and rear racks for you to fit more trophies on.
We know hunters are pretty rugged folks, but we all want those creature-comforts. That’s why the Sportsman comes with hand and thumb warmers so you can keep all the feeling in them whether you’re out before sunrise or getting back to camp from a full day. When you need to be prepared for a full day, you can go out in the morning knowing that Polaris has your back.
5. Can-Am Renegade X MR 570
- Engine Type – Rotax 570 cc V-twin, snorkeled, liquid-cooled
- Transmission – CVT, P / R / N / H / L, standard engine braking
- Drivetrain – Selectable 2WD / 4WD with Visco-Lok QE auto-locking front differential
- Dimensions – 83 in x 50 in x 56 in
If you live for flinging mud, you can’t do much better than the Can-Am Renegade X MR 570. With a snorkeled engine coming stock on this beast, it was absolutely made to get you through anything. Fully stocked with mud-guards, skid-plates, wind-deflectors, you’re practically ready for a hurricane.
It also has arched double A-arm with a front sway bar for front-suspension and Torsional Trailing arm Independent (TTI) in the rear. If you treat the trails like an endurance test, this is the perfect ATV for you. Unless you’re a glutton for punishment or something.
4. Honda Fourtrax Foreman Rubicon 4×4
- Engine Type – 518cc liquid-cooled OHV longitudinally mounted single-cylinder four-stroke engine
- Transmission – Five-speed manual with reverse
- Drivetrain – Direct front and rear driveshafts with TraxLok® and locking front differential
- Dimensions – 84.5 in x 47.4 in x 48.6 in
The folks at Honda Powersports are always pushing the envelope with innovative ATVs. The Fourtrax Foreman Rubicon 4×4 is, of course, no exception. The newest model features a larger engine, front and rear racks, a better reversing system, a new utility box, and so much more.
Most importantly, it features the independent suspension and comfort that Honda is known for. It’s an easy machine to ride all day without feeling it in the morning. Whether you’re tackling mud and dirt, rocks and road adventures, the Fourtrax will help you get to your next destination, or just to have fun.
3. Polaris Scrambler XP 1000
- Engine Type – 952cc, liquid-cooled ProStar SOHC 4-Stroke Twin Cylinder
- Transmission – Automatic PVT P/R/N/L/H; Shaft Drive
- Drivetrain – On-Demand True AWD/2WD
- Dimensions – 82.5 in x 55 in x 49.5 in
Another company that’s known for pushing boundaries! The Polaris Scrambler XP 1000 is toted as “the world’s biggest, baddest ATV”. The Scrambler stands at a staggering 55 inches wide and 14.5 inches of ground clearance, making it one of the most stable machines you could ask for.
While the Scrambler lacks the racks and storage capabilities of some of the others on our list, it’s hard to match the durability. This machine was made to tackle any kind of terrain you ask for and then some. While it might not be the best ATV for going out for a full day of hunting, it is definitely an ATV that can be pushed as far as your passion for riding will take it.
2. Suzuki KingQuad 500 AXi
- Engine Type – 493cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, 4-valve, OHC single cylinder
- Transmission – CVT-type automatic shaft drive
- Drivetrain – 2WD, 4WD, and 4WD Differential Lock
- Dimensions – 84.6 in x 47.8 in x 50.6 in
Suzuki is the originators of the 4-wheeled ATV, so it’s no surprise that their KingQuad 500AXi is near the very top of our list. The KingQuad comes equipped with fully independent suspension and huge towing capacity making it great for getting your buddies out of the mud when their ATVs can’t compete.
The KingQuad gets a great amount of torque at low speeds giving you the power you need to slog through the mud (and make the occasional tow). It also has comfortable, ergonomic seating to give you as much comfort as you could ask for on a day on the trails. If you want an ATV from a company with a proven track record of success, go with the originators.
1. Yamaha Kodiak 700
- Engine Type – 686cc liquid-cooled SOHC 4-stroke
- Transmission – Ultramatic V-belt with all-wheel engine braking; H, L, N, R, P
- Drivetrain – Lever-operated 2WD/4WD; shaft
- Dimensions – 81.5 in x 46.5 in x 48.8 in
Another Yamaha on the list, and another really versatile ATV great for lots of terrains, and specifically for trail riding. One of the best features of the Kodiak 700 is Yamaha’s class-leading transmission. Feel the immediate response of features like all-wheel engine braking and you’ll know you have maximum control over your ATV. And with the ability to just flip a lever between two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, you’re definitely going to feel it.
The Kodiak was also built with rough-riding in mind. Full-body skid plates and adjustable wide-arc A-arm suspension let you get through just about anything the trails can through your way with ease. Not to mention the front and rear racks are made of steel and equipped to hold 308 lbs! No matter what you need to bring out on the trail or back to camp, the Kodiak has you covered.
From Full-Sized to Mid-Sized and Beyond: the Best ATVs for Trail Riding
From National Parks to national forests to your own backyard, trail riding is one of the best ways to use your ATV. But if you’ve got one built for the sand dunes, you need to reequip yourself! Hopefully, this is a good jumping-off point for some of the best and brightest ATVs on the market for trail riding. If you’ve got the ATV and need to find a place to bring it, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered for that, too.