The Complete guide to ATV riding for kids
It seems that an ATV is one of the most popular Christmas presents that parents buy their kids, especially for the boys. the first ATV that I bought my elder son was a small mini-ATV because he wasn’t really riding comfortably in one of my quads. he was about 8 or so back then and I always rode with him in the back of my quad and I knew that he wanted more from the experience. so I got something neat for him! I shopped around and I think I got him a Chinese quad because I didn’t have much cash back then. I also decided to get some safety gear for him. after he was ready I got him in the quad seat and taught him a few things about the quad, how to use it, accelerate, and braking.
So we decided to ride together every Saturday in the backyards and then on a trail. I taught him a few tips and also tried to extinguish some bad habits before they became worse. I was also able to learn about the typical mistakes kids are going to make and also which thing you should look out for. anyways, those Saturdays because kind of a weekly bonding session for me and my kid, and so I decided to repeat the “sessions” with my other kid so that he could also learn how to ride ATVs like his father.
So I decided to do what I always do when I learn something new about quads: make an article about it! I even let my kids write small parts of the article so that they could input what they have learned personally. I think this is one of the most comprehensive guides about ATV riding for kids and so I think you can get something or 2 about this guide. anyways, I hope you enjoy!
BASIC INFO YOUR KIDS MUST KNOW.
Teach them the basic security measures:
This is like the safety protocol that they show you when you are going to fly on a plane. things that I taught my kids when they first started riding is simply to always have their safety gear on when riding, avoid jerky movements on the quad, avoid standing up (that affects the stability of the quad), avoid riding with somebody on the back, etc…
Teach them basic quad stuff (how to turn on and the like) After teaching them some security measures and protocol, you are going to let them know how the quad works. the first step is teaching them how to turn on the quad. (or maybe you might want to skip this part because if they know how to turn it on then they might ride without you being present) you are also going to teach them where the throttle is and how to operate the brakes.
HOW TO TEACH YOUR KID HOW TO RIDE
Get them on a trail (something beginner friendly) Trails, as long as they aren’t very complex or challenging, are a great way to teach your kids how to drive an ATV. I would recommend that you look for a place that has as little bumps as possible so that they learn how to corner in a safe way. it’s also going to be much more entertaining for the,m when compared to simply riding around in a backyard. after my elder son got tired of riding on our porch we decided to go to a small motocross trail so that he could improve his skills. that way he could drive fast while staying safe!
Create some makeshift drills! If going to a trail is not an option, then something that you could do is create a game in which they need to go through traffic cones. this way, they will learn how to corner more sharply and learn how to press the gas at the correct moment. this is also safe and easy to do, you just need to go to any store to get the cones. as your kids gets more experience, you can increase the complexity of the drills!
Things to do and NOT TO let your kids do
DO NOT ALLOW them to ride without safety gear (at least a helmet) I wrote about this below and even made a mini review on what’s important for them to have. in short, your kids should have a helmet, boots, gloves, jerseys, and a chest protector at least. if possible, you should get kneepads, goggles and more. this is because like I have said like 10 times already, ATVs are quite dangerous and more so when kids are riding them. I would recommend that you keep the ATV key hidden and tell them that you won’t let them ride the quads until they have their safety gear on. it’s also important to let them choose their equipment because if they do so it’s gonna be easier for them to wear it.
Do not let them ride alone After they are strapped up with everything, I would recommend that you rip up your quad too just like I used to do. this way you can supervise them and see if your kid has a lead foot ( or in this case a happy finger!) if your kid is speeding a lot then warn him and keep supervising him. this is especially important in bumpy roads because it’s really easy to cause an accident in an unlevel surface. other things that you should keep an eye on is jerky movements and jerky cornering. they should try to corner as slow and as controlled as possible. if they are driving in an erratic motion that might mean that you should shut off the quad and teach them how to do things!
Do not let them ride on complex trails When I’m referring to complex trails I’m referring to any dirt biking or motocross trail with biggish bumps and tight corners. in short, anything that looks challenging to them. it doesn’t really matter if the bumps are small, if they are taken at the correct speed, then you will get some air. there are a few kids that can handle that but honestly, most shouldn’t be taking that kind of air. so if you like going to a trail that has a lot of jumps and bumps and you want to take your kids with you, I wouldn’t recommend letting them ride in that trail, unless it’s really slow. bumps are trouble for them because it means that you must balance the quad the proper way or else they might lose control mid-air, and that could mean trouble!
