37 Tips to Improve your ATV riding skills
I recently made a guide on how to ride an ATV the proper way. in that post I gave a lot of tips and tricks on how to ride, sit, corner, accelerate, and even how to do some stunts! it’s a great guide and it has a lot of useful information, but I have lots of other tips that I didn’t include in it. they were small things that I think didn’t fit the article. plus, that article was getting long and I didn’t want to add more since it had over 3500 words.
So I decided to make a separate list in which I can put all the tips that I have learned over the last few years. I also decided to consult with a few acquaintances and some of their individual tips are on the list too! some of these tips you might already know, and some might be completely new to you, but I’m pretty sure that you are going to find something that will help you take your ATV riding to a next level! please enjoy!
1. Get Comfortable
I don’t think you should be riding for long amounts of time if you are uncomfortable with anything in your quad. maybe the sitting position isn’t right for you. or maybe the seat doesn’t have enough cushion. or it might be that your quad is underpowered. no matter what it might be, I would recommend addressing the issue before you spend hours riding on your quad because you might be causing a stress injury in the future or something similar!
2. Find the best place to ride in your area.
Depending on where you live in, you might have some dirt biking trails nearby. if that is the case, then that’s the first place that you should go if you are serious about riding ATVs. dirtbiking trails will provide the best place to ride fast and they will also have a lot of bumps! which are really fun when you learn how to take them at some speed. doing a few laps on the local place can really polish you up! to find these trails, Google will be your best friend.
3. Lower your head on Straights to lower drag.
This is an easy way to gain some speed, especially if you are really tall or big. sitting straight when going fast will
cause drag and that will cause you to slow down. certainly not what you want! however, remember that you need to keep your eyes on the front and avoid looking down! this can be really dangerous and it might make you lose control! so you can lower your body significantly, but always keep your eyes pointing forward.
4. Squeeze the quad with your knees for added balance
Just like riding a dirtbike, squeezing your knees to get a better hold of the ATV will greatly help you maintain balance, not only when riding fast on a straight but also when cornering. squeeze firmly anytime that you need the added balance, just like you are trying to train your legs at the gym. the ideal place to squeeze is near any metal part of the chassis. this will depend on the quad that you have but most have a flat area in the left and right side of the quad so that you can squeeze and handle the quad in a better way.
5. Reduce the weight from your quad.
Just like car manufacturers are making high-end cars with carbon fiber to reduce weight, that is also happening in the ATV world. but you don’t need to buy a super fancy model to reduce the weight of your quad, you can just unscrew some plastics and that is all! I would recommend unscrewing the plastics on the side of the quad, and also depending on the road that you are going to ride on, the skid plates. that can easily lower several pounds of weight and it can easily increase the speed and performance of your quad. other things that might weigh you down are the headlights (if you don’t ride at night or have more than 1 quad.)
6. Do a few practice laps on the trail before riding at full speed
This is something super basic and important yet so many people don’t know this or don’t care. I would recommend doing a few short laps in a controlled speed. try to check for any big bump or anything that might need your concentration later on. this is especially important if you are going to do time attack because part of completing a trail in the fastest way is simply how used you are to a specific trail or road. it will also avoid you dangerous accidents that could be prevented if you knew the trail just a little bit better.
7. Focus on the road ahead!
Another useful tip of beginners. most people start riding ATVs and they focus a lot on grabbing the handlebars and making sure that they are as straight as possible. and this can be fatal because when you do that you lose focus on what’s ahead. try to keep your eyes on the upcoming bumps of the trail. doing that will make you a more responsive and twitchy rider, which are some things that you need in the long run to improve your skills.
8. On wet trails, go slower.
Riding while the ground is wet is so fun! the quad gets squirmier and it’s easier to slide in general. but it’s probably the fastest way to earn you a trip to your local ER, especially if you are going fast and don’t have much experience riding. now, you certainly can ride while wet but you must take some security measures. the first thing is getting your safety gear on. things like a helmet, boots, chest protector, and gloves are a must. the second thing is that I would recommend is reducing speed a bit, especially when riding a heavyweight. after you get a bit more used to it, you can increase the speed a bit!
