14 Things I wish I knew Before Buying An ATV
Getting your first quad bike can be the easiest thing in the world. these machines are usually hand me downs that are given by a bigger relative, but they are often bought new at the local dealer. whatever it is, it’s important to be prepared for the good things that the quad will bring you, as well as necessary stuff and possible headaches that might appear in the way. this is something that can greatly help a newbie out! I wish I had read something like this before I got my first quad. but without further ado, here are 14 things I wish I knew before buying an ATV.
A UTV Is Different Than A Normal ATV
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about quad bikes in general: UTVs are not just bigger quads! like I mentioned in this article, UTVs (utility task vehicle) are generally used for utility work, such as farming work, plowing, hunting, and general use in off-roading conditions, they are heavier, taller and bigger, which means that they might be less maneuverable. ATVs, in general, are the sportier vehicle they have a more aerodynamic appearance, a bigger engine and usually only fit 1 person or 2 in a pinch. they are also much nimbler and zippy. so your choice depends a lot on what you are going to do with the bike: are you gonna use it to haul stuff or to go fast on a straight line! this article explains the difference in a more in-depth way
You Have An Awesome Offroading Powerhouse!
I firmly declare ATVs as the best offroading vehicle currently available. why? excellent ground clearance, a torquey engine and full-time 4WD, all combined in a small, rugged package. I strongly recommend ATVs if you are an offroading enthusiast the experience of being so close to the ground and effortlessly moving through mud and rocks is one of a kind. ATVs are also great for offroading trails that are tight. this allows you to zip between rocks and trees.both ATVs and UTVs are great for this purpose, so if you have a lot of stuff that you need to carry get a UTV with good ground clearance.
It’s important to get an AWD or a 4WD ATV if you want to buy a quad primarily for offroading purposes. remember there are quads that only operate the forward or the back wheels, and this affects your traction. it can make it difficult to maneuver and you might need a winch to get unstuck.
You can fit more than 1 in most quads
Yes, you can get your wife or your friend to ride with you on the back. depending on what you get, it might be quite comfortable. modern quads generally have bigger seats which are much more ergonomic and that means a comfier place to spend time. however, if you are getting an older used ATV, it might be important to check the seating. it might not be made for 2 adults or even an adult and a child for that matter!
there are some DIY mods that you can install in your quad so that you can increase the seating space of it. I have a friend that had a 2-year-old son and he wanted to ride with him, but he couldn’t because there wasn’t enough space, so he decided to buy one of these aftermarket seats that provide a bigger seating position. the seat came with instructions and he was able to install it in an afternoon. after that, he had no problems riding with his son or even his wife for that matter.
You are going to get dirty!
One of the first things that people notice after they ride a quad, even if it’s not very fast, is their clothes. they are usually brown from all the dirt. and anybody that has gone offroading or works on a farm can tell you this: you get dirty just by being in the place too. so you can imagine how dirty you can get just by riding for 30 minutes. is is especially apparent when you go offroad on muddy areas. so I would recommend getting some clothes that you don’t like and wear them when you are going to ride the ATV.
Or you can also buy sports clothing and gear for when you ride the quad. this is the best way to protect your body and skin and also look stylish while doing so. if you have seen motocross competition then you probably know what I’m talking about. the suits are generally brightly colored and made with a lightweight material, which makes them the ideal choice for enthusiasts and people that simply want something to go with the quad when offroading.
These little monsters are loud
Oh yeah. ATVs are LOUD. this is something that startles people when they hop in on a quad bike. somebody teaches them how to operate the throttle, and they rev too high. BROOOM. and they are ejected forward. the big sound scares them, and even at idle they can be annoying and obnoxious. I have been riding for several years now, and I have had several quads in that period of time. some are quieter than others and some are louder. I remember having a quad (it was a 1993 Polaris Trail Boss) that was so loud a had to install an aftermarket muffler to hush the sound. the neighbors hated me and the quad could be heard from miles away.
Anyways, if you have that problem, the most obvious solution is to install a muffler that can properly silence the exhaust noise. this is what I did and is what I recommend. for some people, however, that might not even be an option. so for those people that cannot find a proper muffler or simply don’t have the resources to buy a new muffler, I would recommend making a DIY silencer. now, I have never tried this, but I have seen some quads that have been silenced by pieces of plastic and cardboard. I would recommend watching this video if you are interested in that.
ATV Theft is a big problem
ATVs are like bicycles, they get robbed all of the time. I saw this in a website and wasn’t surprised: “Seven out of possibly 22 suspects involved in an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) theft ring were arrested in January 2016 on charges of organized criminal activity after allegedly stealing ATVs in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.” depending on the quad, in particular, thieves just turn on the quad or they just move it away from the place.
Now, just like bikes, I would recommend buying a theft chain, just like the bicycle ones, but bigger and made for ATVs and dirtbikes. you can just chain the quad in a light most or similar. that might deter thieves, especially if you are in a zone known for that. the more elaborate solution to the problem is getting a handlebar lock. I love this because it’s easy to put on and easy to take out. the handlebar works by not letting the handlebar move, this means that they cannot apply throttle or can use the clutch. it’s also really cheap. I have this ATV lock and couldn’t have been more satisfied with the purchase!
They have more storage space than meets the eye!
This is certainly true for UTVs but also, for ATVs. even though they might look like the UTV younger brother, with smaller wheels, size, and torque, they generally have considerable storage spots. now, you won’t be able to carry a picnic worth of food inside of it, but essentials like laptops, a small carry on bag, fuel, and some food supplies won’t be a problem. and if you have a bigger model, then fitting more things won’t be a problem. I would recommend checking the user manual out (or speak with the dealer about it) to see how much space is available on it. now still, since ATVs are more designed for a more sporty user experience, the storage space won’t compare to a bigger UTV.
ATVs are NOT road legal! (in most US states)
The easiest way to get your quad taken away is driving on the street with it. now I’m not saying that I haven’t done it because it can be quite fun (in a more private street) because the quad has more traction on the road but I would recommend doing that in a secluded road because you can get fined for that. now, depending on the state that you live in, its possible to make your quad street legal. maybe you don’t have many offroad trails nearby or need to travel far or don’t have a vehicle to move the quad, making the quad street legal can be quite the solution.
Making a quad street legal is something that depends on the state that you live in, but it will probably require adding stuff like horns, mirrors, a turn signal light, and a license plate. now this depends from state to state, I don’t know how that works where you live. there are also companies that convert ATV to street-ready machines like this one. so if you don’t want the hassle of dealing with all you have choices.
You can tow with the quad!
Towing with an ATV is very possible because ATV engines are quite torquey. because of offroading reasons, a torquey engine is necessary for you to get unstuck off places. but the other advantage of those engines is the towing capability. modern ATVs are capable of towing between 300-800 pounds and more than 1000 lbs if you have a UTV.
So you probably won’t be able to move your old car when broken down, but if you have a smaller trailer or RV, then it’s more likely. another smart use of the towing capabilities of quads is towing game when going hunting. hunters are using quads now because they are able to move a big animal in the back of a platform.
Other uses include moving jet skis, other quads, farm tools, etc..
Buying used can save you a fortune!
For all of you that haven’t bought the quad yet, it might be better to buy used. yup, in the last 5 or 10 years ATV prices have skyrocketed but used quads not so much. it has always made sense to buy used. just like cars, ATVs depreciate rather quickly in the first few years. that is the ideal time to buy a used ATV. you can easily get 2 and 3-year-old quads for 50% of the new MSRP.
This has some disadvantages. quad warranties can be quite useful but if you are buying used the original warranty is probably expired. this means that you won’t be covered in the case of a malfunction of a part unless you buy another warranty. so, it might be useful to check craigslist for ATV and compare the prices with new dealer quads. you might see quite the difference in price.
Checking ATV forums might also be useful. you could find quite the deal there.
ATV insurance might be mandatory!
Getting insurance might be an important part of getting your new ATV. some states, like Alabama, require you to have insurance in order to have an ATV. the reason for this is that, just like car insurance, having it protects other people if you cause an accident with it. there are several companies that work with ATVs. companies like Geico and Statefarm are often used to buy insurance. and they are not very expensive either: depending on the plan that you have, you can pay as little as 25$ a month.
ATVs can be dangerous!
These little monsters are more dangerous than what you might think! rollover risk is a serious concern among quad enthusiasts. now, most of the accidents are caused by more inexperienced drivers or people that have lifted their quads using suspension mods, but the risk remains. I would recommend using safety gear every time you ride a quad, at least a helmet if possible.
Other safety risks include injuring feet with the tires while operating the quad or slipping a foot from the footwell. I would recommend practicing moderation and avoiding any tricks when you are a beginner, like doing a wheelie.
Perform maintenance yourself to save cash
Another way to save hundreds of dollars every year is to perform maintenance yourself in your home instead of taking the quad to someone so that they can change the oil or check the engine a bit. maintenance prices are very high, especially if you have an older machine. many dealers charge more than 150$ for just a routine maintenance check. I think its a waste of money and better spend somewhere else.
One of the first things that I would recommend is changing the oil yourself. just buy your preferred oil, open up the oil pan, change the filter if you like, and drip the oil in there. it’s much easier than what people think and not hard at all. other things such as checking the carbon deposits in the engine are other things that you can do yourself, but you are going to need some extra tools to do that.
Aftermarket upgrades great increase performance of your quad
Modding your quad is the best way to make it faster. it’s obvious no? the first thing that I would do is change the cold air intake. some quads already come with a cold air intake, but if it doesn’t it is a cheap, safe and efficient way of increasing power. other more offroading based mods include suspension systems to increase the ground clearance of the quad and skid plates.
Modding your quad can be really fun but it might be wise to get a professional to install some mods, like for example adding a small turbo to the engine. not saying that you can’t do it yourself but I think its better if you let somebody with more experience do it. after all, we are talking about modding the engine which is, in my opinion, the most fundamental part of the quad.
Clean it after its all over!
Yup, this is the last one. I would recommend dousing the quad with a hose when it’s off. after offroading or riding in a trail, your quad will be real dirty. take the extra step and wash your ATV with some soap. doing this not only makes you quad look all shiny and beautiful, but it also increases the resale value of your quad