Power numbers are constantly flaunted by manufacturers and best-in-class titles are sought after.
But there is another statistic that is rarely published by powersports brands that is arguably the most important when it comes to going fast: power-to-weight ratio. This puts the horsepower number into perspective, because 500 horsepower doesn’t mean much in a 10,000-pounds vehicle, but 500 horsepower propelling 5,000-pounds will be a much different story.
So the question we’re here to answer is which powersports machine, regardless of the terrain it can handle, has the best power-to-weight ratio? Is it a snowmobile? A turbocharged side-by-side? A supercharged PWC?
We dug into the numbers and found the best power-to-weight ratio from every powersports segment, including some of the closest competition in each world.
There are two caveats to all these numbers that need to be mentioned before we start. First, each manufacturer chooses to list weight differently. Some brands list wet weights including a full tank of fuel, while other list dry weights without a drop of fluid included. We will let you know in each case what that brand chose to do.
Second, horsepower numbers aren’t published in some powersports officially, so the numbers we are using come from various reliable powersports media outlets.
So while they may not be perfect, these numbers should give you a good sense for the best power-to-weight out there.
Four wheelers, otherwise known as ATVs, arrive at the bottom of the power to weight list, with Can-Am and Yamaha battling it out for the top spot.
The Yamaha Raptor 700, one of the last pure sport ATVs, manages to be the second best ratio despite its low horsepower rating of 47 hp thanks to wet weight of 422 pounds.
Yamaha Raptor 700 Ratio: 1.11 hp to 10 lbs
As for the best ATV, that would be the Can-Am Renegade X XC 1000R with its 91 horsepower, 976 cc liquid-cooled V-twin. Dry weight for this ATV is listed at 710 lbs dry.
Can-Am Renegade X XC 1000R Ratio: 1.23 hp to 10 lbs
These machines have been pushing into new horsepower territory lately, but as powersports vehicles go, they are some of the heaviest, so they land near the bottom of the list.
The best power-to-weight right now in side-by-sides belongs to the Can-Am Maverick X3 X DS Turbo RR, cranking 195 horsepower and weighing in at 1,501 pounds (dry weight) thanks to its Rotax 900 cc turbocharged three cylinder engine.
Maverick X3 X DS Turbo RR ratio: 1.3 hp per 10 lbs
Looking at Polaris, the RZR Turbo S, billed as the most extreme version of the RZR, actually doesn’t have the best ratio, as adding all the components necessary to make it fast adds weight.
The Polaris RZR XP Turbo has the same 168 horsepower engine, but weighs in lighter than the S at 1487 pounds. The engine is a four-stroke twin cylinder with a turbo.
Polaris RZR XP Turbo Ratio: 1.13 hp to 10 lbs
One outlier we can’t forget is the new Nikola NZT, an all-electric side-by-side with 590 horsepower. But here’s the problem. Weight for the NZT is listed at 5250 pounds thanks to heavy batteries and a full cab.
Nikola NZT Ratio: 1.12 hp to 10 lbs
Next up are the dirt bikes. These are the lightest vehicles on the list by some margin, but horsepower just isn’t quite as crazy on these machines as compared to others.
The Honda CRF450R is one of the most powerful dirt bikes out there, although there are no official horsepower numbers. According to our friend Honda ProKevin, the bike makes 60.8 horsepower from its 449cc single-cylinder while weighing in at 247 pounds with a full fuel tank.
Honda CRF450R Ratio: 2.5 hp to 10 lbs
There is a one bike that can take it down though, the KTM 450SX-F with its 63 horsepower 449cc single cylinder engine and 220.4 pound weight (wet weight without fuel included).
KTM 450SX-F Ratio: 2.8 hp to 10 lbs
The world of PWCs has certainly been pushing for more power, and horsepower numbers are sky high out on the water.
From Yamaha we have the FX Cruiser SVHO, cranking out 250 horsepower from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder four stroke and weighing in at 820 pounds.
Yamaha FX Cruiser SVHO Ratio: 3.05 hp to 10 lbs
Kawasaki does claim the horsepower title in the PWC world with its Ultra310 packing 310 horsepower, though curb weight is a little heavy at 1047 lbs, though it includes fluids and a full tank of fuel.
Kawasaki Ultra310 R Ratio: 2.96 hp to 10 lbs
At the top spot out on the water, we look to Sea-Doo and the RXT-X 300, cranking out 300 horsepower from a 1,630 cc supercharged engine. The dry weight of this unit clocks in at 828 pounds.
Sea-Doo RXT-X 300 Ratio: 3.62 hp to 10 lbs
Finally we arrive at snowmobiles, owners of the best power-to-weight ratios in all of powersports. Two-stroke mountain sleds in particular shine, as these machines need to be light and powerful to climb into the mountain powder.
The Ski-Doo Summit X 154-inch with Expert Package manages to put out 165 horsepower from the Rotax 850 E-Tec twin and tip the scales with a 440 pound dry weight.
Ski-Doo Summit X With Expert Package Ratio: 3.75 hp to 10 lbs
But the winner of the segment and therefor this entire list is Polaris, cracking the four horsepower per 10 pound barrier with its Polaris PRO RMK. With a 168 horsepower twin cylinder 840cc engine available and a feather-light dry weight of 413 pounds, this Polaris achieves an insane power to weight ratio to keep you ripping through the deepest mountain snow.
Polaris PRO RMK 163 Ratio: 4.07 hp to 10 lbs