One great thing about ATVs is that they come in almost any shape and size, and you have a good chance of finding one that fits your specific needs and requirements. When you are deciding on which type or which brand of ATV you want to purchase, the weight may be one of your considerations. And the findings may sometimes surprise you.

ATVs weigh anything in the range from about 220 to 1170 pounds (100 – 531 kilos) dry weight, which means the weight of the machine without any type of fluids, cargo or passengers. The weight of a full-size 4×4 utility and recreational ATV averages at about 700 pounds (317 kilos). On top of that, you can add the weight of all fluids needed to operate the machine which averages at about 60 pounds (27 kilos), including 4.4 gallons of gas (20 liters).

Comparing different ATV types and models

Many manufacturers don’t state the dry weight of their bikes. They use something called curb weight or wet weight, which basically have the same meaning.

While dry weight is when the bike is completely empty of all fluids (gas, oils, brake fluid, coolant etc.) curb weight or wet weight is the weight of the bike with all fluids topped off in their appropriate containers. Curb weight includes standard equipment but not either passengers or cargo.

To give you a better overview of what weights to expect I have chosen some examples from the different categories and listed them underneath. I added one column for dry weight and one for wet weight because of the way the manufacturers state the weight of their bikes differently.

These are just meant as examples. To find exact numbers for the ATV in question you should look op the specification sheet for your specific model.

Sport / racing

Make and model Dry weight (pounds/kilos) Wet weight (pounds/kilos)
2019 Yamaha Raptor 700 422 / 191
2019 Yamaha YFZ450R 405 / 184
2018 Polaris Scrambler XP 1000 745 / 338
2018 Honda TRX250X 384 / 174
2019 Can-Am Renegade 1000R 710 / 323

 

Children/youth

Make and model Dry weight (pounds/kilos) Wet weight (pounds/kilos)
2018 Honda TRX90X 262 / 119
2019 Yamaha YFZ50 220 / 100
2019 Can-Am DS90X 250 / 113
2018 Polaris Outlaw 110 EFI 278 /126
2018 Polaris AZE 150 EFI (UTV) 556 / 252

 

Recreation / Utility 4×4

Make and model Dry weight (pounds/kilos) Wet weight (pounds/kilos)
2019 Can-Am Outlander 570 704 / 319
2019 Can-Am Outlander MAX XT 1000 900 / 408
2005 Honda FourTrax Foreman 500 554 / 251
2018 Honda 2018 FourTrax Rancher 420 573 / 260
2018 Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 805 / 366
2019 Yamaha Grizzly ESP 700 701 / 318

 

Utility 6×6

Make and model Dry weight (pounds/kilos) Wet weight (pounds/kilos)
2019 Can-Am Outlander MAX 6X6 XT 1000 1170 / 531
2018 Polaris Sportsman 6X6 570 1075 / 489
2007 Polaris Sportsman 6X6 500 895 / 406

Why does weight matter?

This first one is quite obvious. If speed and acceleration are important you need to look at power to weight ratio (horsepower/weight). Generally, a higher number equals a faster bike. If speed is not so important to you, this factor is not so important.

What applies to most riders tho is the desire for easy handling. Less weight generally means easier handling of the machine in rough terrain where you need to use your body weight to ride optimally. A good servo improves the handling of a heavy bike greatly.

On the other hand, more weight usually means better stability, especially when carrying a lot of cargo or towing a heavy trailer.

Cargo capacity

Especially when using a utility / recreational 4×4 or 6×6 you often times want to bring some cargo, depending on what is your mission. Storing cargo on the machine itself is one option, but it has its limits.

The capacity for carrying cargo varies greatly depending on what type and model you choose. Usually, the manufacturers state the rated Front/Rear Rack or Box Capacity. But at the same time, you also have to take into consideration the payload capacity of the bike. Payload capacity refers to the amount of combined weight of all passengers and all cargo a specific vehicle can carry.

