How To Ride An ATV: Guide To Basic Operation | Hunt or Shred

ATVs are amazing vehicles for adventure, but as a beginner, it will require a lot of patience and practice to learn how to safely ride an ATV.

You should start learning to ride an ATV by reading the owner’s manual and stocking up on the necessary protective gear for riding. Once you do this, you can start up your machine and begin learning to turn, brake, and accelerate before trying off-road terrain and climbing hills.

Riding an ATV can seem daunting to someone who has never tried it before because of the speed that you are required to reach when riding one. However, even if you don't have experience in this type of vehicle, you can learn the basics of operation below in this guide and become an expert.

Your first time on an ATV won’t be easy and you could even feel sore afterward because of the unfamiliar movements your body will make. But with more practice, you can quickly see it is not so difficult. Keep reading to learn how to ride an ATV and all about the best way to operate one.

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How to Ride an ATV

If you're looking for a fun and exciting adventure, then ATV riding is the perfect activity for you. It's a great bonding experience with friends and family and gets the adrenaline pumping.

You should get on your ATV and be ready to go with all of your gear on before getting started. You should also already have completed your pre-ride inspection to ensure everything was in working order and safe to ride.

Once you start your ATV, you should place your feet firmly on the footrest area. Allow the engine a moment to warm up, especially in the winter, before you get moving. You will need to shift the gear forward to get moving.

Be sure to also release the parking brake and rear brake before. The type of ATV you have will also determine the type of clutch. It can either be manual or automatic, so consider what suits you best.

You should have your ATV manual handy too. Start by looking at how to shift gears on your machine and consider the position the gears need to be in so you can learn more about how your ATV runs.

Next, you can start learning about how to brake properly. There will be a front and rear brake control, but try not to abruptly abuse one of the brakes. It can cause them to wear down quickly and put added wear on your wheels.

You should always release the throttle when you start to brake too. If it is a manual clutch, shift down your gear as you brake too.

While riding your ATV, you should always firmly grasp the handlebars and pay attention to what’s ahead of you. Consider your surroundings too and remain alert at all times.

How To Turn Your ATV Properly

Now that you have your ATV on and you understand all of the controls, it is time to learn how to properly turn your machine while riding. This is one of the most important things you need to learn how to do on an ATV.

You can typically find the best turning technique for your machine in the owner’s manual but there are a few tips you should consider too. When turning, you should shift your bodyweight inside and slightly forward. This allows more balance for your ATV.

Always look in the direction you are turning the handlebars too. This ensures the turn is sharp and more accurate over difficult terrain to avoid a crash.

With more experience, you will start to feel more comfortable turning sharper or at faster speeds. This will require you to push your body even further forward to keep the balance on your ATV so you don’t tip over.

You can use your body as a second handlebar in a way by manipulating where your weight goes. This allows you to stay grounded and stable during sharp turns too.

How To Ride Your ATV On Hills

There are two common ways of riding your ATV - on the trails and hills. You should be cautious when riding on a hill because if they tip over it could be dangerous for both you and the machine.

It is best practice to wear high boots, gloves, and goggles when riding ATVs as they protect your skin from the abrasive surfaces of the machine. But when on a hill, you must know how to balance the machine and keep it from toppling over from the weight.

When you are moving up a hill, you should remain firm on your ATV and shift into a lower gear before you start to climb. You should treat it similar to a turn and lean forward as much as you can to help with the weight on your ATV.

This will make it easier to climb without overwhelming the engine. You should also make sure the hill is not too steep to climb. If you don’t expect your ATV to make it to the top, you should quickly turn around and shift into a lower gear and head back down slowly to avoid damage.

The key to climbing successfully is pushing your weight forward and continuing forward until you reach the top. Once you get here, you can either park your ATV or shift the gear and head back down.

Pre-Ride Inspection

Before you start riding your ATV, it's important to do a pre-ride inspection. The best times for doing this are before the first ride and at the end of every ride. This should be done regularly too so that you can find any problems earlier and fix them before they become costly repairs.

Check Tires

If you're going to be riding an ATV, you should always check its tires before taking it out for a ride. If the tire pressure is low, it could lead to problems and accidents like a potential flat or poor riding performance.

You can also examine the tires for any damages or punctures that could be significant. This could be an indication that a tire may wear down soon and needs replacing.

The last thing you can look at are the wheels to make sure they are tightened properly and everything is in place.

Look At All The Controls

The next step during the inspection is to look closely at all of the critical controls to make sure they are working properly. These controls include the throttle, cables, brakes, and foot shifter.

The throttles should move freely without restriction so during your riding you have no issues changing gears or accelerating. The brakes should be operating smoothly and positioned well within your reach.

The key is to confirm that everything is in place tightly too and there are no loose bolts that could cause an issue in the middle of your ride.

Inspect Lights & Switches

Inspecting your ATV before you start riding is a good safety precaution. When inspecting the lights and switches on your ATV, it is important to make sure that they are working properly and not damaged in any way.

The last thing you want is for an accident to happen during a ride and for you to find out that one of the lights or switches on your ATV is damaged or not working. It would be best if you can look at the ignition switch, engine stop switch, and lights to confirm they will work when needed.

Check Oil & Fuel

Checking your ATV's oil and fuel levels can take up a lot of time, especially when you are riding on a trail that doesn't have many places to stop along the way or when you are trying to take care of other things while you are taking care of your machine.

