Dirt Bikes vs ATVs

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So, you want to get into some kind of motorized sport, preferably something off the beaten path with plenty of bumps and jumps, hopefully out in the woods somewhere.

The two types of vehicles you have at your disposal are dirt bikes and quad bikes, what most people would simply refer to as an ATV, or in some cases a four wheeler, depending on where you live.

So, you’re trying to decide between a dirt bike and an ATV. Which one is right for you? Let’s take a look at some of the main differences between the two.

Dirt Bikes vs ATVs

1. ATVs are Better for Beginners

One notable difference between these two vehicles is that ATVs are much easier to master than dirt bikes. What it really all comes down to is the whole four vs two wheels thing. It’s just much easier to stay upright on an ATV than on a dirt bike.

Four wheels are far more stable than two wheels, and this makes ATVs better suited for beginners and for people who may have problems with balance.

2. ATVs are Functional

Another notable difference between these two vehicles is that ATVs are far more functional. Dirt bikes are great for racing and jumping, but other than that, they really don’t serve much of a purpose.

On the other hand, ATVs are often used for work around the house, like hauling around wood and lumber, for transporting goods, and more.

There are also plenty of attachments for ATVs, things like lawnmowers, seed spreaders, snow blowers, small ploughs, and more. You can also hook up a small trailer to an ATV, plus the rear of the ATV has some storage space too.

You really cannot do any of those things with a dirt bike, and whatever you can carry on a bike is limited to what you can stuff into a backpack.

3. Dirt Bikes are Better for Racing

Sure, there are ATV races out there, but not nearly as many as there are dirt bike races.

Due to their much smaller and lighter design, dirt bikes have better acceleration than ATVs, not to mention that they are also far more maneuverable in tight spaces and tight corners, particularly when travelling with great speed.

Simply put, ATVs are bigger, heavier, less maneuverable, and not as fast as a comparable dirt bike. If you’re a racer, a dirt bike is the way to go.

Dirt Bikes vs ATVs

5. Dirt Bikes are Better for Stunts

On that same note as before, dirt bikes are also much better for doing tricks and stunts than ATVs are.

Dirt bikes are fairly small and lightweight, which makes them ideal for doing flips, spins, and all of that other fun stuff too, plus they are also quite forgiving when it comes to landing from big jumps.

On the other hand, ATVs are generally too heavy and cumbersome to do many tricks on, and if you do manage to do a mid-air trick, the landing will likely be quite rough.

Now, this is not to say that people don’t do tricks on ATVs, even within races, but they are much harder to do, and much more dangerous as well, which brings us to our next point.

6. Dirt Bikes are Safer

It might seem like ATVs are safer than dirt bikes because they are generally slower, and of course because they have four wheels, but this is actually not true.

Granted that a dirt bike rider has the proper protective gear on, in the event of a fall, a rider is often thrown clear of the bike.

Moreover, because dirt bikes are light and small, if one happens to land on you, it should not be a huge deal.

However, because ATVs are so big and heavy, riders often get crushed under their own machines, or just injured by their own ATV in general. Statistics show that ATV accidents are up to twice as deadly as dirt bike accidents.

7. ATVs are Year Round Vehicles

While dirt bikes are a whole lot of fun and comparatively safe, they do have a big disadvantage, which is that they are really only ideal for fair weather riding.

In other words, a dirt bike track (or off-road trail), needs to be in fairly good condition, and preferably dry, and of course not frozen.

On the other hand, ATVs are all terrain vehicles, hence their name, and they are much more adept at maneuvering rough terrain.

In other words, your ATV can drive all year long, whether rain, shine, or a foot of snow, whereas as soon as the first snow hits, your dirt bike will be relegated to storage until the good weather returns.


These are of course not the only differences between dirt bikes and ATVs, but they are some of the biggest and most important ones. Here’s an idea, just get one of each, of you can get the best of both worlds!

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