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I have an ATV on my farm which is used only occasionally by an experienced rider, but he has had no formal rider training. Should I insist he attends a course or assume that his experience means he is safe?

The main ATV rider training provider in the UK is the European ATV Safety Institute (EASI), which is recommended by most major manufacturers. The organisation offers competitively-priced courses at locations throughout the UK and will also carry out training on customers’ land when conditions are suitable. EASI courses are available for ATV and UTV (side-by-side) users and training caters for novice and experienced riders. Training is strongly recommended for all ATV and UTV users to help prevent accidents and injuries, and as with many other farm activities, employers have a duty of care to ensure that anyone using ATVs has been adequately trained and wears the appropriate safety clothing. The EASI courses are very practical and even experienced riders will find them useful.

When inflated to the recommended pressures, the tyres of my ATV look too soft. Should I inflate them further?
Most ATV and UTV tyres are designed to operate at very low inflation pressures – sometimes down to only 2psi. Because the rear axles of most ATVs are rigid and have no differential, it is essential that the tyres on each side have a similar circumference, or the vehicle will constantly try to pull to one side. There are two important factors- tyres of different makes inflated to the same pressure often vary in their diameter and circumference, so ensure the tyres on each side are of the same brand and type and have a similar amount of remaining tread. Also, ensure that the tyres are correctly inflated to the same pressure, otherwise the circumference will vary even if the tyre brand is the same.
Correctly inflated tyres will absorb shocks and help ensure a comfortable ride. Under-inflated tyres will flex excessively and reduce stability, especially when travelling at speed, while cornering and when operating on slopes. They will also have an excessively large ground contact area which increases friction while cornering making steering difficult. If they are operated for long periods while under-inflated then damage to the tyres and rims is also likely.
Over-inflated tyres lack the ability to absorb shocks and will result in an uncomfortable ride. Operating at too high a pressure also reduces the ground contact area, and while this may result in lighter steering – there is an increased risk that traction will be lost while cornering, operating on slopes or during heavy braking resulting in injury or damage. The reduced ground contact area will also result in rapid tyre wear around a narrow band of the tyre tread, shortening the working life. A further consequence is that without the tyres’ ability to absorb shock loads caused by impact with objects on the ground, excessive loads will be transferred to the ATV’s suspension and other components resulting in damage and a reduced service life.
Before operating an ATV the user must ensure that tyres are correctly inflated according to the ATV manufacturer’s recommendations, and in satisfactory condition. Many ATVs have labels on the bodywork allowing the user to check the recommended pressures at a glance, but if these are not present then the ATV owner’s manual will provide this essential information.
I have a conventional ATV currently which is used daily, but it is due for replacement and I am keen to acquire a similar vehicle but with the ability to transport a passenger safely and carry larger loads. My gateways are too narrow for most side-by-side UTVs to fit through- can you recommend anything suitable?

Honda has recently launched its Pioneer 520 side-by-side UTV in the UK. It can carry two people in comfort, loads up to 204kg in a rear load bed and it will tow trailers up to 454kg. It’s only slightly wider than a conventional heavy-duty ATV and weighs far less than a full size UTV so it might suit your situation well.

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