There are a lot of decisions to be made when you are buying an ATV, but engine size may be one of the most important ones. So, what ATV engine size do you need?

Most adults will need an ATV with an engine size of about 500 cc. Some people will need a larger engine size of 700-1000 cc if they are doing a lot of aggressive trail riding or heavy hauling. Youth ATVs need a smaller engine size of under 125 cc to ensure safety.

Having the right size of engine on your ATV helps ensure your safety and enjoyment. The engine should be proportionate to the size of the ATV, your riding experience, and the kind of riding you plan on doing.


Kids should never be allowed to drive an adult-sized ATV alone. The large size and powerful engine make ATVs very difficult to handle, which means it is dangerous for young and inexperienced drivers to ride them. Youth ATVs are perfect for kids and teens and allow them to participate in the fun. The appropriate engine size for a child’s ATV will depend on their age and experience.

Young kids under 12, and even older children who have never ridden before, should start with the smallest engine size available. 50 to 70 cc is perfect for this age group. Youth ATVs have much smaller frames than adult-sized ATVs, which allows kids to sit comfortably on their ATVs while going on trails or helping around the property.

A 50 cc engine will not be powerful enough to get up steep hills, handle rough terrain, or haul heavy loads. These kinds of activities are not typically safe for kids under 12 to do anyway. An older child with a larger engine size will be able to start to keep up with adult riders. 50 to 70-cc engines are not able to handle a lot of the things you typically think of when you imagine riding an ATV, but they are the perfect starter sizes for kids. Prioritizing safety and learning with a smaller engine will set the child up for success later when they are ready to handle an ATV with a larger engine.

When shopping for a youth ATV, you will have to pay specific attention to the engine size. Not all Youth ATVs fall in this engine size range. Some will have more powerful engines because they are designed for older kids and more experienced riders.

The 2021 Polaris Outlaw has a 70 cc engine and seems to be very popular. The reputable brand and small engine size allow your child to have a fun and safe ATV ride.


Teens older than 12 who have a decent amount of ATV riding experience can handle the additional power from a bigger engine. A 70 cc to 125 cc engine is usually about right for a 12 to 16-year-old teenager. This is probably the most popular engine size for youth ATVs, which means they are easy to find. It is still not safe to allow a young teenager to ride an adult ATV. Their body size, experience level, and development make it hard for them to handle ATVs with large engines.

Most popular youth ATV manufacturers have a recommended age guideline for who should ride each ATV. These guidelines typically match up well with engine size recommendations, but it is a good practice to double-check both age recommendations and engine size to ensure your teenager’s safety.

The larger engine size will make it easier for the teen to ride along will full-size ATVs. They will be able to navigate moderate trails but likely will not be able to bring much cargo. Youth ATVs are perfect for teens looking to have fun riding ATVs with family or friends. However, they aren’t great for doing serious work or racing.

The Bennche JS is a really popular sport ATV that comes with either a 110 cc or 125 cc engine, so it will likely be a good fit for your teenager.

Teens over the age of 16 may still ride youth ATVs, but they may also be ready to ride a full-size ATV with a larger engine if they are experienced riders. 16 to 18-year-olds could very well fall into the “adults” category talked about below. They might also continue to thrive with a youth ATV if they are still learning how to drive an ATV or simply do not need to ride an ATV with extra engine power. Always check minimum weight recommendations on the ATV you allow your teen to ride.


For adult ATVs, we are concerned with making sure the engine is large enough and will have enough power to accomplish whatever you want it to. Full-grown adults should not ride a youth ATV because it will put additional strain on the engine and other mechanisms. Riding an ATV will an engine that is too small will almost certainly cause maintenance issues and may also contribute to poor performance.

Adults should never ride an ATV that has a 200 cc engine or lower. A 500 cc engine will be best for the majority of recreational adult riders.

The engines that fall between 200 ccs and 400 ccs are perfect for older, experienced teens, brand-new adult riders, or someone that just wants to try out ATV riding for a short period of time. If you are looking for your first ATV, you might want to look for something like the Can-Am DS 250. It has a 250 cc engine and is very beginner-friendly. If you are serious about your ATV, a 200 to 400-cc engine will likely not be powerful enough for you.

An engine that has around 500 ccs is a sweet spot for many ATV owners. This mid-sized engine will give you plenty of power to ride fun trails and really have some fun. Recreational riders that love adventure on the weekends will find 500 ccs to be nearly perfect. 500 cc is easy for smaller adults to handle but doesn’t restrict what your casual rider would want to do.

