Whether you are looking for a way to get your child to unplug and spend more time outdoors or want to break into the world of motocross, there are many great reasons to buy an off-road vehicle. However, after deciding to buy an off-road machine, many people find themselves asking this age-old question, “Should I buy a dirt bike or a quad?”
If safety, price, and adrenalin are your main concerns, you might want to buy a dirt bike. Alternatively, if functionality and comfort are a top priority, a quad might be better suited for you.
Because dirt bikes and quads differ quite dramatically, it is important for shoppers to know what they want in a machine before deciding which one to buy. Keep reading to learn more about each off-road vehicle to help you decide which one is right for you.
What is a Dirt Bike?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a dirt bike is “a motorcycle designed for use on rough terrains, such as unsurfaced roads or tracks, and used especially in scrambling,” but what separates a dirt bike from a motorcycle?
The biggest difference between a motorcycle and a dirt bike is weight and equipment. Dirt bikes are typically more lightweight, and they are not held to the same legal standards as a motorcycle. Although they can be equipped with these items (and they may be required for certain sports use), they are not required to have things like brake lights, headlights, and mirrors. The downside to this is that they are not able to be licensed and driven on main roadways.
Like motorcycles, there are different types of dirt bikes and which one you own will depend on what you want to do with the bike. For example, motocross dirt bikes have larger engines and are better equipped to handle jumps and corners, while a trail bike is better suited for longer rides.
What is a Quad?
According to the American National Standards Institute, a quad is defined as a vehicle that travels on low-pressure tires, with handles bars that control steering and a seat that is straddled by riders. You might have noticed that this also describes many other All Terrain Vehicles, so what separates a quad from other ATVs?
A quad is an ATV, but not all ATVs are quads—does that make sense? It may seem confusing at first, but the easiest way to identify a quad vehicle is to count the tires. The acronym “ATV” is an umbrella term that encompasses several types of vehicles, and those vehicles can have anywhere from two to four wheels. Quads are ATVs that have four wheels.
In addition to wheels, quads are typically used for more recreational, off-road activities. Many larger ATVs can be used for heavy-duty work purposes, or to carry passengers, while a quad is typically reserved for smaller jobs, fun, and typically only seats one or two people.
What Can I Do with a Dirt Bike?
If you are struggling to decide which type of off-road vehicle you would rather buy, it might help you to think about what you want to do with the vehicle.
There are many reasons why people fall in love with dirt bike riding. It offers people a sense of freedom and can be a fantastic way for younger people to get moving without needing a road license. Additionally, riding can be an effective way to sharpen your focus, improve your physical health, and tap into a tight social circle.
Even though they are not road legal, there are a lot of ways in which dirt bikes can be used. People of all ages can use these lightweight bikes to bomb around the yard with friends, explore thousands of miles of trail, or enter competitive motocross racing.
This sport attracts a lot of diverse people because there are so many ways to use a dirt bike. From the adventurist looking for a lazy ride through a local forest to the adrenaline junkie looking for the next big jump, almost everyone can find an activity they love doing with a dirt bike.
What Can I Do with a Quad?
Just like dirt bikes, there are many great reasons why quad enthusiasts fall in love with their machine, but it might surprise you to learn how differently each of these vehicles can be used.
Just like a dirt bike, there are many fun ways to use a quad. They too can be used for jumping and racing, although admittedly, dirt bikes have the upper hand in this category. Still, several young riders spend their weekends racing through the backwoods trails and getting stuck in deep mud puddles with their quads.
While dirt bikes might be better for competitive use, quads have the upper hand in leisurely riding. Although it is possible to take a dirt bike on a day trip through the trails, quads are better equipped for this. They can haul more gear and offer more comfort during a long ride.
One of the things that a quad offers that a dirt bike does not is utility. Quads can be used for household or work-related chores, and they are often used on farms and other outdoor job sites. People often use quad vehicles for landscaping chores, to haul heavy items, to move things around their property, to tow things, and for snow removal.
While we are sure it has been done somewhere, attaching a snowplow to a dirt bike would be quite difficult.
Reasons to Get a Dirt Bike
If asked which machine was safer, most people would say that quads are safer, but most people would be wrong. At least according to a study done by Johns Hopkins Medicine. In the study, it was concluded that crashes involving ATVs were often more dangerous than crashes involving dirt bikes, with those involved in an ATV accident being 50% more likely to die from their injuries.
The reasons for this are not exactly known, but researchers hypothesize that it might have something to do with the fact that 60% of bike riders in the study were wearing helmets compared to only 30% of ATV riders. In addition, quads are heavier than dirt bikes and result in worse injury when landing on the rider.
Finally, it might also be because riders believe they are safer and so they drive more recklessly. Whatever the reason, if you are looking for the safer option, you might be surprised to learn that two wheels are safer than four.
In addition to being safer, dirt bikes are often less expensive. Since bikes are smaller, have fewer features, and use fewer materials when being manufactured, they typically come with a lower price tag.
While prices range dramatically depending on what type of bike you are looking for, riders can usually find a new bike for between $3,000 and $8,000. On the other hand, riders in the market for a quad are looking at a price tag between $5000 – $15,000. Furthermore, the cost of maintaining a dirt bike is much less costly than the cost of maintaining a quad.
