In some ways, riding an ATV is like riding a bike. It’s fun and can feel like second nature, but it takes some careful training to get used to. Riding a bike probably feels easy, but remember what a learning curve it was to get started? Riding an ATV is the same way. With a little practice, it’ll feel as natural as walking, but first you need to spend some time learning how to do it properly.
If you envision yourself roaring up hills and across tough terrain on a rugged Honda ATV, then you need to spend a little time getting to know how your vehicle handles. But don’t worry—it will probably the most fun homework you’ve ever done. To get you started, here are some basic riding techniques that will help you in your journey to conquer the trails.
“The slow and steady”
New riders tend to do one of two things: get over-excited and over confident, or become slightly intimidated about hitting the trail. But like anything else, riding an ATV like a pro takes practice, and that means starting slow and making sure you learn proper technique. Don’t go overboard trying to impress people when you’re starting out. And similarly, don’t be afraid to get on an ATV and try it out—you’ll be missing out on an amazing experience. One way to make sure you learn good foundational skills is to take an ATV rider course. These courses usually take place over one day, and teach basic riding and safety skills. By the end of the day, you’ll be way more comfortable riding and ready to take on the world.
“The prairie dog”
Have you ever seen a prairie dog emerge from its nest and take and look around? It’s alert, upright, but relaxed—just how you should be when riding an ATV. Having the correct posture and body positioning will make your ride more safe, more fun, and more comfortable. So here’s how you make like a prairie dog. First, keep your head upright and look straight ahead, making sure to pay attention to what’s happening well ahead of you, not just directly in front of you. Then relax your shoulders and keep your elbows bent and out from your body. Finally, on level ground, remain sitting with your feet pointed straight forward. This will keep you stable with a low centre of gravity. Remember, people are supposed to pay careful attention to posture even for spending a day at a desk, so you’d better be even more conscious of it when you’re in four-wheel-drive mode.
Sometimes, standing or raising yourself off the seat of an ATV is a good idea. If you’re heading over uneven ground, you should approach obstacles cautiously, occasionally standing to shift your vehicle’s weight and keep all your wheels in contact with the ground. At other times, you may need to raise yourself up to get a clear view of what’s happening up ahead, like a submarine’s periscope. This is best done when stopped, so we recommend using these little breaks to to take a deep breath and take in the scenery.
Going uphill requires a bit of a different approach than riding on level ground. ATVs are powerful machines, but depending on the rider, some hills might be too much to handle. So the first thing to do when you’re planning on heading uphill is assessing the incline. If you go for it, use a low gear and slow down. Shift your body forward and, if necessary, stand up to keep your body weight towards the front of the ATV.
Before you get on an ATV, read up. There are lots of resources out there explaining the benefits of different machines, the best approaches to different kinds of terrain, and how to be a master rider. True ATV enthusiasts know their vehicles inside and out. You don’t need to become an engineer to enjoy riding an ATV, but if you develop a love for this sport, you’ll probably feel driven to learn more on your own. There are plenty of ways to get to know your ATV better, even when you’re not riding it. Study up in advance, and you’ll be better prepared to enjoy adventuring.