Tracking your ATV’s speed is for your safety as well as other motorists and pedestrians around you, but you may be unsure if your ATV has a speedometer. And if it does, where would you find this handy tool?
Older ATVs do not usually come with speedometers, but newer models do, typically on the dashboard. You can retrofit a third-party speedometer (even bike speedometers work) on an ATV.
Ahead, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about ATV speedometers, from where to find yours and how to install an aftermarket version. You’re not going to want to miss it, so keep reading!
Do All ATVs Have Speedometers?
Okay, so first, let’s elaborate on the question from the intro. Does your ATV have a speedometer?
That depends on how old it is.
The way that older and modern ATVs are manufactured couldn’t be more different. One glaring example of that is the inclusion (or lack thereof) of a speedometer.
If yours is an older ATV that was produced more than two or three decades ago, then the chances are pretty good that it doesn’t include a speedometer.
Now, we can never say never. It might be worth giving your ATV dashboard a once-over to see if you can spot the speedometer. If you don’t see it, you can always glimpse through the owner’s manual provided you still have it.
If you see a reference or several to the speedometer in the owner’s manual, then your ATV had one but clearly doesn’t any longer. That’s no biggie, as we’ll recommend some great ATV speedometers a little later in this article.
Newer ATVs are a lot likelier to include speedometers so you can always gauge your speed. That said, we’re again taking the never say never approach.
Although it’s unlikely, some new ATV models might lack this speed-tracking feature. Again though, it’s not worth fretting over, as you can always install your own aftermarket speedo.
We’ll tell you how later, so be sure to check that out!
Does Your ATV Even Need a Speedometer?
Driving an ATV might be a blast, but all the rules and regulations are no walk in the park.
You often have to register your vehicle, be aware of the age restrictions on usage, and have working headlights and taillights when operating your ATV before sunrise and after sunset.
Can you run into legal trouble if you decide to keep driving your ATV sans a speedo?
According to this collection of United States ATV laws and rules per legal resource Edgar Snyder & Associates, you can indeed.
We combed through all the state laws, and none mention speedometers specifically. However, the following states do require you to have a gauge on your speed, and so a speedometer would be necessary.
According to Arkansas Code Ann. § 27-21-107(a), “the ATV must be operated at a reasonable speed in accordance with the surrounding circumstances.”
The California Vehicle Code Ann. § 38304.1 mandates that “no person may drive an off-highway motor vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of other persons or property.”
Connecticut’s Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-380 requires that “no person may operate an ATV at an unreasonable or imprudent rate of speed for existing conditions.”
The Delaware Code Ann. tit. 21, § 6814 states that “a person may not operate an ATV at a rate of speed which cannot be so controlled as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle or other conveyance.”
In Hawaii, ATVs must ride on two-lane streets and not exceed 35 miles per hour.
The rules in Illinois state that ATV drivers cannot operate their vehicles “at a rate of speed greater than will permit him in the exercise of a reasonable care to bring the all-terrain vehicle or off-highway motorcycle to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead, or in such a manner as to endanger the life, limb or property of any person.”
If you’re planning to take your ATV out for a spin in Indiana, Code Ann. § 14-16-1-21 dictates that you cannot exceed “a speed greater than is reasonable and proper having due regard for existing conditions or in a manner that unnecessarily endangers the person or property of another.”
When driving an ATV on a highway in Iowa, you’re capped at speeds of no more than 35 MPH.
The Nebraska Rev. Stat. § 60-6,356 curtails ATV speeds to 30 MPH max.
In New Hampshire, ATVs are classified as off-highway recreational vehicles or OHRVs. Per the New Hampshire Rev. Stat. 215-A:6 Operation of All OHRVs law, “No person may operate an OHRV at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the existing conditions and without regard for actual and potential hazards.”
The great state of New York uses similar verbiage in § 2404. Operating rules, barring ATV owners from being too reckless.
According to Pennsylvania state law § 7726. Operation in safe manner, you cannot drive an ATV “at a rate of speed that is unreasonable or improper under existing conditions or in excess of the maximum limits posted for vehicular traffic.”
In § 31-3.2-7. Operation, Rhode Island law states that you cannot drive an ATV “at a rate of speed greater than reasonable or proper under all the surrounding circumstances.”
You’re limited to speeds of only 35 MPH when riding an ATV in Washington according to Washing Rev. Code §46.09.455. Authorized and prohibited uses for wheeled all-terrain vehicles.
In West Virginia, the Code, § 17F-1-1. Acts prohibited by operator; penalties for violations law dictates that you stay within a speed limit of 25 MPH.
