Snowmobile or ATV with Tracks?

Snowmobiles vs ATV with Tracks

November 28, 2021

Accessing the backcountry or getting to work gets tricky every winter when the snow comes. If you have an ATV, you are probably aware that it becomes pretty useless in deep snow. But fitting it with a set of tracks transforms your ATV into a real winter beast. But how does an ATV with tracks compare to a snowmobile? In this post, we will look at snowmobiles Vs. ATVs with tracks to help you decide which is best for you.

How User Friendly Are These Machines?

ATVs and snowmobiles are pretty simple to ride. Once you have got to grips with the controls and understand how they work, you can head off into the snow-covered wilderness.

However, an ATV is much safer and easier to ride than a snowmobile due to its all-purpose nature. If you need to ride on different surfaces, an ATV with tracks is a much better option. Although, you still need to be cautious when riding them on the roads, especially when taking sharp corners due to the higher center of gravity.

To make your ATV more comfortable during the winter, you can add windshields and heaters. Adding tracks to your ATV makes it a much more versatile machine. They allow you to ride all winter long, but you can remove them when the snow melts if you want to. Whereas a snowmobile will be made redundant until next winter.

Snowmobiles take a bit more getting used to than ATVs. They are simple to use but are less intuitive, thanks to the lack of wheels.

With a snowmobile, you need the open space to get your speed up, and it's hard to maneuver around trees and tight areas. On the other hand, with an ATV with tracks, you can just crawl around tight corners if you need to.

As you know, a snowmobile is purposely built for riding in the snow. Whereas an ATV isn't. This means that a snowmobile's bodywork is designed to keep the snow out. You will find that snow will find its way into all the gaps and openings on an ATV. Therefore, you will need to be vigilant about clearing these areas as you ride.

Which Is Best For Putting The Power Down?

When it comes to high-speed fun, a snowmobile rules. Snowmobiles are much more agile in powder and have more power. This makes them the best choice for backcountry explorations and riding off the beaten track.

This doesn't mean an ATV with tracks cannot be used in deep snow. In fact, you can ride them in deeper snow, thanks to the wide rubber tracks that give you lots of float. In addition to this, their aggressive tread pattern claws through the snow, keeping you moving forwards.

An ATV with tracks will overall have a lot better traction in the snow and on loose surfaces, making it perfect for heavy utility work.

An ATV with tracks won't accelerate as fast as a snowmobile. As long as you can maintain the speed, the extra acceleration of a snowmobile makes it superior at climbing steep mountain faces in powder snow. 

However, the wider surface area and lower gearing of an ATV with tracks allow you to stop and start when climbing a hill. On the other hand, a snowmobile will get stuck, as it needs to maintain its momentum.

To ensure your tracks perform at their optimum level, you need to ensure that their size matches your ATV's power output. If your tracks are too large for your ATV's power, it would still work, but it would be much slower while putting it under a lot of strain.

Which Is More Fun To Ride?

The key to fun is what you do with your machine and how well it handles. There is no doubt that you will have fun on either a snowmobile or an ATV with tracks. However, a snowmobile is more playful in deep snow, thanks to its design. An ATV with tracks is harder to steer, so you need to be moving before you try turning the handlebars.

In addition to this, an ATV with tracks has a much wider turning circle, which takes some getting used to. Therefore, an ATV with tracks is not as nimble as a snowmobile.

Another big part of having fun is seeing how fast you can go. In a straight-up drag race, a snowmobile will beat an ATV with tracks hands down. The addition of the tracks will reduce your speed between 30 and 50% due to the gearing.

However, it is no fun getting stuck in deep snow. A snowmobile is more likely to tip over and get stuck in deep snow. Whereas an ATV with tracks will slowly crawl through, even on the steepest of climbs.

Which Is More Practical?

An ATV is something you can ride all year long, but a snowmobile simply can't match that. You can buy trailers for snowmobiles, but ATVs are much better workhorses.

You can use an ATV in many ways when you fit it with a plow, trailer, snow trail grooming equipment, and other accessories. So overall, an ATV is a more practical work vehicle. You will benefit from owning one if you have a lot of land, a ranch, or a homestead.

Which Is Heavier Snowmobiles Vs. ATVs With Tracks?

The weight of each machine varies with which model you have. Different models have varying uses; therefore, they are different sizes and have larger or smaller engines. Also, you need to take into account any modifications or added accessories to either type of machine.

But, snowmobiles are much lighter than ATVs. The advantage this gives you is that they are easier to handle, even when the snow is very deep.

The extra weight of an ATV is accentuated when you fit tracks to it. The excess weight makes handling more tricky.

What Kind Of Terrain?

You can ride an ATV pretty much anywhere. Whether you need to ride over snow, sand, through deep water, or in mountainous areas, an ATV with tracks becomes an ideal recreational or work vehicle.

The capabilities of ATVs mean they are ideal for all manner of uses. Adding tracks to them enhances their usefulness, thanks to extra traction and ground clearance.

You may think that the extra ride height would make an ATV with tracks prone to tipping over. On the contrary, the extra weight actually increases stability on rough surfaces. Therefore, you can ride more challenging terrain than before. It is actually more difficult to tip over an ATV with tracks than to roll a snowmobile.

Most tracks that fit to ATVs don't just work in the snow. They also work exceptionally well in mud, sand, and on rocks. The increased surface area of the tracks prevents your ATV from sinking in snow, mud, sand, and boggy conditions.

The issue with using the tracks on all surfaces is that it reduces their lifespan. Tracks that are designed for all-terrain use are actually best suited for riding on snow. You can ride them on other surfaces, but they will wear out much faster.

Some tracks are designed for snow only, so make sure you get the right ones for your needs. You can also buy studded tracks, but these should only be used if you ride on ice regularly.

Snowmobiles are only suitable for snow and ice, which they obviously do very well. However, any other type of terrain will eventually damage a snowmobile's skis and track.

Final Thoughts

There are clear advantages of both snowmobiles and ATVs with tracks. However, an ATV with tracks is more versatile and better when deep snow makes getting around more challenging.

An ATV with tracks will never be as fast as a snowmobile. So you need to think about what you need from your machine. If you already have a snowmobile and crave speed, you probably don't need an ATV with tracks.

Areas best suited to snowmobiles will see consistent snow every winter. So, if you live in one of these places and want a ridiculous amount of fun, a snowmobile maybe your best option.

If you live in an area where winter is unpredictable, a snowmobile may not be the best choice. But tracks fitted to your ATV will make more sense, as they will provide you with a method of getting around no matter what the weather.

But, if you need a winter vehicle for work, ATV tracks are a solid investment. They will allow you to haul your trailer full of logs, head into the backcountry for work, or drag anything through the snow.

One of the deciding factors for many is the cost aspect. Do you buy a snowmobile for winter and an ATV without tracks for the rest of the year? Or do you buy tracks that take a couple of hours to fit to your ATV, making it something you can use all year?

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