For whatever reason, the ATV bug has bitten you. You’ve seen them on television or maybe you have a couple of friends that already go riding on the trails. Day in and day out, in all kinds of weather and in every season, people are enjoying recreational ATV trail riding.
But when you’re new to this activity, where to begin? What needs
consideration before making a major purchase of an ATV? Do you need to take a
driver’s test or a safety course? Do you want the ATV for recreation or for
work? Are you thinking about competitive racing? Finally, how much is this
whole venture going to cost?
The first thing you need to do is take a trip down to your local ATV
dealership. Not only will you be able to look at and try out different models,
but you can talk to the dealer for information as well. Don’t be intimidated
about asking questions; salespeople are there to help - and also to make a
sale. If you don’t like the service at one dealership, visit another.
A good idea is to try to rent a particular model before you buy. Renting an
ATV for a weekend is a smart thing to do if you plan on having a child as a
passenger on your ATV. So many times, a child will want to try a new hobby only
to discover they don’t like it on the first day. There are some adults like
that also, so if you’re unsure whether or not an ATV is for you, then do try
renting one first for a test run before you sign the final papers to
Currently, there are two types of ATVs on the market: Sport and utility. Some
ATV models claim to be hybrids of the sport and the utility models. The utility
ATV will have racks on the front and rear of the vehicle, while a sport model
will have no racks. A hybrid model might have a rear rack only. The type of ATV
best for a hunting, fishing, or camping trip would be a utility ATV. Those
activities involve hauling a lot of stuff in and out of the bush, and you will
need front and rear racks. Sport ATVs are for trail riding or racing and will
usually have more speed available, as well as bright colors for high visibility
on the trails.
Engine type is also another consideration. Two stroke engines have a system
where they lubricate themselves by burning fuel. There is a specific gas-to-oil
ratio mix used in order for the vehicle to run properly. A few models require
that the oil reservoir be refilled every five or six tanks of gas. Noise is
also a major drawback, a by-product of higher RPMs. Two-stroke engines
are fading from popularity as technology improves, and more people lean towards
the clean-burning four-stroke engine. Four stroke engines are quieter and are
more fuel efficient than their two-stroke counterparts.
The automatic clutch is another feature that might cause some confusion. An
automatic clutch requires putting the ATV into the appropriate gear when the
engine hits the corresponding RPM for that gear. An automatic clutch does not
mean an automatic transmission. Models with an automatic clutch will not have a
foot peg for shifting; instead, there is a shifter for your left thumb on the
handlebar. An ATV with automatic transmission has its drawbacks as well, as in
order to have the machine engage the auto transmission, the driver must
maintain a certain number of RPMs. This can be a problem when climbing steep, rocky
Another question is whether you need two-wheel or four-wheel drive,
otherwise known as “two by two” or “four by four”. A two-wheeled drive vehicle has
the rear wheels do all the work and push the vehicle along, whereas a four-wheel
drive employs all four wheels to provide better traction. Four-wheel drives do
cost more, but are good for extra traction in particularly tough terrain. Newer
machines on the market will allow for “on-the-fly” four-wheel drive, where the
four-wheel drive is engaged as needed.
there is the choice of a drive shaft, chain, or belt drive. All three methods of
drive are good ones, but an enclosed drive shaft seems to make better sense for
various types of terrain. With a chain or a belt drive, there is always the
risk of snapping the chain or the belt while out on the trails, and then you
might have to do some emergency repairs. In the end, the shaft drive will pay
for itself with lower maintenance.