You can go off road with an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or a utility task vehicle (UTV), but these vehicles serve very different purposes. ATVs are largely used for fun and recreation while UTVs are designed for transportation. They carry groups of people to and from their destination. Both kinds of vehicles can traverse all kinds of terrain, but they both come with pros and cons that will change the way you ride. If you are trying to decide between an ATV and UTV, here’s everything you need to know:
All-terrain vehicles go by many names, four-wheelers, quads, you name it. But they are all essentially a different take on the same thing. All ATVs come with four off-road tires that will help you get through the mud and snow. ATVs with three wheels were banned in the 1980s due to safety concerns.
ATVs are designed to go fast for maximum fun and recreation. They usually travel up to 85 to 90 mph. You can take it to the beach or race to the top of a mountain for the ultimate picnic spot. They are used on all kinds of terrain an tend to be popular in rural areas with lots of trails to explore. You can’t drive your ATV on the street unless you have liability insurance. The laws vary from state to state, but you usually need to make additional modifications to safely drive your ATV into traffic. They don’t come turn signals, mirrors, and other safety features that you need to navigate the road.
They are well-made machines that can withstand excess wear and tear. They come with added shock absorption to reduce turbulence when you’re cruising over bumps and hills. You will need to use the handlebars to steer. It comes with a thumb knob or twist throttle for accelerating and decelerating. ATVs usually seat up to one person at a time and come with limited storage space. They don’t come with cab enclosures, giving you a front-row view to the outdoors.
ATVs do not come with a lot of safety features, so you’ll need to wear all the appropriate protective gear, including a full-face helmet or half-face helmet with riding goggles, gloves, and long sleeves and pants to protect your skin from the outdoors. Since you can only ride with one person at a time, you will likely travel in a group. Use helmet communication to stay in touch with your companions. The device functions as a radio and connects wirelessly to your mobile phone or GPS, so you can keep your hands on the handlebars at all times. Just speak into the device to start a conversation.
If you are riding with a half-helmet or skull cap and goggles, use a half-helmet Bluetooth headset to keep the receiver close to your mouth. The kit comes with an adjustable boom microphone for added flexibility.
Utility task vehicles are designed to be put to work, namely transporting groups of people through the wilderness. They also go by the name “SxS” or a side-by-side. They can usually transport up to four or six riders with seats and seatbelts for each person. UTVs come with many of the same features as ATVs but they go slower, usually no more than 50 mph, and tend to be much more expensive. They weigh more than ATVs and come with more storage space.
UTVs aren’t all work and no play. They can be used for fun and recreation, but they won’t get your adrenaline pumping like an ATV. They are often used on safaris, hiking expeditions, and tour groups. Anyone can ride an ATV without clinging to the back of the driver. These vehicles are just as rugged as ATVs, but they’re designed to go slow and steady. It’s about getting to your destination comfortably and safely. That means no racing or doing tricks off the side of a mountain.
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UTVs range dramatically in size and price. Larger models can accommodate up to six groups of people. They also have a trunk or storage rack for hauling equipment and luggage. Some come with a cab enclosure and windows to keep the wilderness at bay. It’s just a matter of your comfort level. UTVs face the same restrictions as ATVs when traveling on the street. You will need to make additional modifications and purchase liability insurance to drive on the road.
With their reduced speed and cozy interiors, UTVs tend to be much safer than ATVs, but experts still recommend wearing a half-face helmet just to be safe. There’s a chance you could bump your head on one of the beams during a bumpy ride. You should be able to have a conversation in the UTV when traveling as a group.
Both vehicles can be a lot of fun, but ATVs are better suited to racing and adventure sports. They are perfect for folks that love to drive and feel the bump of the ground underneath their feet. UTVs are more for group excursions and comfortable rides through the wilderness. Keep these tips in mind to find the right off-road vehicle for your next journey.