Dirt Bike VS ATV | 7 Reasons Why Dirt bikes are Better & Safer than Quads

ATV VS Dirt Bike debate has been a heated and statistical debate amongst the riders and people who love doing motorsport or Powersports of any kind. Both these machines stay on top of the list whenever there’s a discussion on adventure and motorsport.

I have heard questions like are dirt bikes dangerous or safer than ATVs? So, I decided to come out of the shoes as per my experience with these machines and put up a technical guide with statistics so you can decide better. The first choice is yours, but you should consider this wisely.

Dirt Bike VS ATV | Which one is better?

Everything has good and evil, but you should make a choice depending on the situation and your needs. Other than being better or worse, dirt bikes and Quads (aka ATVs, four wheel dirt bikes, and four wheelers) are designed for off-road sports activities. Both these vehicles are fun loving towards offroading.

To summarize, there are several reasons to opt for a dirt bike, not a quad. Similarly, you will get a few reasons to choose a Quad and never choose a dirt bike. However, I am about to show you the exact things and case scenarios where you should get a dirt bike or where you should skip it and vice versa. So, let’s take a skimmed and insightful look into their pros and cons.

Remember, four wheelers and dirt bikes are both different things. Four wheelers are usually known as quads or ATVs, and all these three names are used interchangeably for the same machine. So, never get confused by them!

  • Dirt Bikes are Safer than ATVs

Alright, so whenever you are in machine-specific stuff, you should take safety as the first thing in your account, as it can make or break your life. So, starting with the safety first rule, dirt bikes are technically and statistically safer than ATVs or quads. Here’s why.

There have been fewer death accidents recorded in the past 10 to 20 years on dirt bikes, which is on the higher side in case of fatal accidents on ATVs. The low death ratio on dirt bikes doesn’t necessarily mean they are way too safer, and there’s still a risk as it is a two-wheeler. The dirt bikes accident ratio is almost similar on ATVs, but injuries, traumas, hospital stays, and death ratio are higher in ATVs.

Some people say (obviously without looking into stats) that four wheelers are safer than two wheel dirt bikes due to “4 wheels”. But you now know the truth yourself, they aren’t actually! And there’s a big technical reason that we’ll discuss in detail in the next couple of sections. For now, let’s stick to the safety thing.

Let’s get Statistical:

As per CPSC statistics, where data was recorded between January and August 2010, around 101,000 injuries were recorded; between 2005 & 2007, the recorded fatal accidents led to around 2,321 deaths. Out of these numbers, the driver was the victim in 90% of cases, and 10% was for the rest.

The death ratio for dirt bikes is significantly lower than for ATVs’. However, the number of injuries was similar, but the fatal accidents were lower, thankfully. See the source here.

So, out of these 2321 deaths,

  • 40% had a cause of head injury leading to death.
  • In 66% of cases, the ATV rider was not wearing a quality helmet or no helmet at all. This is definitely the rider’s mistake, but the next fact is what I need you to know.
  • That is, 60,6% of the fatal accidents were due to the ATV being flipped over.

From these helpful points, what you can do (in case you still want an ATV) is to wear a helmet that is at least DOT approved so you can get your head safer. Other than that, I recommend wearing a chest protector to make it free of injuries in case you hit the earth.

Wearing a helmet is always life-saving, and being a dirt bike rider, I feel very safe. This is also a reason why dirt bike riders survive in case of an accident. Almost 60% of the riders in the accident were found wearing a helmet. This ratio is almost half, i.e., but hardly 30% of the ATV riders wore helmets when they met with an accident.

  • Dirt Bikes are Cheaper than Quads

Dirt bikes are significantly cheaper than quads, which is a contributing reason you will see more dirt bikes VS quads. A dirt bike is at least 50% cheaper than a quad. If you need to spend $10,000 for a quad, a dirt bike would hardly cost $5,000. Dirt bike pricing can start from less than a thousand bucks even. While you will hardly find a quad for under $3000 unless it’s old.

