How to Choose the Best Electric ATV for Kids and Adults
Electric All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) are a type of Off-Road Vehicles (ORVs) that are becoming more and more popular thanks to the improvements in batteries and other electric and electronic components.
Electric ATVs range in size from toy vehicles for small children to large and powerful vehicles with performances comparable to gas-powered ATVs.
Updated: November 18, 2022.
Electric ATVs Features and Specifications
Electric ATVs are 4-wheel vehicles that are powered by an electric motor (or motors) and an onboard battery (or battery pack).
Unlike gas-operated ATVs, electric ATVs feature zero carbon emission, they are ECO-friendly and are very quiet. Also, they are much simpler to maintain.
Note: If You are an ATV beginner, it is highly recommended to look for a beginner's ATV driving course, even if it is not required by local laws. Also, always have protective gear on (helmet, goggles, gloves...) - better safe than sorry.
When looking for an ATV, there are a few things to consider first, including:
Electric ATVs for kids are practically toys that kids drive around in the parks and similar flat surfaces under supervision by adults. Such electric ATVs are mostly powered by cheap but reliable general-purpose (deep cycle) lead-acid batteries.
Entry-level ATVs for adults are mostly powered by larger lead-acid batteries, keeping the price at an acceptable level.
Most electric ATVs being powered by lead-acid batteries are 12V, 24V, and 36V systems, although some manufacturers offer even 48V lead-acid battery-powered electric ATVs. However, such models are rare, thanks to technological advances and the availability of affordable ultra-light lithium batteries.
Lithium-ion batteries increase the price of electric ATVs and electric vehicles in general. Still, they also store much more energy at a lower weight, support a much larger number of charging/discharging cycles, can be recharged faster, etc.
Lithium-ion batteries are commonly found in larger, more expensive units, with performances often matching the performances of gas-powered ATVs.
Lithium-ion batteries can be found in 12V, 24V, 36V, 48V, 56V, etc., systems.
With the advancements in technology, lithium batteries are starting to appear in entry-level electric ATVs for adults and even children, but such electric ATVs tend to be more expensive than lead-acid battery-powered electric ATVs.
Regardless of the battery type, batteries for ATVs must be able to provide strong currents ensuring high starting torque, respectable top speed, and long-range, suitable for various adventures or maybe "just" for everyday commuting.
Electric ATVs are equipped with brushed (not so good) and brushless (good) electric motors ranging in power:
- from 300 to 1000W: electric ATVs for kids, flat terrain,
- from 500 to 2000W: entry-level electric ATVs for adults, flat terrain,
- from 2kW to 4kW: electric ATVs for easy trails,
- from 4kW to 7kW: electric ATVs for moderate trails,
- 7kW+: electric ATVs for hardest trails.
Of course, motor power and terrain difficulty relation depend on the total ATV mass and load, tire type, transmission, suspension, etc.
Since electric ATVs are still very similar to gas-powered ATVs, most electric ATVs still have only one electric motor and use a transmission similar to the gas-powered transmission.
Speed depends on the ATV's intended use, motor power, total unit weight, road/trail condition, and similar.
Small electric ATVs intended for children usually have an adjustable speed limit, allowing the parents to set the maximum speed limit - mostly between 2-10 mph (3-16 km/h).
Entry-level electric ATVs for adults usually have a maximum speed in the 8-15 mph (~13-24 km/h) range.
Large and powerful units powered by lithium batteries may have a maximum speed in excess of 40 mph (>64 km/h) over flat terrain.
Note: depending on the local/state/federal or country laws, some electric ATVs can be road driven, but they must have a license plate, insurance, and everything that goes with it - which is beyond the scope of this article.
Personally, ATVs are not suitable for fast rides for many reasons - a high center of gravity, lack of roll bar, and similar. So, take your ATV outdoors and enjoy the ride safely!
The range of electric ATVs differs from 30-60 minutes for children ATVs, 40-90 minutes for entry-level ATVs for adults, to 30-40 miles (or even more) for large off-road lithium battery-powered electric ATVs.
The range or operating time on a single battery charge also depends on the total ATV load, type of tires, battery condition, speed, road/trail condition, etc.
Most electric ATVs are chain-driven, with the power transferred to the rear wheels only (4x2 vehicles). Such vehicles are good for flat terrain and easy trails.
More advanced vehicles use a transmission shaft that transfers the power to the wheels via a differential (just like a car).
Such systems ensure 4x2, differential lock, and sometimes 4x4 transmission.
Of course, for the hardest trails, 4x4 is highly recommended.
Tires must ensure good grip with the surface, increasing the safety of the rider.
In most cases, general off-road tires are "good enough," but for special trails, one has to go for the tires optimized for such trails - rocky trails, marsh trails, and similar.
Also, pneumatic tires ensure a comfortable ride, but run-flat tires ensure that the vehicle can continue even when the tire is punctured - at a slower speed, of course.
Note: Amazon link opens in the new window, feel free to check it for the most up-to-date offers and prices.
The suspension must ensure that all the wheels are in contact with the ground all the time, or at least most of the time.
Also, the suspension must ensure as comfortable a ride as possible, regardless of the road/trail condition.
Too soft or too stiff suspension may cause the ride to become uncomfortable and even dangerous - if possible, go for the electric ATV with adjustable suspension/shock absorbers, which allow the user to adjust the suspension according to the riding conditions.
Of course, such a feature increases the price of the unit.
Personally, in most cases, the manufacturers do a good job in setting their ATVs, especially larger and more expensive ATVs.
