What's the first thing we all want to do when our sparkling new quad hits the ground? If you're anything like me, you want to ride it like you stole it. But is that really a good idea? I don't think so, and here are some reasons why.
First, although most if not all manufacturers take safety and quality very seriously, the occasional loose bolt, unglued grip or low-pressure tire can leave the showroom floor and get in your hands without anyone ever noticing. This could lead to injury or broken parts that could have been easily prevented. Second, protecting and maintaining that immaculate new-quad look only takes a little time and prep work. Last, but certainly not least, is the need to dial in everything to fit you comfortably and to get a little more edge of performance out of your new machine.
So as you can see, safety, protection and performance are three critical categories that deserve your close attention. That's why we've decided to share our new quad secrets with you. Trust us on this one-by following these 20 important tips, you're likely to have a much-improved, longer-lasting and safer ATV riding experience.
1. Get To Know Your New Quad.
The very last thing that most new quad owners want to do is read the manual, and we totally understand. But keep this in mind: The information that's tightly packed into the manual about your new quad is vital to properly maintaining, understanding and protecting this pricey investment. OK, we're not saying to read and memorize it from beginning to end, but rather you should familiarize yourself with your ATV's functions, maintenance schedules and proper break-in procedures. If you choose to store your manual under the seat of your quad, it's a good idea to seal it up in a Ziploc bag; I keep mine in my toolbox where I know it will be safe.
2. Inspect And Top Off All Fluids.
How many of us have bought a new quad and taken it directly to the local riding area without even thinking about the lifeblood of the motor? Did you know that engine failures due to low oil or coolant are quite common mishaps that can certainly destroy your new motor's internal organs? It's so simple to just twist off the cap, check to see that the engine oil, coolant and differential fluids are at the proper level. Staying on top of this will ensure that your new machine will thrive for many years to come. Although most dealers will take care of this before you walk out of the dealership door, do you really want to take that chance? I don't!
3. Tighten Lug Nuts.
When a new ATV hits the ground at your local dealer, it's packed tightly into a crate. Who knows exactly what happens between point A and point B, as it's often being shipped across the big pond or from one state to another. For me, the first thing I do is tighten and properly torque each lug nut on all four wheels. I've seen them come off more than once over the years, and the consequences can be a real nightmare for sure. It'll only take a few minutes to tighten them. Also note, aluminum wheels are notorious for allowing nuts to loosen, so they should be inspected periodically.
4. Check Tire Pressure.
This one is so easy yet extremely vital to the handling characteristics of your quad. If you run without enough air in your tires, you're opening yourself up to all kinds of difficulties, such as poor handling, snakebite flats, dinging your rims and even the bead rolling off your rim. On the other hand, running with too much air can cause your quad to bounce around uncontrollably as if you were on a pogo stick. Lower pressure means a tire is easier to puncture but offers added traction in softer soils. Higher pressure results in higher durability and allows for more predictable sliding but gives less traction. The point is to find your happy medium. Start with the manufacturer's recommended psi and begin dialing in the tires to the air pressure that best fits your needs.
5. Fine-Tune The Ride Position.
While performing our sport 450 shootout last issue, we were reminded of this very important tip. As we mounted up all seven machines, which were delivered straight from each respective factory, we realized we'd forgotten one thing; the placement of the handlebars, brake levers and clutch levers on every machine was way out of whack. So the tools came out and we began to adjust. I usually adjust the handlebar to the position that feels most comfortable while standing and sitting, then tighten it back down. Next I slightly loosen the brake and clutch levers, stand crouched in the attack position and adjust them to the very same angle as my arms from that attack position. That's how I do it, but the important thing is to adjust the controls to your own liking.
6. Engage The Clutch.
No, we're not speaking of marrying the clutch, but rather setting the position in which your clutch engages. I like having the ability to pull in my clutch lever with two fingers while leaving the other two on the grips in order to better tackle demanding terrains while still maintaining a good grip with my hands. To adjust for this, turn the clutch adjustment wheel forward or backward until it engages in that perfect position for you. It only takes seconds to do and will greatly increase your confidence while riding.
7. Adjust The Foot Shifter.
From the factory, your manual ATV's shifter is set to a generic position. This position may be perfect for you; then again, it may not. If you want the shifter to be at its best position when you ride, then you'll need to set the lever height with your riding boots on. This will ensure that you have enough space to move your foot around, over and under the lever without any trouble at all. It can be frustrating to concentrate on riding while struggling to get your foot under the shifter.
8. Secure The Hand Grips.
Ah, the grip situation hasn't gotten you yet? It's happened to me and is likely to cause you trouble as well. If you don't take the time to properly secure your new grips, you may realize that you have nothing secure to hold onto five minutes into your ride. Even with the factory glue, you may still need to secure the grips with safety wire or a shot of black spray paint on the bar to hold them in place. Yes, the black spray paint really does work.