ATVs use one of three main types of transmissions; manual, semi-automatic, or fully automatic. Different riding applications require different transmissions, where fully automatic CVT transmissions are by far the most common in today’s market.

In this post, we will have a look at what types of transmissions some of the major ATV manufacturers have to offer. Not all has gone the route of fully automatic.

What do we mean by automatic, semi-automatic, and manual ATV transmissions?

Before we look at the specific brands and models, it’s a good idea to address what we mean when we talk about automatic, semi-automatic, or manual ATV transmissions.

While there is no defined standard for ATV transmission types, you will find that most types will fit well in one of these three descriptions.

Automatic ATV transmissions

Any ATV transmission that can shift gear ratios automatically is typically referred to as being an automatic. There are various types of automatic ATV transmissions, where CVT (continuously variable transmission) and wet clutch transmission design are the most common.

An automatic ATV transmission enables the rider to accelerate from a full stop to top speed without any other rider input than actuating the accelerator. In most models, however, the rider has to put the ATV in gear, typically low (L), high (H), or reverse (R), just like you would put an automatic car in D before the vehicle starts moving.

The CVT style of transmissions has become the most predominant type of automatic transmission in the ATV and UTV industry.

According to Polaris, they are the preferred option due to advantages such as:

  • Tunability
  • Ease of use
  • Simplicity
  • Performance Advantages

Also, it “ensures the ATV or UTV is always in the “right” gear and the engine RPM is in the heart of the powerband to deliver optimum power to the ground at any speed and in every application”.

Manual ATV transmissions

A manual ATV transmission is one that requires both manual clutches- and gear lever operation to shift gear. The rider uses the clutch to disengage the engine’s transmission in a synchronized movement while simultaneously moving the gear lever up or down to shift gear. As soon as the clutch lever is released, the gearbox reengages.

The main benefit of having a manual transmission is maintaining full control of what gear you are at any time. While an automatic is much easier to use, you may find yourself in situations where the gear you are in is not ideal.

For most ATV riding applications, an automatic will work just fine. But for some riders, such as those who are into ATV racing, it is essential to maintain full control of the gearing so that you can match the gearing with the bike’s powerband for optimal performance.

Semi-automatic ATV transmissions

Semi-automatic transmissions combine the best of both worlds for those who want to hold a gear without the hassle of operating a clutch lever.

Here are some riding applications where you may benefit from being able to hold a specific gear:

  • Towing and hauling applications.
  • Rock crawling/ climbing.
  • Any application where you can benefit from having various gear sets from high to low at your disposal.

By utilizing an automatic clutch system, the rider can shift gears with just the push of a button. Honda is currently the only manufacturer that offers semi-automatic ATV transmissions.

Polaris ATVs with automatic transmissions

All Polaris ATVs available on the market today use an automatic CVT transmission.

ModelTransmission typeDrivelineGearing
Sportsman 450 H.O./570/850/XP1000Automatic CVTBelt and driveshaftsP/R/N/L/H In-line Shifting
Scrambler XP 1000 SAutomatic CVTBelt and driveshaftsP/R/N/L/H In-line Shifting
Outlaw 70Automatic CVTBelt and driveshaftsForward Only
Outlaw / Sportsman 110 EFIAutomatic CVTO-ring ChainF/N/R
Phoenix 200Automatic CVTShaft driveF/N/R
Polaris ATVs with automatic transmissions.

Can-Am ATVs with automatic transmissions

All Can-AM ATVs available on the market today use an automatic CVT transmission.

ModelTransmission typeDrivelineGearing
Outlander 450/570/850/1000Automatic CVTBelt and driveshaftsP/R/N/L/H
Renegade 570/850/1000Automatic CVTBelt and driveshaftsP/R/N/L/H
DS 70/90/250Automatic CVTO-ring ChainF/N/R
Can-Am ATVs with automatic transmissions.

Honda ATVs with automatic transmissions

Honda is the only ATV manufacturer that still has not gone the CVT route. Instead, they are offering a range of clutch based transmissions with various shifter options. But do they offer a true automatic ATV?

To keep up with the convenience of an automatic CVT transmission, Honda offers an automatic DTC transmission that shifts through the gears almost like an automatic car does. They also offer an automatic with a hydrostatic torque converter in their FourTrax Rincon.

In this video, you will learn more about Honda’s philosophy when it comes to transmissions.

ModelTransmission typeDrivelineGearing
FourTrax RinconAutomatic with Hydraulic torque converterDirect front and rear driveshaftsThree forward gears, Reverse, and electronic controls
FourTrax Foreman Rubicon 4×4 Automatic DCTAutomatic DCT (dual-clutch transmission)Direct front and rear driveshaftsFive-speed with Reverse and Low/Drive sub-transmission
FourTrax Rancher 4X4 Automatic DCTAutomatic DCT (dual-clutch transmission)Direct front and rear driveshaftsFive-speed with Reverse and Low/Drive sub-transmission
Honda ATVs with automatic transmissions.

