atvs for kids

How To Ride An ATV: Easy To Follow Guide For Kids & Parents

Riding an ATV is a fantastic sport and a great hobby for all ages. Learning to ride an ATV is fairly easy and you and your kids will get going in no time by following this guide on how to ride.

Essential Basics On Riding An ATV

ATV kids

Like learning how to drive, there are basics you need to know when learning to ride an ATV, whether it’s for you or for your kids.

The below tips give you a good foundation of general riding before a rider can move onto the more technical and advanced riding techniques.

Starting The ATV

 How you start an ATV will be determined by the type of ATV you have got. In most instances, the owner’s manual will come with stated instructions for each four-wheeler.

ATVs with automatic transmissions are not as complex to get moving. All you have to do is put it in gear and it will start moving as you accelerate.

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Correct Posture

Your body weight is going to play a huge role when riding an ATV. For instance, while turning, you will have to shift your body weight to one side. Therefore, getting into a proper body posture before to set off is a requirement.

But what is the correct body posture? When you get on the ATV, let your feet stay on the footrests. Relax your shoulders and put your elbows slightly as you hold on to the handlebars. This is especially important especially when you are about to ride on rugged terrain. 

In addition to the above, you should also have your knees facing the gas tank. Ensure that both hands remain on the handlebar at all times. This way, you will be able to control the vehicle even when off-roading. Keep your head up as well in order to focus on where you are going. 

Practice Using The Throttle

The throttle acts as the gas pedal in any car. This means that you will have to be careful and learn how to balance it.

While it is fun once you have gotten used to it, you might be tempted to accelerate your vehicle some more. This could lead to you overturning your vehicle or throwing you off balance or doing an unexpected wheelie. 

For this reason, you should take some time figuring out the throttle. Most people will learn throttle control within no time. 


In order to make a turn move your body forward and lean in towards the turn. At the same time turn the handlebars and shift your weight even further. This way, you can ensure that you are still balanced.

How you make a turn will be determined by the speed of your vehicle, terrain and also your skills. However, you should be careful while making sharp turns when you are just a beginner. 

When you are taking up sharp corners, ensure that your feet remain on the footrests. In addition, only brake before or after the turn rather than during the process. Focus on your turn and keep your hands tight on the handlebars. It is wise to slow down when you are approaching a hill or turn. ATVs have a tendency of rolling over and you certainly do not want that to happen to you or your child.

To learn how to make flawless turns, you may want to start by practising in an open field. You can start with making big oval turns, both to the right and to the left. Do this a few times before you close in and make tighter circles. 

Standing Up

While sometimes you just want to take a gentle ride around the trail, you will need to occasionally stand up, when you are either going up steep hills or over obstacles.

Hold on to the handlebars tightly as you stand up. Not only will it reduce fatigue but it will also facilitate swift motion and allow you to shift your weight much easier.


Most ATVs will also come with a reverse gear to help you manoeuvre around. However, for safety reasons, you will not be able to drive fast in reverse gear. It would not be easy to control an ATV speeding in reverse.

When you are training your kid how to ride an ATV it is safe to keep the reverse limit at the possible minimum.

How to Ride An ATV On Different Terrain

ATV stands for All Terrain Vehicle, so here are tips on how to ride on all terrains!

Riding An ATV Uphill

Riding up hills is a solid part of ATV riding. Learning to a ride an ATV up them is straightforward.

Essentially when you approach a hill, you’re going to need to speed up and lean forward to compensate for weight distribution.

Leaning back or just sitting in the same position as you were riding on a flat area will result in the ATV wanting to tip back, especially if you are increasing the throttle to get up the hill. Leaning forward whilst sat down will help when going up a small incline, however if it is a steep hill, you’re going to want to stand up and lean forward.

Should you realize that your ATV does not have enough power, you have an option to turn back only if you have enough room. As we have previously mentioned, the rider’s body weight will be essential in making turns and generally controlling the ATV. 

Before you get to lose the speed, make a turn while pulling your body weight back and proceed downhill. It is, however, important to avoid pushing your limits when you feel like the hill is too steep for you. You clearly do not want the ATV to roll over while you’re riding it.

Riding An ATV Downhill

ATVs Kids

When you are riding downhill, you will also have to be careful and also adjust your body weight on the ATV. It might seem easier to ride an ATV downhill but it also comes with certain challenges. Observe the terrain before you can start riding down the hill. Also, ensure that your breaking is working well to avoid unpleasant surprises as you ride. 

Once you are fully prepared, shift to a low gear and ensure that you are riding on a straight path, despite the terrain. Shift your body weight to the back of the ATV so as to have it control the vehicle. 

Should you need to stop while riding downhill, always remember to use both brakes, front and rear. Using only the front brake might overturn the ATV on a steep hill.

Traversing A Hill

Instead of going up/down a steep hill, you have an option to go across the slope. 

Get your feet on the footrest and shift your body weight uphill. You will have to balance the ATV along with the acceleration rate and steering. Should the terrain be so soft that the ATV is slipping and tipping, turn the wheels to face uphill slightly. As you do so, ensure that you are moving in a straight line for easier navigation. 

