Most offroad riders are curious to know which is better between a dirt bike and a quad. Well, no one is better. At first glance, they both look similar, but their differences go beyond the number of wheels. Your choice goes down to what your needs.
Dirt bikes, on one hand, are fun rides. Nothing luxurious about them. They’re easier to transport and doesn’t take too long to master. A few rookie mistakes won’t come back to hurt you. If you are going for your first offroad race, these two names will pop-up when it comes to choosing a vehicle.
If you don’t have any offroad experience, the question on your mind is: which one is safer? We will answer this question a few paragraphs from now. But first, you might want to know what each vehicle is used for, and how they function. The opening chapters of this guide will do justice to that.
What’s A Quad?
A Quad or ATV as its popularly called is a kind of vehicle used for outdoor racing. They’re versatile and run on different terrains: single roads, up the hill and quick turns. All quads have a bicycle-like seating set up.
By this, we mean a straddle sitting pattern where your leg is positioned on each side of the seats. The only addition is that a quad comes with four wheels and a handlebar steering similar to that of a motorcycle.
The wheels of a quad aren’t as large as that of a car or truck. This is why they’re easy to ride in all terrains and under different conditions. All in all, quads are used to commute both goods and properties as well as for recreational purposes such as offroad racing.
Of course, going by this description, you can tell that quads are bulky. Well, they come in different sizes and have a variation for youths. Youth ATV, as is popularly called, is much smaller than regular quads and were designed for rookies with no offroad racing experience. Apart from its size, these categories of quads feature less powerful engine, as low as 50 – 100cc in some cases.
With this, they have less power, adrenaline rush and the worst part; they have no gear. All these adjustments are made to minimize the number of fatal accidents you might encounter during the learning phase.
We can’t conclude this part without mentioning the cost of this vehicle. We can’t put a figure to it but compare to dirt bikes; quads are much more expensive. As we said, it depends on the size as well as power of the engine—the larger the engine size, the more cash to whip out.
What’s A Dirt Bike?
Dirt bikes are mostly confused for a motorcycle, and at first glance, you will want to think they’re the same. Well, dirt bikes aren’t all about the adrenaline rush. Just as the name suggests, they’re made for dirty terrains and are strictly for off-road racing.
Dirt bikes are those vehicles you see up the hill performing different stunts that leave you stunned. Overall, they have a small frame and run on two wheels just like a motorcycle. The wheels are almost as that of a bicycle except that they’re a little bit bigger.
Dirt bikes are smaller than quads. So, expect them to pack smaller engines, steering handle and gas tanks. They’re packed with a lot of adrenaline that allow you execute different stunts up the hill. In terms of engine size, on average, they feature 50cc, which is safe enough for rookies.
Dirt bikes might have a lot of things in common with a motorcycle, but they’re not for the road. They’re not street legal, and this is so for a whole lot of reasons. First, they don’t come with headlights, and secondly, the users don’t have any license or brake lights. Their appearance goes against traffic regulations in most countries, especially in the UK.
Difference between dirt bikes and motorcycle
We know we should be focusing on dirt bikes and quads here but we can’t pay a blind eye to the mistakes most beginners make when choosing their first dirt bike. 40% of users end up buying a motorcycle thinking it’s a dirt bike.
As much as they belong to the same family, in the sense that they’re two-wheeled, both vehicles have different visual properties, and we’ve mentioned a few of them below.
- Suspension: You don’t get the same adrenaline rush on a motorcycle like you to get on a dirt bike. This is because motorcycles are built to run on flat surfaces while dirt bikes are engineered to run on patchy terrains where they will have to jump over obstacles. There’s an element of elevation in their wheels and have a hydraulic tube attached to it.
- Wheels: The wheels are the most noticeable difference between these two vehicle types. Overall, dirt bikes feature narrow tires while motorcycles have wide ones. This extra width offers more stability to maintain smooth straight-line riding on the road.
- Seating Position: Motorcycles features low-rider seating position while that of a dirt bike is much more forward to give more control to the rider. In general, dirt bikes are smaller in size but less durable. The quality of their materials is nowhere near that of a motorcycle.
Most motorcycles use metallic bodywork while dirt bikes use plastic 90% of the time. This means 9 out of every 10 dirt bike uses plastic bodywork.
With a motorcycle you get a stereo system to provide some entertainment while you keep your eyes on the road, not to mention other accessories that add to your cruising experience.
What is safer a quad or a dirt bike?
Now, to the meat of this guide, and it’s this: which one is safer between a quad and a dirt bike? Well, the answer to that question is simple: Dirt bike.
Over the last few years, most people have lost their lives in a quad crash than dirt bikes. This makes a whole lot of sense if you take a look at a quad bike which is obviously bulkier then a dirt bike.
Also, most people get a feeling of false security riding on a quad due to the level of stability they get from the wheel, but this doesn’t come to play when fatal crash happen. This is because the heavy body of the vehicle will roll over the rider to inflict serious wounds.
Dirt bikes, on the other hand, are light, and during a heavy collision, you might not feel its weight on your body. The only factor you should consider is the nature of the terrain you’re riding on. This is because, if a crash happens, the bike will throw you off and you might end up landing on the floor. You might sustain serious injuries if you land on a hard surface.
With that, quads are still far more deadly than dirt bikes. However, you can take some precautions to minimize the rate of injuries when this crash happens. For instance, you can use helmets when riding on a quad.
The best helmets are those approved by SNELL. Unfortunately, there is no designated helmet for quads, and you might have to settle for that of a motorcycle which is no match for the weight of a quad when it falls against gravity.
Lastly, as much as kids want to try out a quad, we don’t recommend these vehicles in any way to kids under the age of 18. If you ever need to buy one, you should go for the Youth ATV rather than a full-size one.
The advantage is that you won’t have to spend much and secondly, the rate of injury will be low. Even if they end up in a crash, it won’t be as fatal as the injuries they will sustain from a full-sized one which in most cases weigh 1000 pounds. Imagine such weight rolling over the body of an 18-year-old.
Quad Safety Gears
We’ve mentioned using helmets as a means of minimizing injuries when riding on a quad, but this is not the only preventive measure to take. There are other safety gears to take along to any ride, and they include:
- Protective clothing: Regardless of whether you’re riding a quad or dirt bike, its recommended you wear additional clothing over your outfit. This piece of clothing should feature long sleeves and pants in addition to having ankle-boots on. You can also get a hand glove and google to protect your wrist and eyes respectively.
- First-Aid Kit: It isn’t compulsory, but it pays to carry one on every off-road trip. This allows you to attend to any wounds before you see a doctor.
Riding on a dirt bike is less risky than doing so on a quad. Rollovers are common with quad due to their high center of gravity. Regardless, we recommend you take your safety gear along to prevent fatal injuries.