When choosing the right all-terrain vehicle for your work needs, lifestyle, or sense of adventure, you have two main options: ATVs and side by sides. There are subtle similarities and differences between the two.


CFMOTO carries both ATVs and side by side vehicles. Below, we compare the two models so that you can make the right choice before you purchase a model. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact a CFMOTO dealer near you.

What to Consider Before Purchasing

Since both ATVs and side by sides come with comparable features, let’s take a closer look at each feature to give you a better understanding of what it is you are purchasing and why you are purchasing it.


All-terrain vehicles are designed for intense, high-end performance. The total weight and distribution across the body play a significant role in how well the vehicle performs. Therefore, weight should be a top priority when choosing which model is best for you.


The best way to determine if the vehicle’s weight meets your criteria is by assessing the horsepower-to-weight ratio.


If you plan to use your vehicle for sport or competition, you want a high ratio, because it means that the vehicle is lightweight. If you plan to use your ATV or side by side for work or to pull heavy loads, then you want a smaller ratio, which signifies that the unit is heavier.


For instance, a 750cc engine weighs 700 to 800 pounds. A more powerful engine is installed in a model that weighs 1000 to 1700 pounds, and so forth. A heavier vehicle can handle work-related functions. A lighter transport is built for speed and racing.


The vehicle’s size determines how many people will fit and how maneuverable it is in tough terrain. The ATV or side by side should be no more than 120” in length. Any length that exceeds 120” such as a side by side is less maneuverable. It performs well on the job, but don’t count on blazing through the trails.

Cargo and Tow Capacity

Side by sides have a higher cargo capacity than ATVs. They carry 200 to 1000 pounds. Some side by sides are equipped with an electro-hydraulic dump for greater pulling capacity. By contrast, a standard ATV can only handle a 200 to 300-pound load. They’re built for personal use instead of commercial use


The towing capacity determines how much weight the unit can pull behind without burning the engine or wearing out the torque. ATVs or side by sides that can pull higher weight contains receivers and hitches on the front and back. The front hitch comes in hand in various situations.

Ergonomics and Comfort

A big selling point for all-terrain consumers is how well the vehicle rides in real-world situations. The transport’s design determines how comfortable the ride is. Carefully observe where all components are positioned.


Where is the steering wheel, button controls, sticks, brakes, and seating located? How much space do you have for seating and operation? Although side by sides are generally more comfortable, a good ATV design can also be rewarding even when you are hitting the most rugged, rocky trails.


If the design is not built for comfort, then operating the vehicle will wear you out quickly. Likewise, a side by side presents challenges such as sliding around in the seat and inadequate leg room.

Passenger Safety

Since all-terrain vehicles often trek into hazardous environments, expecting them to be 100% safe is not realistic. There are virtually no safety options for ATVs other than the gear you put on. Side by sides are slightly safer than ATVs since they contain a safety cage and systems approved by organizations like OSHA. Side by sides also contain seatbelts.

The Final Analysis

Here are bottom line features you should consider when purchasing an ATV or side by side:

A Mid-Range ATV

Features for a mid-range ATV include:


●        Price Range: $4,000 to $14,000

●        Engine: 500cc

●        Length: 83”

●        Width: 46.8”

●        Weight: 640 pounds

●        Tow Capacity up to 850 pounds

●        Transportation: constant velocity

●        Readily available EPS


Pros: More flexible, less expensive, lightweight, good towing capacity

Cons: Limited passenger space, low cargo capacity, little to no safety features, less comfort

A Mid-Range Side by Side

Features for a mid-range side by side include:


●        Price Range: $12,000 to $22,000

●        Engine: 675cc

●        Length: 114”

●        Width: 64”

●        Weight: 1400 pounds

●        Tow Capacity up to 1500 pounds

●        Transmission: Independent, front and rear

●        Disk brakes


Pros: Seatbelts and safety enclosure, comfortable space, full cab option, integrated bed

Cons: More expensive, limited versatility, larger turning radius

Bottom Line

Whether the ATV or side by side is right for you depends on what you plant to use it for. The vehicle’s purpose and planned environment create an apples-to-oranges comparison. Bottom line: Don’t enter your side by side in a racing competition, and don’t use your ATV for hard labor on a construction site.

CFMOTO ATV and Side by Side Vehicles

CFMOTO offers a wide selection of all-terrain vehicles to suit your specific needs. Our vehicles are durable, long-lasting, and can handle all types of terrain.