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Purchasing a new ATV or motorcycle is not quite the same as shopping for a car. There are many factors to consider that may not be obvious at first. As always, it’s best to begin this process by reading lots of honest motorcycle reviews and ATV and quad reviews about many different brands.
How to Shop for ATVs and Motorcycles
Types of ATVs
There are many different kinds of ATVs. Generally, they’re classified in one of five broad categories.
- Entry level ATVs are a good starting point for kids or new riders. Offering smaller engines and minimal luxury features at a lower price point, entry level ATVs are often best for honing basic riding skills without committing too much cash to a new hobby.
- Sport ATVs are usually what you see in television commercials, riding through thick forests and barren deserts. Boasting greater torque, more powerful engines, and bigger tires, sport ATVs cost more than entry level models but are more suitable to rough terrain.
- Utility ATVs are rugged and powerful work vehicles. They are often outfitted with racks and storage containers for hauling camping or hunting supplies. Other common accessories include winches, towing rigs, and powerful headlights or spotlights.
- Sport/Utility Hybrid ATVs are exactly what they sound like. They offer Sport and Utility ATV features together in the same vehicle, in virtually any combination you’re willing to pay for.
- High Performance ATVs are all about speed and handling. Generally used for paved or dirt track racing, these vehicles are capable of reaching higher speeds than other types of ATVs and can be maneuvered more dexterously. Expect to pay premium prices for most of these models.
Types of Motorcycles
Unlike ATVs, motorcycles come in many more than five types—dozens, depending on who you ask. However, many of these classifications are fairly narrow and specialized, so we’ll focus on the broadest and most common categories you’ll see mentioned in motorcycle reviews and ratings.
- Choppers, cruisers, and touring bikes are different kinds of bikes, but they have one fundamental characteristic in common: they’re built for comfortable riding over long distances on paved roads.
- Sport bikes reach high speeds and feature exceptional handling on pavement. They can be equally suited to daily street riding or competitive track racing, depending on options and configurations.
- Enduro bikes, as the name might suggest, are cross-country bikes designed for long-distance off-road riding. Often ridden competitively, enduro bikes must have great suspensions in order to handle rough terrain, and must be able to run reliably in harsh conditions for hours on end.
- Motocross bikes are light, fast dirt bikes designed for outdoor events which feature jumps and tight turns. Their close relatives supercross bikes are built for comparable indoor courses, while supermotos can handle both indoor and outdoor tracks.
- Dual sport bikes—closely related to adventure tour bikes—are all-purpose sport bikes, designed to perform well on pavement, dirt roads, or even relatively tame mountain trails.
Top Things to Consider When Buying an ATV or Motorcycle
As with any major purchase, the first things to think about when buying an ATV or motorcycle are your particular needs. For both kinds of vehicles, the first questions you need real, honest answers to are largely the same:
- What’s your budget?
- What do you need the vehicle for? Commuting, leisure, a serious hobby?
- Will it be driven on streets, tracks, or through rough countryside?
- How important are safety and performance (or utility)? If you can’t have all the features you want in the same vehicle, which are most important?
As a general rule, safer ATVs and motorcycles will be less powerful vehicles - sometimes by deliberate design to encourage more conservative riding, sometimes as a matter of engineering necessity. Once you’ve made some ground-level decisions about what you need, it’s time to start shopping.
Top Motorcycle Brands Complaints/ATV Brands Complaints
On pissedconsumer.com and other review sites, many of the top things consumers like and dislike about motorcycle and ATV brands revolve around the purchase or servicing of a new vehicle. It makes sense to do plenty of research and read lots of real, honest bike reviews. Come up with a list of questions relevant to your top priorities before speaking with a dealer.
Many reviewers have good things to say about:
- Brand discounts and special offers;
- Fast turnaround times on custom orders or repair work;
- Friendly dealers and great customer service.
Many reviewers have bad things to say about:
- Dealer prices being too high (usually MSRP or regular lot prices, not including sales);
- Defective parts;
- Poor workmanship on in-warranty repair services.
ATV and Motorcycle Safety Features to Look For
Crash and safety ratings are one of the most important things to look for when reading reviews for motorcycle and ATV companies. ATVs and motorcycles and involved in more fatalities than most other types of vehicles. Extra training and caution are required in order to ride, even for vehicles with a high safety rating.
Some of the most common and effective ATV safety features include:
- Smaller, less powerful engines for less experienced riders, or for riders who have no particular need for a more powerful engine;
- Safety flags make the vehicle and rider much more visible to others;
- Kill switches are remote control units or physical cords attached to the engine that can be operated by the rider or by a second person from a distance;
- Roll bars for ATVs are a relatively new invention, but early research seems to suggest that they can be effective at protecting the rider in the event of a rollover.
Some of the most common and effective motorcycle safety features include:
- High-tech helmets that offer enhanced rearward visibility, hands-free bluetooth functionality, and excellent impact protection;
- Improved diagnostic systems that can precisely monitor the bike’s traction, temperatures, and more in real time;
- Airbag vests that help protect the rider in the event of a serious collision;
- Automatic stability control systems that can make small, automatic corrections to reduce the likelihood of the bike tipping over.
ATVs and motorcycles share many characteristics, including versatility. They can be ridden competitively, for fun, for work, or for many other reasons. By doing careful research on your chosen brand and practicing safe riding habits, almost anyone can enjoy owning an ATV or motorcycle.