Do not let them ride on quads that they can’t control
All kids should ride in a mini-ATV. This ensures that your kid rides in something that they can control and that overall fits their body size. they are generally underpowered which ensures that they accelerate in an appropriate manner and the suspension is generally well damped, which means more chassis stability. they also have the added benefit that they are cheaper than a normal quad, often thousands of dollars cheaper.
Avoid letting them mess with the quad components(smaller kids) Smaller kids should avoid dealing with any technical components of the quad. depending on the quad that your kid is going to use, it might or might not be easy to fumble with cables and wirings. you should do a thorough examination of any exposed pieces in your quad, and you should cover them if they pose a hazard to your kids. the area near the lower footwell is especially notorious for being home to lots of components and wires.
If your kids are a bit older and you know how to fix and work with quads, then you can go ahead and teach them simple things about the mechanical components of the quad, and you can even teach them how to fix simple stuff. it will depend on the trust that you have with your kids but if you think they are able to do it and will not break anything then it might be wise to let them fix small issues themselves.
Avoid making them ride on hills His is pretty similar to number 3. hills pose a challenging terrain that contains a lot of hazards and so requires extra caution and focus. I used to struggle a lot on uneven hills and my kids struggled too. so after letting them ride for a while on uneven hills, I decided they shouldn’t be riding in that terrain anymore. the reason for this is that their quad doesn’t have the necessary balance in those situations and so it’s more likely for them to lose control.
If you are set on letting them ride on hills, they should be on a mini-ATV that conforms to their size and they should also be going slowly, especially when cornering. please also make sure that they have good brakes!
Avoid making them ride with more than 1 person What I’m saying here is that making them ride with a friend or a sibling will probably affect the stability of the quad. most mini-ATVs are kinda underpowered so that they are less of a hazard and your kid is going to feel the lack of speed if somebody else hops in the back. it will make it harder to corner and it’s generally going to be a bad experience.
Install nerf bars One of the most important things you can install in your kids quads are nerf bars. nerf bars serve as kind of a safety net so that your kid’s feet do not slip in a footwell. they can be quite cheap if you look for offers and combined with boots, your kids’ feet will be safe from any dangerous situation.
As you can see, this part of the guide deals with the equipment that you should get your kids if they are going to start riding ATVs. safety equipment is mandatory when it comes to kids. it’s imperative that you get things like helmets boots, kneepads and elbow pads, goggles, chest protectors, and more. this is because it’s awfully easy to get hurt riding a quad, even more so if the person riding is a kid! so that is the first thing that you should be focusing on: making sure that your kids are well protected if anything happens.
Of anything that can buy your kids, this is the first thing that should be on your list. I have said this a lot of times but I’m going to repeat it again: it’s awfully easy to hurt your head while riding quads! and when a head injury occurs, it can be devastating for the body. head injuries usually occur then somebody decides to go a little bit faster than they should in that moment. people get overconfident because of the quad’s 4-wheel stability, and so all of a sudden the quad loses balance and a rollover occurs, and many times the ones riding the quad are ejected headfirst, hitting themselves in the head and compressing their spine. not saying that it’s to happen to you or to a loved one, but it’s better to be ready for anything.
The helmet that I personally recommend for your kids is the MIGHTY X Kids Youth Dirt Bike Helmet, which is what my younger kid is using right now. before my kid decided to start riding quads in trails, I decided to let him choose his gear, as long as my pocket allowed it. we decided to go to a dirtbike store, he saw that helmet from afar, and he tried it on and he said it was really comfortable and snug. he decided to buy and I paid 50 dollars for it, which is a bargain honestly considering how much abuse that helmet has endured.
I would personally recommend you to go with your kid to a physical store instead of buying one because I think your kid should have more say on what he’s going to wear. there’s a lot of helmet choices out there both good and bad, and having your kid choose the one that fits best for him is super important.
A few things that you should keep in mind when buying the helmet for your kids is the fit of the helmet and the weight of it. the first one is important because you don’t want a loose helmet dangling around your kids head. it should be snug but not tight, and that is something that you are only going to confirm when your kids actually have the helmet in their head. the weight of the helmet is important because if it’s too heavy then it can get uncomfortable and so they might not want to wear the helmet
After getting a quality helmet that properly fits your kids head, you are going to have to get some boots for him, especially if he’s riding trails. and you might say “why are boots so important for kids safety?” and that is because since most kids aren’t exactly ATV experts, it’s quite easy for them to fumble with their feet and push down in the wrong place, especially if they are riding a manual ATV. as you might know, quads have a left pedal which is the equivalent of a stick in a manual car.
