How to choose an ATV for kids

You want to share the joys of off-roading with your children and help them build useful skills and spend more time outdoors, but you might also be a bit daunted wondering how to choose the right ATV for them. You want them to have fun and be safe, and you want to avoid spending a bundle on an ATV your child will outgrow. This post will help you learn how to choose an ATV for kids.

man and kid near atv


The first step in making a good choice is understanding why you're making it. Kids need different ATVs from adults because their height determines their ability to reach all the controls and rider weight impacts how the ATV functions. They don't possess the responsibility level and motor skills required to operate machines as powerful as adults can ride. Also, the weight of the ATV makes accidents very dangerous for any rider, and you can reduce the danger by ensuring your child is riding a machine comparable to their size.

father with kids near atv


Kids under 6 years old can drive low-speed, electric pseudo-ATVs that are basically outdoor toys so they can share some of the sense of and get used to ATV riding. Anything more powerful is not safe.

After that, you want to consider both the child's chronological age and their developmental age. As in, how mature are they? A child may be technically able to ride a certain machine by age alone, but they may not really be ready for it. The reverse may also be true. You might can upgrade the child slightly if everything else is suitable for them and their maturity level is high enough.

atv for a kid


The machine needs to fit the child. You want them to be able to sit in the seat and easily maneuver each of the controls.

With their feet on the pegs, their knees should be bent at least 45 degrees and their thighs should be almost parallel to their upper arms.

Their arms should reach the handlebars comfortably with them sitting straight in the seat.

Test to see if the first joint from the tip of their middle fingers extends beyond the brake lever.

They should be able to turn the handlebars from lock to lock without having to let go or loosen their grip, and they should be able to control both the throttle and the brake.

Discover the weight of the ATV. It should weigh no more than 3 to 4 times your child's weight to lessen the danger should there be an accident.

If any of these points is not true for your child, they might need a different ATV.

Test before purchase! You can have your child sit on an ATV and test out their ability to reach all the controls before purchasing the ATV. It's also a good idea to see how easily they can manipulate the controls from a strength standpoint.

speed atv riding kid


Kids under 12 should have an ATV between 50-70cc. If your child is big for their age and very mature, you might could stretch this a tiny bit, but it's usually best to stick to this range.

Kids 12 and up can usually drive 90-125cc ATVs. 125cc ATVs are more like adult ATVs.

Teens 16 and up are probably ready for 200-300cc ATVs. These are much like adult ATVs, in fact, some smaller sized adults ride them.

kid atv riding gear


Depending on the power range, kids ATVs can offer you the choice between electric and gas motors.

Electric ATVs range from the little toys the youngest children ride to ones for kids up to 8 that can reach speeds of 15 mph. These models require virtually no maintenance, particularly the ones for younger kids. They are also less noisy, so they can be helpful for young kids or any kid who might be intimidated at first by a loud motor. If you like to make eco-friendly choices whenever possible, here's your opportunity to pair that with your ATV purchase also.

Gas ATVs almost always have more power than electric ones. So, if your child is able to handle a more powerful model, you might want to go with gas. Gas ATVs of any size are often less expensive than electric ones, and the extra maintenance a gas ATV requires can be a good learning experience for your child.


kid in helmet

If your child is old enough and big enough for an ATV with much power, you may enjoy the extra safety features these kids ATVs can provide. Many of them come with speed limiters and remote-control engine shut-offs, so your child can ride the ATV that fits them, but if they surprise you and start getting a little too wild with it, you can do something about it in the moment.

kid mud riding


Just because your child is old enough and big enough for a more powerful machine, doesn't mean they are really comfortable with that much power or for a particular machine. When your child is trying out a potential ATV, pay attention to them for cues that the machine makes them nervous. They can always upgrade later if they want to, but you don't want them to make mistakes or be put off ATVs if they are overwhelmed.

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