Gone Outdoors

How to Drive a Manual Quad Bike

by Justin Wash
Riding a quad bike is fun and exciting, but riding one effectively requires learning how to operate a manual transmission vehicle.

Riding a quad bike is fun and exciting, but riding one effectively requires learning how to operate a manual transmission vehicle.

Driving a quad bike can be a fun and adventurous pastime, but before hopping on the bike and starting it up, there are a few things to learn. A manual quad bike requires the rider to switch gears via the clutch and shifter, similar to a motorcycle or a manual car. For this reason, learning to ride can be a daunting and unsuccessful experience without knowledge of how the machine works and how to operate the controls.

Get on the ATV and turn the ignition switch to the "On" position. The headlights and indicator lights should come on. Most quad bikes use a "one down, four up" transmission layout. To put the bike in neutral, pull in the clutch lever with your left hand, push the shifter down four times with your left foot, then up slightly until the green neutral light comes on. Start the quad by pressing the starter button on the right handlebar.

When you are ready to start riding, pull in the clutch lever and shift the bike into first gear by pressing down on the shifter with your left foot. Release the clutch slowly until you feel the bike begin to move forward. When the bike begins to "pull" forward, apply a small amount of throttle while releasing the clutch lever. It may take a few tries to get the quad moving without the engine dying. If this happens, simply pull in the clutch, push the starter and try again.

Accelerate slowly in first gear to get the quad moving at a moderate pace. When you feel the need to shift, or when you get to the "top" of first gear, pull in the clutch lever. Pull up on the shift lever with your left foot to switch to second gear, then slowly release the clutch and apply a small amount of throttle. If done correctly, you should now be moving forward in second gear, providing more room for acceleration.

Shift up through the five gears as necessary to continue accelerating. When you are ready to stop or slow down, pull in the clutch lever and apply the front (right hand) and rear (right foot) brakes. While slowing down, push the shift lever down with your left foot to shift to lower gears. This will prevent the engine from dying when you accelerate. It will take practice to learn which gear you should use to go a certain speed, but with time it will feel smooth and natural.

Begin accelerating again by releasing both brakes and slowly letting out the clutch lever until you feel the "pull" of the engine. Apply a small amount of throttle as you release the clutch and continue to ride and shift through the gear range. When you are ready to stop riding, pull in the clutch lever, apply both brakes and shift the bike into neutral with you left foot. Press the kill-switch or turn the ignition to the "Off" position to stop the motor. To prevent the quad from rolling around while off, shift into first gear with the engine off.

Items you will need
  • Manual quad bike
  • Helmet

About the Author

Born and raised in St. Louis, Mo., Justin Wash began his professional writing career in 2004 with an online freelance copywriting business. Over the years, he has written for a myriad of clients including China-Vasion and The Executives Closet.

Photo Credits