How to Make ATV Ride Smoother: Unlock Ultimate Comfort

Let’s face it. Riding ATVs is fun but hitting bumps when you have stiff suspensions is not fun at all. Fortunately, it’s possible to tune the ATV suspensions and make the ride smoother.

Here are the steps you need to take in order to adjust the ATV suspension and make the ride smoother:

  • Spring Preload: Modify to set ATV height; increase for heavier loads or to soften the ride.
  • Damping Settings: Adjust to control shock response, with compression damping for bump absorption and rebound for suspension return speed.
  • Tune ATV: Utilize electronic settings on modern ATVs to soften suspension or adjust shocks based on terrain.

Making your ATV ride smoother is not just about fine tuning the shocks. It’s also about the tire pressure, your riding style, and other accessories that make four-wheelers more comfortable. Read on to discover it all!

clipart showing how to make ATV ride smoother

Understanding the ATV Suspension System

The heart of any ATV’s comfort and handling capability lies in its suspension system. This intricate mechanism is designed not just to provide stability but also to ensure that riders experience the least amount of jolts and jumps even on the roughest terrains. The key to unlocking the ultimate smooth ride is by understanding and properly tuning this system. This is why the world’s most comfortable ATVs are all equipped with next-gen suspension systems.

The main components of an ATV’s suspension are the springs and dampers (shocks). While springs are responsible for holding up the ATV’s weight and providing the primary support, the dampers or shocks play a crucial role in absorbing impacts from bumps and uneven terrain. Dampers control the motion of the springs, ensuring that the ATV doesn’t bounce uncontrollably after hitting an obstacle. Together, these components work in tandem to offer a balance between performance and comfort. Now, if you want to make your ATV ride smoother, you will need to learn how to adjust the suspension.

How to Adjust the Suspensions for Smoother Rides

two people riding the Polaris Sportsman Touring XP 1000

To make your ATV ride smoother, tuning the suspension is crucial. Here’s how:

  • Spring Preload: Adjusting the spring preload allows you to set your ATV’s height and control how much it compresses under load. Increase the preload for heavier loads or reduce it for a softer ride.
  • Damping Settings: Damping controls how quickly your shocks respond. Adjusting the compression damping will influence the shock absorption during a bump, while rebound damping controls the rate at which the suspension returns to its original position.
  • Tune ATV Settings: Some modern ATVs have electronic suspension settings. You can use these to soften the suspension or adjust shocks as per your preference and terrain requirements.

From my experience, adjusting the spring preload is often more than enough to make the ATV feel better on the trail.

How to Tell When Your ATV Shocks are Bad (Symptoms Guide)

Just like any other component on your ATV, shocks have a lifespan. Over time, they deteriorate, affecting your vehicle’s performance, safety, and comfort. But how can one determine the right time to replace or service these crucial components? Recognizing early signs can prevent potential damages and ensure that your ride remains as smooth as possible. Here’s my comprehensive guide on the symptoms that indicate your ATV shocks might be on their way out:

  1. Excessive Bouncing: One of the most evident signs of worn-out shocks is excessive bouncing. If your ATV continues to bounce several times after hitting a bump or hole, it’s a clear indication that the shocks aren’t dampening the springs efficiently.
  2. Leaking Fluid: Dampers or shocks contain fluid that assists in the dampening process. If you notice a puddle of oil under your ATV or oily residue on the shock’s body, it’s a sign of leakage and that it needs replacement.
  3. Uneven Tire Wear: Worn-out shocks can lead to uneven weight distribution across the tires. As a result, you might notice uneven or more rapid tire wear. Regularly inspecting your tires can give you an early warning about bad shocks.
  4. Poor Handling: If you feel that your ATV is not handling corners as effectively or seems unstable at higher speeds, the shocks might be to blame. Compromised shocks can affect the ATV’s balance and overall responsiveness. Even the best ATVs with suspension will have problems if you are not paying attention to the handling.
  5. Noise While Riding: Hearing unusual noises, especially when going over bumps or during turns, can be a symptom of failing shocks. Listen for any clunking or knocking sounds.
  6. Visible Damage or Dents: Sometimes, the evidence is visible. Check the shocks for any physical damage, dents, or corrosion. External damages can compromise the integrity of the shocks.
  7. Longer Braking Distance: Bad shocks can affect the ATV’s braking efficiency, leading to longer stopping distances. If you notice that your ATV is taking longer than usual to come to a halt, it might be time to inspect the shocks.