Riding An ATV Over Obstacles

Even though the ATV is tough and made for rugged terrains, riding over obstacles the wrong way could result in serious injuries. 

Always approach the obstacle at a slow pace. You need to know what obstacles you are riding over, so never ride quickly as you could go over something that can give way, move or damage your ATV or yourself.

For instance, riding on a rocky terrain means that you will have to go over different types of obstacles. You will also want to tighten your grip on the handlebars as you approach the obstacle. You should do this at a very slow pace until the front wheels meet what you’re trying to ride over. Only then can you accelerate some more to give it gas and once again, shift your body weight forward once the front wheels overcome the obstacle and release the throttle.

It is, however, advisable that you avoid obstacles in any way that you can. In the case where only one wheel has to hit an obstacle, shift your bodyweight towards the obstacle. This way, you will be able to maintain balance as you carry on. 

Riding An ATV Through Mud

ATVs For Kids

Riding through mud is great fun and part of ATV riding.

Mud is a funny one – the basic rules are that you need to know what consistency it is, which will only come with observation and practice.

For example, you ride too slow, you could get stuck. You ride too fast, mud goes everywhere and you could spin out and crash. It’s hard to tell you what to do here on an ATV blog, as there are so many variables.

Personally, I go through at a controlled speed, standing upright for better control. The ATV will get filthy anyway, so don’t worry about trying to get through the ‘cleanest’ way possible!

Avoid muddy water – that can cause mechanical problems.

If you are riding on a muddy ATV track and you can spot the ruts of the previous rider, you can take advantage of that. Instead of riding over the previous rut, form a new rut by ensuring that two wheels of the same side ride in between the previous ones. In this position, the wheels of the other side of the quad will be on the outside of the two ruts.

Riding An ATV On Snow

ATVs for Kids

Riding ATVs in snow is something only a competent rider should do, as there are obvious dangers of skidding, getting stuck and driving into holes.

For kids, they should be supervised at all times anyway, but for snow extra care needs to be taken if they are riding in fresh snow. Make sure where they’re riding is safe and there are no dangers lurking under the snow for them to come up against.

Watch out for snow drifts as you ride. You will need to ride slowly and also ensure that the snore is firm enough to avoid destroying the terrain. Otherwise, you should be okay as long as you have the right gear. 

Riding on the snow will require you to be very careful. Given that some people will buy their ATV specifically for ploughing, we are going to discuss some tips to take into consideration while engaging in the activity. 

Do not push the ATV beyond its limits. At this point, you may want to check the users manual that came with the ATV. You will be able to tell the condition your ATV can handle and those that might be a little difficult. Well, that being said, refrain from riding on when you feel like you are sinking in the snow too deep. 

The cold weather during winter may affect your ATV in terms of transmission fluid as well as engine cooling. You might consider getting lighter fluid and also see to it that the water level is at antifreeze before you head out. 

Lastly, carry a shovel with you as you may need it should you get stuck while trailing on deep snow. Ensure that you are dressed warmly before you head out as well. Carry some water as well so that you do not get dehydrated out there. You should carry it next to your body to ensure that it does not freeze in the extremely low temperatures. 

Advanced Techniques For Riding An ATV

Doing Jumps With An ATV

ATVs for kids

Since you are only starting to learn how to jump, you will need to take it slow. Start out with small jumps and learn gradually. To make a successful jump, get on your ATV and start the engine. You can start out at a slow speed and pick up as you approach your jump. It is important that you remain steady with the throttle while jumping.

Adjust your body posture so that you are in an attack position -elbows out and knees bent while you stand over the quad. This way, you can be sure that you will be balanced all the way. In addition, you do not want the rear suspensions to fling you off balance as you hit the first bump. The position is also important for a smooth landing. 

The first few jumps might be tough for you since you are just learning how to do it. However, with the time you are going to master the speed, you require to make a soft landing. Landing is the second most important skill to learn when you are learning how to jump an ATV. At first, you may find it easier to land on the rear part of the vehicle. However, as you perfect your jumping skills, you will also learn to land in your front wheels. Beware that landing in front wheels should be done with expertise and great care.


atvs for kids

Wheeling is only something one should try when they are their child have some experience and have practiced the basics.

When the ATV is moving forward, apply the throttle and lean back. This will make the ATV rotate backwards. The further you lean back, the more you tilt – the more you throttle also does this. Make sure you’re good at throttle control before you try this and know how powerful your ATV is – too quickly a twist and you will fall backwards.

When you’ve reached the wheelie, throttle control is all important, with the rider applying enough to maintain the position. Balance is also key here, knowing where your center of gravity is in relation to the ATV and throttle control is paramount.

Releasing the throttle down gently will cause the front wheels to come down comfortably. Releasing it quickly, will cause the wheels to come down hard, which can result in lost control of the ATV. 

A good tip when learning how to Wheelie is to release a bit of tire pressure. Softer tires don’t rotate as easily, giving a bit more grip and stability.


