ATVs generally have the same engine as a dirt bike, though these machines don't hold the same level of horsepower because of factory specifications and load loss from the electronics..
But a few opportunities exist to get an increase in horsepower for the constant tinkerers and those looking for an edge whether for racing or simply a bit more excitement on the trails. Nope, no need to buy the latest ATV model or trade up for a bigger sized engine (though that helps). Regardless of the engine size, you can squeeze out a bit more power on your ATV that will help test your skills and just might get you to the next riding level.
Believe us, we'd love to drop a link to a power boost additive that really works. Alas, no such thing as a quick fix. Truly getting a boost in ATV horsepower requires a significant investment that usually turns off most riders. But you can invest in a few upgrades that have immediate results most anyone can readily install.
How To Add Horsepower to Your ATV
1. Race Gas
Yes, we said an additive doesn't exist but indeed a full tank of race gas should raise an eyebrow especially if you have been using 87 pump all this time. Race gas costs quite a bit more than regular pump gas but you can't fuel up and go. Because...
A 2-stroke ATV requires re-jetting and a professional needs to re-map the ECU tuner on your 4-stroke ATV for the high octane fuel. Like we said, a power boost additive as a quick fix doesn't exist.
2. ATV Power Valves or Cams
Upgrading the power valves on a 2-stroke or the cams on a 4-stroke changes the engine profile. The power valve flushes burned gas out of the cylinder via a movable flap located on the cylinder exhaust port. At low RPM, the flap remains partially closed to make the exhaust port smaller. This helps the engine generate torque at low speeds. As revs build, the flap gradually opens, expanding the size of the exhaust outlet for greater top-end power. The ability to vary the size of the exhaust port gives your two-stroke engine broad, usable power.
On a 4-stroke, the camshaft uses lobes (called cams) to push against the valves to open them as the camshaft rotates while springs on the valves return them to the closed position. The less restrictive aftermarket power valves and cams allow for better performance throughout the power range resulting in more horsepower.
3. Upgrade the Clutch
A new Hinson or Rekluse ATV clutch system gives more power to the ground resulting in better pick-up and overall speed. A new clutch is one of the top upgrades for ATV riders once the factory clutch burns out because you get multiple benefits, but it does come with a hefty price tag. Most people can install a new clutch in about an hour.
4. Upgrade the Intake
On the quick and easy side, upgrading to a K&N air filter, switching out the restrictive stock airbox lid or even upgrading to a larger air box allows for more air into the engine resulting in more power. You might have to reject or remap the engine to compensate for the extra air.
5. Upgrade the Exhaust System
You could switch out just the pipe (2-stroke) or slip-on (4-stroke) but overall you would not feel much of a difference in horsepower. Upgrading the full exhaust system gets you the horsepower boost you can feel. However, this upgrade leans on the expensive side and takes a lot more time than the 15 minute pipe-switch job, but sometimes you have to pay more to get more and in the end you will be far happier with a full exhaust system upgrade than just an aftermarket pipe or slip-on.
Before deciding on upgrading the full exhaust system in your ATV bear in mind that some exhausts help with top end power while others provide a boost on the bottom end. Also, unless you race competitively, you probably don’t have the riding expertise to realize the extra horsepower that comes with an aftermarket exhaust system.
6. ATV Big Bore Kits
You could install a bigger bore, one of the must-haves for those riding dunes, but this is a pretty adventurous and expensive endeavor. You will experience an immediate boost in horsepower but can you handle it?
All of this to say, weekend warriors, trail riders and even local racers can dive in to all sorts of upgrades and expensive overhauls to find sometimes minute power. Additionally, upgrading one part can require upgrading others sending you down more financial rabbit holes.
Consider the time involved and money spent as well as your maintenance expertise when deciding on upgrading your ATV for a boost in horsepower. So, before tackling an upgrade project keep in mind one aspect of riding ATVs all owners should engage in...
How To Get More Horsepower Out of Your ATV
A brand new ATV provides enough performance for the far majority of riders who probably cannot grip and rip the standard factory horsepower anyway. After honing your riding skills and you begin to look for a bigger riding challenge, then you can think about those next level gains that come with aftermarket upgrades.
Therefore, general maintenance and following the manufacturer's recommended service intervals for the make, model and year of your ATV offers the best way to keep maximum horsepower for the engine size of your quad. The following routine maintenance needs keep enough horsepower to test your riding skills and strength for years to come: