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What Are the Different Types of ATV Shocks?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2016
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Shocks are an important component of an all-terrain vehicle's (ATV's) suspension. Commonly found in two basic configurations, hydraulic and gas, the shock is an integral factor in the ATV's ride and handling characteristics. The most basic of all ATV shocks is the hydraulic or oil-filled shock. This is the type of shock absorber that is most commonly fitted onto a vehicle from the manufacturer. The gas shock offers more performance and tune-ability to the vehicle's chassis. Variations of these two types of shocks can be found in the adjustable shock, the canister shock and the billet aluminum, steel-bodied shock absorber.

For decades, a shock was believed to be a shock. The ride of a vehicle was not thought to drastically affect the handling characteristics of the vehicle, but that is no longer the case. The shock absorber has evolved to be a critical component of a vehicle's suspension system and this also applies to ATV shocks. The typical ATV is delivered from the manufacturer with a quality, steel-bodied, hydraulic shock. There are some exceptions involving race-inspired versions and models. While this basic shock is adequate for many types of riding styles, one of the ATV owner's first modifications to the machine is commonly the replacement of the shock package.

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In performance or racing applications, the ATV shocks chosen to replace the original shocks are commonly billet aluminum versions to save weight. These ATV shocks can be either the adjustable, hydraulic versions or the more expensive, gas-charged shocks. The adjustable, hydraulic ATV shocks usually have a small dial located on the lower shock section that can be turned to dial in a specific type of ride. Typically consisting of a soft, medium and stiff ride adjustment, these shocks can be tuned to suit a rider's personal riding style or set to perform optimally at a specific track.

The highest evolution in ATV shocks is the remote canister style of gas-charged shock. This type of shock is best for increased suspension travel due to the ability of the remotely-mounted, gas-canister being able to provide a surplus of dampening pressure. As the typical, single-tube ATV shocks are stretched to the limit, the gas can be pulled from the reservoir, creating a harsh ride. The remote canister provides ample gas to maintain the gas pressure even at maximum extension, thereby providing a smooth and stable ride while fully extended or compressed. These ATV shocks commonly include high-performance joints to connect the shocks to the ATV chassis.

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