Clearly, both types of vehicles are designed to be able to go across rough off-road terrain in some of the worst conditions known to man. Add some human skill in this mix and there is no obstacle that can stop you from enjoying an outdoor adventure. This having been said, there are many differences between the two sports and it’s not just the number of wheels involved.
If you have no experience riding either of these two vehicles, it’s only fair to present some of the main advantages, disadvantages, and characteristics of them both.
ATV riding hazards
ATVs or All Terrain Vehicles are also known as quads because they have four wheels. Right from the start, this makes them more stable as they have a larger platform onto which the rider is sitting. This makes learning how to ride them a lot easier at first, but here is when we get to the surprising fact.
Despite the fact that ATV is more stable, the number of people who die riding them is a lot higher than the death rate of dirt bikers. This happens firstly due to a false sense of security and secondly due to the vehicle’s high weight. An ATV that weighs around 1,000 pounds is extremely dangerous for its rider, as often it rolls over the operator and crushes him or her.
This actually is a common occurrence as many riders try to approach and climb steep slopes and they don’t always make it to the top. The only solution is to jump away from the quad and stay clear as it rolls back down the hill. This same false sense of stability makes them go too fast through corners and topple over. The risk is even higher if they go over uneven surfaces.
Many ATV riders don’t even wear helmets because they are sure they are safe. However, the higher center of gravity can easily cause them to flip and roll over. Even at low speeds, a rolling 1,000-lb quad can crush bones due to its massive weight in comparison to a relatively light 200-lb dirt bike.
According to statistics, ATVs are very dangerous to riders younger than 16. This happens because parents choose to buy them full-sized ATVs, instead of properly sized ones. Parents do that in order to save money when their child outgrows it. However, a child should never be allowed to ride a quad that is designed to be used by an adult.
The advantages of ATVs
Compared to dirt bikes, ATVs have a longer season. While dirt bikes can’t run on snow or ice without modified tires, quads manage to approach off-road trails covered in light snow with no problem. If you want to experience some cold weather riding, go for an ATV. It provides more traction and on flat ground, it offers more stability.
If you want to enjoy casual rides for recreational purposes, then an ATV is definitely the better choice as it doesn’t crash as much as a dirt bike would, according to statistics. Even though ATV accidents tend to be more serious, they take place less often and the chances of such an event taking place are low when you are riding at low speeds.
If you stay away from jumping, speeding and generally avoid pushing your limits, riding an ATV is a really relaxing experience.
Learning to ride ATVs is pretty easy. Within a few minutes you can learn all there is to know in order to successfully start your engine and ride out. On the other hand, when learning to ride a dirt bike, you definitely need more information and most of all, more practice. You have to ride a dirt bike for a few days before you can forget about how to control it and fully enjoy the ride.
In addition, if you do not hurry, you will not crash on your first ATV ride, but when you first mount a dirt bike, you will at least tilt it over.
ATVs are highly versatile and are extremely useful around a farm, or when camping or hunting. You can carry luggage and even attach a small trailer. This means you can haul logs, and other heavy construction materials or tools that are impossible to fit inside your backpack.
The advantages of dirt bikes
Right off the bat, dirt bikes cost less than ATVs. Comparing these vehicles inside the same brand, you can always see a difference of a few thousand dollars, the more expensive items being the quads.
Dirt bikes are able to fit on narrow tracks that are no more wider than a deer track. It is much more difficult, if not impossible to ride an ATV on these trails as the wide vehicle simply wouldn’t fit through the trees. You can choose your own path as a dirt bike rider and follow your own lines when going through the woods.
The large sizes of ATVs are a disadvantage when you have to transport them to another location. Although there are states where ATVs are street legal, the majority of them have laws that stop you from riding a quad on public roads. Therefore, in order to reach a forest or a place where you can ride your quad, you have to find a trailer large enough to carry it.
This is no problem for dirt bikes as they can be strapped side by side in a truck and depending on their size you can carry even three at once. Moreover, they are easier to secure and load or unload. If you want to go and ride your ATVs with your family or friends, you have your work cut out for you.
Although ATVs give you an adrenaline rush, mainly while going in a straight line, they can’t compare with the sensations you get from dirt bikes, especially if you are jumping. In addition, you can corner much faster while on a dirt bike.
Which one is better?
As you have seen above, both of these sports have their pros and cons. Although these vehicles successfully get you over off-road terrain, they have different characteristics. In the end, it’s all a matter of personal preference.
ATVs have more practical uses around a farm or in rural areas but can prove to be fun and safe at low speeds. They provide good traction and are extremely intuitive to ride.
Dirt bikes are cheaper, more agile and can reach places where ATVs struggle. However, riding them takes more time to master and once the cold season comes, you have to store them until the snow melts.