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Can You Get More Torque and Horsepower in an ATV

ATVs are very good at doing what they were designed to do: tackle rough terrain. But that doesn’t always equal maximum speed. You may believe you just have to live with slow acceleration, but that isn’t true. You can improve the torque and horsepower of ATVs.

atv mud riding hard

Understanding Torque and Horsepower

We’re all familiar with these terms, but that doesn’t mean we all totally understand what they mean. The first step to getting more torque or horsepower is to get an idea of what we’re doing.

Torque represents the engine’s ability to do hard work. Engines work harder by spinning faster. That’s what RPMs are. An engine with higher torque can do the same amount of work with less spinning, because they can apply greater twisting force to the crankshaft.

Increasing ATV torque allows you to:

  • Pull heavier loads
  • Accelerate more quickly, even when going uphill
  • Tackle tougher terrain with less risk of getting stuck

Horsepower represents how quickly an engine can perform a task, such as accelerate.

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How Much Horsepower Does an ATV Have?

That depends on the model. As of today, the most powerful ATVs can boast 91 HP. That sounds rather skimpy when we’re used to pickup trucks having more than 300 HP, but ATVs are designed for different tasks.

mud riding in muskeg

How to Increase Quad Horsepower and Torque

You can increase the torque and horsepower of ATVs at once by turbocharging the engine. This means you allow additional pressurized air into the engine, which also burns more fuel.

So, before you read further, you should determine if you are willing to take on the extra cost of gas and the heavier impact on the environment for this improvement.

There are multiple ways to choose from to turbocharge your engine and increase your four wheeler horsepower and torque. We’ll go over them, and you can decide which ones are needed or preferable to you. Some of them are relatively simple and good DIY projects. Others will have to be performed by a mechanic.

Check the Air Filter

You can upgrade your air filter to an aftermarket model like the K&N filter that allows more air flow for greater performance. The downside to this upgrade is that with greater air flow might come more risk of contaminants entering your system. You could see more maintenance and repairs in your future.

Also, be vigilant about keeping whatever air filter you have clean. Dirty air filters reduce air flow and performance.

Clean the Carburetor

If your ATV has a carburetor, which is more likely if it’s a little older, you can increase air flow and boost performance by making sure it is clean. Like the air filter, a dirty carburetor blocks fuel flow. This requires draining the fuel from the carburetor and may be too difficult for your average DIY-er.

Add Race Gas

This fuel additive turns any fuel into more powerful gas fit for racing. It will provide noticeable benefits, particularly for those who haven’t been using high octane gas. The main drawback is that your engine will need some tweaks, probably performed by a mechanic, to use the additive.

Flush the Fuel Tank

If you have an older ATV, the fuel lines may be gummed up, reducing fuel flow. Clean this out to see improvement.

Upgrade Your Exhaust

Exhaust kits that increase air flow will give you a torque and horsepower boost. These kits range in cost and difficulty depending on the model you choose. Be aware that these kits will probably make your ATV noisier. That could be a problem to you or people near you and could make you unable to ride in certain locations.

atv riding fast in mud

Replace Your Tires

Smaller tires reduce your vehicle’s weight, making it able to do more with the same amount of power. Choose tires with 10-12 inch wheel diameters to see the benefit.

Install a Turbocharger

Turbochargers are added to fuel injected engines to manage air flow. They can increase the flow of pressurized air and redirect wasted air back toward the engine. These turbocharge kits usually cost around $200 and may be too difficult for a novice to install.

Install a Big Bore Kit

Big bore kits alter your gears and allow for air and fuel flow changes that improve performance. They are a fairly difficult DIY project, so many people choose to have a professional install them.

Replace Your Engine

If you want to spend the money, you can upgrade your engine to a higher-torque model. This will certainly require the knowledge and equipment of a mechanic. It would usually be better to invest in a turbocharger or big bore kit than replace the engine. It costs less and because your engine is the same weight, you see a more noticeable increase from the turbocharger or a big bore kit.

Other Improvements

You could also replace your ATV’s power valves or cams, depending on your engine. Upgrading the clutch will also improve your speed.

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