For those who want to combine their love of nature with an adrenaline rush, ATVs provide an adventure for riders of all ages. The wind in your hair, the sense of excitement as you accelerate the throttle – it’s pure enjoyment if you don’t run into any rough patches.
Here are five ways to ensure that your ATV experience is as safe as possible.
SELECT THE RIGHT GEAR
Considering a helmet is the one thing standing between your head and the road, it’s the most important piece of equipment for ATV riders. Wearing a helmet also is required in many states. Beyond its life-saving benefits, a helmet can cut down on wind and noise, protect from insects and provide eye protection.
Off-road motocross helmets cover most of your face, provide optimum ventilation as well as a flip-up visor that serves as a face shield. Once your head is covered, make sure you have sturdy padded gloves, over the ankle boots to keep you firmly planted on footrests, as well as long sleeves and pants to avoid scratches and burns.
CHOOSE SAFETY FIRST
Riding an ATV can be intimidating enough without understanding basic riding skills. Rider’s courses are widely available and worth the time and cost to ensure that you can practice riding skills in a controlled environment. They will teach safety techniques with hands-on exercises covering starting and stopping, turning (both gradual and quick), negotiating hills, emergency stopping and swerving, and riding over obstacles.
Make sure to study your owner’s manual for all the correct specifications, settings and steps outlined to keep your ATV safe and off-road ready.
Regularly inspect your ATV following a thorough checklist that includes oil and fuel, tires and& wheels, controls and cables, lights and ignition and chassis, the framework of your ATV.
FIND THE ATV THAT FITS JUST RIGHT
Goldilocks never rode an ATV through the woods, but if she had, she would have carefully researched the best fit, and so should you. Determining the right ATV size will maximize both safety and performance. Start by matching the power of your ATV engine with your experience. If you are purchasing for a young person up to age 15, aim to up to 90cc. For beginning older teens and adults, look for 125cc to 250cc. Intermediate to advanced riders will look for 250cc and up.1
Next, determine how you will use your ATV. If you are using it for hunting or farming work, you will want to look for towing and heavy lifting capacity as well as traction with a 420cc to 475cc engine. Look for a more powerful 500-700cc ATV if more aggressive trail-riding or hill-climbing is in your future.
Mom’s adage, “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt” applies big time when riding your ATV. With the fun, comes responsibility and that means following state rules and regulations. Never carry a passenger on a single-rider ATV, and no more than one passenger should be on an ATV specifically designed for two people. Never ride on paved surfaces or public roads – except to cross them. Never exceed the number of passengers recommended by the manufacturer, and never let kids and teens drive an ATV with a passenger.
Even if you follow all the rules, the unpredictable can happen while riding including damage to your ATV or worse, serious injury. Having the right insurance may help prevent you from paying out of pocket for resulting medical bills or repairs.
DON’T PARTY WHILE RIDING
Every year, injuries and fatalities occur by riders who have consumed alcoholic beverages. Using drugs and drinking alcohol slows your reaction time and distorts your judgment. Wisconsin’s maximum blood alcohol concentration limit is 0.08%, and the limit is strictly enforced. However, a person can be under the influence of alcohol and in violation at lesser concentrations. Avoid alcohol altogether while riding.
ATV riding will always bring some element of risk along with the fun but following these guidelines will ensure you throttle your way well into the future.
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