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HOW TO RIDE: Body English

When powerslides go bad, the quad will high-side if it hits a rut or gains a bunch of traction. Leaning to the inside will help avoid this. If it does happen, try to step off quickly with both legs and run or fall to the rear and away from the quad.
May 2, 2016
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What, do you suppose, is the most important performance part of your ATV? Is it the engine? The suspension? Tires? Wheels?

None of the above. When it comes to getting your quad through difficult terrain, you can upgrade all of those parts and it might not have any real-world impact at all. If you upgrade the rider, on the other hand, there’s no limit to the gains that are possible. Unlike a car or UTV, the rider is a critical design element of an ATV. It wouldn’t work without one. If you put remote controls on the throttle, steering and brakes, a quad would barely be capable of slow operation on level ground. It’s the rider who makes it do all the amazing things that we expect. On the other hand, a rider who sits upright in the center of the seat like a bag of nails doesn’t accomplish much. Your body is a pendulum that must swing in the proper directions to make the machine turn, climb, descend and jump.

We’ve assembled this collection of images to illustrate the point. These are some of the best riders in the ATV world, and there’s no reason you can’t do the same things and accomplish the same feats. It’s all a matter of body English.

When in doubt, stand up! If there’s anything you need to know about whoops, it’s that you have to be able to move quickly. If you are planted in the middle of the seat, you can’t react to the rapid altitude changes of the ATV.
When in doubt, stand up! If there’s anything you need to know about whoops, it’s that you have to be able to move quickly. If you are planted in the middle of the seat, you can’t react to the rapid altitude changes of the ATV.
Mike Cafro shows how to deal with a corner that has rolling whoops. Even though his head is centered over the bars, his lower body is always on the move. For most of us, our gluteus is, indeed, quite maximus and is where we carry most of our weight. By moving it forward, backward, left and right, you get far better results than by trying to do it all with your upper body.
Mike Cafro shows how to deal with a corner that has rolling whoops. Even though his head is centered over the bars, his lower body is always on the move. For most of us, our gluteus is, indeed, quite maximus and is where we carry most of our weight. By moving it forward, backward, left and right, you get far better results than by trying to do it all with your upper body.
Cafro is still standing, even though his quad has used up almost all its suspension travel. The last few inches are reserved for more extreme impacts.
Cafro is still standing, even though his quad has used up almost all its suspension travel. The last few inches are reserved for more extreme impacts.
When fording water, it’s best to go upstream if possible. If the water is still, try to keep speeds low enough as to not let the water flow over your front fenders. If it does, chances are that water can make it into your intake and stall out the engine. If it’s just a short section, splash away.
When fording water, it’s best to go upstream if possible. If the water is still, try to keep speeds low enough as to not let the water flow over your front fenders. If it does, chances are that water can make it into your intake and stall out the engine. If it’s just a short section, splash away.
One problem typically encountered with 4x4s is cargo. You can move your own weight as much as you want, but it’s hard to compensate for a static load on the racks. Worse, if the cargo isn’t tied down properly, it can shift in the exact wrong direction at the exact wrong time. The lesson is to travel lightly when you can, and always secure the load.
One problem typically encountered with 4x4s is cargo. You can move your own weight as much as you want, but it’s hard to compensate for a static load on the racks. Worse, if the cargo isn’t tied down properly, it can shift in the exact wrong direction at the exact wrong time. The lesson is to travel lightly when you can, and always secure the load.
Be aware of your wheels! When you’re in tough terrain, keep your wheels as straight as possible. When you have to straddle look way ahead and take it slow.
Be aware of your wheels! When you’re in tough terrain, keep your wheels as straight as possible. When you have to straddle look way ahead and take it slow.
When an off-camber trail is too extreme, don’t take a chance. Put both legs on the uphill side and hang off like a human counter-balancer. This way, if the quad starts to tip, you can safely step off before getting trapped.
When an off-camber trail is too extreme, don’t take a chance. Put both legs on the uphill side and hang off like a human counter-balancer. This way, if the quad starts to tip, you can safely step off before getting trapped.

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When powerslides go bad, the quad will high-side if it hits a rut or gains a bunch of traction. Leaning to the inside will help avoid this. If it does happen, try to step off quickly with both legs and run or fall to the rear and away from the quad.
When powerslides go bad, the quad will high-side if it hits a rut or gains a bunch of traction. Leaning to the inside will help avoid this. If it does happen, try to step off quickly with both legs and run or fall to the rear and away from the quad.
Chances are a set of stairs will not be in the middle of your trail, but steep descents require the rider to scoot to the back of the seat and keep a firm grip on the bars. Avoid hitting obstacles that can stop you abruptly and send you over the bars.
Chances are a set of stairs will not be in the middle of your trail, but steep descents require the rider to scoot to the back of the seat and keep a firm grip on the bars. Avoid hitting obstacles that can stop you abruptly and send you over the bars.

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