The load capacity of the electric ATVs varies depending on the ATVs' intended use:
- electric ATVs for children: usually up to 100 pounds,
- entry-level electric ATVs for adults: up to 230-250 pounds,
- high-end off-road electric ATVs: up to 500-600 or even more pounds.
Don't overload your ATV or any other vehicle - its response will be sluggish and slow, it will not last as long as it should, speed and range will be decreased, etc.
It can simply be dangerous for many reasons.
Over time, people tend to add more weight when going for a ride.
If You weigh, for example, 150 pounds and You like a unit that features a load capacity of, for example, 180 pounds, perhaps the one with the load capacity of 220 pounds will be a better choice - this is just a very simplified example, but ...
Many people, especially beginners, buy the most expensive model they can get within a certain budget.
However, before buying an ATV, it is a good idea to think a little bit about ATV's purpose.
If the ATV is going to be driven over mostly flat terrain, a 4x2 vehicle with lithium batteries can be more suitable than a 4x4 vehicle also with lithium batteries.
Well, 4x2 transmission is cheaper than 4x4 transmission, and the money difference (both ATVs are of a similar price) can get You much better batteries and suspension.
The Rider's Skill Level
Novice riders will enjoy their rides even with cheaper ATVs, while stronger, faster, heavier, and thus more expensive vehicles are harder to handle and can be even dangerous for beginners.
So, when buying a new ATV, don't forget the rider's skill level.
The price of electric ATVs differs from hew hundred US$/euros for entry-level models to thousand and even tens of thousands US$/euros for large and powerful off-road ATVs.
This price range sounds huge, and it is, but one can't compare the price of an ATV for children that features a 12V 10Ah lead-acid battery and the price of an ATV with, for example, a lithium-ion 48V 100Ah+ battery with a 4x4 drive.
So, what You pay is what You get. As usual :)
Electric ATVs Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Here are some of the most common Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about electric ATVs and ATVs in general.
Is there an all-electric ATV?
Yes, thanks to the advances in chemistry and technology in general, all-electric ATVs are being offered by many companies. Their performances differ significantly, so be sure to find the one that fits your needs and requirements.
Are electric 4-wheelers any good?
They are excellent for the tasks they are intended for. But don't expect the $500 electric ATV to be comparable with the $5000 unit.
How much does an electric ATV cost?
It all depends on the features and specifications of the electric ATV - the most important are battery type, voltage and capacity, motor power, load capacity, maximum speed and range, and similar.
How fast do electric ATVs go?
Small electric ATVs intended for 3-7 year-old children may go up to 5-10 mph, but they also usually have maximum speed adjustable, allowing the parents to limit the maximum speed.
Large, off-road electric ATVs with lithium-ion batteries can go up to 40 mph (or even more) on flat terrain.
How to make electric ATVs faster?
Without discussing if it is a smart or safe thing to do, an electric ATV can be made faster by:
- using a lighter battery pack with better discharge characteristics,
- replacing older power controls electronics with newer, more energy-efficient ones (if available),
- replacing an older electric motor with a newer, stronger, more energy-efficient one. And if such new motor is lighter than the old motor, even better. (Note: maybe You will have to replace power controls as well!),
- replacing universal all-terrain tires with tires optimized for the terrain You plan on driving may also help increase the speed of an ATV, etc.
Where to buy an ATV?
ATVs can be ordered from online shops, for example, Amazon, or they can be ordered from their manufacturers, local dealerships, and similar.
What's the best electric quad?
One that safely gets You outside and safely gets You back home. People differ, and so do their requirements and preferences - hence, one really can't find "the best" electric quad that would fit anyone's needs.
ATV vs UTV vs RTV vs ORV
ATV stands for All-Terrain Vehicle, UTV stands for Utility Task Vehicle, RTV stands for Rough Terrain Vehicle, and ORV stands for Off-Road Vehicle.
Some of these abbreviations may be used interchangeably, but ...
ATV - All-Terrain Vehicle is a classic quad vehicle intended for one or two persons (the second person behind the first one!) and features motorbike-style handlebars.
UTV - Utility Task Vehicle features side-by-side seats (often abbreviated as "SxS"), a classic steering wheel, and very often a roll-bar or even a cabin. UTVs usually can carry a much larger load than ATVs.
RTV - Rough Terrain Vehicles are typically UTVs intended for rough terrain. RTV and ORV (Off-Road Vehicles) are very often used interchangeably, although these vehicles may differ significantly.
How to convert a gas ATV to electric?
While it is possible to convert a gas ATV into an electric one, it requires a lot of work and some money.
In order to convert a gas ATV into an electric ATV, one must remove the gas tank, gas engine, cooling system (if present), exhaust pipes, and everything else that is required by a gas engine and then mounts an electric motor, batteries, motor controller, etc.
If the breaks are mechanical, leave them as they are. If they are hydraulic, check how to connect them.
One also must connect the headlights and other lights to the new electric system, etc.
In short, yes, it is possible to convert a gas ATV to the electric one, but it requires plenty of work, time, and money.
IMHO, sell an old gas-powered ATV and buy yourself a new, electric one - simpler, faster, cleaner...
Long Story Short: When looking for an ATV, consider an electric one - they are less noisy, environmentally more friendly vehicles that are easier to maintain than the gas-powered ATVs.
Always choose electric ATVs according to your own personal needs and preferences - there is no "the best" one since electric ATVs differ significantly in both performance and in price.
Note: when riding the ATVs and similar vehicles, safety first - learn how to ride them properly and always wear protective gear ...