17 Essential Sport ATV Modifications To Make You Better Than The Competition

One thing I love about a sport ATV is how FAST they go and how light they are. 4WD Utility ATVs may be able to go places that sport ATVs can, but I think sport ATVs are so much more fun.

From racing on the motocross track to ripping down the trails and slinging up sand on the dunes, sport ATVs are where it’s at. It’s a shame that sport ATVs are a dying breed and are not being manufactured anymore except for Yamaha models. Check out more on that in an article I wrote right here.

If you already own a sport ATV or are itching to go out and buy one then there are a ton of of aftermarket upgrades that you can perform and that is another thing that makes these quads so much fun to not only ride, but to work on as well. I have personally installed several modifications on my ATV and these are the 19 modifications I recommend.

1. Upgrade Your Tires First 

Tires are the first things I recommend to upgrade on any ATV that you own. Stock tires are great, until you actually want to get into harder riding or riding on anything other than flat terrain.

New tires will provide your ride with more grip and many also have great gripping force not only in the straight always but in the turns because good tires are designed for racers! Maxxis RZRs are some of the best sport ATV tires on the market and the have them at Amazon!

When looking at new tires, make sure you pick tires that are suited for your riding style and terrain you will be riding. Another factor to consider is weight. If you want a light and fast ATV then shedding weight anywhere you can. Many performance tires are lighter than stock and will give you a slight weight reduction.

2. Get Some Aftermarket Rims

Most modern sport ATVs come with lightweight aluminum rims but are not optimized for the lightest, most performance ready rims they can be. Just like with your tires, aftermarket rims will provide better durability under the stressful conditions that comes with riding hard through trails and on the track. Aftermarket rims will also give you the added benefit of weighing less and weight reduction will play a part in making your ATV faster.

If you are going for the fastest build you can either on the track or at the dunes, then the weight reduction will be one of the later things you are worried about but will definitely help shave some milliseconds off your times. Most aftermarket rims look really cool and nothing says “I have a bad quad” like the head turning aesthetics.

3. Upgrade Your Exhaust to a Full Exhaust System

Upgrading your stock exhaust to a full exhaust system will do a lot for your ride and it starts with reducing weight by a significant amount. Weight reduction seems to be a theme when it comes to making your quad as fast as it can be. It is one of the effects that makes the biggest difference, especially when you have done all the horsepower upgrades you can.

A new exhaust system will also give you an immediate power increase and will allow you to give yourself targeted gains to either the low end or the high end of performance. Horsepower and weight reduction combined will give you a machine that will outperform the competition in races and will also impress your buddies on the trail or at the dunes.

4. Install a Performance Clutch

Another upgrade that will immediately improve your performance is a clutch kit. Specially designed clutches will allow you to get more torque and improves your hole shots by giving you more acceleration out of the gate. Clutch kits will also make shifting much smoother when shifting between gears and allow for better transitions through the gears.

The goal of a performance clutch kit is to create a faster upshift and a crisper downshift which will allow you to get  the best throttle response possible. The thing about a good aftermarket clutch kit is that you can tune it to your personal riding style and have it suit the terrain you most often ride.

5. Upgrade Intake Air Box, and Use a Performance Air Filter

Believe it or not, your sport ATV needs to breath just like we need to breath. Well maybe not just like us, but combustion engines NEED air to be able to run properly and maintain a healthy fuel air ratio to keep combustion at is most efficient to produce the most horsepower.

One of the first and most cost effective modifications that you can do without breaking the bank and getting the most bang for your buck is to upgrade the intake air box and filter. It is also one of the easiest mods to perform. Having a good intake system will allow clean air into the engine and with the proper fuel air ratio will produce the horsepower needed for the combustion engine like I mentioned above. The more clean air that comes in, the more fuel that can be mixed to aid that combustion. Better, more efficient, and more combustion will increase the power and make your ATV much faster.

You can upgrade the intake system without an exhaust upgrade but I recommend you do both upgrades at the same time. I mentioned that the airbox and air filter mod is one of the easiest to do but that does not mean it should be done by itself. If you only install and airbox and air filter and do not upgrade to a full exhaust and do some fuel system work, then your ATV will be taking in more air then it knows what to do with and this will not gain any measurable performance increase.

Doing both upgrades at the same time will maximize your performance and will also keep you from having to change fuel settings or jetting in order to balance out your fuel and air systems.

6. Use a Fuel Controller or Jet Your Carburetor

If your ATV uses an electronic fuel system you will get better results by adding a fuel controller to tune your fuel system. If you have a carbureted system you will want to grab a repair kit to fix any issues be sure the ATV is jetted correctly. 

Carbureted ATV Engines

Carbureted engines in ATVs are now a thing of the past but if you are still running a carb system then you need to make sure that you have it properly jetted to accommodate for more airflow from a new intake airbox and filter.

Jetting your ATV carburetor is the process of determining the proper air-to-fuel ratio the engine receives. Ensuring you have the correct ratio of fuel to air makes your ATV run optimally. Installing jets of different sizes helps increase or decrease the fuel to air ratio depending on what your bike requires.

Most new ATVs from the factory probably need jetting. Several factors influence whether or not you need to jet the carb including the following:

  • Weather
  • Humidity
  • Altitude
  • Upgrades to engine or exhaust system
  • Basic routine maintenance

Electronic Fuel Injection Engines

Throttle body EFI is a very simple concept in a mechanical sense. The throttle body has a butterfly valve and several fuel injectors that point into the motor. A pump provides fuel pressure to those injectors and a computer tells the injectors when to spray fuel into the combustion chamber. Injectors are either off or on, like a light switch and the amount of fuel is metered out per stroke of the engine. This allows or a more precise mixture of fuel and air making your system more efficient and powerful. EFI allows for less fiddling and more performance.