Adjust the Tire Pressure

man riding a 2022 Honda Fourtrax Rincon in the dirt

Tire pressure plays a pivotal role in your ATV’s ride quality. Over-inflated tires might make the ride more bumpy, while under-inflated ones can cause poor handling. Check the manufacturer’s recommendation and ensure your tires are always properly inflated. Regularly inspect them before every ride. You should also consider having your tire balancing done.

Consider Additional Accessories

Just like there are accessories that enhance cars and motorcycles, there are ATV accessories that will enhance the four-wheeler. This includes making the ride feel more comfortable and smoother, even on rugged trails. Here are the main ATV accessories you should consider getting:

  • Skid Plates for Protecting the Underside of Your ATV

Skid plates are armored shields made usually of durable metals or reinforced plastics. They are attached to the underside of the ATV, protecting it from potential damage caused by rocks, logs, and other obstacles on the trail. With skid plates, not only is the ATV safeguarded, but there’s also an added layer that absorbs some of the rough terrain’s impacts.

  • Nerf Bars for Added Protection to the Sides

Nerf bars are essentially tubular devices fitted to the sides of an ATV. They serve multiple purposes: protection against side impacts, providing a safer footrest area and enhancing the overall aesthetics of the vehicle. They ensure that the rider’s foot doesn’t get caught between the ATV and obstacles, offering a safer ride.

  • Aftermarket Seats and Seat Pads for Added Cushioning

While the stock seat of your ATV might be decent, aftermarket seats and seat pads can significantly enhance comfort. They are designed with better ergonomics, use more cushioning materials, and often have water-resistant features. Investing in a good seat means less fatigue on longer rides and better shock absorption.

  • Handguards

Handguards are protective shields that attach to the handlebars, safeguarding the rider’s hands from debris, branches, or inclement weather. They also play a crucial role in preventing hands from getting injured during a fall or collision.

Adjusting Your Riding Style

As previously mentioned, the way you ride the four-wheeler impacts the overall experience that you have on it. It doesn’t matter if you are using a sports ATV or a compact ATV, you will not have a good time if you don’t master the handling. Here are some essential tips and tricks to cultivate a riding style that guarantees a smoother ATV journey:

  • Avoid Aggressive Maneuvers: Quick accelerations, sharp turns, and abrupt stops can unsettle your ATV’s balance. Smooth and gradual movements ensure a more seamless ride.
  • Progressive Acceleration & Braking: Gently ease into the throttle and brakes instead of applying sudden force. This provides better control and minimizes jolting.
  • Anticipate the Terrain: Keep a watchful eye on the path ahead. By foreseeing changes in the terrain, you can adjust your speed and approach in advance.
  • Balanced Weight Distribution: Shift your weight according to the terrain. Lean forward during ascents and slightly back during descents for optimal balance.
  • Cornering Techniques: When approaching tight bends, distribute your weight to the inside of the turn to enhance stability and control.
  • Steady Throttle in Loose Terrains: In sandy or muddy conditions, maintain consistent speed and avoid abrupt movements to prevent getting stuck.

Riding a quad is not easy at all. On the bright side of things, you are guaranteed to get better at it the more time you spend riding.

Bob Kelly

Hey there, my name is Bob and I've been riding ATVs, dirt bikes, and UTVs for most of my life. Going on outdoor adventures has always been my passion. I love sharing tips and tricks with beginners who are getting ready to join the world of outdoor enthusiasts. You can reach me at if you want to get in touch.

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