No matter how you look at it, parents are ultimately responsible for making decisions about their children’s safety. Manufacturers comply with government safety regulations, plaster their quads with warning stickers, and give specific age recommendations based on the size and power of the ATV, but parents have to decide what’s best for their kids. Starting with selecting the right-size quad, there several things parents can do to make their child’s ATVing experience as safe and enjoyable as possible. Here are a few of our recommendations.
Even though some 50cc–90cc quads might be too small for their posted age recommendations, some are equipped with levers and handlebars sized for adults.Companies like Renthal (877-736-8425) offer a variety of handlebars with specific bends that are appropriate for kids. You don’t want your child to have to overreach when turning the bars. Fasst Co. ( 306-1801) also has a racing handlebar that’s narrower and better suited to a kid’s reach. You can even make stock handlebars narrower on your own by using a hacksaw to trim them to the desired length. Make sure you use a file to round the ends and install a fresh set of grips to finish the job.
Products like Renthal’s Intellilever can make reaching the handlebar-mounted front and rear brakes easier for smaller hands. There’s nothing worse than your child having trouble pulling the levers in and stopping. Works Connection ( 642-9488) and ASV ( 861-1400) offer adjustable levers that can grow with your kids.
You teach your kids to look out for other riders on the trail. You tell them to be careful around blind corners and to stay to the right on two-way roads, but what about making sure others see them?
For some reason, the Japanese companies do not install headlights on their youth quads. Some say that headlights encourage kids to ride at night. We think having daytime running lights, as most new cars do, is a great idea. It makes your son or daughter more visible out on the trail at anytime of day. Besides, what if a daytime ride goes long and a kid has to ride back to camp in the dark? It’s much safer to have lights on an ATV.
Trail Tech ( 687-4530) and Ricky Stator ( 631-3837) both offer inexpensive lighting kits for most current minis. They easily bolt to the front bumper, frame or top shock mount and then wire to the battery. They can be made to turn on only when the engine is running or wired directly to a switch.
Safety flags are not just for dune riding. Companies like Polaris equip their minis with safety flags. It would be easy for all manufacturers to do this. The flag only sticks up about a foot above the rider, but this might be the first thing an oncoming rider sees on a tight trial in the woods. Also, you may be sitting around camp in the desert, watching your kids ride in and out of bushes and around rocks that make it difficult for you to keep an eye on them. With the flag, you can easily see that they are still moving and okay. Rocky Mountain ATV sells safety whips for as little as $10. Call them at (800) 336-5437.
EVEN MORE SAFETY
For racing, an ignition tether switch is mandatory. For mini quads, it’s a very good idea. Sure you don’t want your kid to fall of his quad, but if he does, it’s better if the ignition shuts down when it happens. Pro Design sells aftermarket switches that can be wired in at home. They come with a belt or wrist strap tether. Contact Pro Design at (714) 534-0620. Another option is the remote tether system from 3 Built. It has a 250-foot radius. Call them at (818) 574-5334. You can also ask them about their custom child’s ID sticker, the Indentirider.
Finally, having the right tires on a mini ATV is very important. The tires that come stock on minis are getting better, but they are still on the balloon-style side of things. ITP has a mini knobby that will fit almost any quad with an 8-inch wheel. It has a flatter footprint for better straight-line traction and cornering; it offers better puncture resistance than stock, and there’s very little bounce. The knobby pattern is just like the Holeshot MX pattern that’s popular for sport quads. Golden West Cycle ( 383-6776) is one of the best places to buy ITPs and other brands of tires.