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Four Wheeling 101: A Primer

Trail riding is an exciting and rewarding sport. You can get out with your friends and explore parts of your surroundings that would otherwise be difficult to see.

If you are new to the world of All Terrain Vehicles, and you are starting to look into your riding options, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. In this article, we will cover the basics of riding, from the gear you will need, through finding places to ride.

Choosing your ride

The Four-Wheeler you choose to ride will depend on your size and the type of riding you intend to do. ATVs come in a variety of sizes and styles and may have several options and upgrades available. The choices will include not only the size of the engine, but also the size of the frame and wheels.

Before you decide which ATV is best for you, go to the dealership and ask questions, find out if they allow test rides or ask to try your friends ATV, this will help you find what works best for you. For trail, riding you will generally want an all duty style ATV as opposed to the smaller sportier models.

They have a wider wheelbase for better stability and a lot of the time offer four-wheel drive. The basic gear you will need includes: a helmet, gloves, goggles, stiff boots, and long pants. Along with this, pads for your arms and legs as well as chest protectors are available and recommended.

Getting Started

After you pick your ATV, and are properly outfitted, you are almost ready to get out to the trail. If your bike is brand new, it will have a “break in period” for the engine, before you can really open it up on the trail. It is important not to skip this step, as failing to do so will cause permanent damage to your vehicle.

Your dealership and owner’s manual will provide information on the proper steps to take with your particular model. It is a good idea, if you are unfamiliar with ATV riding, to take classes or go with friends whom can show you basic operation and explain how to ride safely.

As with any vehicle, you should follow maintenance schedules and perform a visual safety check each time you ride. ATVs are sturdy machines, but they are typically subject to a lot of abuse and like all machines, have parts that can fail. Inspect the welds of the frame, wheels and tires, as well as brake and clutch cables before and after every outing and replace parts that are damaged.

Finding Places to Ride

Before you can get out and ride, you will need to know where to go. When you are starting out you will want to find trails that are are not too difficult to navigate. There is a great deal of terrain that your ATV is capable of handling, Remember though, that the vehicle is only as capable as the rider; stay away from deep mud and wet roads to begin with as you learn how the machine responds to your actions.

When you ride your machine, it is your responsibility to be sure that you are allowed on the trail and have permits if required, always check local and state regulations before you head to a new riding area. In Arizona, the state parks website is a great source of information, including maps and trail guides.

If you do not want to travel too far from Sierra Vista, the Patagonia mountain range is close and offers varied riding conditions, from high desert to woodland trails. When exploring a new area, ride slowly as you get used to the trail so you can avoid any surprises.

In addition, as always, when you are riding be respectful of others you encounter on the trail and take any garbage out when you leave.

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