What Is ATV Hill Climbing? | Hunt or Shred

As quads become more powerful with better performance and more dynamic in their capabilities, we are seeing ATV hill climbing increase in popularity.

ATV hill climbing is when you use your quad to drive up and over hills that have a steep incline - essentially enabling riders to conquer mountains with their All-terrain vehicles. This can be achieved when you implement the correct riding techniques.

After years of working as a professional ATV motocross racer and quad enthusiast, I have had a lot of experience with ATV hill climbing. My experience has taught me that ATV hill climbing needs to be approached with caution, as a failure to execute a climb correctly can be extremely dangerous for the rider.

These days, ATVs are becoming so much more than just vehicles that we use for taking care of yard work and manual labor. These awesome All-terrain vehicles are as much about fun as they are about anything else, which is why ATV hill climbing is becoming a common sight on quad motocross tracks and even casual rides on the right trails. With that being said, ATV hill climbing needs to be done correctly in order for this fun quad riding activity to be as safe as possible. There are some key techniques that every rider should be familiar with when executing a hill climb and you need to make sure that you are riding a powerful ATV that is capable of handling such an activity. To help you understand what ATV hill climbing is, we are going to take a closer look at it in more detail.

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ATV Hill Climbing

ATV hill climbing is exactly what it sounds like - taking your quad up a steep hill or even a mountain. As ATVs become more popular for recreational riding and more competitive in motocross racing, we are seeing drivers take their quads up some pretty insane hills.

The idea of ATV hill climbing is almost becoming a sport within itself, as many riders are becoming addicted to the adrenaline of rolling over entire hillsides as their preferred type of riding terrain. You will find that just about every ATV motocross racecourse will have at least a couple of super steep hills that are designed to test the climbing capabilities of riders.

With that being said, ATV hill climbing is by no means a beginner’s style of riding. Climbing hills and mountains with your ATV is something that riders need to work up to, as you are taking one of the biggest risks involved in the entire sport - having the ATV fall back on you and crush you.

If ATV hill climbing is a goal for you as a rider, make sure that you start small and do not get ahead of yourself when thinking about how easy the pros make it look. Getting the right techniques down for ATV hill climbing and having a powerful quad at your disposal is going to be mandatory for safely and successfully getting to the top of the hill. Let’s dive right into how to climb hills with your ATV.

How To ATV Hill Climb

If you have driven a manual car or motorcycle up a hill before, then you should have a basic idea of how to do the same thing on a quad. The biggest difference with an ATV is that the risk is incredibly higher, as you have not likely driven your car or motorcycle on a road that could result in you tipping over backward.

In addition, the terrain that most ATV hill climbing happens on is not a smooth paved road that has ideal conditions for driving over. If you are doing this on a professional track, then you can expect the terrain to be somewhat predictable. However, if you are casually or competitively riding on a track that has not yet been beaten, then you really don’t know what you are in for, as the hill could have debris, rocks, or holes that are harder to spot.

With that being said, safety is paramount when ATV hill climbing, which is why you want to have all of the right safety gear on (as always) before you begin attempting any sort of climb. Next, it is highly advisable that you try to understand as much about the terrain you plan on climbing as possible. If you are doing this in your own backyard or normal riding area, you can feel a little more confident in what to expect. Once you feel like you are ready to start ATV hill climbing, these are the techniques that you should implement as you try to conquer a hill.

Speed & Momentum

Riding at an optimum speed before you begin climbing a hill is going to be essential for executing the climb smoothly. Ideally, you should have a clear path to begin hill climbing so that you can ensure that there is nothing in your way such as trees or boulders.

As you see the hill you want to climb ahead of you, try to gauge the height, distance, and incline of the hill so that you can find an optimum speed to begin the climb. You should ideally be going relatively fast so that you can hit the hill with the right momentum to shoot you up.

Right as you hit the hill, you should have plenty of speed to start driving right up the hill relatively quickly. Try to match the speed of the quad while you are still in high gear to what seems appropriate for the incline level of the hill.

One of the most vital techniques in successful and safe ATV hill climbing is having your body positioned at the right angle. As mentioned above, the one thing that you want to avoid at all costs is your ATV tipping over as you begin climbing. This can lead to serious injury and is one of the main causes of accidents for quad riders.

Maintaining the right body position while you are climbing is going to be crucial. To do this, you must keep your body leaning forward for pretty much the entire time. You need to gauge how far forward you need to keep your body based on how steep the incline is - with your body leaning more forward the steeper the hill.

Throttling & Shifting

As you begin to make your way up the hill, you ideally want to be driving as straight as possible. The best way to do this is to have a visual of exactly where you want to end up at the top of the hill before you begin your climb. So, eyes on the road.

As you hit the hill at an ideal speed you should continue to match the optimum speed by throttling appropriately. If you are climbing a small hill, then you should be able to clear the entire thing with just a single motion without the need to downshift.

However, if you are riding up a steep hill that is quite long, you will likely need to shift to a lower gear. As you feel yourself slowing down, you are going to have to downshift to a gear to match the speed of your quad. Ultimately, the steeper the hill that you are climbing, the lower the gear you can expect to need to shift down to.

If you are driving a quad that is powerful enough, then you should not have an issue getting up most hills that you attempt. If the quad slows down a lot, then shift down to the lowest gear and lean as forward as you can to prevent the quad from tipping over on you.

A very important aspect of successful ATV hill climbing is to keep all of your movements as smooth and fluid as possible. The last thing you want to do is stall out in the middle of a hill or make an imprecise downshift that results in your quad slowing down before it needs to. So, downshift the second it feels right.

Failed Attempts

If you are new to quad riding and are attempting to go hill climbing for the first time, then you should be prepared for a failed attempt or two. What you want to avoid is practicing ATV hill climbing on hills that are outside of your skill level (the smaller the better).

At the end of the day, all of the same techniques apply to ATV hill climbing - regardless of the hill size, which is why you should work your way up to intermediate and advanced hill climbing. If you are making your way up the hill and feel like the quad may not make it, then you need to carefully get off of your quad or turn around.

Turning around on a hill can be quite dangerous, as the risk of it tipping over is high, which is why you should only resort to this option if you are on a very small hill that isn’t steep - or if you are a rider that is experienced with this kind of maneuver.

If you find yourself in a position where you feel like you cannot turn around safely, you need to lean as far forward as you can while getting your ATV to a complete stop by using your front brake. Once, you have come to a complete stop, you can engage the parking brake.

At this point, you should ideally try to climb over the top of the quad to minimize the risk of it tipping over backward. Otherwise, choose the side that is easiest to climb off of and get off your ATV as fast as you can. Next, you should slowly bring your ATV back down the hill for another attempt.




29 years old. I'm from Texas. I've been riding ATV's for the last couple years here in TX. I'm learning a lot about this hobby right along side you.

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