9. Use your headlights at night!
Many people like to shut off their headlights and keep them off at night because they say that it “drains” the power of the quad. it doesn’t matter if it’s pitch dark or whatever, these people will always ride with their lights off. and I say avoid being stupid and turn them on when it matters. it’s much harder to see imperfections at night and depending on which trail you are riding they might not even have lights in the course! headlights will NOT reduce your quads power, it will make you a better rider in general.
10. Avoid drinking alcohol when riding.
This goes without saying. drinking alcohol will impair your riding ability a lot and it could be real dangerous. ATVs are a popular spring break rental and many people sadly drink when they ride and they overpush the machine without knowing any better. many people get injured because of this and then ATVs leave a bad impression in their mind. but it was their fault, not the quads. so please avoid drinking or any other substance when riding. especially if you are riding with other people.
11. If the sound is annoying, try to silence your quad! ATVs can be fun and all, but they are so loud, it can really get in your nerves. and since I wasn’t always riding as fast as the quad can go and I also go offroading, I decided to take my offroading quad and “silenced” the exhaust. this certainly made the ride much more comfortable, which is something that I really prefer when I’m just riding a bit for leisure or want to ride with my wife. I personally bought a special muffler for my quad, but if you are not willing to pay for it, there are also DIY solutions to the problem. I would recommend that you check youtube for that!
12. Learn how to do wheelies! As soon as you have some time riding quads and having fun and all, you are going to want to learn how to do wheelies. I’m pretty good at this and so the only thing that you need to do is to yank the handlebars up while hitting the throttle. it might take a few tries but eventually, you are going to make it. I made a more in-depth guide on how to do it in this link.
13. What do you want the quad for? Although most quads can “do it all” there are several quads that specialize in a specific task, like sports performance, offroading or utility use. so I would recommend that you choose the quad that most fits your personal needs. if you want to ride fast on a quad, then sports models are your best choice. if you are looking to climb hills and offroad in general, then it’s better if you getting an offroading quad. again, most quads are very versatile but most of them will be better at a specific task.
Cornering & Handling
14. Move your body slightly to where you want to go
Just like riding a dirtbike, you should tilt your body a bit while at the same time moving the handlebars left or right. that will allow you to turn less and it will maintain your balance a bit better. it will also allow you to maintain some speed. after you corner, go back to the neutral position in the middle of the quad. we do this principally to go as fast as possible on a trail.
15. Avoid erratic movements.
Twitchy cornering not only lowers your speed overall, it is also quite dangerous, especially if you have something with a bouncy suspension or some clearance. the truth is that you should see the bumps from afar. you shouldn’t wait until you are almost going to feel them to respond to them. maintain your eyes forward and scan any imperfection from afar. this will help you avoid erratic movements that many newbs did when they first started (like me!)
16. Sit back when cornering.
It’s important to move your bodyweight a bit back when going to corner fast. doing this help you do several things. the first thing that it will help you with is corner more sharply and precisely. you should also squeeze your legs so that you are kind of gripping the quad. those 2 things will certainly help you corner more efficiently, especially if you are doing motocross. after leaving the corner, you should go back to your normal riding position.
17. Do not grip the handlebars so tightly!
This is a rookie mistake. when people do motocross for the first time, they generally grip the ATV real hard because they don’t want to lose control of their quad. gripping the quad less forcefully will put less strain on your forearms and your body in general. it’s also paradoxically easier to corner when you don’t have a death grip on the handlebars.
18. Take a tight corner from the outside to inside If you are nearing a corner with a 90-degree angle, you should brake slightly, move to the outside corner, and then you are going to corner that way. cornering that way helps you maintain as much speed as possible because you have more space to maneuver. if you are too inside the track when you are going to turn then you are going to have to drastically lower the speed and not only is that going to hurt your times on a trail, but it also might be dangerous, especially if your quad does not have the best brakes.
19. Use offroading tires with V-shaped thread
If you are going to offroad, then the first thing that you should get are the necessary offroading tires. they will help a lot when it comes to traction and really getting you out of a tight spot. tires with a V-shaped thread will greatly improve your quad offroading capability, especially in the mud. the V-Shaped thread will push mud away from the tires which will remove excess mud from the way and allow you to get where you want to go in a more efficient way. if I’m going to offroad in a place that I know it has a lot of mud, then I use one of these 2 tires: SunF or Bestroad, which ever’s cheaper at the time.
