What Are ATV Tracks?

Dan Cavallari

ATV tracks are units that replace the tires on an all terrain vehicle for better traction in snow, on ice, or even in mud. These units feature rubber or composite tracks that are mounted on a series of pulleys; the bottom of the track unit lays flat against the ground, increasing the surface area and therefore increasing potential traction. A main pulley is attached to the axle of the ATV to provide the drive for the unit. ATV tracks usually come in sets of four, one unit to replace each wheel of the ATV.

Adding ATV tracks to an ATV will alter the way the vehicle handles.
Adding ATV tracks to an ATV will alter the way the vehicle handles.

The size and shape of ATV tracks can vary according to the intended use and the model of ATV for which the tracks are designed. Some tracks are triangle-shaped, with one flat side resting on the ground and the other side peaking upward toward the top of the ATV. Others feature irregular shapes that allow for greater mobility over rough terrain. Some, for example, feature a flat bottom with an angled front that allows the ATV tracks to climb more effectively over obstacles without getting stuck or impacting solid objects squarely, thereby risking damage to the tracks or the pulleys.

The ATV tracks will usually pivot to ensure they move over objects rather than collide with them and stop. The configuration of the pulleys within each track can also have an impact on how useful or maneuverable the units are. Very often the pulleys are mounted to some sort of suspension system that allows them to move in various directions in accordance with the terrain. This ensures the track stays in contact with the ground at all times, even as it passes over exceptionally rocky or uneven terrain.

Adding ATV tracks to an ATV will alter the way the vehicle handles. The tracks are much larger than tires and more of the track is in contact with the ground. This means there will be more friction between the ground and the track, making handling sluggish in some circumstances. This does not tend to be an issue in snow, but on dry land such as dirt, pavement, or over rocks, the larger surface area of the tracks means slower handling and, in some cases, a much larger turning radius that makes for less precise steering. An ATV rider will need to learn how to drive the unit with the tracks both for safety and efficiency.

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