Both dirt bikes and quads can be used for racing. However, dirt bikes are typically better suited for racing because of their higher speeds and maneuverability. Additionally, bikes are lighter than ATVs, making them better equipped for tricks and landings.
Both machines offer a terrific way to socialize with friends. They can both be ridden with friends, and it is common to see large groups on day outings with both machines. However, dirt bikes tend to have a bigger circle of riders, and many people enjoy being a part of the motocross community.
Dirt bikes tend to offer more of an adrenaline rush than quads because they are more difficult to ride. Riders must stay focused and ensure their body is moving with the machine in perfect unison. While quads offer more leisurely riding, dirt bike riders are constantly assessing the situation and making quick decisions. Plus, they are usually much faster than a quad.
Although quads are more functional in terms of chores, dirt bikes are more functional in terms of storage. They are lighter than quads, which makes them easier to haul and store.
In addition to a lower price tag, dirt bikes are more fuel-efficient, which is yet another way that they are less expensive than quads. The reason for this is their lightweight design and less powerful engines. However, it is important to note that some of the bigger bikes, including motocross bikes, may not be as fuel-efficient as the smaller bikes.
Reasons to Get a Quad
Ease of Use
Do you remember the first time you took the training wheels off of your bicycle? You probably felt unbalanced and found yourself falling once or twice. Learning to ride a dirt bike is similar, and it can take months before an individual becomes confident on a bike. Quads, on the other hand, can be driven almost at once and often require little beyond the push of a throttle button. That being said, please remember that they are still dangerous and should be driven with care.
When it comes to functionality, quads are the better choice and if you are looking for a machine that can provide fun on the weekends and help with chores during the week, you may want to get a quad.
Most quads are designed to be driven in a variety of conditions, while dirt bikes are a bit more limited in terms of the environment in which they can be driven. For example, most dirt bikes are not suitable for winter conditions, while quads can be equipped with snow tires. Furthermore, quads can be equipped with accessories that allow them to plow and move snow.
It may seem obvious, but quads are much more comfortable than dirt bikes—especially during long trail rides. Bikes require a lot of physical core strength from riders, while quads basically require riders to simply sit on and steer the machine. Additionally, quads are typically designed with features that make day trips more comfortable. For example, they have more comfortable seats, may have a backrest, and have room to store things.
Although dirt bikes are cheaper, quads tend to last longer. While a well-cared-for dirt bike should last between three and five years, a well-cared-for quad should last riders upwards of 10 years. Of course, this depends on how the machines are driven and maintained, but on average, quads will last longer.
Dirt bikes are designed for one rider, and although many quads are also made for just one rider, it is possible to find quads that can seat more than one person. This is important if you are looking for a machine that you can ride with a partner.
Comparing The Pros and Cons
There are many good reasons to buy both machines, which makes the decision all that much harder. However, to avoid making the wrong choice, shoppers should weigh the pros and cons of each vehicle and compare them against their needs.
Pros and Cons
|The average price of a dirt bike falls between $3,000 and $8,000, which is several thousand dollars cheaper than the average price of a quad. They are also cheaper to maintain.||Quads are much easier to ride and do not require as much physical strength or mental focus as a dirt bike.|
|According to some studies, dirt bikes are safer to ride than quads, with quad riders being up to 50% more likely to die from injuries sustained in an accident.||Quads are more functional and can be used for racing, trail riding, chores, and work.|
|Their higher speeds and maneuverability make dirt bikes better suited for racing.||Quads can sometimes hold more passengers, which is nice for those who want to share the experience with a partner.|
|Many people find dirt bikes more thrilling to ride.||Quads can be driven during the winter while most dirt bikes would be too dangerous to ride in slippery conditions.|
|There is a large community of motocross racers who are kind and eager to help new riders.||Quads are often much more comfortable to ride, with features like extra storage that make longer rides more enjoyable.|
|Because of their lightweight design, most dirt bikes are more fuel-efficient. However, this may not be true with some racing bikes.||A well-maintained quad can last up to 10 years, which is quite a lot longer than the average 3 to 5 years that a well-maintained dirt bike can be expected to last.|
|They are easy to haul and do not take as much room to store.||Quads offer more stability, which often makes people feel safer while riding. However, riders should not allow this sense of safety to cloud their judgment while riding.|
Should I Buy a Dirt Bike or a Quad
When trying to decide between a dirt bike or quad, shoppers should think critically about what they want from their new toy. For example, it would not make sense for someone who wants a machine they can use to explore trails with their spouse to buy a dirt bike, just like it would not make sense for someone who wants to break into competitive racing to buy a quad.
Before shopping, sit down and make a list of what you want to do with your machine and compare it to the pros and cons list above to figure out which one would work better for you.
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- About the Author
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John Cunningham is a technical writer here at ATVfixed.com. He’s a Red Seal Qualified Service Technician with over twenty-five years experience. He’s worked on all types of mechanical equipment, from cars and trucks to ATVs and Dirt bikes.