20. Improve your suspension setup!
Other than using bigger tires and wheels to slightly increase clearance, the best way to increase your clearance is installing an aftermarket suspension for your quad. if you have some time offroading then you probably have seen people with intricate suspension work done. and that’s what I would personally recommend! you can also install some Shocks. I recently decided to buy some GZYF shocks for my Suzuki and I increased my clearance about 4 inches easily. the comfort of my quad stayed the same and I didn’t break the bank. I would recommend that you buy the suspension on a physical store so that somebody can install it for you unless you know how to do it.
21. Lower the air pressure of your tires.
This is an obvious one but it will probably be the easiest thing to do. to drastically improve your off-roading credentials, just do 1 thing: lower the air pressure. that’s it. I’m not sure why people don’t do this because it’s very useful and you don’t really need to spend anything to do it. lowering the pressure works because it allows the rubber to dig in deep with the rock and mud, and that allows you to gain more traction. riding with low pressure might not be the best thing if you are trying to go fast in your quad, but if you just want to move through an offroading area, then it is the #1 tip I could give you.
22. Make sure that you use your quads functions properly.
You might have a quad with lots of features, differentials, suspension setups, you name it. but if you are know how to use those tools, then you might as well be sitting on a tricycle. if you have a 4X4 quad, then you probably are going to have a 4WD low or high. low is used when you are really bogged down because it will increase the torque of your quad while maintaining the speed that you would like. quads that have these functions are the very best for offroading. you can climb very steep hills without breaking a sweat.
23. Carry a winch!
After you have been stuck in a while, you probably have tried a lot of stuff to get out. if nothing works, then your only choice might be to use a winch. this is a tool that attaches to your quad and allows you to move your quad if it’s stuck. a winch is something that I take everytime that I offroad because if I’m too bogged I will have a winch to save me. the winch that I’m currently using is the Superwinch 1135220 Terra 35. that one is a more heavy-duty type of winch which is what I recommend because the other winches that I have tried have had reliability issues.
Technical, Maintenance, Tuning
24. Consider tuning your quads engine
If you have some time riding and are looking for something with more horsepower but don’t have the dough to buy a new quad then the alternative is tuning your ATV engine. installing can be a very effective way to increase power to your quad when you are on a budget. there are several aftermarket turbos available on Amazon that you can install yourself. these turbos will probably give you between 15-20 HP, which is a lot on a quad. as long as you buy a quality turbo, you shouldn’t have any technical concerns.
25. Complete your maintenance in time
To make your quad ride in the most optimal way, you are going to have to take care of it once in a while. doing maintenance on your quad is the number 1 tips for any ATV enthusiast because an ATV treated poorly is an ATV that will not perform at 100% when needed! I personally do the maintenance myself, but if you are not comfortable with that you can always just hand the quad to somebody that has some more experience doing the maintenance or maybe even a dealership. just remember to have some dough because depending on who’s doing it these maintenances can be expensive
26. Change the air filter
If you don’t have the cash to buy a new quad and won’t buy a turbo either then the next best thing are smaller mods, like for example a cold air filter. changing the air filter of your quad can be an easy way to add some cheap power to your machine especially if you have a utility quad or similar. the more air your engine has, the better it will perform, and that’s where cold air filters come in. it will allow your quad to get more cold air, which has more oxygen, and that means that fuel will burn more easily. and that means more horsepower baby!
27. Protect your fenders with a product!
This is something that will concern people that are going to be offroading or dealing with mud. I would recommend buying a stay-in product so that your paint is unaffected by the mud or the rocks. some people like using WD-40 for this purpose, but I don’t think this is the best idea. I would recommend that you use any protecting substance like a polisher that will not only protect the paint from any stray rock or too much mud, but it will also shine your paint so that it looks like you bought the quad yesterday!
28. Change the oil according to how often you are using the quad. If you are an ATV addict like I am, it might be wise to change the oil often. it also depends on other factors like which quad you have and the climate, but in general fresh oil in the engine equals a happy quad. you should also change the oil that you use according to the climate. what I mean by this is that there are some engine oils that are specifically made for cold conditions. so if you notice that your quad slows down a bit or the engine runs a bit rougher in winter, maybe changing what type of oil you use on the quad might make a difference.
