How to Ride a Manual Quad

Updated February 21, 2017

Riding an all terrain vehicle, or ATV, can be fun and exciting when the rider practices safe riding techniques. Once the basic skills are mastered, extreme riding is not "risk taking," it's using advanced maneuvers. It might take the average rider a few days to grasp the basics of riding a quad but years to master the constant motion of all limbs while maintaining a course.

Check the ATV with a safety inspection. Make sure there is oil and gas, and measure the pressure of all tires while inspecting their tread. Spray the chain with chain oil if it is dry. Check the lights, if applicable.

Dress appropriately. Helmets are not required by law in some states but are worn by intelligent riders. A low-speed spill into a rocky ditch could cause serious head and neck injuries. Protect the rider's legs with long pants, such as jeans, that can withstand brief moments of tailpipe or engine contact.

Start the quad, and let it warm to a smooth idle. Some engines use chokes, so set it if necessary. The clutch for the transmission is on the left handlebar as a lever. When it is pulled back, the clutch is decoupled from the running gear, and the engine should return to idle. Press down on the gear shifter pedal, on the left side of the engine, to shift into first gear.

Drive the quad in a straight line, shifting through the gears. As the clutch is "let out," or slowly released by relieving pressure on the clutch lever, the transmission will engage. Pressing on the throttle at an even rate while simultaneously releasing the clutch lever will propel the ATV until the clutch is fully engaged. Pressing the throttle will rev the engine and move the quad faster until the top of first gear is reached. Quickly pulling in the clutch lever, letting go of the throttle, pulling UP on the shifter pedal with conviction, then letting the clutch back out while increasing the gas flow will keep the quad in motion while changing gears. This may be repeated for all gears until the top gear is reached.

Slow back down using the gears and front brake. By reversing the gear-shifting process, the quad can be brought to a quick and even stop. Pulling in the clutch, letting go of the gas, pushing DOWN on the shift pedal and releasing the clutch with no throttle will use the engine's compression to assist in braking. The front brake lever, on the right handlebar, will bring the ATV to a complete stop.


Use protective equipment when riding an ATV.


Do not jump or try professional tricks if the rider is inexperienced.

Things You'll Need

  • An ATV (quad)
  • Helmet
  • Long pants
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