On average you can expect a capacity of 120 pounds (54,5 kilos) on the front rack and double this weight on the rear rack, 240 pounds (109 kilos). Total payload capacity is usually around 500 – 600 pounds (227 – 272 kilos).

It is important that you know what the rated rack capacity and the payload capacity is for your specific ATV. You can find these numbers in your owners manual. Exceeding the rated capacity will make your bike top-heavy and greatly increases the risk of tipping over. This is especially true going up or down hills or in rough terrain.

Adding more weight than the rated numbers can also damage the structure of the machine itself just as a result of ordinary driving. Make sure to distribute the weight evenly between the front and the rear rack. This is key to a stable ride.

Adding too much weight to the back, while having no weight on the front and vice versa, can result in disaster when going up or down steep hills. You have been warned!

The rear rack capacity of a 6×6 is typically much higher than on a 4×4. You can expect an average rated capacity of around 7-800 pounds (318-363 kilos). The total weight of passengers also plays a role in the rated capacity on different models.

As you can see from the listed vehicle weights above, many ATVs carries some serious weight to them, especially when you include the weight of all fluids, passengers, and cargo. The combined maximum weight of a Polaris XP 1000 is about 1450 pounds (655 kilos), some are even more.

And trust me when I say you do not want to get this type of weight on top of you.

On a side note, because of the dangers associated with overloading the vehicle, some manufacturers are thought to be rating their vehicles rather conservative. But there are no confirmed sources to this, so overloading the rated numbers is at your own risk.

What if my cargo weight exceeds my bikes capacity?

If your combined amount of cargo exceeds the rack capacity of your bike, one option is to distribute the weight over several bikes, if you are more than yourself going for a ride.

If you are the only one you will need to bring along a trailer. Trailers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are made for general use, and some are made for more specific tasks. But one thing they all have in common is that you need to know your vehicles rated towing capacity.

Hauling cargo – Towing capacity

Typically an ATV has a towing capacity between 1200 and 1500 pounds (544 – 680 kilos). A heavier ATV will generally be better suited than a lighter one, as it gives you better traction and is less affected by the weight and movement of the trailer.

But you must understand that the rated capacity is just a recommendation and does not eliminate the need for common sense.

The rated capacity for a towed load is for towing on level ground and with a trailer without brakes. And you have to remember that the combination of rear rack cargo weight, and the weight you put on the hitch, must never exceed the maximum weight capacity of the rear rack. Towing any trailer on a grade steeper than 15 degrees is not recommended in any situation.

As a general rule, the vertical hitch weight capacity, as in the maximum allowed downforce on the hitch itself is about 1/10th of the towing capacity.

The surface you ride on is usually the limiting factor for how much weight you can tow. Overheating in hot weather conditions is also common when towing heavy, and may happen well before you reach the rated towing capacity. Choosing an ATV with low gearing and driving at lower speeds may decrease the risk of overheating issues.

If you exceed the towing capacity

What can happen if you go down a hill with a heavy trailer, is that the trailer pushes the ATV with greater force than the bike can hold back. This can result in the trailer pushing the ATV off the road or trail.

One way to compensate in an emergency situation like this, to avoid a possible fatal accident, is to slightly increase the speed as you go down the hill by letting off the brakes just slightly. But at one point the speed will be too high even with this technique.

Most ATV trailers are sold without brakes fitted on the trailer itself. Some trailers in the higher price range have installed so-called “Robson Drive” on the wheels. While this system’s primary purpose is creating better traction in muddy conditions, it also can be used for breaking the trailer downhill, allowing safe towing of much heavier loads than on a trailer with no brakes.

One strategy for experienced riders to consider is to start with no or low cargo weight, and then increase in small steps until you reach the point where you feel the wheels start slipping slightly. This is the maximum weight the situation allows you to haul.

Then you should bring a slightly lighter load on the next trip. Inexperienced riders should never push the limits like this, and it is always much better to drive one extra round. You may not get a warning before it is too late.