10 Tips To Learn How To Ride An ATV
Since I’m the outdoorsy kind of guy in my social circle, I’m usually the one making the plans for road trips with my friends and family. and when that happens I always take my quads with me on the truck. since I currently own 3 full-size ATVs everyone can enjoy offroading without any problem. now, when I first got into ATVs I had to teach myself and then others how to ride them, maneuver them, what is the best riding position etc… and many of my friends and family eventually learned how to ride on them too.
So over time, I have learned a few tips for those new ATV enthusiasts that just bought their first ATV or are trying to learn with the neighbor quad. some of these tips I applied a long time ago when I was first learning how to ride on them and they still are a great help. the tips are quite basic like choosing a good ATV for your frame and some deal with how are turning and accelerating on a trail. applying these tips will drastically increase your ATV riding skills in no time. but without further ado, here are the tips.
Sit Correctly In The ATV
This is important if you are looking to avoid tired arms and even an overuse injury in your body! depending on the speed that you are going, you should sit in a straight (slow speeds) or slightly forward position (faster speeds). if you are going faster, then try to hug the quad with part of your legs, especially if you are using an automatic transmission quad. this makes the quad more stable at high speeds. when going at a slower speed, standing straight allows you to relax and reduce back pain from sitting for a long time in the quad.
Try to sit a bit farther than in the middle. depending on where the seat mount is on your quad, it is usually right in the middle in a bit farther back. if you sit to forward, you might reduce the balance of the quad and you will also strain your arms because of being too forward.
If you have tried different seating positions in your quad and it’s still not comfortable, that usually means that you are either too big or too short for the quad. if you are over 6ft tall, then anything under 250cc is likely too small for your frame.
Put your feet in the footwell and do not move it much when riding.
Many people have had their feet injured because their feet unknowingly hit the rear wheel. so it’s really dangerous to not have your feet planted in the footwell. that’s also one of the other good reasons to get offroading boots, they provide good protection for these kinds of problems.
Anyways, if your quad doesn’t have a lot of protective plastics near the wheel, then it might be wise to buy nerf bars so that you can protect your feet!
Start riding in a plain trail or road, on a straight line.
This one is really useful for kids that might have some trouble maneuvering bigger ATVs. teaching people on flat ground makes it more forgiving for them because the quad won’t roll anywhere. this is a good time for someone to explain all the controls in the handlebars and in the lower part of the quad too.
Also, if you have a manual quad, then starting someone in even a slight incline is gonna make it much harder for them to engage the clutch, learning how to use a manual quad can be a hard ordeal and starting people on an incline is not gonna help them get better at it. other environments to avoid when learning how to use a quad is heavy rock/sand/snow, and rainy conditions. its simply too much of a hazard since its so easy to roll over the quad if you accelerate too fast.
Learn how to ride a manual quad!
In 2019, many new quads are automatic, especially the fancier, more expensive ones. polaris is famous for providing a very comfortable, if numb, quad riding experience with automatic transmissions and soft suspensions and ease of use. but if you are getting into quads for the first time it’s important to try out manual quads, and to do that you are going to have to learn how to ride them!
In most manual quads, the clutch is located in the left handlebar. to turn it on, just engage the clutch and then switch the ignition… voila! the quad should now be roaring. the next thing to do is simply ride the clutch while you provide gas. the quads should be moving forward slightly. then you simply need to let go of the clutch, and that’s it. just remember that you need to engage the clutch every time that you make a complete stop, or else the quad is going to stall, that means it’s going to stop working and you are gonna have to turn it on again.
Perform proper maintenance of quad every 3 months.
The best way to ensure that you are going to have a reliable, smooth quad is the maintenance schedule. it’s important to check out the manual of the quad to see how often should you perform the general checking of the quad. that way you can see which parts are gonna break soon. you can also increase the performance of your quad if you do other things like switching air filters and performing the proper oil changes.
Another of the quads advantages of performing maintenance regularly is that it increases the resale value of the quad. so if you buy a quad and then decide to sell it a few years later when you want to buy another one, then you can get most of your money back.
Start with a less powerful quad.
This is important especially for kids. more powerful quads have a lot of torque, and for someone that has never ridden one yet, then it can be easy to lose control because of the pure horsepower. lighter, less powerful quads are cheaper, more readily available, and they are also much easier to turn. these quads might be the only options for kids since they are so small, and even then they might need a mini ATV specifically made for kids.
Try not to use the ATV at night.
