ATVs come in all shapes and sizes. It’s important to match the right features with the rider for a more enjoyable ATV experience. Is the rider a youth, beginner adult or adult with other power sports equipment experience? There are vehicles on the market available for children as young as 6, and machines built to be raced by professional adult riders. Be sure to not overdo it on your first purchase. There’s always the option to upgrade power and performance down the line.
* Weigh how the ATV will be used.
ATVs, generally, can be broken into two separate categories -- sport or utility. Sport quads, such as the Polaris Outlaw, have a sportier look and feel, and are more suited for recreational or high-performance riding. Utility ATVs, such as the Polaris Sportsman XP, usually are larger and capable of carrying loads, towing, plowing and performing other tasks. Some machines combine a mixture of these attributes.
* Consider the terrain where you’ll be riding.
Will it be hard-packed trails, fields, mud, sand or steep hills? If you will be riding mostly on tough terrain such as deep mud or steep hills, a four-wheel drive ATV, with its enhanced traction, would probably be better suited and make for a more enjoyable riding experience. For regular trails and field riding, a two-wheel drive vehicle would probably suffice. If riding in highly rutted or rocky terrain, an ATV with electronic power steering might be the best bet to help reduce handlebar feedback and rider fatigue.
* How many riders will your ATV need to carry?
ATVs such as the Sportsman Touring models are specifically designed to carry a driver and passenger for double the fun. Known as “2-Up” ATVs, they are perfect for leisure riders or families that want to enjoy the great outdoors together.
* Are you prepared to play safely?
Safety is always an important consideration when purchasing an ATV. Enrolling in a safety training course before making a purchase will get you acclimated to riding an ATV. The ATV Safety Institute offers safety courses nationwide to help you become a more safe and aware rider.
* Finally, how much do you want to spend?
There is an ATV available to fit virtually any pocketbook. It is important to research the various features available to find a machine that fits your budget, riding style and experience. Entry-level ATVs, usually around 200 to 300ccs, offer features needed for the first-time buyer and are easy on the pocketbook, starting around $3,000. Skilled riders looking for more power might opt for a mid-sized engine (400 to 500 cc) with models starting around $5,000. For heavy-duty work or riding, most manufacturers offer ATVs with 800 cc and bigger engines starting around $7,500.
Keeping in mind these considerations and doing your research will ensure a smooth purchase and even smoother ATV riding experience.