An ATV (all-terrain vehicle) comes with several names, such as quad, quad bike, four-track, three-wheeler, four-wheeler or quadricycle.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) says an ATV is a motorized off-road vehicle that travels on low-pressure tires, has a seat that is straddled by the operator and uses handlebars for steering.
The history of the quad goes back to 1893 with the development of the Royal Enfield in England. It essentially was a four-wheeled cycle with a rear engine and a front-mounted passenger seat. While technically a "horseless carriage," the vehicle could be considered an early prototype for the modern four-wheeler.
Military uses for the ATV have expanded in recent years because of the versatility associated with the vehicles. One of the first ATVs adapted for military use was the Jiger, produced in Toronto in 1961. It was an amphibious vehicle with six wheels.
The massive recent popularity with ATVs began with the development of the three-wheeler in the late 1960s. Honda’s US90 was the ground-breaking model. It featured large, balloon-type tires. Subsequent models featured suspension and lower-profile tires.
Safety concerns with three-wheelers led to the development of the modern four-wheeled ATV. Three-wheelers were not produced at all from 1987 to 1997. The ban was lifted at that time, but few are manufactured today. Current ATVs come in a variety of designs and specifications to meet myriad uses – recreation, agriculture, hunting, industry, military and law enforcement.
Some earlier ATVs utilized a two-stroke engine, but current models feature a four-stroke design. Electric engines also are available, especially for models suitable for younger riders.
The ATV industry stresses that one-size does not fit all. It is recommended that all riders operate an ATV intended for their age. Safety regulations and courses have reduced the number of injuries significantly in recent years, according to the ATV Safety Institute.
Generally, ATVs are not permitted for road or highway use. Exceptions sometimes are made for emergency situations or agricultural purposes. Check the laws of your state to determine how and where to operate your ATV.
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