What Are the Different Types of ATV Frames?

Lori Kilchermann

All-terrain vehicle (ATV) frames can be made in several different configurations to support racing and performance vehicles, as well as sand-drag racing and hill climbing. Manufactured from mild steel and chromium-molybdenum (chromoly) steel tubing, ATV frames are commonly based off of a production style of frame. Alterations to the basic frame design are made to add better performance to the style of competition the ATV will be used to compete in. Length is a consideration for the average competition frame, and other typical alterations made to competition ATV frames focus on engine placement, suspension attachment points and height.

ATV owners often modify ATV frames to suit a specific style of competition.
ATV owners often modify ATV frames to suit a specific style of competition.

An ATV is most commonly seen in the four-wheeled version universally referred to as a quad. While the manufacturers and designers have spent a lot of time and money developing a good frame, racers frequently modify ATV frames to better suit a specific type and style of competition. When the ATV is destined to compete on paved surfaces, such as conventional drag racing, the ATV frames are commonly designed to sit much closer to the pavement than an original frame. The frame is commonly stretched and lengthened as well to promote better traction and aerodynamic tendencies. The engine mounts are also modified to allow for different motor styles to be set into the frame for more power and speed.

An ATV is a vehicle designed for driving on a large variety of terrains.
An ATV is a vehicle designed for driving on a large variety of terrains.

If, however, the machine will compete in sand-drag racing, the ATV frames are usually designed to ride a little higher off of the ground to allow for the uneven surface height of the race track. Engine placement will usually be slightly closer to the rear wheels to offer better traction on the soft surface. If an ATV is bound for hill-climbing competition, the frame is commonly made longer and weighted forward of center to promote superior climbing ability. These ATV frames are also routinely created to operate with a standard motorcycle front suspension instead of the ATV suspension that originally came on the machine.

The more frequently modified ATV frames participate in motocross racing events in both indoor and outdoor versions. These ATV frames are usually designed to be slightly wider to assist in cornering stability. The frames are routinely stiffened and reinforced in the suspension mounting points to absorb the impact of landing resulting from large jumps. Chromoly steel is commonly used in all types of competition frames due to its light weight and superior strength as compared to mild steel frames.

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