Plastic ATV fenders can range in size, shape, and design, but the basic function remains the same: to protect engine components, prevent dirt from hitting the driver, and to otherwise protect the equipment from trail damage. The advantages of plastic ATV fenders include the lower cost, easy replaceability, and large selection of aftermarket parts. They are also reasonably attractive, and the look of the ATV can be altered easily by replacing the fenders. The disadvantages include the likelihood that the plastic will crack, and the environmental impact of plastic production.
Other materials such as carbon may also have a significant environmental impact during production, but plastic ATV fenders do use a significant amount of petroleum during production. The ease with which this production can happen, however, keeps the cost of plastic down and the availability of options up. Carbon, conversely, is labor-intensive to mold or otherwise create, so the cost of carbon fenders will be much higher. They are more resistant to direct impacts, which means it is less likely to break when struck, but it can also fail catastrophically if it is twisted or torqued in certain ways. Carbon is very attractive and often adds a high-end aesthetic to any machine, but the price of carbon fenders will be very high.
Plastic ATV fenders can shatter fairly easily when struck. Depending on what type of plastic is used during production, plastic ATV fenders can be brittle; ATVs are likely to incur impacts while on the trail, so it is likely that the owner will need to replace the plastic fenders at some point. The good news is that plastic fenders tend to be less expensive than carbon, so the replacement cost will generally be low. Plastic is also reasonably lightweight, which means the weight of the ATV will not be affected too drastically, nor will the handling of the machine.
The color options for plastic ATV fenders are likely to be quite wide as well. Plastic is very easy to tint during the production process, so if the ATV owner wants to change the aesthetic of his or her machine, plastic fenders will offer plenty of options. Carbon can also be colored, but the process is not as easy and weight will be added to the carbon pieces if they are painted. Paint on carbon is also very likely to chip off after regular use, which means the aesthetic can be adversely affected.