Dirt Bike vs. Four Wheeler: Pros and Cons of Both Off-Road Rides
Unless you’re the proud owner of a Jeep Wrangler, you’re most likely a fan of ATVs and dirt bikes. Along with full-fledged SUVs, these are the best options on the table for off-roading enthusiasts. But which one is better – a fast and nimble dirt bike, or a bigger, stronger, and more reliable four-wheeler? That’s exactly what we’ll talk about today!
To the naked eye, there aren’t that many differences between the two. However, once you dig deeper, you’ll start to see the dissimilarities. As the title suggests, our focus will be on the pros and cons of ATVs and dirt bikes. So, if you’re planning on hitting the Off-Road, but can’t quite figure out which model to pick, this post is for you! Let’s start with dirt bikes, and go from there!
Dirt Bike Pros
#1: Cheaper than Four-Wheelers
This is arguably the biggest pro of dirt bikes: they’re pretty affordable. If you’re on a tight budget but still want to conquer the wilderness, put them on the list. In many ways, dirt bikes have a simpler design and construction; plus, the engineers use fewer materials, which further lowers the price. Besides, it will cost you more to keep a four-wheeler in a good condition. This includes transportation costs. And let’s not forget that dirt bikes have only two wheels.
On average, a dirt bike is 60-70% cheaper than an ATV. Say, a decent-quality Honda bike can be yours for 4.3/4.5K US dollars, while a four-wheeler of the same grade will cost 7/7.3K bucks. So, yes, dirt bikes are cheaper than quads, and the price difference is usually pretty dramatic.
#2: Faster and have a higher MPG ratio
Here are the facts: four-wheelers are equipped with more powerful engines; however, they’re not as fast as bikes. Thanks to the lightweight design, dirt bikes are faster and more agile, which allows them to accelerate quicker and to reach a higher max speed. This is true both for uncharted terrain and smooth highways, by the way. On top of that, bikes are more fuel-efficient.
Again, this has to do with the lower overall weight and the less “fuel-hungry” motors. One more thing: ATV manufacturers don’t really give the MPG ratio much thought. That’s not the case with dirt bikes. Most brands do their best to improve the mileage, which makes them an even more attractive deal.
#3: Much Safer on and off the Road
This might sound strange to you, but numerous research and real-world tests have proven that bikes are safer than ATVs. To clarify: four-wheelers get into accidents less often, but the outcomes are usually more severe. Bike owners, in turn, end up in more accidents on the road, but they’re less traumatic. True, ATVs are stable, easy to control, and they’ve got a sturdier frame.
On the other hand, they roll over more often. And, given their significant weight, you’ll have a higher chance of breaking your back or neck during a crash. Sadly, it’s not rare for four-wheelers to physically hurt the drivers. With bikes, that happens rarely. Plus, statistics show that behind the wheel of a four-wheeler, folks usually neglect wearing gloves and helmets.
#4: More Fun to Drive
A bike gives you a sense of freedom that an ATV can’t ever get close to. That adrenaline rush is why people buy dirt bikes and turn into off-roading junkies. Bikes are also very “in-your-face”, meaning with no roof and windows, you feel the wind in the face, hear the engine more clearly, and are in more control over the steel horse. And let’s not forget that bike drivers always shift their body weight to get into the tightest corners and maintain balance.
Dirt Bike Cons
With the pros out of the way, let’s take a quick look at the cons of dirt bikes:
- Bikes have a steep learning curve
- Not very comfortable
- Only good for one thing – off-roading
- Lack stability on and off the road
- Off-seasons: not drivable on snow/ice
- Don’t last for very long
- Only room for one passenger
#1: Easier to Master for a Novice
Moving on to ATVs, I want to say right from the start that for a beginner, they will be a better pick. Thanks to the four-wheel design, they’re a lot easier to control (much like a regular vehicle). Another big pro – you won’t be falling off an ATV every two minutes or so, which is great news for folks that are just getting into off-roading. On the other hand, if you’ve been driving regular bikes your whole life, switching to a dirt bike will be a walk in the park.
#2: More Universal and Functional
Thanks to the car-like design, four-wheelers are more functional than bikes. They can be used for transportation, easily seat up to four passengers, and will back you up on a camping trip. By the way, quads are very popular among fans of fishing. Just put all the necessary equipment in the back, and head to your favorite spot! In a rural area, an ATV will prove to be even more useful.
I’m talking about lawn mowing, field plowing, transporting logs, spreading seed on a field – that kind of stuff. So, even though quads are more expensive than dirt bikes, they actually carry excellent value and will be a great investment if you’re planning on using them not only for off-roading.
#3: Active 365 Days a Year
There are no off-seasons for ATVs. You can drive them through dirt, mud, sand, snow, and everything else in between. Just don’t forget to install a proper set of winter tires. And please remember that it’s pretty cold during winter and the four-wheeler does a very poor job of protecting the driver. So, put on the warmest coat you have when getting behind the wheel.
Dirt bikes, in turn, can only drive through dirt and mud in springs and summers (just like the name suggests). When it starts to snow, all that’s left for you to do is hide the bike in your garage. Driving it on a snowy/icy road is highly dangerous – you can slip and injure yourself!
#4: ATVs are more durable and Dependable
Quads last longer than dirt bikes – that’s another fact that needs to be considered. Their design is more advanced and engineers pay extra attention to durability, sturdiness, and impact resistance. Even if you take perfect care of your bike and replace all the faulty parts in time, it still won’t last as long as a decent-quality ATV. Four-wheelers have a very impressive lifespan: up to two, or even more decades when maintained properly.
As I said earlier when talking about their advanced functionality, in the long run, ATVs prove to be a very reasonable investment.
And here are the main disadvantages of owning a four-wheeler:
- Safety issues
- More expensive than bikes
- Won’t fit the narrowest lanes
- Much heavier and take lots of space
- Don’t give you that rush
- Burn big chunks of fuel
- Poor fuel efficiency