Quick Turns

Kids ATV

To practice how to make quicker turns, you will need to first practice on a light trail. You can do this in a field whereby you will require to put marks on the ground. These marks will be representing the obstacles you are likely to encounter while riding on rocky or rugged terrain. 

Quicker turns will require you to keep your feet on the footrests. In addition, you will also learn how to make quick body shifts that will enhance the turn. You may stand up slightly as you move your body towards the inside of the turn. 

Mistakes To Avoid When Riding An ATV

From experience, there are plenty of things I did wrong when learning to ride and things I was told beforehand that likely saved me from having an accident. 

Here’s a list of things to look out for when learning to ride an ATV.

Failure To Wear Protective Gear

Kids ATV Helmets

There is a reason why every manufacturer will insist on using protective gear before getting on an ATV and driving away.

You and your child should refrain from riding your quad when you are not wearing a helmet, and other protective gear like goggles, gloves and nice boots. For an in-depth look on everything a parent needs to know about Kids ATV helmets check out our article here.

Remember that your entire body will be exposed to the outside at various speeds and terrain, which exposes you to danger.

For instance, should you lose control of your vehicle, and overturn it, you’re going to be badly injured. Therefore, ensure that you purchase the protective gear as you purchase the ATV for the rider.

Too Fast Too Soon

atvs for kids

This is the most common mistake that new ATV riders fall for. While it is fun experimenting a few things with your ATV, it would be unwise to rush things forward.

This is especially important when a child is handling an ATV. Luckily for you, most of the kids’ ATVs will come with a speed governor to limit the maximum speed. Therefore, you must always check the limit before your child sets out. 

When you speed off on an ATV, it is quite easy to completely lose control of the vehicle which could be dangerous. On that note, it is, therefore, advisable to move slowly and improve your speed gradually.

Taking Corners Inappropriately

Basically, taking corners too fast and doing it the wrong way could lead to a bad accident. We have previously discussed the tips of riding an ATV and how to take corners the right way. 

Remember to always shift your body weight towards the turn. Do not try to take quick turns if you are not yet ready for it. As we mentioned above, do not push your vehicle beyond limits.

Using The Wrong Size ATV

Kids ATV

Getting the right ATV for your body size is extremely important. This is because you are going to use your body weight to control the vehicle.

For instance, anything beyond 250cc is too much for a child, while an average weight adult will need over 500cc.  This will also be determined by your abilities and skills.

Beginner child riders should be going for a 50cc (this is the smallest they do for gas powered kids ATVs) if they are small. To put it into perspective, Adult riders should go for the 400-500cc ATV. As they advance, male riders will need something a little heavier. An average male will comfortably ride an ATV over 700cc. On the other hand, female riders will enjoy riding a 500cc ATV.

I go into more detail about this in how to choose the right ATVs for kids here.

Overloading The ATV

Even though ATVs are made to perform tough tasks, there is always a limit. Your quad’s user manual should indicate the maximum input of load that the vehicle can handle. Sometimes, and especially while running ranches or farms, you will need to carry cargo from one point to another. Other people will go on to use the ATV to plough snow. However, should you exceed the estimated limit, your ATV is going to slow down. 

For Kids ATV’s the same mindset should be applied – there is a weight limit for a reason, so don’t allow your kid to put heavy things on it, otherwise it can offset the balance. Also, no passengers either, unless it is an adult supervising and is compliant with the weight limits.

Overloading your ATV will most certainly slow it down. You might also experience issues while starting the quad.

Using Only One Hand To Ride An ATV

This is a trick no one should ever try while riding an ATV. You should always keep your hands and feet on the ATV. Place your hands on the handlebars and your feet on the footrests before you even start the ATV. 

One thing you should keep in mind that even if you have got an automatic ATV that you will have to use your hands and your entire body to control it. Therefore, you cannot afford to ride an ATV using only one hand. This will make it more difficult for you to control the ATV. Furthermore, the throttle will be on the handlebar for you to start the engine. 

Always prioritize safety before you get on to ride an ATV. Keep your hands on the handlebars at all times, and do it firmly.

Lack Of Concentration

When you are riding a quad vehicle, you will need to pay a hundred percent of your attention on what you are doing. You need to keep your eyes on the trail at all times, as well as your hands on the handlebars. As we have discussed above, you will need all your body parts to nurse your weight to control the ATV.

Lack of concentration whilst riding can lead to some unfortunate bumps.

On the same note, you should refrain from riding while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

For kids, hopefully they have not got access to alcohol, but if they are feeling unwell or on medication that perhaps leads to drowsiness, then they shouldn’t be riding at all.

Failure To Provide Proper Maintenance

Just as you would with your car, it is extremely important to maintain your Kids ATV and your own. After all, it is a vehicle that will ride on rough terrain and sometimes through water and mud.

You should, therefore, ensure that you do regular check-ups to ensure that it is running well. For instance, always check the engine oil and air filter and change regularly, tyre pressure and wheel alignment.

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