Are you are struggling to choose between a 4-wheel ATV (or quad bike) vs a dirt bike? If so, let’s take a look at the pros vs cons of each sport and vehicle. But before I begin, I apologise upfront for the main image on this page. I got a bit carried away with the graphics! The imagery is to imply a dirt bike leaping over an ATV in terms of pros vs cons! Well I had fun doing it any way.
Top 7 Pros and Cos of ATV vs Dirt Bike:
- Dirt bikes are cheaper than ATVs.
- Dirt bikes are safer than ATVs.
- ATV’s are less versatile vs dirt bikes.
- Dirt bikes take up less space than ATVs.
- ATVs are easier to learn to ride.
- Transporting dirt bikes is easier than ATVs.
- ATVs are more expensive to run.
Please read on further to review all the pros vs cons of dirt bikes vs ATVs.
ATVs vs Dirt Bikes and the pros and cons of each sport
So you’ve decided to look at the pros vs the cons of ATVs vs dirt bikes. ATVs, or quad bikes, have of course four wheels vs dirt bikes which have two wheels. Just to confirm, an ATV is what’s known as an “all-terrain vehicle“. whereas a dirt bike is a motorbike designed for riding off-road.
Here’s a list of the pros and cons of each off-road vehicle.
Pros and cons of a dirt bike
Pros of a dirt bike
- Dirt bikes are safer than ATVs or quad bikes.
- To buy a dirt bike is cheaper than buying an ATV.
- Dirt bikes can be ridden almost anywhere, including on narrow tracks and trails.
- Dirt bikes are easier to transport either in a van or on a dirt bike trailer.
- Less space is required to store dirt bikes vs ATV’s, as they are at least half the size.
- If you have a dirt bike, they are easier to transport more than one dirt bike in a single van or trailer due to their compact size.
- A dirt bike is faster and more responsive than an ATV.
- Due to their speed and responsiveness, dirt bikes are arguably more of an adrenaline rush to ride.
- Dirt bikes weigh less than ATVs.
- Dirt bikes use less fuel.
- Most dirt bikes will be cheaper to run, i.e. only two tyres vs four tyres to replace.
- Bikes are better racing or track days as there are more opportunities for dirt bikes.
- You can do more tricks and wheelies on a dirt bike.
Cons of dirt bikes
- Dirt bikes are arguable not as easy to learn to ride as an ATV, especially for kids.
- You need to know how to ride a motorbike and use a clutch and gears to ride a dirt bike. Although this can be overcome with an automatic dirt bike.
- Dirt bikes are less functional than an ATV, as an ATV can be used on farms etc. for towing or carting stuff about.
- A dirt bike is less comfortable to ride vs an ATV.
- Dirt bikes are less stable due to having just two wheels vs four wheels on an ATV.
On the basis there are more pros than cons for a dirt bike, does this make dirt bikes better? Before you decide, take a look at the pros and cons of ATV’s or quad bikes.
Pros and cons of a 4-wheeler ATV or quad-bike
Pros of an ATV or quad bike
- ATVs are more stable as they have four wheels vs the two wheels on a dirt bike.
- An ATV or quad bike is easier to learn and ride than a dirt bike, especially for kids.
- ATVs or quad bikes are more of a “point and steer” type of ride and you don’t need to know how to use the clutch, throttle and gear combo like you do on a dirt bike.
- 4-wheel ATVs are very functional and are great as utility machines on farms.
- An ATV is more of a comfortable ride than a dirt bike.
- ATVs are easier to learn for kids.
Cons of a 4-wheeler ATV or quad bike
- ATVs are not as safe to ride as a dirt bike.
- 4-wheeler ATVs are more expensive than dirt bikes.
- An ATV can’t be ridden down narrow lanes and trails as easily as a dirt bike.
- ATVs are not as easy to transport in either a van or on a trailer due to their larger size and weight.
- ATVs take up more space in your garage than dirt bikes do as they are at least twice the size.
- It’s much more difficult to transport more than one ATV or quad-bike at a time due to the space they take up.
- ATVs are arguably less of an adrenaline rush vs a dirt bike.
- An ATV is heavier than a dirt bike due to their bulk.
- The larger engine’d ATVs use more fuel than dirt bikes.
- ATVs are more expensive to run, for example they have four tyres to change vs the two tyres on a dirt bike.
- There are not as many track or racing day opportunities on ATVs as there are on dirt bikes.
- You can’t do as many tricks on an ATV and it’s not so easy to do wheelies as it is on a dirt bike.
As you will have probably noticed, most, if not all of the pros and cons of a 4-wheel ATV represent the complete opposite of the pros and cons of a dirt bike. It won’t therefore come as a complete surprise that the cons out-weigh the pros for a 4-wheel ATV. This would continue the assumption that dirt bikes must be better.
Hopefully by giving you this list it has helped your decision rather than hindered it.
