The dirt bike vs ATV debate has been around for a very long time.
Which is better the Dirt Bike or the ATV?
Dirt Bikes are better than ATVs at racing, jumping, and driving in narrower tracks. A dirt bike has more suspension travel, is lighter, has higher speeds, and faster acceleration than an all-terrain vehicle. However, compared to Dirt Bikes, ATV’s have more utility, more comfort, and are easier to drive for beginners.
In the end, it really depends on your purpose and requirements. ATV’s and Dirt Bikes alike are both really fun ways to get out and enjoy being outdoors while exploring.
Hopefully, in this article, we will provide you with as much information as possible for you to make that decision for yourself when you are comparing a Dirt Bike with an All-Terrain Vehicle..
Each machine has its own uses and things that they are good at and things they are not good at. In this article, we will explore Dirt Bikes vs ATVs but keep in mind a dirt bike is more closely related to a motocross ATV then let’s say a 4×4 ATV. While there are dirt bikes that are built for trail riding all dirt bikes have rear-wheel drive with the exception of the following 2 wheel drive dirt bike brands.
2 wheel drive dirt bike brands
- Christini AWD
With ATV’s you have 4 wheels but you can get ATV’s with 2 wheel drive and 4 wheel drive. Most of the people who choose to buy ATV’s get them with the 4 wheel drive option. There are race ATV’s and these typically have rear 2 wheel drive and are a manual clutch.
Below is a list of all the pros and cons of dirt bikes and ATVs.
Dirt Bike vs ATV comparison list:
In the pro/cons lists below, we pit Dirt Bikes vs ATV’s for a quick glance of when you would choose one over the other.
First, let’s talk about dirt bikes and give you the pros and cons.
Dirt Bike Pros:
- Typically weighs around 250lbs
- Large Suspension Travel
- Electric Start
- More expansive riding area
- Great Power to weight
- Can accelerate fast
- Manual Clutch
- Fun to Jump
- Trails, Single Track, 2 Track, motocross tracks
Dirt Bike Cons:
- More intimidating for a beginner
- Harder to ride fast
- Tip overs happen more
- Manual Clutch
- No utility
- Require you to stand up more
- Harder to ride in Mud and loose rocks
Here is the list of the ATV’s pros and cons/
- Less intimidating to ride (4 wheels)
- 4×4 helps in mud and loose rocks
- Utility plow/haul/pull
- Nice comfortable seat
- Some come with power steering
- Most come with Lights
- Lots of different ATV options to choose from
- Heavy (400-800lbs)
- Restricted to 2 track trails only
- Wrecking or tipping them over is much more dangerous
- Less suspension travel
- Not as comfortable going fast
Dirt bikes with them being more narrow can ride single track trails that ATV’s cannot. In most cases, you can ride a dirt bike on all the ATV trails as well. ATV’s cannot ride the same trails that a dirt bike can.
For example, this picture above illustrates that a dirt bike footprint is more closely related to a mountain bike than an ATV’s footprint.
Also Riding a dirt bike on off-camber terrain is safer and less scary than an ATV as you need to keep all 4 wheels on the ground and you just can “lean” into the hill.
In mud, snow, or loose rocks an ATV has the advantage with having more tire surfaces touching the ground. 4wd is also a major advantage when the mud or snow is deep.
For example, if you have a large hill climb that is wet or loose having four-wheel-drive ATV is a major advantage.
Comfort ATV vs Dirt Bike
Which is more comfortable, a Dirt Bike or an ATV?
This is where the riding style starts to separate the two different machines. Typically with an ATV you sit down while riding whereas a dirt bike you will want to stand up.
You can stand up on an ATV and sit down on a dirt bike.
ATVs come with a larger more comfortable seat than a dirt bike does. So sitting down the ATV gets the win for being the most comfortable when sitting down. ATV’s also have large footpegs or foot racks to allow the person riding to move around a bit. This helps when riding long distances or different terrain. Dirt bikes have small pegs and limited room to move around.
Standing up on a dirt bike is more comfortable than an ATV.
Dirt bikes are made for the rider to be in a more “attack” position that allows the hips to also act as a suspension while riding. Standing up on a dirt bike is the proper way to ride a dirt bike. Sitting down on a dirt bike can be done but dirt bikes are designed for the rider to stand up more than sit down.
ATV’s are more comfortable sitting down then dirt bikes
Dirt Bike vs ATV: Which is better for work?
ATV’s come with 4×4, utility racks, and a tow hitch.
If you want to use your off-roader to work the ATV is a better bet with 4×4 and large racks to strap tools too.
Most of the utility ATVs have tow hitches that you can pull a utility trailer around with.
ATV wins the better at work award
Dirt bikes generally are not used for work just play. However, there are some ranchers that use dirt bikes to herd cows.
What about Racing ATV’s vs Dirt Bikes
While riding ATV’s on a motocross track is possible and there are motocross race ATV’s that are built they typically are not as popular as motocross dirt bikes.
Dirt bikes have better suspension and power to weight over an ATV
Dirt bikes are lighter and faster than an ATV. With the larger suspension travel that a dirt bike has vs an ATV they tend to do better with jumps and going fast.
You can still have a lot of fun racing an ATV but dirt bikes just are better at it.
Dirt Bikes vs ATVs: Which is safer?
There is a lot of miss-information being passed around on which is safer, dirt bikes or ATVs.
Before buying a ATV or a dirt bike make sure you get all the proper training and education.
ATV’s are MUCH heavier than dirt bikes and there is less separation between the ATV and the rider.
Dirt bikes can go much faster and jump way higher. They also tend to tip over more but because they are lighter and have rider vehicle separation these tip-overs are less deadly.
Its normal for dirt bike riders to tip over their dirt bikes but on an ATV its not normal to tip over.
For a new rider, a dirt bike is more intimidating to ride vs an ATV. With a dirt bike its like riding a peddle bike on periods. You have to use forward momentum to keep the dirt bike upright. You have a “tipping” or squirrelly feeling sometimes on a dirt bike.
With an ATV they have 4 planted wheels on the ground which makes it easier for a beginner rider to jump on and go.
However, a dirt bike teaches the rider to respect the machine but ATV’s tend to give a false sense of security that you cannot tip over.
Always make sure that you keep your speed in check. Make sure you have the proper riding education and gear before riding any ATV or Dirt bike.
For ATV education – Click here
For ATV Deaths – Click here to go to the cpsc.gov website
Dirt bike related Deaths statistics are harder to find from a reliable source. I will update this article once I find the information.