The base price for an ATV from Honda fourtrax foreman rubicon is around $9,500, while a dirt bike from honda will cost you just $5,000. Similarly, Yamaha YZ 65 2023 costs around $4,500 as of today. While their Raptor ATV costs around $10k and something.

Now, this is never a hard and fast rule but rather an experience that you will need to spend more on quads than a dirt bike. Other than an upfront or purchasing cost, there’s another thing called maintenance or operational cost.

As far as maintenance is concerned, this all depends on your usage, where, and how frequently you use your dirt bike or quad. Generally, an ATV costs you more in terms of maintenance too. And that’s due to their expensive parts and comparatively complex design, be it a moving part like a chain & sprocket or any static part from its chassis. So, a quad bike will always cost you a lot more.

  • Four Wheelers are easy to operate

Whenever you purchase any machine, you expect it to be simple or easy to operate, so you don’t need to spend time scratching your head in case of troubleshooting or even while using it. Four wheelers won in this department as they are comparatively easy to control.

Four wheelers generally have complicated controls, and they are slightly on the technical side in the case of a dirt bike. However, if you use a dirt bike, you need to know a few things about it to fix it. 

Both in terms of use and operation, four wheelers are easy to operate, and you can even get ATVs with automatic transmissions, and they are also successful. While, for dirt bikes, you will never be able to find a machine with automatic transmission. You need to shift the gears manually. But, this is not a big deal, primarily if you used to ride street bikes or road motorcycles. Dirt bikes are no different in this regard.

Due to the four wheels underneath, you don’t need to balance it like a two wheeler, as it is already balanced on the ground. It doesn’t run inclined but straight, which is sometimes a problem in the case of a dirt bike, but it can be sorted out quickly.

This easy to operate feature makes us recommend ATVs for beginners instead of dirt bikes. But that too if you have a budget. Otherwise, dirt bikes are the best. Usually, people buy a full size ATV for their entire family and expect it to be used for their teenage kids to start riding on. But, they failed because that ATV wasn’t necessarily designed for kids but for adults.

If you are starting on an ATV, you need 15 minutes of instruction to get it all started. However, this is not the case for dirt bikes. You need to balance the machine properly, shift the gears and then try not to fall from it. So, it’s comparatively more complicated than an ATV but manageable if you can ride a motorcycle.

  • Both can Ride on Terrain

Here comes my favorite part, dirt bikes can ride on almost all sorts of trains except for the snow. We’ll come to the snow part later; let’s focus on the rest. A dirt bike is more functional towards multiple terrains where you can’t even imagine bringing your ATV. You can’t take your ATV on a rocky, sandy, yet narrow passage but a dirt bike.

You can handle a lot of rugged terrains on your dirt bike, but ATV is still having an edge as you can take it to all terrains on the planet. That’s why an ATV stands for All terrain vehicle. Except for the narrow passage, this machine can go anywhere. It can ride on the snow where a dirt bike can’t even stand. That’s due to a stable and durable platform and added traction under its wheels and base.

The best terrains for a dirt bike and ATV could be mud, gravel, rocky surface, sandy areas, paved tracks, unpaved tracks, hills, and even shallow water. You can bring both these machines in the forests too, but a dirt bike would work best if the forest has trees close together.

If you want to carry out a camping vehicle, I recommend an ATV. But, if you want to go wild with your offroad, nobody can beat the dirt bike class. Otherwise, an ATV could be the best choice, as you can make it a truck, also. You can jump your dirt bike quickly, but jumping an ATV is challenging and different.

  • Dirt Bikes Consume less Gas

Well Yeah, a dirt bike consumes way too less gas than an ATV does. This is first due to the lightweight body and a lighter engine. The design of the engine also plays a role in this. Also, ATVs with automatic transmissions will consume more gas compared to manual transmission dirt bikes.