A recreational trail rider might like something similar to the Can-Am Renegade, which is an awesome sport ATV with a 570 cc engine. If you are looking for a utility ATV, you will want to shop for something like the Can-Am Outlander Max XT, which also has a 570 cc engine but is better designed for utility instead of sport.

This is also the right size engine for ranchers and farmers looking to do some light work. The engine will make it easy to efficiently cross a lot of land quickly and make your job easier.

Some adults will want to get a bigger engine to accommodate their specific wants and needs. ATV engines go all the way up to 1000 cc.

The 500 to 700 cc range is good for navigating challenging trails and conquering rough terrain. The extra power will make it so the rocks, hills, and mud are no big deal. The more serious sport ATV riders will want to get an engine larger than 500 ccs to avoid being held back. Larger adults will want an engine in this range as well.

An engine size of 500 cc to 700 ccs is also good for hauling heavy loads. Farmers and ranchers that want to take a lot of cargo or a trailer along with them when they ride across their land should consider getting a utility ATV with a larger engine. These larger engines are designed to handle the extra weight without incurring additional strain on the inner mechanisms. You will still be able to go fast even with a large load.

An ATV engine with 700 ccs to 1000 ccs is mostly designed for really intense kinds of riding. To climb huge steep hills, race, or ride through deep mud and streams, you will need an ATV with the biggest engine you can get. The Can-Am Renegade also has an 850 cc model that is perfect for the most adventurous trailblazer.

If you enjoy racing, the larger engine will allow you to go quite fast and help minimize the effect of rough terrain. If you plan to take your sport ATV out nearly every day and face the biggest challenges possible, you will need the largest engine so that the ATV can keep up with you. Hunters and campers will also likely want to use an ATV with an engine of 700 to 1000 ccs so they can easily take all of their equipment with them and navigate the naturally challenging terrain in the woods and mountains. The Polaris Sportsman 850 Premium is a great example of what to look for.

While many people only need an ATV that has an engine with 500 ccs, they may want a bigger engine just for fun or just in case they want to try something new in the future. If you are an experienced adult confident in your ability to handle the larger vehicle, there isn’t really a reason why you can’t buy an ATV with a larger engine.


Side-by-Sides are a type of ATV that has separate seats for multiple people and has a much larger and more extensive frame. Since the vehicles are larger than other types of ATVs, they need more powerful engines to accommodate the weight of the cargo and vehicle and the size of the ATV.

Most Side-by-Side ATV engines will range from 500 to 1000 ccs. The minimum is much higher because of the size of the ATV. The lower end of the engine power range is suitable for most people. You will be able to haul small loads, take multiple people on trips, and explore cool trails and places.

You might consider getting a Side-by-Side ATV with a larger engine size if you plan on using the ATV to do a lot of heavy labor and consistently haul a lot of weight. The bigger engine is less likely to wear out as quickly as a smaller engine. An ATV with an engine of between 700 and 1000 ccs would also be helpful if you enjoy going on challenging trails. If your idea of a good time includes big hills and deep mud, you should buy an ATV with a larger engine.

A good option for the adventurous sporty person is the Kawazaki Teryx4. The 783 cc engine is a perfect middle-of-the-road option for those who are ready to take on challenging terrain but aren’t worried about reaching professional-level speeds. If you are more focused on hauling items or getting some work done, take a look at the Honda Pioneer 700 Deluxe or other similar models. The Honda Pioneer has a 700 cc engine, which is sufficient for most campers, hunters, and farmers.


To tow things with your ATV, the vehicle will need a lot of engine power. If you are riding your ATV with a lot of cargo but not necessarily hauling a trailer, a 500 cc engine will be perfectly fine. You can bring extra gas, a big pack of supplies, and pretty much anything that fits onto the ATV with you without any issue if your ATV has a 500 cc engine.

If you are hauling a trailer, you will likely want to get an engine that is around 700 cc. A trailer, especially a full trailer, adds a lot more weight than is originally designed to fit on an ATV, but a larger engine size can easily compensate for the weight. When thinking about how much weight you are towing, you have to consider the weight of the trailer itself on top of whatever you are trying to transport.

An ATV with an engine size of 700 to 1000 ccs may be necessary for some farmers or ranchers. If you are buying a utility ATV specifically for hauling around large loads, get an ATV with the largest engine you can get. The extra power will make your work much easier.

An ATV with a 700 to 1000 cc engine is ready to take on a serious amount of work. You will want to check the maximum towing weight of your ATV to ensure you do not strain the engine, but a larger engine will have a higher towing capacity than a smaller engine. The 2023 Can-Am Outlander is arguably one of the best towing ATVs on the market. It boasts a towing capacity of 1,650 pounds and has an 854 cc engine.

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