29. OEM will be better over the long run
I generally prefer buying OEM parts, unless I cannot find it. OEM parts have more quality and they are generally easier to install and use from the get-go. depending on what quad you have, then it might be a bit more expensive. generally, the OEM parts are about 25-30% more expensive, which is totally worth it in my opinion. but, if you don’t want to spend the premium and want to go with other parts then go ahead. however, your quad will probably not perform the same. there are some quads that have very expensive OEM parts. if this is the case, then I would go for Chinese parts or similar, but only if the OEM parts are very expensive when compared to generics.
30. Get a quad that matches the kid size
To avoid any issues I would recommend that you get a kids sized quad for your children. they are simpler machines so that your kids don’t have to deal with all the technical stuff. they are a bit slower and that is better because that means that they won’t accidentally accelerate and cause an accident. full-size quads might also be uncomfortable for your kids. maybe the handlebars might be a little bit too far or the seating position might not be the best for them. I would recommend talking to your children about it and letting them ride in an adult quad. if they find that it’s hard to ride them, then you are going to have to buy a mini-ATV. thankfully they are much cheaper than normal quads.
31. Protective gear is a must!
I never let my kids ride quads without their safety gear. it doesn’t even matter if they are going to ride with me or whatever. I always make sure that they have their helmets, boots, kneepads, gloves, and jersey on. I thankfully haven’t had any bad experiences with quads and my kids either but it’s always important to be safe. no matter if they are going slow, an accident can always happen at any time so it’s better to be safe than sorry. I usually buy Fox gear for my kids. they provide the best combination of price and protection. I would also recommend that they try the gear on at a store, just to make sure that it fits them and that they are getting a design that they like! that way it’s more likely that they will use their safety gear.
32. Ride with them
You can teach your kids what to do, how to turn on the quad, how to accelerate etc… but you really are going to see what they are doing wrong while they ride. try not to let them go far and watch how are they riding. so if they are making a mistake or doing something that you might think will hurt them in the future, you can stop them right there and help them. my kid used to corner too aggressively and I eventually had to tell him to stop doing that because he was going to fall off the quad eventually.
33. Avoid making them ride dirtbike trails This is one that I avoid at all costs. it doesn’t matter if my older kid is quickly learning how to ride or if the trail isn’t the most challenging one: if a kid does even the slightest mistake in a jump, he’s going to pay it dearly. for example, I saw a 9 yr old kid that lost his balance at a jump and he hit himself in his side, just because he was riding too hard. plus, he didn’t have any parental supervision and so me and my wife had to help the poor kid. thankfully he just suffered a few bruises but not every kid will be as lucky as him.
34. Get some heated grips Heated grips are not just a luxury feature in a fancy, expensive quad. it’s also something that you can easily buy and install in your own ATV! depending on where you live in, these might or might not be super useful to you. I know that many people love using their quads in their snow and if you are that kind of person that likes it then heated grips are a godsend! I personally use the Heat Demon heated grips for one of my quads and they have been perfect! no complaints yet. these grips combined with a quality set of gloves will keep your hands very warm and comfy!
35. Avoid riding when there’s a lot of ice in the ground Have you seen one of these videos in which cars spin out of control in the middle of a chilly night because of an icy road? if so, something similar can happen to your quad! now maybe I’m exaggerating, but It’s definitely easier to lose control in snowy conditions. It’s even worse when there’s a lot of ice in the ground. so, because of that, I would recommend that you avoid climbing hills or riding trails if it’s REALLY cold or you suspect that there’s ice in the ground. plus, it’s no fun when it’s that cold!
36. Buy Snow Tires when it’s snow season! Kind of a “Duh” tip because maybe for some it might be so obvious but it really amazes me how much people simply ride with the same generic tires all year long. and then they blame themselves (or worse, their quad!) because they are not riding the way they usually do. the truth is, changes in temperature require changes in rubber! As soon as I’m having traction issues I change to these tires. They are called the UNILLI Snow Tires and I think that they are a great bang for your buck, especially if you aren’t going to use the tires year round.
37. If the snow is too thick, then shoveling a bit can be warranted! If you have been trying to move through thick snow and it’s getting hard for you to get anywhere, then the snow might be really hard. if that’s the case, you should have a small shovel or even a stick with you so that you can soften the snow that is in front of you. other things that you can try is spraying a bit of lukewarm water in the snow. that makes it easier for the tires to do their job and get through the hard now.