Cheap Ways To Make Your ATV Faster

Eli Madero
by Eli Madero

If you're looking for a few quick ways to power up your ATV, these are the mods you want.

It doesn’t take a wallet full of cash to put some more pep into your ATV. If you want some cheap ways to make your ATV faster, these mods will get the job done.

Don’t you just hate it when you feel the need for speed, but your wallet laughs at you when you open it? Of course, you could always just go ahead and spend all kinds of money on your ATV and hop it up, but then you might not have enough left over for some other things, like gas, the truck payment, food… you know, minor stuff. Luckily there are some cheap but good ways to make your ATV faster that are much more affordable than you might think. Whether you want to go crazy and completely change out your intake and exhaust systems for more power, or you’re looking for a subtle boost, we’ve listed some of the best items you should consider to make your ATV faster.

Table of Contents

1. Editor's Choice: Intake Upgrade

There are two extremely restrictive components on an ATV that seriously limit the amount of power that the engines are capable of making, and those are the intake and exhaust systems. If you've got a Sport ATV, then you have a good number of options for intake kit upgrades that allow you to make some significant power. Some of the most popular kits for Sport ATVs come from Fuel Customs Intake (FCI). Their kits consist of the following components:

High-flow air filter (Foam or K&N style)

Custom intake tube to go from filter to cylinder head intake

All required mounting hardware and breather hoses

Open filter mount or optional air box (*air box is an additional expense)

If you have any questions on just how well installing one of these kits on your Sport ATV can make a difference, just look at some of the fastest professional ATV racers machines. You'll find these setups on most of the front runners and when Factory Kawasaki had their ATV racing program, FCI was the intake of choice. They're made in the USA with high quality components, by ATV enthusiasts for ATV enthusiasts. Furthermore, their customer service is 2nd to none whether it be a question you have on the installation procedure or need for additional parts.

If you're riding a Utility ATV, you're not left scrambling for air to create more power as well. While you won't find high performance intake kits like those from FCI, you can still swap out your stock air filter for a high-flow air filter from K&N. K&N has been making some of the best air filters for decades for use with virtually every kind of powersports or automotive application that is out there. According to K&N, their layered, oiled cotton media allows up to 50% increased air flow over traditional paper air filters, while keeping out all the dirt. What's better is that these filters are reusable, meaning that you can pull them out of your ATV, wash and re-oil for use again. Our recommendation is to buy two, so when wash time come you can just swap them out to minimize downtime of your ATV. The icing on the cake with these filters is that they're backed by K&N's Million Mile Limited Warranty.

2. High Flow Exhausts

Like we previously stated, both stock intake and exhaust systems are very restrictive limiting the power output of your ATVs engine. Just like the intake systems for ATVs, there are numerous aftermarket companies to choose from. The most popular systems are slip-on mufflers that allow you to remove your OEM muffler to be replaced with one that is usually lighter and a core that allows your engines exhaust to flow at a much higher rate than the heavily baffled stock systems. Some of the more popular brands are FMF, Big Gun , and HMF, which most produce exhaust for the most popular sport and utility ATVs on the market.

While slip-on exhaust systems are the more affordable power adder upgrade for your ATV, there is still more power and increased rideability to be gained when you also swap out the stock header for an aftermarket one. These aftermarket head pipes can be larger in diameter, be tapered at different lengths of the pipe, or even have specially designed chambers all which can change the power curve of the engines output for better acceleration or top end performance. Most companies that sell slip-on systems will offer their own head pipe to match, while some companies will sell a full exhaust system that was constructed to be perfectly matched for the ultimate performance. While these full systems are substantially more expensive than the slip-on's, the performance is also on another level. For maximum performance gains, you want to run either the slip-on or full systems in conjunction with a high-flow intake system.

3. Carburetor / Fuel Injection Tuning

To maximize your engines performance after upgrading either the intake, exhaust, or both, you want to increase your fuel delivery. On todays modern 4-stroke engines, fuel injection systems are a common sight and require special programmers to enrich your fuel system. A leader in automotive and powersports fuel injection systems, Dynojet is one of the more popular companies to offer such a product. The Dynojet Power Commander V plugs into your fuel injected ATVs existing wiring harness and allows you to fine tune the amount of fuel being delivered to create the maximum power in your engine. It's not uncommon for exhaust manufactures to have their own fuel programmers, but the Dynojet unit has a ton of features like:

Compact design for discrete placement and easy uninstallation

Access to a database of custom tunes for any combination of aftermarket parts

Custom Power Core software to connect dyno runs with EFI tuning devices for maximum power potential

Upgradeable features such as auto-tune when used in conjunction with special accessories

Easy connectivity via USB port to create your custom tunes

You won't find features like these in the more generic fuel programmers, but for the average user they likely work fine.