The last thing you want to happen is to run out of fuel on a trail. The oil levels should also be correct so you know that the engine is running well. You should also inspect both tanks for any potential leaks.

Examine the Chain & Engine

The final step before you can get riding is to check both the chain and the engine. The chain should be lubricated and adjusted properly to ensure your machine will drive with the most accuracy possible.

The engine is more advanced and it could require some expertise to spot any problems, but it is key to look for anything that is out of place or leaking.

What Protective Gear You Need To Ride an ATV

Riding an ATV is one of the most popular outdoor activities for those who love the outdoors. It is a thrilling experience and it can be dangerous as well. As a rider, protective gear will keep you safe on the ground and the road.

ATV riders have to wear protective gear that can protect them from injury during a ride. To ride an ATV safely, riders should wear a helmet, goggles, and protective clothing. We have included all of the essential items you need to ride safely below.


ATV riding is an activity that requires a lot of protection. ATV riders need to protect their body from injuries and the environment. The best way to do so is to wear heavy-duty clothing with padded chest, shoulder, and back parts.

It is best to wear long pants to protect your lower body well. However, the temperature and type of riding you intend to do will play a major factor in determining the type of clothing you should wear.

For example, highway riding will not require as much padding as off-road riding will. If you are intended to drive on rugged terrain, the more protective clothing the better.


Protective boots that cover your ankles are the right choice for anyone who is riding an ATV off-road and through rugged terrain. These boots offer the protection you need from rocks, thorns, and other types of hidden hazards.

With these tough boots, you can wear your favorite pants and don’t have to worry about your ankle getting hurt when riding your ATV off-road. They also keep your feet grounded better on your ATV with no risk of slipping.

You should try to find boots that have low heels too. This helps with creating more traction and comfort on your ATV.


Helmets protect the head in case of an accident. They also help with preventing bumps and bruises in case of falls. Some helmets can even be equipped with a visor to protect the eyes from harsh sunlight.

You should have a helmet that is DOT-compliant. This means they are approved equipment that meets all of the regulations necessary by the Department of Transportation so you can feel secure wearing it.

Your helmet should be the right size and fit snugly so it does not move around while you ride too. This is extremely important to protect you during a fall.

Eye Protection

You need eye protection and a pair of goggles when riding an ATV because the machines can produce hazardous particles and make you blind if you don't protect your eyes.

The machine will also make it hard to see in certain conditions like in the dark or during rain. A pair of goggles should be worn to protect your eyes while offering clear vision in all directions.

You can substitute goggles for a face shield if you prefer, but they must be fastened tightly around your head and ventilated well so no fog can build up from your breathing to block your vision.


Gloves are one of the last things an ATV rider needs to get started. They are necessary for your small hands to operate the ATV's controls easily.

You can purchase a pair of gloves that will last you long enough for another season or two, but they are always better off replaced sooner rather than later.

The reason gloves are so important is because they give you added protection if you fall and they also keep your hands safer while turning. If you are driving in the winter, they become even more essential too.

ATV Safety Tips

ATVs are extraordinarily fun, but they can also be dangerous. These ATV safety tips will help you stay safer while riding your ATVs without eliminating the fun.

ATV safety tips include wearing protective gear, staying on the designated trails, choosing the right ATV for you, and never putting too much stress on your machine.

Ride an ATV That Suits Your Experience Level

The key to staying safe while riding an ATV is to first only ride them if you have the experience level to handle the machine. They should be small enough so that they are easy to handle and carry their weight when in motion.

As a rider, you have to pick the right size and make sure it fits your needs. First, you need to know what type of riding experience level you have so you can find the right ATV that is not too fast or powerful for you.

Make it a priority to only ride the right machine to make sure that it is safe for you and also one that can handle the terrain in which you are traveling.

Do Not Overload Your ATV

When loading your ATV, always load it up with the maximum weight that the ATV can handle. This is to avoid any possible accidents or injuries that may occur due to an overload of weight.

ATVs are safe, but they aren't meant to carry everything you need all the time. If you are taking an ATV on a long trip, make sure to carry some supplies for the way there and back but never overload your machine.

The added weight will cause your ATV to struggle and it could lead to a breakdown that could leave you stranded somewhere.

Ride In Designated Areas Only

ATV safety is important for everyone. Whether you are an expert ATV rider or just started riding your ATV, it is always advisable to use designated areas and trails only. This will help reduce the risks of accidents so that you can enjoy your ride.

Riding on the wrong areas, trails, or riding at night can be dangerous for you and them. They are unpredictable and you are not sure what to expect next.

Unauthorized trails can be dangerous when you are riding at faster speeds because there are too many unknown factors. Keep it safe and stick to designated trails only.

Remember To Wear Protective Gear

Remembering to wear protective gear when riding on your ATV is the most important thing you can do to stay safe. It is not difficult to fall off your ATV, but the damage can be minimized greatly when you are protected.

Always remember to wear protective gear when riding on your ATV. The gear should be put on before you even turn the engine on. This is to prevent injuries and damages that could happen because of the speed or accidental falls.




25 years old. I'm from PA. I love horseback riding and riding ATV's. My husband and I own a farm and our ATV's help us work and have fun.

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