Side-by-side ATV racing and touring has really exploded in popularity in the last five years.
These allow multiple persons to ride in the same ATV, thus maximizing the fun off-road experience. As with any type of fun-related vehicle, there are varying degrees of intensity you can experience. Some like to ride around casually to see the sights while others are hardcore side-by-side off-road or extreme condition racers.
Regardless of your experience level, side-by-side ATVs are yet another way to enjoy offroading fun. Check out these ATV safety tips to keep you riding safe and worry-free!
What are Side by Side ATV’s?
ATV stands for “all-terrain vehicle”. The most common ATVs are quad-types, which look like motorcycles with four wheels. These are fun to ride and are highly maneuverable, but recently “side-by-side” ATVs have exceeded quad types in popularity. What are they? Four-wheel ATVs with room for passengers (think: a golf cart fused with a quad cycle).
Side-by-side ATVs are frequently modified to allow for extreme off-road and hill-climbing racing. Some side-by-side ATVs have up to six seats. Common brands and models include the Polaris RZR and various Yamaha makes.
Invest in Some Good Safety Gear
Many side-by-side ATVs don’t come equipped with complete safety gear equipment. They will usually come with at least safety belts, but for maximum ATV safety, you will want to invest in additional gear such as:
- Goggles (especially if you’ll be in sand dunes)
- Restraint harnesses (for stabilizing the upper torso, shoulders, and the neck)
- Roll cage bars
- Visibility accessories, such as reflector tape or stickers
- Driving gloves and shoes
Don't underestimate the power of an ATV—just because they’re smaller than a normal car doesn’t mean they aren’t fast, powerful, and potentially dangerous.
Familiarize Yourself with Dangerous ATV Situations
While it may be scary to think about ATV accidents, it’s also good to understand some possibilities in case you find yourself in them. Some potentially dangerous situations for side-by-side ATVs include:
These can occur not only during races, but also during solo flights, such as a collision with a tree or a boulder. General awareness is key to avoiding collisions.
These typically happen when attempting a turn that is too tight, or when the turning speed is too high. Watch your cornering speed!
Lots of high level tracks have built in jumps, and also, off-road terrain naturally has lots of bumps and dunes, which can result in a front flip. Proper suspension and launch speed are critical for landing safely.
These can result from attempting to scale up a hill with a very steep vertical grade. This usually occurs if the driver loses speed and the ATV rolls back. A proper mix of brakes and gas, and no-gas maneuvers is key to conquering hills.
Flips at an Angle
These can happen when launching off a jump at an angle. These can cause damage to the axles, so it’s best to attempt straight jumps when possible.
Again, while this may sound intimidating, it’s all a part of it, and properly equipped side-by-siders will have the proper strength, build, and safety features to prevent injury. If you’re just beginning, or just want to try out some new options, you may want to consider working with a coach or signing up for a motorsport tour.
Side-by-side ATVs are tons of fun because they tend to have more speed, power, and rugged terrain capabilities than other types of ATV’s. When handled correctly, they can provide a boost of thrill like no other.
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