7. Install New Handlebars and Hand Grips

Sport ATVs are not tailored to each rider from the factory and one key component is comfort. Upgrading to a new set of handlebars means you can custom fit your quad to you. This will allow you to be able to reach the bars just right and make cornering and straight line driving more comfortable and easier to deal with.

You can also opt for larger diameter handlebars than the stock ⅞” found on most sport ATVs. This will allow better grip for people with larger hands. Make sure you get a nice comfortable set of hand grips as well that will allow you to maintain your hold on the ATV over all the terrain you may encounter.

8. Get a Better Chain

Sport ATVs come equipped with a chain and sprocket setup. The more horsepower and torque you add to your quad, the more the chain will have to turn and the more pressure that is exerted. A stock chain will not likely hold up to this added power so it is a good time to go ahead and get a thicker, sturdier chain that will hold up to your increasing power demands.

Opt for an O-ring chain when you upgrade. These are inherently stronger, stretch less, and have the added benefit of keeping dirt and debri out of the inner links of your chain which will save wear and tear.

9. Install a New Sprocket

If you are upgrading you chain then a sprocket is a great idea to upgrade at the same time. The sprocket is the part that the chain rests on and propels the chain. You can get an aftermarket sprocket that will be lighter than your stock one all while being stronger at the same time. This added benefit of lighter weight and stronger design helps twofold.

Getting a larger rear sprocket with more teeth will help your bottom end and give your ATV more acceleration while getting a smaller rear sprocket with less teeth will increase your top end.

10. Upgrade to Better Control Levers

Stock brake and clutch levers will do their job but if you want to maximize comfort and performance down to the smallest detail then you need to replace them with better quality adjustable levers. These adjustable levers can adjust in or out to accommodate larger or smaller hands. Having levers that can be easily reached prevent straining your hands when reaching through the turns.

While you are upgrading the hand levers, go ahead and upgrade the foot levers and pegs. Make sure you get foot levers that have an aggressive grip pattern to help maximize gripping force. This will keep your feet locked onto the pegs and make sure your feet don’t slip when shifting gears or using the foot brake.

11. Use Nerf Bars For Safety

Nerf bars are metal tubes that go around the foot controls and have netting weaved and attached to the ATV. These contraptions keep your foot from hitting the ground if you happen to lose your footing.

If you are riding and your foot slips off with a set of nerf bars, they can get caught up on the track and run under the wheels and cause some serious damage to your feet and ankles. Using proper riding boots will reduce this chance if you decide to go without nerf bars. Check out the boots I recommend on my Recommended Gear Page.

12. Install Skid Plates

I talked about weight reduction a lot and this mod does the exact opposite and adds quite a bit of extra weight but installing a set of skid plates will save the underside of your quad so much that the added weight will be worth the cost savings.

Most skid plates come in steel, aluminum, and UHMW plastic. Here are some pros and cons of each:

  • Steel is easy to work on but will corrode and is also much heavier than aluminum and UHMW
  • Aluminum is also fairly easy to work with and much lighter than steel. It is also a very durable material
  • UHMW plastic is much lighter than both of the previous materials and it is also much more durable.

UHMW is much more superior to aluminum and steel because it is much quieter to ride with and is more durable when riding over large obstacles. The downsides to UHMW are that it is much more expensive and harder to repair if it does get damaged.

13. Get A Steering Stabilizer

A steering stabilizer is the next best thing to power steering on a sport ATV. It doesn’t make much sense to put power steering on an ATV as light as these because they are easy enough to turn without it but a steering stabilizer takes all the extra bumps you feel from the trail and lessens the movement, or dampens the effect, which is why it is also called a steering damper.

14. Upgrade Your Suspension

Suspension is like a steering damper, for your whole bike! Get yourself a good aftermarket suspension system to make sure you can take bumps and dips and divots all over the track and the trail with ease of you really want to dump some hard cash into your ATV.

9 times out of 10  your stock suspension will do EVERYTHING you need and won’t be something you want to replace. Replacing the suspension on a sport ATV will often cost more than 5 or 6 of these other larger mods combined. Serious racers at large sponsored competitions are the guys that end up giving their suspensions a makeover.

15. Move To A Bigger Carb

If you have a carbureted ATV then you can consider moving to a larger carb. A bigger carb will flow more air, so the motor needs more fuel to keep it from leaning out. A 34mm carb will pull more fuel than a 28mm carb will. Porting, pipes, and other performance parts will determine how big your carb needs to be. Remember, your motor is an air pump, and the more air you can put into it, the more power you will get out of it.

16. Upgrade Your Camshaft

Camshafts regulate the amount of air that enters into an engine and how much exhaust exits. Fuel economy, emissions, and overall performance are all affected by the camshaft.

The fuel intake can be multiplied greatly by an aftermarket camshaft that allows the valves to pump better. You have to budget wisely when going down the path to upgrading to an aftermarket camshaft as it may not be the only upgrade you need to make on your engine.

17. Port Intake and Exhaust Heads for More Air Flow

This is a mod that needs to be done during all your other expensive mods and needs to be done by a professional that knows what they are doing. You are actually modifying the ports to make it so your engine pulls in even more air and we know more air mixed with fuel means more combustion. Unless you are racing or dragging, then you probably won’t do this but it will let you maximize performance.

If you want to have a lean, mean, racing machine then you will have to spend a good chunk of money to make that happen. If you want to do some easy and cheap mods make sure you know what mods are stand alone and what mods are not. Hopefully these mods I listed will help you on your way to get a great performing sport ATV.