One handlebar, one saddle, one engine and
four fat tyres. The quad, often also called ATV
(All Terrain Vehicle), is a small off-road vehicle
for one or two persons that particularly loves
meadows and woods. Therefore, quads are
not only used as a sporting machine but also
in agriculture and forestry.
The idea of the power pack on four wheels is already several decades old. Already in 1962, the German company ZweiradUnion developed the so-called KRAKA, the „Works truck“, for agricultural and forestry use, which was later used by the German army in modified form. Also the US forces used a sort of quad: the M274 Mechanical Mule. In the 1970s and 1980s popular manufacturers like for example Suzuki, Honda, Kawasaki or Yamaha, put three-wheeled off-road vehicles with the typical balloon tyres on the marked. As a consequence of the numerous accidents the manufacturers developed the quad.
Although quads are often seen in road traffic, the four-wheeled vehicles with rigid rear axle are actually made for rough terrain. Due to the required ride height the quads have a high centre of gravity which results in instability in bends and slopes. Driving the quad safely requires an adapted posture. When driving off, the driver should slightly bend over the handlebar. When taking bends, experienced riders shift the entire body into the bend preventing the quad from tipping over. The quad takes the bend on three wheels.
It‘s not unusual that already for-year-olds dash through the garden of their parents. Most manufacturers offer mini quads for the different age categories, as for example for children of the age of 6, 10, 12, 14 or 16 years. Quads with electric drive are particularly popular as they are quieter than those with petrol engines. Furthermore, they don‘t cause exhaust fumes, they don‘t need to be refuelled before the ride and they are often lighter than the petrol versions.
Most models feature a choke at the throttle lever so that the speed can be reduced to 10 to 15 kph for beginners. An emergency stop rope offers safety in case of falling. This rope is just attached to the clothes or to the wrist and serves for immediately stopping the engine when the rope is pulled. Of course, the clothing is very important when riding a quad. A helmet, gloves and protectors are indispensable.
Before buying a quad, you can test the small power packs first. This experience is particularly much fun with the entire family. Numerous off-read parks all over Europe offer different courses for beginners and advanced riders. There will get a safety briefing and learn from professionals how to handle the quad correctly. And then: Let‘s go off-road!!