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Quad bikes and trikes are also known as All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV). As the name suggests they are designed to take on tough, rugged terrain that other vehicles would struggle with, and they can cover this terrain at speed. They are widely used by ranchers, farmers, land-workers and even construction workers in countries such as the USA, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand where large swathes of land need to be accessible, and fast, to the riders. For many farmers and land owners in areas of vast, open countryside quad bikes have been a godsend. These utility quads are usually large four-wheel drives. Trailers can be attached so that feed, equipment, fencing, tools and even sick animals can be carried over large areas that were previously inaccessible to vehicles.
In common with a motorcycle, they have seats that are straddled, albeit are more comfy than a motorcycle, and are steered with handlebars. However, the fact that they are most often four-wheelers means that they are more stable, like a car, and are easy to operate. They have low-pressure tyres and motorcycle type engines- these range in size from 50cc to over 1000cc. Most ATVs are made by motorcycle manufacturers such as Suzuki, Yamaha and Kawasaki and some more specific quad bike manufacturers like Arctic Cat, Bombardier and Polaris.
One of the main issues and concerns with ATVs is safety. Statistics collated by consumer safety organisations seem to show that ATVs are as dangerous as motorbikes and, as they are often used on private land, many riders do not wear helmets or other safety gear. Consequently, this has led to a large number of injuries, particularly head injuries, involving a greater number of children and teenagers than is the case with motorcycle accidents. It is now recommended by most medical, accident and government bodies that under16s should not be permitted to ride ATVs, although on private land this is unenforceable. The main danger with ATVs is rollover, often when turning, climbing or descending steeply. Learner courses are widely recommended as they can be tricky to control when first ridden.
ATVs are also raced extensively. The racing models tend to be two-wheel drive and are much lighter and more powerful than their utility counterparts. They have a low centre of gravity and good suspension. They can have a top speed of at least 80mph, and have manual transmission. Sports ATVs are often modified for different types of racing such as motocross, desert and dune racing, TT, speedway, drag racing and so on.
Throughout Britain there are many ATV/quad racing clubs. Within these clubs many different disciplines are practiced and competed in, usually in classes with rules set out by the club ruling body. As quad racing is a relatively new sport there was a lack of uniformity in the class criteria from club to club however, this is being addressed all the time, with more and more national and even international quad racing events taking place. The world famous Dakar Rally also now has an ATV class.
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