The Top 4 Aftermarket ATV Speedometers
As we hope the last section proved, speedometers are an integral part of the ATVing experience, especially if you want to stay on the right side of the law.
If your ATV is lacking a speedo at current, the following 4 aftermarket products will change that.
KingNeed Universal Speedometer
The thing about aftermarket speedometers is that the speedo is usually made for a specific make and model of ATV. Not the KingNeed speedometer!
This universal speedo plugs right in and is ready to begin using. Your vehicle must have a cigarette lighter or a similar port to power the speedometer.
The KingNeed speedo features a light display in bright green that isn’t jarring but does allow you to read your speed data both day and night. You can switch between speed readings in kilometers per hour or MPH.
You can also track your distance and driving time!
With a fatigue driving alarm as well as an over speed alarm for long-distance travel, you can feel safer with a speedo like this.
Trail Tech 752-118 Black Vapor Digital Speedometer
Next, is one of two products from Trail Tech, the Black Vapor digital speedometer. This speedo is designed for Can-Am, Polaris, Kawasaki, and Yamaha ATVs.
You can toggle between three screen settings. The first screen reveals information like the engine temperature, ambient air temperature, trip distance clock, tachometer bar graph, and speed.
The second screen will tell you your ride time and numerical rotations per minute. This screen even has a stopwatch.
The third screen includes an odometer, accumulated ride time in total hours, max RPM, max engine temperature, and max speed.
The speedometer is programmable and features blinking LED lights that indicate high temperatures or that it’s best to shift gears.
GoolRC Mini Universal LC Speedometer
Although the GoolRC speedometer is made for motorcycles, it’s usable for your ATV as well.
It too is a universal speedo that features a liquid crystal display and five bars for indicating the oil volume.
You can also switch between settings such as the fuel gauge levels, RPM, odometer, and speedometer.
Waterproof and sealed, the GoolRC speedo has a white backlight for reading your speed in dim conditions.
Trail Tech 202-121 Endurance II Digital Gauge Speedometer Kit
Lastly, is this second Trail Tech pick the Endurance II digital gauge speedo.
This speedometer measures only 4.2 inches by 1.6 inches, so it’s a small but cool addition to your ATV dashboard. Included instructions tell you how to install the speedo.
Inside the Endurance II speedometer is a wheel sensor that provides accurate speed readings. This speedo is backlit as well so you can always track your ATV speed no matter the conditions.
Besides reading speed, the Endurance II speedo can also gauge your accumulated ride time and trip time. It doubles as an odometer and a stopwatch.
The Trail Tech Endurance II speedometer is designed for most Honda vehicles produced between 1997 and 2016.
How to Install an ATV Speedometer
You’ve got a new ATV speedometer thanks to the list above, but admittedly, you have no idea how to install the thing.
You should always defer to the included instructions if your speedo has one. If not, then the following steps should get you through the installation process easily enough.
Step 1 – Mount the Speedo Display
With your new speedometer in hand, it’s time to choose where you’ll mount it.
This will be a matter of personal preference as well as availability on the front of your ATV.
Some ATV fans will install aftermarket speedos near the handlebars between both steering column brackets.
If that spot works for you, then great! If it’s not available or just feels too cramped, look for another spot for speedo mounting.
Step 2 – Install the Magnet
Your speedometer should include both a receiver and a magnet. The magnet might have a wing nut, which is designed for bicycle spokes and thus won’t come in handy for mounting on an ATV. At least you know what the wing nut does though.
The best area to install the magnet is near the rear brake caliper, and if you can near the brake caliper.
This way, you’re not obstructing any parts of your ATV. You’re also allowing the magnet to rotate when you use your tires.
Step 3 – Install the Pick-up Coil
The pick-up coil needs to be in proximity to the magnet, usually no further than several millimeters away. You could attach the pick-up coil to your ATV’s right swing arm, but you might need zip ties or another secure connection point to do so.
Step 4 – Connect the Wires
The wires that are included with your ATV speedo have to run to the display. Don’t crunch, bend, or otherwise damage the wires when running them.
Step 5 – Test and Calibrate the Speedo
Now that your speedometer is installed, it’s time to turn it on and set it up. Depending on the model, you’ll likely be asked to input the tire circumference and size as well as other information to display a reading.
Are new speedo readings always accurate? Possibly, yes, but you might have to calibrate. You can always use an app on your phone to gauge your true speed and then compare that with what the speedo is telling you.
Then it’s a matter of adjusting the tire circumference and size, so the speedometer is more accurate.
Older ATVs usually do not include speedometers by default, but newer ones should. Since many states throughout the US require you to be aware of your speed, you need a speedometer outfitted to your ATV.
We hope the information in this guide helps you begin tracking your ATV speed. Stay safe!