ATV vs. Side-by-Side: Which Is Better For Muddy Terrains?

by | Sep 29, 2023 | Off-Road



Ever found yourself stuck in the mud, wondering if another off-road vehicle might have fared better? Dive deep into the ATV vs. Side-by-Side debate and discover which beast reigns supreme in muddy terrains while learning the proper techniques for each ride.

Body Dynamics: The ATV Advantage


ATVs, known for their agility, offer several advantages in muddy terrains. A notable advantage of ATVs is the riders’ use of body dynamics. This refers to how a rider’s movements and weight distribution impact the vehicle’s balance and behavior, especially on challenging terrains.


  • Maneuverability: The unique design of an ATV allows riders to shift their weight, changing the vehicle’s stance. This adaptability makes it easier to navigate challenging terrains and make swift directional changes. What’s more, in the world of off-roading, one thing stands true: size matters. ATVs, often no bigger than 50 inches wide, are perfect for narrow spaces and tight turns often found on off-road trails which can be massively beneficial, especially in environments like dense forests.
  • Tire Traction: When off-roading all vehicles run the risk of getting high-centered, which means tires losing their traction to the ground below. If an ATV gets high-centered, riders can leverage their body weight to tilt the ATV, helping the tires reconnect with the ground and regain grip. This advantage can be attributed to the lighter weight of an ATV, when compared to a side-by-side they are less impactful on soft terrains, ensuring better traction. This makes things a lot more simple on your journey when compared to a Side-By-Side that will require tools such as winches attached to an element of terrain like a tree or even another vehicle to pull the bulky SxS out of the mud.
  • Flexibility: Overall, the immediate response of an ATV to rider input means it offers a versatile solution for muddy situations. This flexibility provides riders multiple avenues to tackle difficult terrains. Additionally, ATVs are great for quickly hopping on and off, making them ideal for tasks requiring frequent stops.

“ATVs are the agile beasts of off-roading, perfect for those who love hands-on challenges.”

Shane Jumper, Owner of TCP Pro Racing


The Side-by-Side Strength


Side-by-sides, robust and spacious, bring their own set of benefits. However they can be burdened by their scale providing less maneuverability often requiring the use of tools and an aptitude for patience.

  • Loading Capacity: Side-by-sides are designed with compartments all over the vehicle, such as under the seats and in the cargo bed. This makes them ideal for carrying equipment, camping gear, or even a day’s catch for hunters. This is a huge advantage as it opens doors for a lot more recreational activities where your Side-by-Side can be at the forefront of the adventure.
  • Room for Company: Unlike ATVs, side-by-sides are designed for going out on the trails with groups. With seating for multiple passengers, they’re perfect for family outings or group expeditions. While having the ability to utilize body dynamics is surely an edge, a Side-by-Side is the perfect vehicle for creating memorable experiences.
  • Hauling Ability: Their larger size and engine allow side-by-sides to carry not only more equipment but also bigger and heavier items. Whether it’s towing another vehicle or transporting heavy cargo, they’re up to the task.With an ATV, leveraging body dynamics while navigating rough terrains might not always be successful. In challenging situations, a Side-by-Side can be the most reliable backup to rescue your ATV from the mud..
  • Safety Features: Side-by-sides often come with features similar to cars, like roll bars or cages, and wind protection, offering an added layer of safety during off-road adventures. Comparatively, you’re left much more vulnerable while riding an ATV, this may not be considered an issue for thrill seekers, but for the average rider a well-equipped SxS is the clear choice for staying safe on the trails.

Ground Clearance & Traction: The Common Factor


When it comes to mudding, both ATVs and side-by-sides face the universal challenges of ground clearance and traction. These two factors are the bedrock of off-roading, and both vehicles have their unique ways of addressing them, highlighting their shared commitment to conquering muddy terrains.


Ground Clearance


For ground clearance, the essence lies in ensuring the vehicle can navigate obstacles without hindrance. Both ATVs and side-by-sides are designed with this in mind. ATVs, with their nimble structure, allow riders to use body dynamics to enhance ground clearance, especially when traversing uneven terrains. Side-by-sides, while bulkier, are built to tackle rough patches with their sturdy design and often come equipped with features that can be adjusted to increase ground clearance when needed.




Traction, on the other hand, is about maintaining a grip on the ground. Both ATVs and side-by-sides prioritize this, albeit in different ways. The ATV’s design allows riders to shift their weight, enhancing tire grip on slippery surfaces. Side-by-sides, with their advanced engineering, often feature specialized tires and traction control systems to ensure a steady ride, even in the muddiest conditions.





When the rubber meets the mud, the age-old debate of ATVs vs. Side-by-Sides rages on. Both vehicles, each with its own set of merits, are designed to conquer the wild terrains that Mother Nature throws their way. ATVs, with their agility and adaptability, act as the swift racers on a muddy track, while side-by-sides, with their stability and strength, come across as the sturdy defenders of off-road adventures. But when the mud settles, it’s clear that both are champions in their own right. Ground clearance and traction, the twin pillars of off-roading, are challenges both vehicles tackle head-on, showcasing their shared dedication to the art of off-roading. So, whether you’re a solo thrill-seeker or a group adventurer, the choice boils down to what your expedition will consist of and personal preference. But remember, no matter which vehicle you choose, it’s all about the journey, not the destination. So gear up, venture out, and may the muddiest trail lead you to your next great adventure! And who knows? Maybe next time you find yourself stuck in the mud, you’ll have a story worth sharing over a campfire. Happy mudding!

Who are we?

At TCP Pro Racing, we stand as trailblazers in the UTV and ATV aftermarket parts sector, renowned for our unwavering commitment to durability and craftsmanship. Born from a desire to infuse the industry with honesty and integrity, we strive to be your trusted source for parts that you can rest arrused will withstand the harshest terrains.

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