This is an overlooked one. riding when dark at night not only increases the chances of a rollover but also your quad will not have much traction since the ground might be colder than usual. this is especially true if you have normal tires and not offroad tires. so if you are learning the sport, it might not be wise to do it at night, especially without supervision. this is something that mostly applies for kids but it good to keep it in mind.
Practice your steering.
Some people are gonna realize that steering in an ATV is similar to steering a car, however, instead of a steering wheel, there’s a handlebar. you don’t really need to move your bodyweight left if you are going to turn left, you can just stay seated. the only time that you need to move your body a bit is when you are steering at a faster speed. you will feel the body roll and you are gonna have to move a bit to the right so that you don’t fall off the quad! but other than that steering is really easy.
Have a way to transport your quad to the trail.
Remember that in most us states, quads are not road legal. they can be modified so that they are legal in the streets but that is something that requires time and money. the better alternative is to simply have a vehicle capable of towing the ATV to the trail so that you don’t need to drive with your quad there and risk an infraction or similar. most trucks can fit 1 quad in the truck bed without any problems, the only thing that you are going to need is a platform so that you can fit the quad snugly in the bed. anyways, I made a guide so that you can see which trucks will fit an average sized quad in the bed.
Beware of price markups in the dealer.
This is something that applies mostly to people that are in the process of buying their ATV but, it’s important to know that you do not need to pay MSRP in a dealership! prices are generally inflated because some customers don’t know any better. so, when it’s your first time seriously considering an ATV, remember to haggle and negotiate for prices. make them fight for your business. this way, it’s easy to shave off hundreds, and even thousands off MSRP.
Buy the proper equipment for you and your quads.
Even though most people are happy toiling around in slow speeds, many prefer the faster quads and trickier trails. this means that buying the proper equipment is a necessity. the first thing that you should get is safety equipment. things like helmets, boots, and jumpsuits if you are on a muddy/sandy trail. these serve as protection for if you suffer any fall from a quad. it’s better to spend more money on more established brands when it comes to security rather than just buying the cheapest equipment available.
Some other equipment is much less necessary. stickers, decals and even paint add flair to your ATVs, but they aren’t exactly the most necessary thing you can buy for your ATV. of course if you got the money, go for it! there are some folks that even install underbody lighting kits in their ATV.
Check out the different trails in your area.
If you live in a mountain area, then it might be easy to find the adequate environment to enjoy your quads, but some other folks are gonna have a hard time looking for that. thankfully, there are a lot of artificial grounds in which you can go with your preferred offroad vehicle and they provide a closed circuit so that you can kind of race and go fast there. I have met a lot of cool people interested in ATVs and dirt biking there, so it can be really fun! I recommend that you go with your family so that you guys can have a good time. beware though, their parks usually charge a small fee for the use of it so that might be something to consider.
Do not try wheelies or donuts until you have some experience!
Rollovers. trying to do donuts when you have no experience driving a quad equals rollovers and that is one of the reasons why ATV can be dangerous. donuts just require you to use the clutch and the throttle while steering so that you spin in circles and leave a mark beneath. it can look really cool and it can be really fun too. however not only it can damage the transmission (especially if you are in an automatic quad), but it also can easily throw you off the quad. this is more prevalent with heavier quads that have more torque.
Doing wheelies in anything other than a flat surface is dangerous. that is because you can easily roll over if there’s a bump in the road. anyways, doing wheelies requires a big amount of strength so if you don’t have the right amount of fitness to do it, it would be better to just leave it to a more experienced rider.
Protect your ATV from theft!
ATV robbery is something that has happened for years and it keeps happening because people are not aware of the dangers of leaving their quad outside. this is common in bigger farms and trails. they stop using the ATV when it gets dark and the next day the ATV is gone. the first and most obvious thing to do is to lock the ATV inside. but some people might not have space of it inside a home so the other thing that you can do is to chain the whole chassis of the quad to a solid post. that way the only thing they can take away is the wheels and maybe some internal components.
Other good things to try are alarms. I know some folks that have installed a motion sensing alarm to their quad so it alerts when somebody is nearby. so if you live in an area where ATV theft is common, that might be another good idea.
Now, it doesn’t matter if you are just learning right now or are a more experienced off-roader, following these simple tips will help you a lot in improving your ATV riding skills. the last tip I got is simply to have fun! get a friend or family involved and get a loved one in the back of the quad and ride around! one of my favorite things to do myself is exploring the wilderness with my son on the back of my Honda. I love it and he loves it too.