A Beginner’s Guide to ATVs

If you’re new to the off-road vehicle (ORV) scene, there are a lot of things to learn. What’s the difference between an ATV and a UTV, anyway?

If you’re not sure about the answer to that question, this guide is for you. We’ve broken down the basics of ATVing, shed some light on the ATV vs UTV issue, and provided a few helpful safety tips, as well.


UTV stands for Utility Terrain Vehicle, while ATV stands for All Terrain Vehicle. At first glance, they may seem the same, but there are a few key differences.

As a general rule of thumb, ATVs are faster and more nimble than their UTV counterparts. These off-road vehicles are designed to turn on a dime, as well as for performance and speed. This makes the ATV an ideal choice for racing. They also tend to be a little cheaper than UTVs.

UTVs, on the other hand, are bigger and bulkier than ATVs. They are better suited towards hauling a load, as there is often additional storage room in the back of the vehicle. UTVs may have a safer and more stable feel than an ATV, making them a more comfortable choice for beginners to the ORV scene. They also tend to come with more bells and whistles.

Types of ATVs

There are several different vehicles that can fall under the ATV umbrella. Traditional four-wheeler and three-wheelers are both types of ATVs. They can range in power, as well. In ORVs, power is determined in part by the size of the engine, which is measured in cubic centimeters, or “cc”. ATVs typically fall somewhere between 5cc and 700cc. The larger the engine, the faster and more powerful the vehicle.

ATV Safety

Safety should be the primary concern of any ATV driver or rider. Proper safety gear and procedures are key to ensuring you and your passengers have an enjoyable ride. When first starting out, no piece of safety equipment is too much– you need a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, nerf bars, roll bars, goggles, gloves, boots, and a chest protector. It may seem overkill, but if you flip over or crash into a tree you won’t regret having the right gear. It’s all too easy to underestimate the power of your ATV and lose control of the vehicle, especially when you are new to the sport.

Tips For New Riders

In addition to having the proper safety gear, there are several things new riders can do to ensure an enjoyable ATV experience.

First, know your route. Having to check your GPS or map constantly is distracting. Mapping out and familiarizing yourself with your route ahead of time will help build your confidence and allow you to focus more on the ride.

Another important tip is to tackle the basics of ATVing before you ever set foot on the trail. One mistake a lot of beginners make is hopping on their ATV without any idea of how it accelerates. This is a recipe for disaster, as accelerating too fast can cause you to lose control of the vehicle. Make sure you are comfortable accelerating, braking, and steering the vehicle before you attempt to tackle a trail. An open field or parking lot makes for an ideal place to practice.

Wrap Up

There’s a reason that ATVs are so popular. They are fun to ride and easy to master. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the basics, find yourself a trail and go!