A quad bike – also known as an all-terrain vehicle (or ATV) – is an off-road motorized vehicle that travels on four wheels, with a seat designed to be straddled by the operator and handlebars for steering control. They’re valuable tools for farmers, but they can also be a lot of fun for adventurers who enjoy a stress-relieving off-road journey. If you’re considering buying one it can be interesting to read about their history – just remember, quad bikes like most other road-legal vehicles in the UK require insurance.
Their history begins in 1893. Back then, British cycling company Royal Enfield created a four-wheeled vehicle that was designed as an alternative to horses. It was known as a ‘Quadricycle’, and there are actually some of them still around today – even if quad bikes have come a long way since!
The next major development came with the emergence of Honda after 1959. The company’s founder discovered that he was unable to use his car during the gas shortage of WWII. What followed, was the idea to attach a small engine to his bicycle. From here, the idea grew in popularity, and it led to the establishment of the Honda Technical Research Institute.
In 1961, though, “The Jiger” became the first ATV after it was designed in Toronto. The Jiger could travel on land and water and the first Jigers built for sale were all built to order.
The Tricart was the next evolution for ATVs. John Plessinger – a student attending the Cranbrook Academy of Arts – designed the vehicle as part of a student project. It was a distinctive three-wheeler that could easily corner at 60mph. The success of the project resulted in the vehicle being produced for a few years, and it proved to be enormous fun during this time.
Four wheels returned to fashion by 1982, however. Suzuki introduced the first four-wheeler – the LT125D Quadrunner. And then, Honda emerged on the scene once more in 1984 with their first four-wheeler model: the TRX200TM. These vehicles are more like the ones we know today: especially after three-wheelers became unpopular due to safety concerns that they were unstable.
Today, these four-wheel designs have come a long way. They’re usually complete with engines verging on 100 horsepower, and all sorts of functions such as tow bars and winches!