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Your First ATV: What Kind is Right for You?

Buying your first ATV can be challenging. If you’ve never owned a quad before, it’s all too easy to let your enthusiasm on the showroom floor convince you to buy a particular model that is, in reality, poorly suited for you. So before you head down to your local motorsports dealer and start shopping, it’s essential that you understand the basics of ATVs. The factors below will help you find an ATV that you will enjoy riding for years to come.

Utility Quad or Sports Quad

There are two primary types of ATVs. These are utility quads and sports quads. Their names do a good job explaining what they are used for. Utility quads are designed for work. Many people use them for farm chores, towing trailers, and carrying camping gear. Sports quads, on the other hand, are designed for fun. People generally use them for racing, freestyle jumping, and trail riding.

The differences between utility and sport quads boil down to weight, engine, and suspension. Utility quads are typically heavier with stiffer suspension. They utilize strong engines designed for low-gear towing and heavy-duty slugging. They’re a great choice for first-time riders as they are the easiest to learn to ride.

Sports quads are lighter and faster than utility quads. They have either two-stroke or four-stroke engines that are designed for maximum performance. Unlike a utility quad that has the share of its power in the low-gears, sports quads have the peak of their power in the upper-gears. Their suspension is much softer and longer to soak up hard landings from jumps.

Automatic or Manual Transmission

Like automobiles, ATVs are available with both automatic and manual transmissions. According to many ATV and marine stores, buying a manual quad with gears is the best idea for most people. They go on to say that manual quads perform better going both up and down hills. They are also the best choice for utility work and for racing. Automatics are generally only best for youngsters and others uncomfortable with switching gears on their own.

Two-Wheel Drive or Four-Wheel Drive

You also have the option between two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive when buying an ATV. The All Terrain Vehicle Association recommends four-wheel drive for all utility quads, especially for those living in wet or snowy climates. Most sports quads are designed as two-wheel drive machines.

Engine Size

Walk into any motorsports showroom and you will be greeted with a wide range of ATVs of all engine sizes. It can be tempting to go with the biggest and most powerful engine. However, it’s important to note engine size isn’t a big factor for utility quads. Most 300cc four-wheel drive utility quads can go anywhere and do anything much larger quads can. For sports quads, big engines have much bigger advantages as they are faster at high speeds. If you are into ATV racing, then the bigger the engine you can afford, the better. Recreation has never been more fun!

There are a lot of different factors that go into selecting your first ATV. The four discussed above are the most important. Consider your needs and preferences, make note of the information above, and don’t be afraid to spend time talking to a salesperson about your decision. Do all of these things and you’ll find a quad that is perfect for you in no time at all.