If these lists of ATV vs dirt bike pros and cons have helped your decision, if it is a choice of one over the other that’s great. But on the other hand, you may decide to have both.
But if you’re still not convinced, lets take a look at some of the 4-wheel AVT vs dirt bike pros and cons in more detail.
Dirk bike is safer than an ATV
This research found the following interesting statistics:
- Victims of crashes involving ATVs were 50% more likely to die of their injuries than people in off-road motorcycle crashes – that’s dirt bikes to us!
- 55% are more likely to wind up in a hospital’s intensive-care unit when riding 4-wheeler ATVs vs dirt bikes.
- 42% are more likely to be placed on a ventilator as victims of an accident from an ATV vs dirt bike victims.
To provide credibility to this study it compared data from the National Trauma Data Bank on roughly 60,000 patients who suffer injuries from ATVs and dirt bike accidents.
Costs associate with an ATV vs a dirt bike
In the above lists of pros vs cons I mention the costs associated with each vehicle. Overall a dirt bike is cheaper to buy and cheaper to run, which is in large down to the fact that there’s less to a dirt bike than there is to an ATV.
This leads to the following savings if you opt for a dirt bike vs an ATV:
- Dirt bikes are on the whole cheaper to buy: It makes sense that a dirt bike would be cheaper to buy, as there’s less to a dirt bike than there is to an ATV. For a start, a dirt bike has just two wheels and tyres, whereas an ATV is a four-wheel vehicle and has four tyres.
- Dirt bikes use less fuel: Due to the power to weight ratio of a dirt bike, it makes absolute sense that dirt bikes use less fuel. This factor adds to the overall reduction in the cost of running a dirt bike vs running an ATV.
- Dirt bikes are cheaper to run: In addition to using less fuel, the costs associate with a dirt bike are less. Dirt bikes have two tyres to replace, vs the four tyres on an ATV. The servicing on an ATV will tend to be more expensive too.
Comparing the difficulty to learn to ride a dirt bike vs an ATV
If you’ve never ridden a motorbike before, this is not a matter of simply getting on a dirt bike. On the assumption we’re not talking about a dirt bike with an automatic clutch, then you need to contend with a gear shift. For your very first time on a dirt bike you might find the gear shifting a bit different or challenging.
To change gear on a dirt bike, you have to get to grips with changing gears with your left foot, whilst at the same time pulling the clutch in with your left hand. But not only that, you also need to close down the throttle (with your right hand) just before depressIng the clutch lever, in order to reduce the revving of the engine. Sounds easy right?
If you compare this to how easy it is to ride an ATV or quad bike. With a 4-wheeler ATV you simply point it in the direction you want to go and open up the throttle. The automatic gear box does the rest of the hard work for you.
It’s this difference between a dirt bike vs an ATV that makes it easier for kids to learn to ride an ATV vs a dirt bike. However, you can also buy a dirt bike with an automatic or centrifugal clutches too. With an automatic clutch on a dirt bike, the same principle will apply. In other words, on a dirt bike with an automatic clutch, you simply point the dirt bike in the direction you want to go and open up the throttle. Must more simple, right?
Two wheel dirt bike instability vs the 4-wheel stability of an ATV
It goes to say that as an ATV or quad bike has four wheels, this is much more stable. You don’t really have to balance an ATV, whereas you do with a dirt bike.
You wouldn’t be able to ride a dirt bike if you can’t already ride a push bike. But there’d be nothing to stop you from riding an ATV, even if you can’t ride a bike because of it’s stability on four wheels.
One solution if you’re keen for your kids to learn to ride a dirt bike is to attach training wheels to their bikes. This would overcome the instability of a dirt bike until such time as your kid gains their balance.
Storage and transportation of dirt bikes vs ATVs
Quite simply, the difference in terms of transportability and storage of an ATV vs a dirt bike is down to the physical size and weight of each.
Dirt bikes are normally light weight and easy to maneuver. Whereas ATVs are much heavier and more difficult to move around.
But also, if you’re trying to decide as a family unit about whether to take up one or other of these sports, you need to consider the storage space required for each type of machine. It almost goes without saying, but I will, a 4-wheeled ATV is obviously going to take up at least twice the space of a dirt bike.
Let’s say you have a family of four and you all want a machine. If you have four 4-wheel ATVs between you, that’s at least equivalent to eight dirt bikes in terms of space. That means you’ll need at least eight times the storage space and eight times the space in a vehicle or trailer for transportation.
A few thoughts to consider, but I hope this has helped you to decide on whether you choose to buy an ATV or a dirt bike for you and/or your family.
I hope you enjoyed this article about ATV vs dirt bike pros cons
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If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions about dirt biking (or specifically about ATV vs dirt bike pros cons), please comment below with your questions.
There will also be many more articles about dirt biking for you to read and learn about this fabulous sport and hobby.
Have fun and be safe!