Would you like to know the basics of riding an all-terrain vehicle (ATV)? It’s definitely different from cruising in your more civilized automobiles, but it’s very popular. ATVs account for more than half of all spark-ignited (SI) recreational vehicles in the US. Once you get a few simple functions figured out, riding an ATV is all about shifting gears and straddling ruts. If you have an automatic ATV, shifting gears is all taken care of, and it gets down to maneuvering the ruts.
On a quad, you have the throttle, which is on the right-hand handlebar. Pushing and releasing the throttle controls your speed.
Most ATVs have a total of three brakes: the parking brake, the foot brake, and the right-hand brake. The parking brake is for when your quad is parked. The right-hand brake controls the front brakes. The foot brake controls the rear wheels, which you will typically use when you need to slow down or stop as you are coming down a hill. The only time you may need to be concerned about flipping as you brake going downhill is if the hill is very steep and you’re traveling at a high speed. In this situation, you could flip forward if you use the right-hand brake.
There are usually five gears on an ATV. Shifting should be done smoothly and at the appropriate time. Your engine will last longer if you aren’t revving your engine excessively. Shift to higher gears when the rpm’s are high, not low. Before shifting, release your thumb from the gas and quickly shift up. At that point, your engine should be operating at lower rpm’s. When you shift down, the rpm’s on the engine should be low. The times to shift down are when it feels that the engine is losing power or when you are climbing a hill.
Note about shifting: Higher gears are designed for less power and more speed. Lower gears are designed for less speed and more power. About the five gears:
• 1st is the gear with the most power, and it’s perfect for going up hills.
• 2nd is ideal for slow trail riding.
• 3rd is a gear that’s perfect for speeding up and slowing down.
• 4th is the gear for cruising on a smooth path.
• 5th is the weakest gear, and it is the one to use when racing over mountain trails.
Encountering ruts is very much a part of the experience of driving on ATV trails. They are challenging and dangerous, since maneuvering them can result in tipping your ATV over. Ruts are created by tires in muddy conditions, which makes them very unpredictable. It’s best to shift to a lower gear and travel slowly on ruts, with both wheels on the edges. Stop if it feels that your ATV is going to tip. Travel with care!
Be patient with yourself when you’re learning to ride an ATV. It’s definitely an adventure sport. As soon as you have all the shifting, throttling, braking, and rut-straddling mastered, you can have many hours of bliss totally crushing it.