As an ATV enthusiast, you know that part of the hobby’s territory is getting your four-wheeler to your riding destination. Strong, portable ramps make this task easier by reducing the risk of injury to you or damage to your 4×4 or vehicle, in addition to getting you where you want to be as quickly as possible - in the saddle. With so many options, styles, and features available, determining the best ATV loading ramps can seem complicated, but a little thought and research can make your decision much more obvious.
How Will You Use Your ATV Loading Ramps?
Start by answering a few questions based on your specific situation and current equipment setup.
Do you load your 4×4 onto a truck or a trailer?
The loading height will make a difference in the ramp length for proper clearance
Will you load your quad in conditions such as mud, snow, rain, dirt or other elements?
Some ramps have serrated, open rungs to provide the best traction and also to allow debris to fall between the crossbars onto the ground.
Do you plan to load the four-wheeler by yourself?
If so, you’ll want to consider an extra-long ramp to reduce the severity of the angle.
Will you use your loading ramps for any equipment other than your ATV, such as a lawn mower or snow blower?
In addition to weight capacity considerations, some ramps are better suited for the kind of knobby tires found on an all-terrain vehicle, not necessarily lawn equipment.
Do you prefer steel or aluminum ramps?
While steel provides very good strength, durability, and price, aluminum is lighter weight, easier to handle and won’t rust.
ATV Ramp Styles
ATV ramps come in several main styles, each with different features to suit your needs as determined by your current equipment.
Dual Runner - Two separate ramps or “runners,” available in folding or non-folding styles; straight or arched. Easy to fit under the ATV while in transport but require a higher ground clearance ATV.
Bifold - Hinged ramp folds width in half for compact storage. Quicker setup than Dual Runner. When folded for transport, may require quad with higher ground clearance.
Trifold - Ramp width folds in thirds. Low profile when folded for storage during travel and fits between tires of most ATVs. Available with semi-open center track for lighter setup but still adds stability to the entire ramp system.
Trailer - Versatile style for loading ATVs and other equipment such as lawn tractors or snowmobiles onto a trailer.
Non-Folding and Arched - Straight ramps may require additional length compared to arched ramps to avoid bottoming out some 4x4s when cresting a pickup truck bed. Arched ramps can provide additional, needed clearance.
Four Factors When Choosing an ATV Ramp System
After you’ve considered the features and benefits of the various ramp styles, there are a few additional factors in determining the best ATV ramp system for your loading needs.
1. Weight Capacity
Add together the following numbers to calculate the total, overall weight of your current setup: weight of the quad itself (Check ATV owner’s manual), fuel weight (fuel tank capacity in gallons x 8.5 lbs), weight of all accessories & attachments (check individual manuals for each item), driver’s weight, and load / cargo weight. Four-wheeler ramps are designed for equally distributed weight across four tires / two axles. However, don’t assume that is actually the case, since it is, in fact, very likely that the weight on one axle is greater than on the other. As a matter of safety, it is crucial to NEVER under any circumstances, exceed the weight capacity of the ramps. It is recommended that you use an ATV ramp system with a weight capacity that well exceeds your total overall weight, especially if there is a possibility you might upgrade to a larger, heavier ATV in the future.
2. Ramp style
Dual runner, bifold, trifold, trailer, attached, hitch-mount, non-folding, or arched, as explained above.
3. Ramp width
Selecting ramps that are wide enough for your 4×4 will not only make loading safer, it will also make the process easier and quicker. For dual runner-style ramps, measure the widest part of your ATV’s tire width. Even though most ramps have a slight guardrail to keep your ATV tire on track, selecting a 4×4 loading ramp that is somewhat wider than the tire width measurement is recommended. For platform-style trifold and bifold ATV ramps, measure the width of the ATV itself at its widest point, and pad that number slightly to determine the overall ramp width you need.
4. Loading height / Ramp length
Using the appropriate length of ramp is critical to loading and unloading your quad safely. Even though most ATVs have a wheelbase / ground clearance ratio capable of climbing very steep inclines, you still want to keep the angle of your ramps low enough to prevent the machine from tipping.
How to Find the Right Length for your ATV Ramps
To find a ramp that is long enough to safely load your ATV, you'll need to know the following:
- Wheelbase is the horizontal distance between the center of the front wheel and the center of the rear wheel.
- Ground Clearance is the distance between the ground and the lowest component of the ATV other than the tires and wheels
- Loading height, or rise, is the distance from the ground to the top-most point of the truck bed or trailer onto which the ATV will be loaded. Another less exact option is to simply place one end of a tape measure on the open tailgate of your truck or trailer and measure out on an angle until you find a length that looks optimal.
The following equation will output the minimum safe length, in inches, of the ramp you should use to load your ATV:
Rise / ( Ground Clearance / ( Wheelbase * 0.5 )) = Ramp Length
For an example, let's say we're loading a 2016 Polaris Sportsman 450 H.O. into a pickup. According to Polaris, our ATV has a wheelbase of 50.5" and a ground clearance of 10.5". Specs for tailgate height vary, but for this exercise our tailgate will be 28" off of the ground (our rise). The equation would look like this:
28 / (10.5 / (50.5 * 0.5)) = 66.7"
We can divide our answer by 12 to get 5.6'. This means that a 6' long ATV ramp will fit our needs quite well.
Don’t Skip Safety Precautions
A majority of the considerations throughout this purchase process are based on how to make loading and unloading an all-terrain vehicle as safe as possible. That goes for weight capacities, ramp widths and lengths, as well as operating the ATV with care. Always remember to wear a helmet and other necessary protective gear when operating a four-wheeler, which includes the loading and unloading process. By doing some of the research and measuring up front, you can be sure to find the perfect ATV ramp system for your needs. Happy trails!
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