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How To Choose The Best ATV or SXS Engine Size

  • Chad Brooks
  • Mar 06, 2019

Determining the best engine size for an ATV or Side-by-Side may leave you a little confused.  Hauling heavy wood or plowing snow may lead you to think that the bigger the engine, the better.  However, that's not always the case.

Can-Am ATV SXS Engine Size

For most people, a high cc engine shouldn’t be required to handle their regular chores. About 15 years ago, Chad and his family bought a 500cc ATV and used it to do everything they needed.  They pulled logs, plowed snow, carried loads, and rode on different trails. Today people think that they need a 650+ cc engine to get all of these things accomplished, and that’s just not true. There's a few different things to look for when determining what size and model of Side-by-Side or ATV might work for you including the difference between cc’s (cubic centimeters), and horsepower.

When choosing an ATV or Side-by-Side, people often look at the CC’s of a vehicle. CC stands for “Cubic Centimeters”, and without getting into specifics; this measures the size inside a cylinder, or the total volume of piston displacement. 

Another thing looked at is horsepower. Horsepower can simply be defined as the measure of power consumed and produced by a vehicle’s engine. A common misconception is that a vehicles cc size and the horsepower it produces are directly related, or positively correlated. That is actually not true. A perfect example is the cc and horsepower size between Can-Am 450cc, 570cc, and 650cc models, and the horsepower produced in a Yamaha 700cc ATV. Yamaha doesn’t like to show the horsepower of its 700cc ATV’s, but after some research, it comes to about 42-44 horsepower. The 700cc Yamaha engine is also a single cylinder. To compare we can look at the Can-Am 450cc, 570cc, 650cc models. All 3 models are below 700cc, but respectively put out 38HP, 48HP, and 62HP between the 3 of them. This means that out of Can-Am’s 3 smaller cc engines, two of them produce more horsepower than the single cylinder Yamaha, 700cc engine.

When you want to “upgrade” your machine's power by switching from one manufacturer to a Can-Am ATV or Side-by-Side, you should not rely on just increasing the cc size. It may be best to do your research and see what kind of horsepower each ATV or Side-by-Side has as well. 

determining atv sxs engine size

With that being explained, sometimes you can’t look at strictly the cc or horsepower to determine the size of the ATV or SBS that’s right for you. Determine what you’re going to use it for, then research things like…

  • Towing Capacity
  • Load Capacity
  • Bed Size
  • Suspension Systems
  • Ground Clearance
  • And More...

The list goes on and on. To give you an example, a 2018 Can-Am Defender had the same towing capacity, and load capacity on their 800 & 1000 cc models. So, if you’re using it for work you could save $2,000 and go with the 800cc model. Most people don’t because they want to say that they have a 1000cc Can-Am Defender. The same could be said for other models. In 2018, a Can-Am Outlander 450 had the same towing capacity as an Outlander 1000. Did you know that? 

Unless you’re going to be racing the ATV or Side-by-Side, look past the engine size and horsepower when determining the Can-Am ATV or SXS that is going to work the best for you. 

Still not sure how to choose the right ATV or SBS engine size?  Contact Brooks PowerSports and we'll fit you with the machine that meets your needs.  Call 717-469-4640. 

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