An ATV, or all-terrain vehicle, is a motorized off-highway vehicle with handlebars and a seat like a motorcycle, but with four tires that are optimized for control and safety when navigating unpaved roads. The term is more generally used to describe a number of small, open, motorized buggies and tricycles designed for off road use.
On an all-terrain vehicle, the rider sits upright and operates these vehicles like motorcycles, but the extra wheels give the rider more stability at slower speeds. ATVs are used for everything from racing and recreational riding to hunting, farming, hauling, plowing snow and even cutting the grass. Because of their small size and awesome power, they can be used for an unlimited number of duties.
ATVs originated in the 1970s and were designed with three wheels and a very low power engine. They were used mainly for recreational travel and had limited use around farms and hunting lodges. As technology developed and the engines became more powerful, the design of the three wheeler ultimately led to its demise. They were unstable and hard to control on uneven ground, at higher speeds, or in any weight transfer situation. Due to safety issues, manufactures produced four-wheeled models in the late 1980s and ended the production of the three wheelers all together by 1987.
With the advent of the four wheel design, which is the industry standard for almost all current ATV production, manufactures opened another chapter in the world of ATVs. The four wheel design allowed for much greater speed, more powerful engines, and ultimately was the foundation for advanced suspension design. By 1987, all three major manufacturers were producing high-performance four wheelers, which were raced around the country at local motocross tracks to showcase the great advancements in technology.
In the modern ATV market consumers have an unlimited selection of machines. ATVs can be purchased in almost any color, any size, two or four wheel drive, single or multiple passenger, and in almost any price ranging from $2,000 US dollars (USD) to $10,000 USD, a few even higher. The major ATV manufacturers are: Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Can-Am, Polaris, and Artic Cat. All of these manufacturers offer a variety of machines from race ready quads to all-out work horses, which can be purchased with anything from a lawn mower attachment to a snow plow. The possibilities in the new ATV market are only limited by how much money a particular customer has to spend.