WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE TURNING THE KEY
Before turning the key on your new vehicle and getting to work or hitting the trail on an adventure, there are some important pre-ride essentials that are a must. Let’s take a look at two big things to consider: laws and regulations, and pre-ride inspections.
KNOW THE LAWS & REGULATIONS REGARDING ATV AND SXS RIDING
Obviously, laws and regulations surrounding off-road vehicle use vary from region to region. Local, state or provincial, and federal laws can all apply to registration requirements, speed limits, open and prohibited trails or where you can ride, and other rules when it comes to your ATV or side-by-side.
Just like with your car or truck, states or provinces impose specific rules regarding how old an off-road vehicle operator must be. The type of your vehicle or engine size can also affect age requirements, so be sure to be certain anyone operating the vehicle meets those standards.
In some regions, riders under a certain age must wear a helmet, but in reality, anyone operating an off-road vehicle should wear a helmet, so the best practice is to ensure everyone on board has proper head protection. Even if not required by law, safety is top priority. Check if an approved safety course is required in your region before operating an ATV or side-by-side, which is often the case for younger riders.
THE ESSENTIAL PRE-RIDE CHECKLIST
Whether it’s your very first ride or your hundredth, it’s vital to always thoroughly inspect your ATV or SxS before even starting the engine and hitting the trail. Pre-ride inspections will reveal any damage or issues that could cut your day short. Better to discover it at home before than late in the middle of nowhere, right?
But what should you look for? Check your tire pressure and inspect the tire treads and sidewalls for any punctures, wear or foreign objects stuck in the rubber. Double-check the tightness of the wheel and axle nuts and give the tires a little rock to look for loose fasteners or worn bearings. Check the lights, switches and gauges in the cockpit to make sure they’re working properly. Check your oil and coolant levels and look for any sign of leaks. Make sure your throttle, shifter and brakes are all working and check how much fuel you have, obviously.
Inspect any accessories or racks to be sure they’re not damaged and are attached properly; you don’t want to lose anything out there, especially since you put some much love into customizing your vehicle, right? Also check for any potential loose parts or any cracks that could cause problems.
Your ATV or side-by-side will have come with an operator’s guide that contains an inspection checklist. Use it every time you take your new vehicle out and before long, you’ll be doing the inspection quickly without giving it a second thought. Remember: any small issue you find now at home is a big problem you avoided while out on the trail.