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10 Best ATV Upgrades For Trail Riding

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The Best ATV Upgrades For Trail Riding

Want to mud it up? Hoping to hit the trails for some overnight camping trips with the family? These are the ATV upgrades you need if you’re a trail rider who might want to push the limits a bit (but not too much!)

These are not the mechanical modifications you’ll want if you’re looking to go from 0-60 in 10 seconds and bring home the gold. These are practical ATV upgrades for riders looking to get the most out of their ride.


1) Winch

ATV Upgrades

If you intend to ride aggressively, play in the mud, or do extended overnight trips, a winch is a solid investment. It may be one of the most important ATV accessories you can buy. When you’re out on the trail with the sun going down, you don’t want to worry about how you’re going to get your ride out of 15 inches of mud.

Winches are rated by weight capability. Generally speaking, the higher the weight rating the more expensive the winch. Of course, if you shop around, you can find exceptions and maybe snag a better deal.

Check out these popular ATV winches:


2) ATV Street Legal Kit

ATV Upgrades

Where I live in the mountain west (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming), ATVing is very much a way of life and ingrained in our way of life, so having a street legal ATV/SUV just makes sense. This allows you to ride on most public roads providing you have made your ATV “street legal”.

If you ride in a state that isn’t as ATV friendly, then having your ATV street legal isn’t necessary or practical unless you plan on traveling to ride.

Having your ATV street legal is pretty easy to do, but each state varies with it’s requirements, so be sure to check your state laws.

Some of the basic requirements usually include:

  • Horn
  • License plate holder with light
  • Turn signals
  • Lights
  • Mirrors

There is good selection of affordable kits online, check them out here:


3) Mirrors

ATV Upgrades

Even if you don’t make your ATV street legal you should consider adding a mirror. Sure having a mirror on your ATV makes you look like a dork, but who cares because you’re a smart practical dork.

If you’re riding with a partner or a group, not having to physically turn around every 15 minutes will save a lot of wear and tear on your back and neck.


4) Cell Phone Holder

ATV Upgrades

One of the best ATV upgrades is a cell phone mount. If you plan on using gps maps, you need to have it in an easy to read location. Plus, having your cell phone mounted to the handlebars just makes sense. You’ll no longer have to dig your phone out of a bag every time you want to use it.

RAM Mounts are pretty much the gold standard for cell phone mounts for motorized sports. Here are a couple to check out, plus a great one from TruActive.


5) Grab Bars

ATV Upgrades

A lot of ATVs come with a stock grab bar that isn’t always up to the job and have a tendency to break, so this is a practical inexpensive upgrade.

Grab bars install on the front or back of the bike and give a strong grab place for lifting and moving the ATV around (like if you’re stuck in the mud). They can also be used for winching and although not strictly designed as a bumper, it does provide some protection for the bike.

Most ATV grab bars have a place to mount rear tail lights and racing numbers. Some come with a whip flag mount!

For a good selection of ATV grab bars, Dennis Kirk is a good place to check out.


6) Whip Flag

ATV Upgrades

If you intend to do any sand dune riding you’ll need a whip flag, they’re mandatory equipment for virtually all sand dunes. They help other riders see you when you’re cresting a big hill or cruising through the rolling dunes.

Most ATVs will have a pre-drilled hole on the racks made for mounting a whip flag. If yours doesn’t, the grab bar listed above is an option.

FYI – get a whip pole that is 9 feet from the ground up, with a red or orange flag 8″ x 12″. Most ATVs will be fine with a 6′ pole, but smaller children’s ATVs may need a 7′ tall pole to meet safety requirements.

Glamis/mperial Sand Dunes requires a pole that reaches 8′ above the ground with a 6″ x 12″ flag. Flags can be pennant, triangle, square, or rectangular shape.

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area requires a pole that reaches 9′ above the ground with an 8″ x 12″ flag, so might as well get the taller/bigger flag. (Just in case you’re living the dream and sand duning it up).


7) Rack/Cargo Box

ATV Upgrades

If you plan on doing any long distance trail riding, camping or hunting, you’ll eventually need some sort of ATV rack system with storage. Most larger ATV come stock with racks, so that makes it easy to add storage.

For storage you will have to decide between a hard sided box or soft sided bags. Both types have their virtues.

Hard sided ATV cargo boxes are more waterproof, provide better protection and can often times be locked.

Soft sided ATV cargo bags are usually less expensive, can often hold more gear and compress down when not in use, so they’re easier to store.


8) Backrest

ATV Upgrades

If you’re old (like me), this ATV upgrade make total sense. If you’re younger, read on by….

You have a couple options when it comes to ATV backrests. You can simply add a backrest to your seat or you can upgrade to an ATV storage box or cargo bags that have the backrest built in.

Most of the cargo box/bag types aren’t designed to be used by the driver while riding, but they make it a whole lot more comfortable on longer rides when you take a lunch break. You just push back in the seat and lounge away.


9) Cup Holder

ATV Upgrades

Although not absolutely necessary, an ATV cup holder is a pretty simple ATV upgrade that will get a lot of use. You won’t have to dig your drink out of your cooler or bag every time you want to chase the dirt down.


10) ATV Handle Grips

ATV Upgrades

Stock grips get the job done, but if you’d like to ride all day without tearing up your hands, you’ll definitely want to upgrade your grips.

Considering the low price tag, you’ll wonder why you didn’t upgrade these sooner. With lots of extra gripping power and textured rubber padding, upgraded grips will help soften the pounding your hand take. Plus, they’re super easy to install.

For millionaire hand status, check out heated handle grips.

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