January 7, 2022 by Vernon ATV Club
It’s the time of year where the snow is piling up enough to make a ride with wheeled ATVs a frustrating day of pushing, pulling and digging. There are a few rowdy souls out there with tall tires and heaps of horsepower who continue on wheels in these conditions but most folks who want to continue ATVing through winter may start thinking about tracks.
ATV snow tracks aren’t cheap and they aren’t for everyone so I thought I’d share my experience from years of snow track ownership.
Our first set of ATV tracks were TJD Cat Tracks, a Quebec made track advertised as year round tracks for snow, swamp, mud, etc. The track design used a combination of bogie wheels which allows for all season use and a slider strip (like snowmobiles use) for the winter operations. TJD sold their track division to Camoplast which is now Camso, the market leader for powersport track products.
This first set of tracks were installed on a 2006 Yamaha Kodiak 400 which meant you weren’t going anywhere fast but you could go almost anywhere. There was no power steering back then so if you got on an off-camber you had to fight it hard to keep the machine from going downhill. These tracks worked so well for winter forestry work we bought a second set, this time mounted to a 2007 Kawasaki Brute Force 750.
Both track kits are still around today, by purchasing a different fit kit we’ve adapted the Brute Force tracks to a Yamaha Grizzly 700 and the Kodiak tracks fit straight onto a Yamaha Rhino side x side.
How do ATV tracks work?
ATV tracks bolt onto the lug nuts to drive the tracks through an oversized cog, the track assembly is held in place with a fit kit or set of brackets that secure the track assembly to your ATV’s suspension.
Gearing for different displacement machines is achieved by using a different size drive cog. As you go up in engine size the number of teeth on the drive cog goes down. That’s how the same track assembly can be made to work on a 400cc machine (17 tooth) and a 700cc machine (15 tooth).
How much fuel will you use?
A lot! Those large drive cogs give your ATV mechanical advantage over the tracks but it comes at a cost of lower top speeds and increased fuel consumption. Plan on using twice as much fuel, this varies though depending on snow depth, snow type, slope of the trail and how far you like to push the pedal.
How long does it take to install them?
The first time you install them it’s going to take hours but once you’re familiar with the process and learn to align the lug nuts to the drive wheels and cinch those up then the fit kits bolt up fairly quickly. Then you check your limiting bolt adjustment and track tension and you’re off.
Where can you go?
ATV tracks will go almost anywhere and keep your machine on top of the snow. When you get off your machine you’ll need to be careful you don’t end up knee, belly or deeper in the powder your machine is effortless riding atop.
Steep slopes and certain types of snow will stop tracked machines but otherwise they go almost anywhere.
When do they suck?
Hard packed and icy trails are no fun. When you put tracks on your machine you’re getting rid of all the suspension your tires provide. Most track systems recommend you crank up your shock preload/stiffness to prevent the track assembly from hitting your machine’s bodywork so frozen bumpy roads and hard packed trails will send jolts through the tracks directly to you.
You also need to be prepared to become the abominable snowman. If you’re not going perfectly straight the tracks are kicking up a huge amount of snow. When riding a quad this packs around your legs and feet in the footwells and in a side x side snow gets everywhere inside the cab if you’re not fully enclosed.
When are they awesome?
As soon as you have a couple of feet of snow the ride smooths out and you can go off the beaten trail. https://www.youtube.com/embed/6mBR7NSbMIU?feature=oembedBackground on this video: Steve was stuck on his quad so Marc hooked up to tow him to safety but instead takes him on a minute long tour of untouched powder then returns Steve to the exact spot where he first hooked up to him. Unfortunately we missed the minute tour of the powder, we were all laughing and all Steve could do is follow along.
Is it hard on the machine?
I haven’t noticed any damage from regular use of the tracks. The tracks are large with a lot of leverage so if you tag a hidden log or rock it’s possible you’re going to bend or break something in your suspension.
The biggest problem we encountered is needing to clean out around the suspension and driveshafts or else everything could ice up and possibly tear a CV boot with all the snow/ice packed around the drivetrain.
You’ll also want to check your oil and coolant before each ride because you’re often riding at higher RPMs for sustained periods, like when climbing for a protracted time.
What do they cost?
For a quad you’re looking at around $4200 for Camso T4S and for a side x side it’s $5600ish for the Camso 4S1 (both previously called Camoplast Tatou Tracks).
It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on the classifieds because good looking used track kits come up in the $2-3000 range.https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ar11NTVQIAc?feature=oembedThe good part of tracks is you’re probably not going to get stuck, the bad part is you spend the day towing other people.
If you’re thinking about tracks you want to do a bunch of research and talk to as many people who own tracks as possible because everyone has a different opinion to share.
Check out these links for more information: