15 Mistakes New Quad Riders Make

In ATV Setups by Kevin

In the 15 plus years that I have riding quads and attending ATV events and dealing with 4-Wheelers in general, I have met a lot of people with different skill levels. some people are veterans of ATV and dirtbike riding, and others are green people just learning how to upshift in a Polaris. since I ride on tracks rather regularly, I see quite a few newbies trying to get the hang of the quad. and in the process, I have seen a lot of mistakes and errors. things like not wearing a helmet to using the wrong fuel in their quad are pretty bad, other things like standing up in corners are downright dangerous. anyways, I decided to make a list of the top 15 mistakes that new riders make. not every newbie will do these mistakes, but the ones that do are at risk of serious injury. anyways, i hope you find this useful.

1. Trying To Go Too Fast Too Soon. 

This one’s a killer. the thing with quads is that it’s WAY too easy to ride slowly for newbies. since we are talking about 4 wheels, people will find it easy to pick up and they will get rather confident rather soon. and this is when things get risky. usually, there folks will start accelerating on uneven ground that they did not notice or they might corner at speeds that are way too high for them to handle. and then the tragedy occurs. there are some other people that ride manual quads and they do not really know how to upshift. so they start focusing real hard on applying the clutch at the correct time and because of they they lose focus of whats ahead.

Anyways, I would recommend newbies to avoid rushing things and try to really learn the ins and outs of quad riding in a controlled environment. try to ease yourself into corners and avoid doing any hard turns. try to use quads that have safety mechanisms to ensure safety. do not accelerate too sharply, even on a straight.

2. Avoiding Using Safety Equipment

Maybe you guys are tired of me repeating the same thing but I’m going to repeat it again for good measure: WEAR A HELMET WHEN YOU RIDE QUADS! since ATVs are pretty dangerous I do not think that wearing safety gear is even an option. you should be wearing your helmet, boots, chest protector, gloves, and goggles, especially when track riding. many people see ATVs and they do not realize the safety concerns when riding these machines. and you do not need to spend a fortune on safety gear. you can buy a complete set of equipment under 200$ if you look for deals and buy the most important stuff. Amazon usually has the best deals when talking about safety gear. and if the price is a little bit too high, you can always get used gear on Craigslist.

3. Driving on trails that they are not prepared for:

If you have never ridden in a trail before, it can be quite a tiring experience. aside that it’s going to be a rough ride, you need to be wary of any holes and unevenness in general in the trail in front of you. there are some newbies that get a little bit too overconfident and that is very risky. new riders will often accelerate too fast, increasing the chances for a rollover. if you are reading this and are guilty of being reckless while riding in a trail, i would recommend you check your quad to see if it has a cruise function. this is a feature that is slowly becoming standard in modern quads but not all models feature this. in short, cruise control is just like the one that you would find in a car. you set the speed, and the quad will move forward without requiring any input. that way you can just focus on the handling of the quad if you are having trouble with the trottle.

4. Going too fast on corners / taking corners the wrong way

I’ll be the first to say this: cornering in a quad at a decent speed is not easy. not saying that it’s rocket science, but this is the most understandable mistake. this is something that I do once in a while and I’m working to fix it. the first one is going too fast on corners. there are some obvious safety concerns here. unless you are very good at powersliding/drifting, moderate speeds at corners is not something that is going to affect your overall speed while riding on a track. learning how to drift in a quad bike is like learning anything else: ease yourself into it, focus on what’s ahead, and try to get somebody that can help you. there are a few videos available over the internet that can help you out with drifting. I also made a general guide on cornering if you are interested.

5. Using the wrong fuel for the quad:

thankfully, this is something that can be easily fixed. depending on the quad that you have, it’s engine is going to require that you put either 87, 89, 91, or maybe even 93 octane gas in it. while there are some folks that do not recommend it, i believe that E85 is no problem in most quads. anyways, if you have the quads manual available i would check it to make sure if you are putting the wrong fuel in it. the information can also sometimes be found in the gas cap. there are a few things can happen if you put lets say, 87 on a quad that requires 91 octane, like for example, you might suffer from reduced performance from the engine, you might hear some crackles from the exhaust, or sometimes the incorrect gas might even damage the engine in the long run. i spoke about some of these issues in this post.

6. Not doing the proper maintenance on the machine

Since there most folks that ride ATVs do so only once in a while, they do not realize that these machines require some upkeep to keep it in optimal conditions. anyways, not doing some occasional check-ups on ATVs is one of the most common causes of malfunctions in general. doing ATV maintenance is actually quite easy, however many people do not feel that way or maybe they are scared they are going to break something or do something wrong. I think this is one of the reasons so many few do maintenance. and you don’t even need to do the complex maintenance yourself. doing some constant check-ups like for example regular oil changes, air filter changes, tire maintenance/replacements, or even doing some work on the paint like fixing scratches or adding some sealants to the fenders are a few of the things that you can do yourself, while you can leave the more complex stuff like suspension work to a mechanic. I made this post so that people can have an idea of how to general maintenance on their quad so check it out if you are interested in that.

7. Doing mods right away

With very few exceptions, doing mods right away is generally not a good idea for new riders. this is because of several reasons. the first thing is that many new ATVers do not really know What they are doing. no offense, but hear me out. many riders get a cheap old quad as a hand me down which is understandably really slow. they want something faster but they do not have the cash to go to their local dealer and get a more modern quad. so what they do is that they start messing around with a bigger carburetor or doing camber adjustments and they do a terrible job at it. so they end up breaking some part of the quad. while there are some mods which can be done and are completely understandable (exhaust mod to quiet down ATV for example) most of them are just going to hurt your quad and make a big hole in your wallet.

8. Not changing tires timely

Probably the most common mistake and one that is easily fixed too. you see, tires have an expiration date. the more you ride them the more the rubber is going to wear, and the less traction you are going to have on the quad. there are many complaining about sup-par perfomance in their ATV but they do not realize that it’s the tires that are holding the quad back. there are a few ways to check the wear in your tires. you can just to an eye test to see if there’s some depth in the grooves. also, in some tire brands they give you some instructions on how to check if your tires require a replacement. you should also feel lower traction and slower acceleration if the tires are spent. and you don’t even need to spend that much on tires. brand name ATV tires are super expensive, so if you are a weekend warrior type of rider, i would just go with some chinese off-brand all season tire. they are not as good as the other brands but if you do not ride that much then you should’t feel that much of a difference.

9. Not reading the quad’s manual.

This is something that I used to be guilty of years ago when I bought my first and second quad. anyways, it’s important to thoroughly read the manual of your 4-wheel because of several reasons, especially if it’s a more modern quad. the first of all is to familiarize yourself with what you are riding with. while most are going to know or research basic stuff like the ATVs engine displacement, if the quad is 4wd or 2wd, or if the quad has a locking diff or not, there are a few other things that many riders do not know, like for example if it’s a 2 stroke or 4 stroke (99% of the time it’s a 4 stroke but it’s good for people to know), what type of oil is recommended, the weight of the quad (for towing it with a truck), and other important stuff.

Other reasons why it’s important to read the manual is to know which type of fuel the quad needs. I talked a little bit more about that in this article but depending on the quad that you are using this might not matter much or it might be really important, especially if it’s a modern quad. putting 87 octane on a quad that needs 91 or 93 might damage the engine over the long run.

10. Using the incorrect quad size.

Using a quad that is too small for you or too big is either going to hurt your back or affect the handling of the machine. there are sometimes where people are forced to use a specific quad size because it was a gift from a relative or a hand me down from somebody who outgrew the quad so sometimes there’s nothing for them to do, but for people that actually have a choice, it’s always better to get something that fits their body dimensions better. i’m pretty chubby and tallish and riding most 400cc quads feels a little bit uncomfortable but if that is the only quad available i can tolerate it. however for a person my size, the ideal quad size is a 700cc full size quad.

Kids shouldn’t be riding in quads that they can’t handle. any kid under 12 years old should be riding in a mini quad. that would be a 90cc to 110cc quad. anything over 250cc is serious trouble. so get your kids a mini-ATV if the only option is riding in a normal quad.

11. Trying too hard to do a wheelie

Doing a wheelie can be pretty hard, especially if you are chubbier than me. i barely get the wheels off the ground. not because i cannot lift it more, but because it’s quite dangerous. the first thing that could happen is that I lift the quad too much and I fall off the quad because of that. the quad might rollover or depending on the quads structural integrity, yanking the grips might even break them. the first thing that you should do when doing a wheelie is to make sure that you are on flat ground. this is just to ensure that you have a safe space to actually do the trick and that there is less risk of a rollover. something that also helps a lot is lowering the pressure of the tires. this makes the tires a little bit more bouncy so that you lift the quad with more ease. trying to do a wheelie with a quad that weights less is also recommendable

But if you have some time trying to do the wheelie and you still cannot do it, then it might be wise to leave it for later or get somebody that can teach you how to do it. for a more comprehensive guide on how to do a wheelie, check this article out.

12. Having too many people riding the quad simultaneously

Unless you have a Side by side, or a very large quad, a maximum of 2 people is what most recommend while riding. riding with way too much people is going to affect the performance of your quad. it will not accelerate as willingly and handling is going to be hard. not to mention the quad internals are more taxed. things like suspension parts are especially affected. if you regulary ride with a lot of people, it would be recommended to get a suspension upgrade to handle the extra weight. the maximum weight that the quad can handle can be checked in the manual.

Also, there are a few mods that consist of adding a small seat in the back of the quad to get a third person riding there which can be a good solution if you really need to ride with more than 2 folks. just make sure that you get something decent, something from the original manufacture especially. this is because there’s a lot of crap available when it comes to ATV seat add-ons.

13. Buying the incorrect type of quad.

There are several ATVs classes available which are specialized in one specific thing. these include sport quads which have a sports tuned suspension and a high-revving engine, utility quads, which are made for farm work or hunting, they are bigger than sports quads, and their engines generally have more torque. and also there are also offroading quads which are made with offroading in mind and they generally have the highest ground clearance, more skid plates. while it’s honestly that big of a deal if you ride a sports quad in a trail, or are riding on an mc track on an utility quad, it’s better buy something that is made for what you are going to be doing.

14. Not learning how to drive a manual quad.

I think this is a mistake because you don’t really know when you are going to need to be driving a manual. me and my friends swap quads all the time and i sometimes ride a manual one, so when i give it to some of my friends, they are clueless because they do not know how to operate it. this is not exactly a mistake but it’s something that might put you at a disadvantage in the long run.

15. Not learning the ins and outs of the quad.

For a casual rider this might be fine, however if you are serious about riding ATVs then it might be wise to learn a little bit more about the inner working of quads, at least of your quad. the first thing that i would recommend is to sign up in an ATV forum. there forums sometimes have specific subsections dedicated to a specific brand, which can be invaluable if you are looking to change an specific part or are looking to install new mod or even trying to know the current value of the quad that you have.

16. Leaving a quad without supervision.

You might be wondering “what is the problem with leaving the quad outside for a few hours? it’s not like it’s going to disappear”. well, the reason this is number 16 is because ATV theft is a very big problem all over the country. thankfully this has never happened to me however I know some friends that have had their quads stolen because they left it outside for the night. if you have a garage, I would recommend that you store it inside, even if it may be dirty. another suggestion would be chaining the main frame of the quad to a steel post or even taking the wheels off if you are not going to be using the quad for a long period of time. it’s super easy to take an ATV, even if it’s off so you should be really careful with it!

17. Listening to loud music while riding.

This is not always a bad thing. if you are riding casually on a field for example, then there’s no problem. however, I don’t know why but there are some people who listen to loud music when riding on trails, maybe because they want to drown the sound of the quad. this affects your concentration when riding. if you are going to listen to music, you either lower the volume or you guy a portable bluetooh speaker so that you can listen to your surroundings too.

18. Not learning how to drive a manual quad.

I think this is a mistake because you don’t really know when you are going to need to be driving a manual. me and my friend swap quads all the time and i sometimes ride manual ones, so when i give them to some friends, they are clueless because they do not know how to operate it. this is not exactly a mistake but it’s something that might put you at a disadvantage in the long run.

19. Buying Suzuki

LOL jk