Now if your ATV isn't the latest and most high-tech machine out on the trails, that's totally OK. These older machines usually run a carburetor to deliver fuel to the engines and work just fine, but you still need to fuel adjustments if you alter the intake of exhaust systems. Many times you just need to change the main jet of the carburetor to compensate for the increase intake and exhaust flow, and other times you might need to change the main, pilot and needle jet for your ATV to run its best with those mods. This is where we again turn to Dynojet for the solution to our jetting needs. Dynojet Jet Kits come with a range of main and pilot jets to help you dial in your jetting as best as possible to maximize your ATVs performance. Most kits also feature a custom needle jet that further helps to fine tune your throttle response through the mid-range of the power delivery. While the carbureted ATVs aren't as fancy or technologically advanced as their fuel injected counterparts, they're also more affordable to tune since you can usually pick up a Dynojet jet kit for under $100 where the Power Commander V tuner can run anywhere from $250-$500 depending on your ATV model.

4. Traction Grabbers A.K.A. Tires

You might be wondering why tires are on our list of products of cheap ways to make your ATV faster, and the answer is simple. If you're running on old, worn down tires that don't bite, all you're going to be doing is spinning your wheels. There are plenty of tire companies that make affordably priced tires regardless of what type of machine you ride. Companies like ITP, Maxxis, GBC, CST, and more have offerings for both sport and utility ATVs in a wide variety of sizes. Main features that will affect the pricing of your choice in tires are tire size (obviously) and often times the ply rating of the tires, and this can be important in your decision. While you might like the price of some 2 or 4-ply tires, the tradeoff of their resistance to being punctured could cost you more in the long run. If you buy a light duty tire like this and are constantly puncturing them, the cost to replace them might overshadow the price of a tire that you could have initially purchased and not had that problem. Aside from price, it could affect the ability to enjoy your rides, because lets face it, flat tires are a pain on the trail.

5. Gearing Changes

One way making your chain driven ATV faster is by changing your gearing. Especially if you've done the "Big 3" power adders (intake, exhaust and rejet), you can likely pick up a little more performance through changing your OEM gearing. By going up one on your countershaft sprocket, it makes a significant difference in top end performance, while you may sacrifice a little on the low end. This will be really noticeable if you try this change on a stock motor. Changing the countershaft sprocket is also an inexpensive mod since you can likely find a good sprocket for around $15-$20. Now making a change in the rear isn't as noticeable but it really allows you to find tune the pull of your engine with the power modifications you've made. Rear sprockets are available in both steel and aluminum, and the steel is highly recommended for improved wear. The steel sprockets run anywhere from $30-$45 and we recommend getting a tooth higher and lower so you can play around with the gearing to feel the difference. A good company to get sprockets from is JT Sprockets, as they have a wide variety to cover most every ATV and motorcycle in both steel and aluminum.

6. Practice

Honestly, and I can say this with all certainty, the best cheap way to make your ATV faster is to practice your riding skills. Find a challenging section of trail and ride it over and over again, to build up those skills. You’ll find that you will go faster the more you do this, and those skills will transfer to other parts of the trail. If you can, get a GoPro and film yourself, so you can see what you’re doing and get tips on how to improve. That’s why motocross guys always film themselves riding. Nothing beats experience.

I just installed a new slip-on system and now my ATV is backfiring?

Sounds to us that you didn't do any rejetting of the carb or fuel injection system. The backfiring is being caused by a lean air/fuel mixture and if not corrected can cause engine damage in the long run. Either get a jet kit or fuel programmer to richen up your fuel mixture to correct the problem and you'll be happier you did.

What is the difference between a stock head pipe and an aftermarket one?

Depending on the manufacture, an aftermarket head pipe could be a larger diameter for increased flow for engines that have significant motor work. Also some are designed with a different pipe diameter, also considered tapered or stepped pipes, to change the power delivery of the motor by altering the back pressure created in the exhaust.

I agree with getting practice on the ATV to be a faster rider, but buying a new GoPro Hero10 is a little out of my budget. Are there other cameras to use?

While the GoPro Hero10 really is the best of the best when it comes to action cameras, there are certainly more options on the market that don't cost near as much. The difference being that they might not feature that cinematic quality that you'll get with a GoPro and it might not have as many of the features. If you're not really worried about things like this, check out our Best Cheap Action Cameras buyers guide. You'll find a few options there that are much more friendly to your budget.

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Eli Madero
Eli Madero

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