Traditionally used for off-road and sports, quad bikes (or ATVs) are becoming popular as a hobby vehicle and agricultural work. Whatever your reason for riding, if you’re new to it and looking to buy your first quad bike, there’s plenty for you to consider. This guide will look at some of the most important questions you should ask before deciding which bike to go for.
Choosing the right vehicle for you
The idea of hurtling around off-road is thrilling, but before beginners can start riding they will need to get used to the feel of simply controlling a quad bike. Despite having four sturdy wheels, quad bikes are not intuitive and can be surprisingly difficult to handle.
Much of the steering and control is done through body position and weight distribution across the vehicle. For this reason, it is vital that a beginner chooses a quad that will be manageable for their size and feels comfortable to control. This is especially true for young riders, who may require a smaller bike. One of the first things to consider is what type of activity your bike will be used for:
- 350kg – lighter quads for younger riders
- 400kg – a typical quad bike for general use
- 550kg – goods carriers
Despite the large seating space – which people may assume is designed to fit a passenger – most quad bikes are designed to carry only the driver. The extra space is there so that you can reposition yourself in order to control the bike. Your vehicle could become unstable with an additional rider or a load it is not designed to carry.
Selecting the right tyres for your terrain is essential for getting the most out of your quad in terms of control and cornering. It is also very important for safety, as tyres can affect braking sensitivity. If you are intending to ride on the roads, it is important to fit road tyres as they are designed to provide increased grip on flatter surfaces.
Universal tyres are the most versatile and can deal with off-road paths in moderate terrain, making them suitable for most off-road purposes. Off-road tyres are only needed for experienced riders and the most extreme terrain.
Correct tyres are important for safety, so should be considered carefully when buying a used quad bike. If they are worn or incorrect, factor in the cost of replacements to what you are willing to pay.
The engine size should be dictated by your requirements and experience, so you are comfortable handing your new bike. While thrill seekers may be keen on the idea of larger engines (705cc-1,000cc) these are far from ideal for new riders. Bikes that are 450cc and 500cc are still powerful but have much better handling on terrain that requires control rather than acceleration. Getting carried away by the idea of power could leave you with a quad bike you are intimidated to ride, or one you can’t fully control.
Two or four-wheel drive?
While four-wheel drive quads are great for towing and hilly terrain, they are often much heavier and harder to control than two-wheel drive.
So two-wheel drive will allow you to make the most of flatter locations and road driving as they are lighter and easier to handle.For inexperienced drivers, two-wheel drive offer a good opportunity to gain experience before moving to a more powerful vehicle.
Buying used vehicles
From farm vehicles to racing quads, there is a large second-hand quad market where new riders can find a reliable ride and save some money. This is largely down to the durability of quads and other ATVs.
As with any used vehicle, you should always take a test drive before agreeing to the purchase. This is not just for you to check the bike works correctly, but to see if the ‘feel’ is right for you – that you’re comfortable with the way it rides.
What to look out for on used quad bikes
- Make sure the bike rides straight. If it veers or pulls to the side, this could be a sign of issues with the steering or braking systems. Similarly, if it appears to be leaning to one side when you look at it head-on, it could indicate issues with the shocks.
- Uneven wear on the tyres can indicate that a vehicle has not been driven with care. Heavily worn tyres could also mean an expensive bill for replacements shortly after purchase, so it’s worth negotiating a lower price for quads if the treads are almost bald.
- Check the frame for rust, patched paintwork or any other signs that the bike has had extensive repairs or wear.
- Check the chassis number. This will help you to make sure you are not about to purchase a stolen vehicle. If the quad has no chassis number, do not purchase it.
- Ask to see the relevant documentation and service history before committing to buy. Make sure that any work matches what you can see on the bike.
- To ride on the road, quad bikes require insurance and an MOT. The vehicle’s ownership paperwork and records are a good indication of its history and how well it has been maintained. For this reason, the same level of consideration should be given to these factors as you would when buying a car.
Does the quad bike need to be road legal?
As is the case with ATVs and buggies, quad bikes are typically classed as Private Light Goods (PLG) vehicles and can be licensed for use on UK roads. However, not all quad bikes can become road legal and you should check that the model you are buying has approval for road use.
To use your vehicle on UK roads, the driver must have a full UK driving licence and the vehicle will require a number plate, tax, insurance and MOT. If you are buying a vehicle that has only been used off-road, these requirements will need to be fulfilled before it can be used on the road.
Third-party insurance is a minimum legal requirement for driving on UK roads, but insurance is important for all quad bike riders. Bikesure offers a range of specialist quad bike insurance policies for that are designed to meet your needs, whatever you ride. From street legal quads to fire and theft cover for off-road bikes, contact us for a quote on every type of ATV rider. Get a quote!
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