WIDE OPEN: Off-road aptitude test

By Steve Casper

Steve Casper was a long-time Dirt Wheels editor.

Editor’s note: More than 20 years ago Steve Casper, one of the editors of Dirt Wheels, introduced the off-road aptitude test, a series of questions that allows enthusiasts to test their off-roading knowledge. We recently rediscovered the test and found it as enjoyable and valuable as it was when it was first published. We thought you’d enjoy it as well

To folks who have never participated in off-roading, many of the terms, slang and technical jargon we use can be quite confusing. However, Dirt Wheels readers are hardcore enthusiasts, and that makes us all experts when it comes to talking about our sport, right?

For example, imagine you are at a social function, like a charity ball, Chamber of Commerce fundraiser or Barney’s 37th birthday party down at Moe’s, and someone walks up to you and wants to know about off-roading. Are you prepared to speak fluently and intelligently on the subject of our beloved sport? Can we count on you to know what a high-velocity reed cage does or what a whoop-de-doo is?

The following is the first installment of the Off-Road Aptitude Test Series, or ORATS. This first evaluation deals with general ATV questions; later tests will go more in-depth on specific aspects of our sport (i.e., technical, racing, etc.). Take a minute to see if you really have what it takes to call yourself an off-roader. We will assess your answers immediately following the quiz.


1. A rocky uphill is…

A. A famous boxer from the ‘50s.

B. One of the 31 flavors at Baskin-Robbins.

C. A type of trail challenge that can be conquered with momentum, throttle control and body English.

D. Something to be avoided.

2. A whoop-de-doo is…

A. A cross between a hula hoop and a yo-yo.

B. A term that barbers use for a bad haircut.

C. A rolling mound of dirt that is a blast to hit and jump.

D. What you feel like doing after hitting a dozen of them.

3. A chest protector…

A. Comes in real handy when drinking beer with gorillas.

B. Is another name for a security guard at the National Pirate Museum.

C. Can come in real handy when riding on rocky or desert-type terrain or when racing.

D. Is for racers only.

4. Mud holes are…

A. Dirty, old country bars.

B. The best place for National Geographic photographers to get shots of lions catching wildebeest.

C. Easily crossed by staying on the gas and keeping the front end light.

D. Horrible, vile places that might get your fenders or boots dirty.

5. A midrange pipe is…

A. What Cheech and Cong might use in the late afternoon.

B. A crude nuclear weapon used by the Cubans.

C. An aftermarket exhaust system designed to deliver a strong “hit” in the middle of the powerband.

D. A medium priced exhaust system.

6. Big, sandy bowls…

A. Was a linebacker for the Denver Broncos.

B. Should be hosed off and used as planters.

C. Are a total kick, especially when ridden wide open.

D. Look too deep to safely ride on.

7. Trail obstacles…

A. Are the absolute worst tasting energy bars I’ve ever tried.

B. Are especially bothersome in horse and cattle country.

C. Are cool.

D. Just plain stink (especially in horse and cattle country).

8. To ATV and UTV racers, Hoosiers are…

A. Folks from the state of Indiana.

B. A top-of-the-line pantyhose brand.

C. Tacky, low-profile tires that work great on smooth, hard-packed tracks.

D. A stylish loafer to wear at the annual awards banquet.

9. Off-cambers…

A. Is what my cousin was after that semi backed over him.

B. Are really good, especially on Caesar salads.

C. Can be tackled with delicate throttle control.

D. Prove that ATVs and UTVs are not really all terrain vehicles.

10. A remote reservoir shock…

A. Occurs when you are swimming in a reservoir out in the middle of nowhere and a power line falls into the water.

B. Is a stuttering condition caused by the realization of the price of an aftermarket suspension kit.

C. Is a high-performance gas charged shock absorber which circulates the oil to a separate component to reduce overheating and fade.

D. Is when you suddenly realize that you went on reserve 10 miles ago, halfway through a 50-mile loop.


To call yourself an expert off-roader, you should have answered “C” to each question, which would give you a perfect score. One or two wrong answers may be tolerated at this point, but you can improve your score by continuing to read Dirt Wheels. If you answered “D” to any question, it sounds like you need more seat time. If you came up with any “A” or “B” answers, we suggest you pick up Good Housekeeping, Knitting World or Indoor Plant Action instead of Dirt Wheels; you will be doing us both a favor! And, don’t even mention ATVs or UTVs at the next charity ball.

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