In 1970, Honda came up with a brochure titled “What Is It?” launching their revolutionary off-road vehicle. It wasn’t until 1980 that Honda introduced the ATC185. It was equipped with a five-speed semi automatic transmission with an ultra-low first gear. Semi automatic ATVs have improved since then. You have different models to choose from and you can find the best semi automatic ATV that’s right for you. You still need to know more about the difference between manual transmission ATV, semi automatic ATV, and fully automatic ATVs.
How do know which transmission is right for you? It all depends on your style of riding and what you use the ATVs for. You should do your research before picking your next ATV ride.
Semi-automatic ATVs are dependable, tough, and great for any activity that requires slow consistent speed. This can include pulling loads or heavy chores like using your ATV for plowing snow. Keep on reading for everything you need to know about semi automatic ATVs.
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What Is a Semi Automatic ATV?
A transmission supplies controlled power from the engine to the wheels. Transmissions allow for faster acceleration from a stop. They also prevent engine damage and overheating by making sure that the engine runs more slowly while driving at consistent speeds.
When looking at ATVs, you need to know that there can be 3 types of transmissions:
- Fully Automatic
For a manual ATV, you need to let off the throttle, pull the manual clutch, and shift through the gears using the foot shifter. On the other hand, you can shift gears automatically with a fully automatic ATV. A semi-automatic combines the best of both manual and fully automatic ATVs.
With a semi-automatic transmission, there is no clutch control. You can change gears by pushing a button. You can hold the gear without the hassle of operating a clutch lever.
A semi-automatic ATV is great when you need to hold a consistent speed, which means they are great for towing and hauling. So, if you’re thinking of using your ATV for recreational and utility purposes, then a semi-automatic ATV may be the right option for you. This is especially true if you have some experience with ATVs, but you’re not comfortable with the manual transmission.
Semi Automatic vs Fully Automatic
The fact that both are automatic may lead to some confusion, so let’s dive a little deeper to understand the difference between semi automatic and fully automatic ATVs.
You can shift gears on a semi-automatic ATV with your left foot. You have five forward gears and one reverse gear. Semi-automatic ATVs have been around for a while, so you know they’re reliable. They’re great for both recreational purposes and work where you need a slow constant speed.
With a fully automatic ATV, you just need to place it in gear and move. You don’t need to worry about shifting gears or clutches. Automatic transmissions were first used in snowmobiles and migrated to ATVs. A fully automatic ATV is pretty popular because of its ease and convenience, especially for beginners. They’re much better for long rides where you don’t want to spend all that time shifting gears.
If you’re wondering about fuel economy for those short or long drives, then check out this blog post for more information.
How Does a Semi-Automatic ATV Work?
A semi-automatic ATV works by sending electric signals to a different part of the ATV. So, you don’t need to worry about foot pedals. You have a switch and a hydraulic motor.
The gear doesn’t shift automatically. After the gears get a signal from the engine, it’ll engage. If the gear can rotate without the engine, then it’ll automatically disengage.
Do Semi-Automatic ATVs Have Clutches?
Yes, semi-automatic ATVs have clutches. They work the same as semi-automatic transmissions. You don’t have to worry about pedals and cables.
You can shift gears by simply pushing a button on the handle of your ATV when you want to change gears. Everything else will be done automatically.
This means that a semi-automatic clutch gets rid of all the complexity and hassle of a clutch. You can focus on the drive and terrain around you rather than worry about a clutch.
Also, remember a semi-automatic clutch helps your engine’s life by reducing wear and tear. They also help prevent your ATV engine from overheating.
How to Drive a Semi-Automatic ATV and How to Shift Gears?
Unlike a fully automatic ATV, you need to know how to shift gears in a semi-automatic ATV. You don’t need a clutch to shift gears, but you do need to know when to press the button to shift gears.
Remember to close the throttle while shifting to prevent the front wheels from lifting. Most importantly, listen to your engine. The more practice you have, the easier it’ll be to shift gears. Over time, you can tell when to shift gears or adjust the throttle by the sound of the engine.
With practice, you’ll also be able to tell where the engagement point is. This will ensure you have a smooth shift without stalling. Some Honda models have a “SportClutch” that can help you prevent stalling.
Some of the Best Semi-Automatic ATV Models
There are still several old semi-automatic ATVs. But, if you’re looking for a new ATV, your decision is easier because Honda is the only company with semi-automatic ATVs. That doesn’t mean your choices are limited because you have several Honda models to choose from.
Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon 4×4 EPS
A Honda FourTrax Foreman 4×4 EPS is comfortable and tough. It’s one of the top machines riders look for when they want to get big jobs done and have fun adventures.
It has a 5-speed semi-automatic transmission. You also get an Independent Rear Suspension (IRS) for a smooth ride. You have a single-cylinder 518cc engine that means great performance and better hill-climbing. It’s a great choice for work and play.
The electric reverse is convenient and easy to use. You can shift from forward to reverse repeatedly. It’s a great ATV for plowing snow.
Every Foreman also uses a swingarm rear suspension that’s perfect for hard work or towing.
If you want another option, you can also check out the Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon 4×4 EPS. Check out the other features of the Rubicon here.
Honda FourTrax Rancher 4X4 ES
The Rancher has a bunch of different options for you to choose from. Every model has front and rear racks, a spacious front utility compartment, and an easy-to-use reverse system. The Rancher has a 420cc liquid-cooled engine, which is light and nimble going up to a top speed of 51 mph.
You can choose between 2WD to 4WD so you have the choice between lighter steering and maximizing traction. Check out more features for your Rancher semi-automatic ATV.
You can even choose the FourTrax Rancher ES, which is the cheaper model.
A Hondo TRX250X is meant for teenagers and adults. It has a 229cc engine with a five-speed manual transmission. It has a “SportClutch” which is basically a semi-automatic clutch. You get to combine manual transmission with stall prevention getting the best of both worlds.
You’ll love the light handling, wide powerband, and long suspension travel. Check out its other features here.
You can also check out the Honda TRX90X for kids, which has an 86cc four-stroke engine. It has a keyed ignition allowing parents to control who goes riding and when. You also have an adjustable throttle limit that lets you control the top speed and power of your kid’s ATV.
There aren’t many semi-automatic models for your consideration because more people lean towards automatic. If you want a mix of work and play, then you need to consider your semi-automatic ATV options. You can look at older model ATVs to find the right fit.
The pricing of the newer models depends on the trim and features you want. For example, a 2022 Fourtrax Foreman 4×4 has a base price of $7,499, whereas the base price of a 2022 Fourtrax Rancher is $5,599. If you’re wondering about how much ATVs cost, check out this blog post.
Check Out More Tips and Tricks on ATV Riding
Now you know everything there is to know about semi automatic ATVs. You know the difference between a manual and a semi-automatic ATV. You even know what the best semi-automatic ATV models are, so you can start your ATV adventure.
You probably have more questions that you need to get answered before you go buy your next ATV. You may be interested in learning about why ATVs are not street legal, how to jack up an ATV, or the ATV helmet rules. Maybe you want to know about ATV sizes by age.
Check out our blog for more articles to answer all your questions about semi-automatic ATVs and ATV riding, including whether ATV tracks improve performance.