Whether you’re riding fences, pulling implements, doing food plot work or hauling, an ATV is an ideal companion for the ranchland owner needing to reach rough and remote places. And just as the tasks involved in keeping your land up can vary, so do the tools required to do so; ATVs are no exception. Choosing the right ATV for your specific needs can go a long way in getting the job done, and maybe even having some fun along the way.
ATV or UTV?
In a broad sense, ATVs can be separated into two basic categories: traditional ATVs with saddles and UTVs (Utility Task Vehicles), which are more commonly known as side-by-sides. When deciding whether an ATV or UTV is best for you, consider where you plan to use it and what you need to use it for.
Traditional ATVs are smaller than UTVs, making it possible to access tight places along narrow trails. In addition, their more compact size means they can be hauled in the back of a pickup truck; an important consideration if you need to transport your ATV regularly. However, ATVs are limited in some regards. Most can only carry a maximum of 200 lbs of cargo in addition to the rider’s weight and many are not capable of carrying a passenger. Also important to note is the physical exertion of riding an ATV; on rough terrain the rider is responsible for things like balancing and maneuvering.
On the contrary, operating a UTV is basically the same as driving a car. Most UTVs can accommodate anywhere from one to five passengers depending on model, and most are capable of hauling 800-1,350 lbs of cargo, making them much better suited for heavier jobs. However, UTVs can be quite large, and their size might preclude them from accessing public ATV trails, which are restricted to vehicles no more than 50 inches wide. Also, you’ll need to purchase a trailer for transporting your side-by-side off the ranch, as most are too large to fit in the bed of a pickup truck.
The Right ATV for You
If you mainly need a vehicle for recreational use along with some light work such as pulling a trailer and light snow plowing, consider a traditional ATV with an engine in the 200cc-500cc range. ATVs of this size usually range in price from around $5,000-$8,000 new, with features such as automatic transmissions and four-wheel-drive available in higher priced models. These ATVs can make excellent companions on hunting land and for general ranch work without breaking the bank or taking up too much space.
If heavier work such plowing, pulling implements and hauling bigger loads is in the cards, yet you still need a vehicle that’s easy to transport or get into narrow places, a larger ATV with an engine of 500cc-1,000cc might be your best choice. Many ATVs of this size come standard with automatic transmissions and four-wheel-drive, some can haul passengers, and all can handle heavier tasks around the ranch; prices for these ATVs usually range from around $6,000 to over $10,000 depending on model and features.
And finally, if load and passenger-carrying capability is more important to you than size and maneuverability and you prefer a more car-like operating experience, a side-by-side UTV could be just the ticket. Side-by-sides can vary greatly in load-carry capability and price depending on model, with smaller two-seat UTVs available for less than $8,000, and four and six-seat models approaching $15,000 to $20,000.
Regardless of whether you choose an ATV or side-by-side UTV, you’ll likely find that these capable machines will become a constant companion of both work and play on your ranchland.