Recreational ATV and UTV Riding Tips 

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David Hilgendorf
by David Hilgendorf
March 29, 2023

Let’s dispense with the obvious: invest in and wear properly fitting protective gear, including a helmet, and buckle your seat belt in that UTV! Safety is the most important first step toward an enjoyable day on the trails. It’s also wise to invest in a class to improve your control skills; check your state for locally available options or learn more at atvsafety.org.

Here are a few more recreational riding tips to keep in mind every time you fire up your ATV or UTV. 

Navigating inclines

This includes climbing in and out of steep ditches and up or down embankments. Avoid riding sideways across steep inclines to prevent barrel-rolling if a rock, rut or other obstacle throws your quad off balance. 

Always remain mindful of what’s on the other side of a hill before climbing it. If you can’t see your exit, dismount and go look. There could be obstacles, other riders or even a ravine on the other side.

Test traction before your ascent by starting slowly and gauging how the vehicle handles the terrain. Try to climb and descend slowly to avoid unnecessary risk.

Slow your roll

Taking corners too fast can cause the vehicle to roll. This is more common on tall, narrow-track vehicles like ATVs, but deep ruts or holes can even flip a wide-track UTV while cornering. The terrain can also make it hard to see what’s around a curve, which can lead to unpredictable consequences. Slow down through the corners, then speed up in the straights.

Secure your payload

You don’t want your toolbox, supplies or other materials scattered across the bed of the UTV or, worse, lying on the ground a mile back. Stopping abruptly with loose items in the vehicle can launch hard items into the back of your head. Use ratchet straps and bungee cords to secure your load before you embark.

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Head on a swivel

Practice situational awareness by constantly scanning the trail and surrounding areas for obstacles or other hazards, such as wildlife, other riders or low-hanging branches. If you’re riding in a congested area, like a trailhead or the parking lot of a trailside business, slow down and pay closer attention to your surroundings. If the weather is particularly bad, watch for potential hazards like fast-moving water or unstable ground. Understand the conditions and drive accordingly.

Use your brake

Your parking brake! It may feel like you are parked on a flat surface, but off-road locales are usually anything but flat. Be sure to set the parking brake on your quad before you dismount. You don’t want it rolling off a cliff, into a river, or worse, into another rider.

Contingency planning

If your ATV or UTV breaks down far from home, are you prepared to fix it or spend the night in the woods? Your mobile phone makes this scenario less likely, but the wilderness is often out of range from the nearest cell tower. Keep a tire-repair kit on hand and carry a few basic tools, like wrenches, screwdrivers, vise grips and a spare spark plug. 

It’s always wise to carry a first-aid kit and a gallon of fresh water, or a water filtration device. Pack enough energy bars or other protein snacks to last a few days. A simple tarp can be used as protection from the sun and rain, or to collect rainwater. Bring waterproof matches or a lighter to start a campfire or signal fire. Always light fires in the wilderness in a controlled manner and be sure they are completely extinguished before moving on.

Protection and Performance

AMSOIL has a full line of ATV/UTV products that are compatible with Can-Am,* Honda,* John Deere,* Polaris,* Yamaha* and many other popular brands.

We also offer complete AMSOIL Synthetic ATV/UTV oil change kits for protection and performance in one convenient box. Oil change kits are available in a 5W-50 viscosity for Polaris ACE,* General,* Ranger,* Sportsman,* RZR,* and in 0W-40 viscosity for Can-Am DS650,* Maverick,* Outlander,* Renegade,* Commander,* Defender* and similar models.

Now, get out on the trail and have some safe and enjoyable FUN!

by David Hilgendorf

AMSOIL Technical Writer and 20-year veteran of the motorcycle industry. Enjoys tearing things apart to figure out how they work. If it can’t be repaired, it’s not worth owning.

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AMSOIL ATV/UTV ProductsAMSOIL Oil-Change Kits for Can-Am* VehiclesAMSOIL Oil-Change Kits for Polaris* Vehicles