Arctic Cat / Textron ATVs with automatic transmissions

All Arctic Cat /Textron ATVs available on the market use an automatic CVT transmission.

ModelTransmission typeDrivelineGears
Alterra 450, 570 and 700Automatic CVTBelt and driveshaftsH,L,N,R,P
Alterra 300Automatic CVTShaft DriveH,L,N,R,P
Alterra 90Automatic CVTO-ring ChainF,N,R
Arctic Cat / Textron ATVs with automatic transmissions.

Yamaha ATVs with automatic transmissions

All Yamaha ATVs available on the market use an automatic CVT transmission.

ModelTransmission typeDrivelineGearing
Kodiak 450 and 700Automatic CVTBelt and driveshaftsH, L, N, R, P
Grizzly EPS XT-RAutomatic CVTBelt and driveshaftsH, L, N, R, P
YFZ50Automatic CVTO-ring ChainN/N
Raptor 90Automatic CVTO-ring ChainF, N, R
Yamaha ATVs with automatic transmissions.

Kawasaki ATVs with automatic transmissions

All Kawasaki ATVs available on the market use an automatic CVT transmission.

ModelTransmission typeDrivelineGearing
KFX 50 and 90Automatic CVTO-ring ChainN/N
Brute Force 300Automatic CVT with centrifugal clutchBelt and driveshaftsH,L,N,R
Brute Force 750Automatic CVTBelt and driveshaftsH,L,N,R
Kawasaki ATVs with automatic transmissions.

Cfmoto ATVs with automatic transmissions

All CFMoto ATVs available on the market uses an automatic CVT transmission.

ModelTransmission typeDrivelineGearing
CFORCE400, 500, 600 and 800Automatic CVTBelt and driveshaftsP/R/N/H/L
CFMoto ATVs with automatic transmissions.

Are there any automatic Sport ATVs?

While there are no automatic racing quads, there are a few available options in the sports segment. In today’s market, there is no clear line separating recreational and sport ATVs. Many recreation ATVs are set up towards active trail riding and may just as well be considered sports ATVs.

That being said, there are a couple of available models with automatic transmissions that are specifically advertised as Sports ATVs

One example is the Polaris Sportsman XP1000 S and the Scrambler XP 1000 S. You also have the Can-Am Renegade series, all of which come with automatic CVT transmissions.

Are all ATVs automatic / belt driven?

While the majority of ATVs on the market today use automatic transmissions, there are still some that use a semi-automatic or manual transmission. 

Semi-automatic transmissions are meant for heavy utility work where the rider may want to maintain full control by shifting gears manually.

Fully-automatic transmissions are only found on racing quads as well as some cheaper youth models.

Wich ATVs are semi-automatic?

Make and ModelTransmission typeDrivelineGearing
Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon 4×4 EPSSemi-automatic with traditional shifter and automatic clutchDirect front and rear driveshaftsFive-speed with reverse
Honda FourTrax Rancher 4X4Semi-automatic with traditional shifter and automatic clutchDirect front and rear driveshaftsFive-speed with reverse
Honda FourTrax Rancher 4X4 ESSemi-automatic push-button ESP (Electric Shift Program) with automatic clutchDirect front and rear driveshaftsFive-speed with reverse
Honda FourTrax Foreman 4X4 ESSemi-automatic push-button ESP (Electric Shift Program) with automatic clutchDirect front and rear driveshaftsFive-speed with reverse
Honda FourTrax Recon ESSemi-automatic push-button ESP (Electric Shift Program) with automatic clutchDirect front and rear driveshaftsFive-speed with reverse
Honda TRX90XSemi-automatic with traditional shifter and automatic clutchO-ring ChainFour-speed
Examples of semi-automatic ATVs.

Wich ATVs are manual?

Make and ModelTransmission typeDrivelineGearing
Honda TRX250XManual foot shifter with a handlebar-mounted clutch.O-ring ChainFive-speed with reverse
Yamaha YFZ450RWet multi-plate assist-and-slipper clutchO-ring ChainFive-speed
Yamaha Raptor 700RWet multi-plate assist-and-slipper clutchX-ring chainFive-speed with reverse
Examples of fully manual ATVs

Related questions

What’s the fastest automatic ATV?

The fastest automatic ATV is the 91 HP Renegade 1000R with a top speed of about 82-84mph.

What is an automatic clutch ATV?

On an automatic clutch ATV, the clutch is not activated by a physical lever, but rather through the act of shifting gears. The clutch activates automatically as soon as the rider activates the gear shifting mechanism, usually in the shape of an electronic push-button or as signaled from the transmission in a fully automatic setup such as the Honda Automatic DCT systems.