They use this lever to change gears and to put the ATV in neutral in lots of quads. if they do not really know where that lever is, then it might be really easy for them to accidentally hit the ground with the edge of their feet. in the best case that might only mean a slight scratch, but in the worst case it might mean a foot or leg injury, especially if the quad has any sort of speed!
Many kids struggle to put their feet in the footwell and when they try to rest their feet in there, they hit the dirt instead. that’s where boots come in. a proper set of safety ATV boots will protect your kid’s feet and shin from a possible contact with the ground. a good set of boots will also protect your kid’s feet from debris, rocks and other particles that might be near your kid’s legs.
What I recommend you is that you skip the old sneakers and get your son these beauties instead. I’m a big fan of fox gear because of the value that they bring to the ATV equipment world, and these boots are no exception! the one thing that my son loves about this boot is the comfort that it provides. now obviously I haven’t worn the boots but he said that: “they feel like a glove!” unlike the helmet, I decided to buy the boots from Amazon after our dog destroyed one of his old ones. we ordered true to size and he didn’t have a problem with them for the 9 months that he had them. then since he was still growing when we originally bought them he outgrew them and I saved them for his younger bro.
When it comes to boots, fit is the most important thing. from what I have seen most boots sizes compare favorably to sneaker sizes so if your kid is a 6 then buy a boot size 6! your kid shouldn’t have any fit problems.
It’s really easy for kids to scrape their hands when they are first learning. one of the rookie mistakes I noted with my kids is that they rest their hands on something nearby if they are riding near something. examples include
other quads, bushes, branches and even the trail itself. that is something that I tried to work with them, but they still scraped their hands once in a while. that’s why it’s so important for them to have some gloves so that they don’t cut their palms. the second reason they should have gloves is because of grip issues. while most ATV handlebars are quite easy to grip, if your kid’s hands are sweaty then he might have problems with his grip. it’s going to be easier to develop calluses and so I recommend that you get gloves for your child to avoid these problems.
Offroading gloves for kids are kinda hard to find, both in physical stores and online, so it was kind of a drag to get something that my kid liked. we eventually found these gloves. they honestly aren’t anything special but they are so cheap that I consider them a great value for the money. plus, my older son hasn’t had a problem with them.
A chest protector acts as an armor against trauma in case that something hits your sons torso or something else. it acts as kind of a cushion covering his chest and it’s something that is super useful in trail riding and offroading. think of it as kind of a helmet for their chest or a bulletproof vest for impacts. a good chest protector should cover most of your kids ribcage and back and it should also fit snug to their chest. this is because a loose chest protector will be a distraction for kids riding. chest protectors that attach with velcro are a no-no because they come undone very easily. they should also have some ventilation what will ensure that your kids don’t get too hot.
Generally, chest protectors are worn outside the jersey because wearing them inside would be quite uncomfortable for me and my kids, but some people do wear it inside. chest protectors also have cool graphics that your kids will dig. the colors are usually combined with the jersey’s color or the protector is left in black because it combines with everything and it also doesn’t show wear as obviously.
The jersey is usually the piece of equipment that kids are most interested in. a bright red and orange jersey is distinguishable and that means that It’s going to be easier to see your kids in darker conditions. I prefer that my kids wear bright orange jerseys like this one because It’s the brightest color available. I recommend that you do the same. jerseys will also protect from debris in a dirtbiking trail. it’s very easy to get real dirty while riding quads and that means that it’s better to have selected clothing when they are going to ride.
This selected clothing can be the jersey and the pants. the jersey will also ensure that your kid’s skin is not hurt by the hot sun which can be a problem if they are riding a long time on an afternoon. please ensure that the particular jersey that you choose has some ventilation because even though it can protect your son from the sun, he will be drenched in sweat and the heat will accumulate under the jersey.
ATV and dirtbike helmets have an opening in which you can put goggles. they do not have a screen and that means that goggles are pretty much mandatory! goggles are important in kids because it’s very easy to get dirt in their eyes when they are riding, especially on a trail. you honestly don’t need to get anything expensive but just like helmets, it’s important that the goggles fit your kids well and that they are comfortable with them.
Depending on which goggle you are looking for, they might cost between 30$ to 70$ for the high-end models. I would personally recommend that you get an entry level goggle, especially if you are not sure if your kid is going to ride a lot. this is the goggle that my younger son is wearing and it is a great value. they are much more resistant than the price suggests, and as of August my son hasn’t complained about them yet. but if you don’t want to buy ATV goggles, you can get by with some smallish swimming goggles for a while!