How to Ride an ATV: Avoid These Beginners' Mistakes

ATVs are exciting and fun, tempting us to break free and hit the trail full speed but the truth is that to enjoy it and to keep enjoying it because you stayed sharp, you want to make sure you approach your ATV wisely. Read this post when you're learning how to ride an ATV so you can avoid these beginner's mistakes.

Before you ride

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Buying the ATV that doesn't fit your needs

First, make sure you buy the right size ATV. Younger riders and beginning riders don't need the biggest and most powerful ATVs. To have the most fun with your ATV, not get injured, and learn how to eventually do all you want to do on your ATV, start smaller. When you buy your ATV, speak to an expert to determine the best machine for your age, experience level, and desired ATV activities.

Riding without the right gear

And buy the right gear. You'll need an ATV helmet, boots, gloves, and a chest and back protector.

It also helps to purchase riding waders. Waterproof clothing is okay, but it can't match the durability, breathability, comfort, and protection from mud and sharp branches that riding waders can.

Not knowing your ride

Everyone, even the most experienced riders, need to learn how their new ATV handles, its power, and how the controls feel. Read the manual, thoroughly check out the machine before you get on it, and then get on but don't crank it. Work the controls for a while, don't just press them once or twice. Imagine you're riding the machine, interacting with it, so you already have a feel for it before you take it out.

Loading your ATV incorrectly

Unless you're lucky enough to be able to legally ride your ATV to the trail, you'll need to haul it. You can load the ATV onto a pickup truck or hauler, but if you don't do it correctly, it can be unsafe for people, your ATV, and other property.

This isn't the post for detailed instructions, but just be prepared that you'll need two people and ramps to load your ATV safely. You will also need to secure your ATV with ratchet straps.

On the trail

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Rushing

Yes, it's tempting to hop on the ATV and be wild and free, but that's not really what it's all about. You're off-roading on a powerful machine, you need to approach it with due seriousness.

Aiming for too much speed

When you're learning how to ride an ATV, it isn't something you get the hang of right away. You need time to learn this totally new machine, to get a feel for handling it, to allow the controls and the machine to get pretty natural to you before you go at higher speeds.

Not learning the ATV's center of gravity

ATVs each have a unique center of gravity you will need to learn. To maintain balance on your ATV, you'll need to be able to shift your weight while riding, and particularly when going up or down hill and making turns, to keep from tipping over.

Taking trails too fast

Part of the fun of off-roading is leaving the tame and expected behind, to take on an adventure. But adventures are challenging and should be treated that way. When you first try a trail, your first one or any first visit to one, you want to take it slow and get to know the trail's unevenness, trees, unexpected turns, and more.

Not paying attention to your surroundings

Again, you've entered the world of the unexpected. That means you need to be alert and aware of what's going on around you. Use your peripheral vision and keep your eyes on the trail, mindful that tree limbs could have fallen, unexpected potholes could have appeared, and people and animals could be nearby.

This also means you should never drive tired or uncomfortable, because both can make it hard for you to focus.

Riding alone

No one, not even the most advanced riders, really need to be alone. Two pairs of eyes are better than one and you never know what will happen that may lead to an accident. You don't want to be stuck out there without help if something happens.

Taking passengers

ATVs are only designed with one rider in mind, so when you add someone else onto it, you've drastically messed up the balance. This increases the chance of an accident.

Maintenance

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Part of learning how to ride an ATV is learning how to take care of it.

You need to clean your air filter regularly. The exact interval depends on your ATV and how long and where you ride, but do clean it to maintain performance and machine life.

Inspect your ATV before and after each ride to ensure it isn't damaged and is safe to ride.

Read the manual and keep up with its recommended maintenance to ensure it is safe and performing well.

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