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What Is A Quad? What's The Difference Between A Quad & ATV?

What Is A Quad? What's The Difference Between A Quad & ATV?

You are just starting in the off-road world and don't know which is the ideal all-purpose vehicle for your needs. A person beginning this activity needs to be able to understand what the pros and cons of off-road vehicles are. Because to be frank, at first, understanding the differences between the options on the market can be a bit confusing. You've probably heard of the terms quad and ATV, and you may have also noticed that people use them interchangeably. But what are the differences between a quad and an ATV?

The main difference between a quad and an ATV is that all vehicles with four wheels are quads, and all quads are ATVs (all-terrain vehicles). But in the specific case of ATVs, not all are quads since ATVs are vehicles that can have three or more wheels.

Let's put it this way; quad bikes are a sub-classification within the larger ATV family. All-terrain vehicles or ATVs include all vehicles with three wheels and more and also quads. These definitions of ATV and quad cause people to use these terms synonymously, which is not entirely incorrect since all quads are ATVs. But don't worry if you are still not very clear about these definitions. Please continue reading this article, and surely we will clear all your questions about these versatile motor vehicles.

What Is An ATV?

An ATV or all-terrain vehicle is a small open motor vehicle with one or two seats and three or more wheels with oversized tires. The primary purpose of the ATV is to move people or construction materials and work over rugged terrain.

The Technical Definition Of ATV

ATV is any motorized vehicle from 49 to 1000 cc, designed to circulate with three or more low-pressure tires. It has a central seat where the operator sits astride, and its handlebars control the steering. Like a motorcycle, you must actively steer the ATV, meaning that the rider must shift his weight on the vehicle to improve the ride.

What Is A Quad Bike?


Quad bikes are mainly known as ATVs for recreational use. These vehicles are excellent for trail riding, and there are even specialized competitions for these types of vehicles. The quads built for fun and racing have traction only on the rear wheels, but some of them come with four-wheel drive.

The Technical Definition Of A Quad

The quad is a motorized vehicle with only four wheels. It has an unladen weight of 400 kgs and a maximum power of 15 kW. When you want to use this vehicle to transport goods, its maximum weight can rise to 550 kgs.

Some quads allow a passenger behind the driver's seat, as in motorcycles. At the same time, larger quads have a conventional seating arrangement. This seating arrangement means that the two seats are placed side by side, and there are two seats behind them. These types of quads are called "side by side."

What Is The Difference Between ATVs And Quads?


People use the term ATV to describe almost anything from three-wheeled vehicles to large off-road jeeps. Even vehicles that have six wheels also fall under this classification, as the definition of ATV only requires that they have three or more wheels.

You may also have heard the term UTV or side by side, which are other types of all-terrain vehicles that technically also fall under the ATV classification.

The most widespread use of the ATV today is as a four-wheeled utility vehicle for hauling heavy loads and doing agricultural and landscaping work. The term ATV is so widely used that it can also include certain types of tanks. Now that this picture is clearer, it is easier to understand why the common usage of ATV is identical to a quad. So today, the terms ATV and quad are essentially interchangeable, at the very least among the general public.

Thus, both legally and technically, ATVs and quads are the same, regardless of differences in the number of wheels, the number of seats, or the primary use assigned to them. The quad is a subtype of a vehicle that falls under the general classification of all-terrain vehicles or ATVs.

ATV/Quad Historical Facts


The evolution of ATVs as we know them today started with a series of historical events that determined the path of all-terrain vehicles to what we know today. Below we will review some of these historical events.

  • The Royal Enfield Company built and marketed the first motorized quad in 1893. This first quad had many bicycle parts, and they even had the same handlebars. The Royal Enfield quad closely resembles modern ATVs. However, its design was similar to a horseless carriage for use on the road.
  • ATVs were initially developed in the mid-1960s and early 1970s to refer to six-wheeled amphibious unmounted vehicles. Several companies manufactured these first ATVs, such as the Jiger Corporation, the Amphicat from Mobility Unlimited Inc, and the Terra Tiger from Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing.
  • The first three-wheel ATV was the Sperry-Rand Tricart model. This vehicle dated from 1967 and was John Plessinger's graduation project at Cranbrook Academy of Arts, Detroit. In 1968, Plessinger sold the patents and rights to the Tricart to Sperry-Rand New Holland, who manufactured it commercially.

Types Of ATVs

Many times the right choice of an ATV will depend on the use we want to give it. If we're going to use it for recreational purposes and our budget is limited, ATVs may be the best option. But if we need an all-terrain vehicle as a work tool, there are also other alternatives. For this reason, we will now analyze the different types of ATVs according to the use we need to assign to them.

Utility ATVs

These are robust, durable, and very powerful four-wheeled vehicles. They are also known as UTVs. These vehicles are requested by men and women who work in the agricultural or construction sector and by hunters.

These ATVs have engines ranging from 800 ccs to over 1000 cc, making them high-powered vehicles. They also have an impressive payload and towing capacity. They are very popular on ranches or farms. Although they are vehicles intended for cargo work, you can also use them for recreational activities.

Sport ATVs

Sports ATVs have 570 cc engines and, in most cases, do not exceed 700 ccs. They are fast, lightweight vehicles with excellent responsiveness and maneuverability. People who use these vehicles are the adventurous type who need lots of excitement.

The suspension of these vehicles is impressive. This feature is because they must have the ability to mobilize their pilots through the most complicated terrains on the planet. They are vehicles that we can also modify to make them more aesthetic. They are very versatile when it comes to accepting modifications and adapting accessories that further enhance their performance.

Side-by-side ATVs (SxS)

You can compare side-by-side to golf carts in size. These vehicles are similar in power and agility to sport ATVs but with more powerful engines. The reason for this is that these machines must carry passengers and cargo. They have a suspension that can withstand more travel than any other type of ATV. For this reason, they are prevalent in rural areas.

Another interesting fact is that firefighter teams and rescue teams also use these ATVs.

Youth ATVs

Youth ATVs have low horsepower precisely because they are for children. The idea is that safety is their primary attribute. These vehicles have an automatic transmission, so they do not have to shift gears.

The suspension travel on these ATVs is low, so you have to be careful where you take the vehicle, i.e., the smoother the road, the better. It is also crucial for everyone to be clear that these ATVs are for children as they can only support 45 kilos of weight.

A Final Thought On ATVs And Quads

When it comes to buying an ATV – quad, it is important to research thoroughly. We need to know what type of ATV model is best suited for how we are going to ride it. From trail riding ATVs to general utility purposes, hunting, and many other activities, the world of ATVs – quads are vast. Now, we have to put into practice all the knowledge acquired in the right way.