Small open motorized buggies and tricycles designed for off-road use are called all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs. The vehicles are generally buggies and tricycles. The typical three-wheeled ATV is trademarked by Honda.
There are various types of buggies, like the dune buggy, which is built to travel through sand dunes and beaches, or a kite buggy, which is a light vehicle powered by a traction kite.
The tricycle is similar to the bicycle, the only difference being that it is three-wheeled. Some tricycles are also motorized. However, sidecars and three-wheelers are not considered tricycles.
The four-wheeled versions of ATVs are commonly referred to as ‘quads,’ ‘quad bikes’ or ‘quad cycles.’
Six- and eight-wheeled ATVs are also available for specialized uses. Though the rider can sit on them just as he would sit on a motorcycle, the extra wheels make them more stable at slower speeds. They are known as the AATVs (Amphibious All Terrain Vehicles)
They are also considered to be Off Road Vehicles (OTVs), like the jeep and the motorcycle.
The first three-wheeled ATV was made by Honda in 1970. In 1982, Honda came out with the ATC 250R, which was the first model to have a full suspension, manual clutch and a disk brake. It was favored by hunters and was for purely recreational use.
In the later stages, ATVs had such features as four-wheel drives, long-travel suspensions and liquid-cooled two-stroke motors. The four-wheel-drive ATVs are largely used by workers, farmers and ranchers.
Safety concerns forced the production of three-wheeled ATVs to be clamped down in the late ’80s. The front end of the three wheelers has only one wheel, and that makes it lighter. Flipping backwards and overturning are a potential hazard in tricycles, especially while climbing mountains.
In most accidents the driver first loses control of the vehicle. Other common types of accidents are collision with a moving or fixed object, and driver or passenger ejection from all-terrain vehicles. It is recommended that drivers never carry a passenger while operating all terrain vehicles.
There are two kinds of ATVs today, the sports models and the utility models.
The sports models are usually light, small two-wheel drives, and therefore can accelerate quickly. They have a manual transmission and can reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour.
They are generally built for racing purposes, and therefore should be lightweight and high-powered, with a good suspension and a low center of gravity. These machines are used in various races like motocross, woods, desert, drag racing, speedway and Tourist Trophy races, after modifications.
The utility models are bigger vehicles with a four-wheel drive. The maximum speed they can reach is 60 miles per hour. Utility ATVs are used for various tasks like hauling small loads or towing small trailers.
Popular producers of ATVs are Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Arctic Cat.