Depending upon your ATV’s model, make and engine size, the consumption and fuel efficiency may fluctuate. For example, an ATV with 300cc to 450cc range is supposed to consume around 14 MPG. An ATV with a 750cc engine can consume up to 18 or even 20 MPG. Similarly, a dirt bike with a similar range of the engine is supposed to get around 30 MPG to 50 MPG as well.

Now, dirt bikes are not going to be fuel efficient. They consume more fuel at higher speeds and races, but that’s still not more than what ATVs consume. So, if you are afraid of rising fuel prices but want to get the best out of your adventure, you should opt for dirt bikes. They have less maintenance, and now you can see their less operational costs too.

  • Dirt Bikes has High Speed

Often times, I get a question in my mailbox like, Are Dirt Bikes Faster Than Quads? Or, are they slow? Yes, dirt bikes are faster than quads or four wheelers and the main reason is their lighter platform than a quad. I am a speed ninja, and I love riding at speeds. If you push your diesel truck at high speed, you will soon be left with an empty fuel tank. That’s due to its heavy body and heavy engine. But dirt bikes are meant to be ridden at high speeds and races, too, but an ATV can’t be like a dirt bike.

Dirt bikes are built for speed and races as they are comparatively faster than ATVs. Although they have less power than ATVs, they are lightweight and versatile. An ATV can’t be lightweight and faster than a dirt bike despite having a powerful engine. If you want to push your ATV harder, you should better opt for a sports ATV rather than a Utility ATV.

Dirt bikes can let you take sharp cuts, but ATVs don’t. That being said, an ATV can go nicely in a straight path, but it will quickly flip over in case of a sharp turn or significantly if you don’t reduce the speed.

  • ATVs feature more Comfort

Although a dirt bike is way faster than a four wheeler, it still stays behind an ATV regarding comfort and supportive ride. Yes, ATVs are more comfortable, giving a car a feel, while a dirt bike feels like a rough and tough bike in front of it. Moreover, ATVs features stable and convenient seating compared to dirt bike.

You keep sitting on an ATV even while you ride. But you sometimes need to stand on a dirt bike. Also, there’s no support for the back, but an ATV can feature an excellent supportive platform compared to a dirt bike. You might not feel tired of it. However, vehicle sports are tiring most of the time. So, I can’t argue anymore!

  • Dirt Bikes are less Weight

Dirt bikes are faster; why? Because they are lightweight, and a lightweight platform is always faster. A car is lighter than a truck. Hence it moves faster. Dirt bikes are always lighter in weight than ATVs. The lightest dirt bike with an engine capacity of 100cc can weigh up to 150 pounds, while the heaviest one could weigh around 350 pounds.

Now for the ATVs, the lightest ATVs could weigh 300 pounds, and they can go up to 1200 pounds as well. Now, that’s the reason why there’s always a risk of injury and fatal accidents if your ATV flips over. There’s a very small chance of surviving a 1000 pound machine on top of you, especially if there’s nobody around you to help.

  • ATVs & Dirt Bikes both are Solo

Yes, Dirt bikes and ATVs are both designed for solo riders. However, you can bring a kid on your back if you sit on a dirt bike for a nearby ride. Things are similar for ATVs, but this is a single person vehicle. Although you can carry a passenger on it, it’s not a good and safe practice, to be very honest.

  • ATVs are comparatively Durable

Why shouldn’t they be? Just compare yourself. How can a 400 pound machine be more durable than a 1000 pound metallic machine? ATVs are durable, solid, and sturdier than a Dirt bike, and that’s also a reason why they are expensive. ATVs crashes less frequently than a dirt bike, but they can seriously damage you.

  • Dirt Bikes are easy to Transport

Also, dirt bikes are easy to transport due to their small size, weight, and less covered area. If you can equip your truck with an ATV, you can house at least two dirt bikes in that area, making them more transportable.

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