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What is the difference between an ATV and a quad?

What is the difference between an ATV and a quad?

Buying a brand new ATV or a brand new quad bike is no small purchase. Just like when buying a car for everyday use, it is a big commitment to make both financially and practically. You therefore should be more than aware of all the factors that go into buying such a vehicle. 

One of the biggest decisions that you will be faced with is whether you should buy an ATV or a quad. Many don't realize that although they are similar in many ways, there are also a fair few differences between the two, so they should not be seen as interchangeable vehicles. Whilst sometimes you can be correct when using the terms interchangeably as there are some overlaps, you will not always be correct, so it is important and useful to know and understand the difference. 


What is an ATV?

An All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) is meant primarily for use off-road as it is designed to be able to withstand and thrive on such ground. It should not be confused with a utility task vehicle, or utility terrain vehicles, as these are meant for side by side riding.

It is usually a vehicle which only has one or two seats and must have at least three wheels, but can also have four wheels or more. These vehicles usually have large low-pressure tires and use a handle bar to steer. 

The term is used as more of an umbrella term that encompasses a whole range of different types of ATVs such as sports ATVs and utility ATVs amongst others. For example, one type of ATV very well could be a small three wheeler. However, technically an ATV could also refer to a large off-road jeep.  


What is a quad?

A quad can be an ATV, but what makes it specifically a quad and not just any ATV is the fact that it is specifically a vehicle with four wheels. Quads are generally considered more fun and are used for things such as trail riding or simply racing friends off-road. There are different types of quads, just as there are different types of ATVs, all of which offer slightly different functions and benefits. 


What are the differences between an ATV and a quad?

A quad can be an ATV but an ATV is not necessarily a quad. This is all down to the number of wheels that each vehicle has. Whilst a quad is a vehicle with four wheels, an ATV, although it can have four wheels can also only have two, or up to six wheels. An ATV therefore encompasses more types of vehicles than a quad. 

Moreover, what the vehicles are usually used for is one of the main differences between the two, and might help you make the decision as to which will best suit your needs if you are thinking about getting one or the other. A quad is typically thought of as more of a recreational vehicle, whilst an ATV is more commonly a working vehicle, used to carry heavy loads on farms. 

As a quad is more of a recreational vehicle, it also means that it cannot withstand as much as an ATV can. Therefore, a quad will be beneficial for fun and lighthearted use on off road terrain but could not handle the types of things that ATVs can withstand.  

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Pros and cons of ATV and quad

There are some pros and cons that are specific to each vehicle. Below is a list of the pros and cons of both an ATV and a quad:

Pros of ATVs 

  • An ATV is a more compact vehicle which therefore allows it to be stored extremely easily. 
  • One of the main advantages of an ATV is that it can be used on all different types of terrains. It is a highly adaptable and useful vehicle. 
  • One of the best things about ATVs is that they are relatively easy to fix if anything goes wrong. You need to remember that this is going to be a big investment and the future upkeep of the vehicle should also be taken into consideration. Luckily, the parts that are used to make an ATV are relatively simple, meaning they are relatively easy to replace and fix. 

Cons of ATVs 

  • As an ATV has a lot of parts and is a fairly heavy vehicle, it uses a lot of fuel. This can be costly in the long run as there is no way around it. Although most ATV makers leverage technology to reduce the amount of fuel your vehicle will eat up, there is still no denying that it is going to use a lot of fuel. 
  • In addition to the fuel costing you more, ATVs are generally more expensive. For the components that make up an ATV, you are looking at quite an expensive vehicle. You therefore need to be sure that this is going to be the right investment for you.
  • In most cases, an ATV can only house one passenger so it is not ideal if you need to transport multiple people. 

Pros of Quads 

  • Similarly to an ATV, quad bikes are relatively inexpensive to fix, which helps keep maintenance costs low. This is a key benefit, as regardless of the initial price it will ensure that you do not encounter any huge setbacks further down the line. 
  • It is faster. A quad is generally considered to be a much faster vehicle than an ATV because they are designed for slightly different things. That is why quads are preferred in recreational settings thanks to the high speeds they can get up to on almost any terrain. 
  • A quad bike is arguably easier to use, as you will often see complete newbies on a quad bike as a fun activity and they instantly know how to use them. They are fairly intuitive vehicles so they are easy to use. 

Cons of Quads 

  • Many people would argue that a quad bike is not as safe as other types of ATVs. Although this might be true, it is largely down to the way in which a quad is used. As they are usually used for more recreational activities, it also means that they are generally used more recklessly and are therefore more dangerous overall. 
  • One of the problems of a quad bike is that it might not fit on all of the terrains and tracks that you want to ride it on. You have more options with an ATV so you can pick the right type for your desired track, whereas quads, due to the 4-wheel necessity, have to be fairly wide set, which might cause problems for you depending on the track you want to ride. 

ATV or quad, which is better?

The question as to whether an ATV or a quad will be better for you is really dependent on circumstances. In general, if you are looking for a vehicle that is going to be used mainly for recreational purposes and you are looking for an adrenaline rush, we suggest investing in a quad. 

However, if you are looking for a vehicle that can help you with your work, or something slower paced and more practical, you should go for an ATV as they will give you the stability and practicality that you need. What is great about either kind of vehicle is that they are fairly easy to look after and fix. You can get all the parts for a reasonable price and fix them if you need to. 

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