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:
- Ease of use
- 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.
|Sportsman 450 H.O./570/850/XP1000||Automatic CVT||Belt and driveshafts||P/R/N/L/H In-line Shifting|
|Scrambler XP 1000 S||Automatic CVT||Belt and driveshafts||P/R/N/L/H In-line Shifting|
|Outlaw 70||Automatic CVT||Belt and driveshafts||Forward Only|
|Outlaw / Sportsman 110 EFI||Automatic CVT||O-ring Chain||F/N/R|
|Phoenix 200||Automatic CVT||Shaft drive||F/N/R|
Can-Am ATVs with automatic transmissions
All Can-AM ATVs available on the market today use an automatic CVT transmission.
|Outlander 450/570/850/1000||Automatic CVT||Belt and driveshafts||P/R/N/L/H|
|Renegade 570/850/1000||Automatic CVT||Belt and driveshafts||P/R/N/L/H|
|DS 70/90/250||Automatic CVT||O-ring Chain||F/N/R|
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.
|FourTrax Rincon||Automatic with Hydraulic torque converter||Direct front and rear driveshafts||Three forward gears, Reverse, and electronic controls|
|FourTrax Foreman Rubicon 4×4 Automatic DCT||Automatic DCT (dual-clutch transmission)||Direct front and rear driveshafts||Five-speed with Reverse and Low/Drive sub-transmission|
|FourTrax Rancher 4X4 Automatic DCT||Automatic DCT (dual-clutch transmission)||Direct front and rear driveshafts||Five-speed with Reverse and Low/Drive sub-transmission|
Arctic Cat / Textron ATVs with automatic transmissions
All Arctic Cat /Textron ATVs available on the market use an automatic CVT transmission.
|Alterra 450, 570 and 700||Automatic CVT||Belt and driveshafts||H,L,N,R,P|
|Alterra 300||Automatic CVT||Shaft Drive||H,L,N,R,P|
|Alterra 90||Automatic CVT||O-ring Chain||F,N,R|
Yamaha ATVs with automatic transmissions
All Yamaha ATVs available on the market use an automatic CVT transmission.
|Kodiak 450 and 700||Automatic CVT||Belt and driveshafts||H, L, N, R, P|
|Grizzly EPS XT-R||Automatic CVT||Belt and driveshafts||H, L, N, R, P|
|YFZ50||Automatic CVT||O-ring Chain||N/N|
|Raptor 90||Automatic CVT||O-ring Chain||F, N, R|
Kawasaki ATVs with automatic transmissions
All Kawasaki ATVs available on the market use an automatic CVT transmission.
|KFX 50 and 90||Automatic CVT||O-ring Chain||N/N|
|Brute Force 300||Automatic CVT with centrifugal clutch||Belt and driveshafts||H,L,N,R|
|Brute Force 750||Automatic CVT||Belt and driveshafts||H,L,N,R|
Cfmoto ATVs with automatic transmissions
All CFMoto ATVs available on the market uses an automatic CVT transmission.
|CFORCE400, 500, 600 and 800||Automatic CVT||Belt and driveshafts||P/R/N/H/L|
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 Model||Transmission type||Driveline||Gearing|
|Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon 4×4 EPS||Semi-automatic with traditional shifter and automatic clutch||Direct front and rear driveshafts||Five-speed with reverse|
|Honda FourTrax Rancher 4X4||Semi-automatic with traditional shifter and automatic clutch||Direct front and rear driveshafts||Five-speed with reverse|
|Honda FourTrax Rancher 4X4 ES||Semi-automatic push-button ESP (Electric Shift Program) with automatic clutch||Direct front and rear driveshafts||Five-speed with reverse|
|Honda FourTrax Foreman 4X4 ES||Semi-automatic push-button ESP (Electric Shift Program) with automatic clutch||Direct front and rear driveshafts||Five-speed with reverse|
|Honda FourTrax Recon ES||Semi-automatic push-button ESP (Electric Shift Program) with automatic clutch||Direct front and rear driveshafts||Five-speed with reverse|
|Honda TRX90X||Semi-automatic with traditional shifter and automatic clutch||O-ring Chain||Four-speed|
Wich ATVs are manual?
|Make and Model||Transmission type||Driveline||Gearing|
|Honda TRX250X||Manual foot shifter with a handlebar-mounted clutch.||O-ring Chain||Five-speed with reverse|
|Yamaha YFZ450R||Wet multi-plate assist-and-slipper clutch||O-ring Chain||Five-speed|
|Yamaha Raptor 700R||Wet multi-plate assist-and-slipper clutch||X-ring chain||Five-speed with reverse|
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.