ATV Lift Kits: Weighing the Pros and Cons

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ATV lift kits are popular among off-road enthusiasts, offering enhanced ground clearance and improved off-road capability. However, like any modification, they come with advantages and potential drawbacks that riders should consider before diving in.

What is an ATV Lift Kit? 

A lift kit is a set of components designed to elevate the body of the vehicle further off the ground, transforming it into an even more capable off-road machine. 

Enthusiasts often opt for lift kits not just for the aesthetic appeal but predominantly for the performance benefits, especially when navigating challenging terrains.

Lift kits come in various sizes and designs, tailored to different ATV models and intended purposes. Common types include gear lift kits, moose lift kits, and solid variants. The best fit will depend on your specific goals and what sections of the ATV you wish to enhance. 

As with any modification, conducting thorough research based on your ATV model is paramount to ensure you choose the most suitable lift kit.

Why You Should Get a Lift Kit for Your ATV

Lifting your ATV isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s about enhancing specific aspects of the vehicle’s performance and tailoring it to your specific needs.

Consider a rider frequently navigating rocky landscapes; a lift kit would prevent the underbelly of their ATV from frequently scraping against jagged rocks, prolonging the vehicle’s lifespan. 

Similarly, someone who loves mudding might find that the added height prevents the ATV from getting stuck in deep mud pits. 

Moreover, for those traversing through waterlogged trails or shallow streams, elevated clearance ensures crucial components remain dry. 

In essence, installing a lift kit is about optimizing your ATV experience for both performance and personal expression.

Benefits and Drawbacks of ATV Lift Kits

There are both benefits and drawbacks to consider when contemplating the installation of a lift kit. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons:

Pros of ATV Lift Kits

  1. Increased Ground Clearance: The primary reason many choose to install lift kits. This added clearance can help avoid obstacles like rocks, roots, and ruts, especially in rough terrains.
  2. Larger Tires: A lift can provide space to fit larger tires, further increasing ground clearance and improving traction in some conditions.
  3. Improved Appearance: Some ATV owners prefer the aggressive, elevated look of a lifted ATV.
  4. Enhanced Off-Road Capability: With more ground clearance and the potential for larger tires, the ATV may be better equipped to handle challenging off-road terrains.
  5. Water and Mud Riding: Elevated ground clearance can make it easier to ride through deeper waters or muddy terrains without getting bogged down.
  6. Enhanced Field of Vision: Raising the ATV with a lift kit allows riders to better anticipate and react to upcoming terrain challenges. This elevated perspective can improve the rider’s ability to see and navigate around obstacles, enhancing safety and decision-making during rides.
  7. Resale Value: For some buyers, a lifted ATV with a professionally installed high-quality lift kit might be more appealing, potentially increasing its resale value.
  8. Customization: A lift kit allows ATV enthusiasts to customize their vehicle, tailoring it to their preferences and intended use.
  9. Protection for Undercarriage Components: With increased ground clearance, there’s less likelihood that the ATV’s undercarriage will come into contact with obstacles, potentially prolonging the life of these components.

Cons of ATV Lift Kits

  1. Altered Center of Gravity: Lifting an ATV raises its center of gravity, which can make it more prone to tipping or rolling over, especially on uneven terrains or during sharp turns.
  2. Increased Wear and Tear: Altering the ATV’s stock suspension geometry can lead to increased wear on axles, joints, and other components.
  3. Ride Quality: Lift kits can sometimes make the ride feel stiffer or less comfortable, depending on the quality of the kit and the subsequent adjustments made to the suspension.
  4. Cost: High-quality lift kits can be expensive, and there might be additional costs for installation, especially if you don’t have the expertise to do it yourself.
  5. Potential Warranty Issues: Installing a lift kit might void the manufacturer’s warranty on certain parts of the ATV.
  6. Reduced Maneuverability: A lifted ATV might not handle as nimbly as it would in its stock configuration due to the changed geometry.
  7. Installation Complications: A lift kit can lead to alignment issues or other mechanical problems if not installed correctly.
  8. Potential for Incorrect Installation: Especially for those attempting a DIY installation, there’s a risk of not setting up the lift kit correctly, leading to mechanical problems down the line.
  9. Increased Fuel Consumption: The altered aerodynamics and potentially heavier tires can decrease fuel efficiency.
  10. Additional Maintenance: With altered suspension geometry and added stress on certain parts, there might be a need for more frequent maintenance checks and potential replacements.
  11. Difficulty in Boarding: An elevated ATV might be more challenging to get on and off, especially for shorter riders or those with mobility issues.

Ways to Reduce the Downsides of an ATV Lift Kit

There are ways to address or at least mitigate many of the drawbacks of installing a lift kit on an ATV:

  1. Altered Center of Gravity: Adjust your riding style to be more cautious, especially during turns. Consider taking safe ATV riding courses. You might also think about widening the stance of your ATV with wheel spacers or broader axles for added stability.
  2. Increased Wear and Tear: Schedule regular maintenance checks and opt for high-quality components to extend the life of your parts. When choosing a lift kit, select one that aligns closely with your ATV’s original specifications.
  3. Ride Quality: Consider upgrading to high-quality shock absorbers or adjustable suspension components to enhance the comfort of your ride.
  4. Cost: Look for deals, consider purchasing during sales, or explore used but well-maintained kits. Joining ATV enthusiast groups might also give you access to discounts or group buy options.
  5. Potential Warranty Issues: Before modifying your ATV, check with your manufacturer or dealership. Some might offer lift kits that are approved and won’t affect your warranty.
  6. Reduced Maneuverability: Spend time getting to know how your lifted ATV rides. With practice, you’ll adapt to its new dynamics and improve maneuverability.
  7. Installation Complications: If possible, have the lift kit installed by professionals to ensure a correct and safe setup.
  8. Potential for Incorrect Installation: If you’re keen on a DIY approach, follow the installation manual closely. Don’t hesitate to seek expert advice if you are unsure about any steps.
  9. Increased Fuel Consumption: Maintain your engine’s efficiency with regular servicing and use high-quality fuel to optimize consumption.
  10. Additional Maintenance: Adopt a routine preventive maintenance schedule to ensure the longevity of your ATV and reduce the chances of major repairs.
  11. Difficulty in Boarding: While most riders adjust to the added height of lifted ATVs and develop techniques for easy mounting, those who find it challenging might consider using a portable stepping stool for assistance.

By proactively addressing these concerns, you’ll be better positioned to enjoy the benefits of your lift kit while minimizing potential issues.

The Bottom Line

While ATV lift kits can offer notable benefits regarding ground clearance and aesthetics, weighing these against potential drawbacks is essential. 

If considering a lift kit, it might be wise to seek advice from professionals or those experienced with lifted ATVs to ensure you make an informed decision.

Haavard Krislok
Haavard Krislok
Haavard Krislok is an ATV and off-road enthusiast with a rich background spanning two decades in owning, maintaining, repairing, and utilizing ATVs for farming, logging, and hunting. Outside his professional life as an engineer and project manager, he cherishes recreational trail riding and is the creative force behind, serving as its owner, editor, and content creator.

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