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Riding an all-terrain vehicle or ATV is exciting and a lot of fun, but it’s also not as easy as it looks. Safety and responsibility when riding an ATV are crucial, especially if you’re new to the sport.

Before you set off on an ATV for the first time, here are a few tips to keep in mind.


Keep Your ATV in Good Condition

Whether you’re an ATV novice or a veteran, you need to make sure that your vehicle is in good condition before you set out. Check your brakes, tire pressure levels, oil life, and fuel levels before riding. The last thing you want is to have your ATV break down in the middle of the woods or while you’re driving at high speeds.

If you’re not sure how to inspect or maintain your ATV, have someone more experienced look over your ride. Talking to someone who can make repairs and knows where to find proper ATV parts could save you from disaster.


Get Proper Protective Gear

An ATV is closer to a motorcycle than a car, so dress appropriately in the proper gear before you ride. This should include a helmet, goggles, boots with good tread, and clothing with long sleeves and pants.


Start Slow

While it may be tempting to get onto the most powerful ATV you can find, that’s a bad idea if you’re a beginner. If you’re still an ATV novice, stick to simpler machines that will be easier to control. They may not be able to go as fast as some of the more advanced models, but you’ll be much safer. You’ll work your way up to the faster machines eventually. The same rule applies to off-road ATV trails. Some are more difficult than others, so stick to novice courses until you get used to riding.


Stick with Experienced Riders

Even though you may be a novice, not everyone in your group should be. Having an experienced ATV rider with you is a great way to get some much-needed advice, improve your skills, and keep yourself safe.


Keep It Off-Road

Speaking of off-road trails, you should stay on them at all times. ATV may stand for “all-terrain vehicle,” but that doesn’t mean you should be taking them on the highway. Not only are ATVs not designed for riding on the street or on sidewalks, but it may be illegal to do so where you are. If you’re not sure exactly where you can ride an ATV, check with your local DMV.


Practice Good Posture

An ATV may be closer to a motorcycle than a car, but it still has its own quirks. This means that you need to learn proper posture and positioning to steer correctly. This will come with practice, but there are still some tips that will keep you from wiping out. First of all, don’t lean into curves when you make a turn as you would on a bike; lean into the opposite side of momentum instead. Second of all, know when to sit and when to stand. If you’re going slow, you can stay seated. If you’re picking up speed, you’ll want to stand up. This is the reason why you need boots with good tread.

Finally, stay loose when you ride. The bumps and rough terrain you’ll encounter will be a lot harder on your body if you lock your elbows and knees. Try to stay as relaxed as possible when you ride to absorb shocks.


Final Thoughts: Ride Responsibly

Riding an ATV responsibly is more than just driving at reasonable speeds and wearing protective gear; it’s about being courteous to others on your trail and making sure that you’re healthy enough to ride. If you take any prescription medications that could impair your ability to ride or you’ve suffered injuries that could make things difficult, it’s best to hold off on your ATV experience. As for other riders, keep a safe distance from them, and don’t take any unnecessary risks that could endanger them or yourself.

Riding an ATV for the first time can be intimidating, but it can also be a lot of fun. Keep these tips in mind, and have fun on the trail.