Dirt bikes and ATVs are fantastic off-road vehicles that allow you to reach high speeds on rough terrain. That feeling of adrenaline pumping through your system is a big-time rush. If you have never ridden a dirt bike or an ATV before, there are significant differences to be aware of. In this article, we compare a dirt bike vs. ATV on a side-by-side basis to help you determine which is best for you.
What’s the Difference Between the Two?
One significant difference between these two off-road vehicles is that ATVs tend to be a lot more expensive than dirt bikes. Dirt bikes are much smaller than ATVs, they are much lighter, and they have fewer components. You could end up spending more than twice as much (or more) on an ATV than on a dirt bike. In addition, maintenance costs for ATVs are usually higher.
Another aspect to consider is that ATVs have four wheels, whereas dirt bikes only have two. More often than not, a beginning rider, even a child, can learn to ride an ATV in just a few minutes, mainly because there is relatively no risk of falling over like there is on a dirt bike.
Of course, you can still fall over on an ATV, but four wheels are always more stable than two. Learning to ride a dirt bike is more difficult and can often take months to master. Most off-roaders will first start with an ATV before transitioning to a dirt bike.
It might seem counterintuitive to say that dirt bikes are safer than ATVs, but this is the case, according to studies. Dirt bike riders crash more often than ATV riders, but the effects of those crashes are more severe for ATVs than for dirt bikes.
ATVs are very likely to roll over, and when they do, the results can be very serious. In fact, studies show that ATV crashes can be up to 50% more lethal than dirt bike crashes. In addition, while more frequent, dirt bike crashes usually lead to sprains and sometimes broken bones, whereas ATV crashes tend to be far more serious.
Another difference is that while dirt bikes are fun to ride, they are not all that functional. They are great for riding trails and hitting jumps, but other than that, they really aren’t all that useful.
On the other hand, ATVs are more versatile and are often used as utility vehicles. You can hook up a trailer to an ATV and transport things and even put a snowplow on the front for plowing snow. When it comes to transporting both people and equipment, ATVs are the better option. Let’s not forget that ATVs can easily carry passengers whereas dirt bikes cannot.
In addition, ATVs can handle rough terrain better than dirt bikes, especially when it comes to snow and the colder seasons. You can use an ATV to drive through the snow, whereas a dirt bike won’t handle snow and freezing conditions very well. Riding a dirt bike in the snow or on the ice is extremely dangerous.
Racing and Tricks
Now, although ATVs are much more functional, the simple reality is that dirt bikes are the better option for doing jumps, tricks, and racing. This is because dirt bikes are much smaller, more lightweight, and maneuverable, thus making them better for getting around in tight spaces, such as on an off-road track.
Dirt bikes are the vehicle of choice when it comes to tricks and stunts. You can still do tricks on an ATV, but it is far more dangerous. ATVs are heavier, bigger, and slower, thus making them much more challenging to use in this sense. If you are looking for maximum speed and maneuverability, the dirt bike is the vehicle of choice.
Yet another difference between these two vehicles is in their fuel efficiency. Both ATVs and dirt bikes are not overly fuel-efficient, but dirt bike engines are smaller, and the bikes themselves are lighter, which means they require less power for forward momentum.
Therefore, dirt bikes use less gas than ATVs, which can save you money in the long run, not to mention that it’s better for the environment.
Hauling and Transportation
In most cases, dirt bikes and ATVs are not street legal, which means that you need to tow them to the location where you will be using them. A full-sized ATV can weigh 1,000 pounds, whereas dirt bikes usually weigh around 200 pounds.
In addition, ATVs are also much larger. If you have a trailer for your primary vehicle, you could fit about three or even four dirt bikes in the same trailer as you could fit a single ATV.
Durability and longevity
The other major factor is that dirt bikes are generally much less durable than ATVs. ATVs are designed to last for a long time and to absorb a lot of impact. In addition, their frames are designed to handle a lot of weight and pressure. So while ATVs cost more, they also last longer.
Now that you know the significant differences between these two off-road vehicles, you can make an informed choice between an ATV and a dirt bike. Sure, dirt bikes are a lot of fun, but ATVs tend to be more functional.