Never assume your quad bike is the best tool for every task. Before jumping on your quad bike, give some thought to whether it is the right tool for the task.
Watch the films and share with people at your workplace or property.
Download a copy of this film (ZIP/MP4, 79MB)
Is it really the right tool for the task?
A quad bike incident can result in serious injury or even death, so don't assume your quad bike is the best tool for every task.
Quad bikes can be prone to roll-over or collision when traversing rough or sloping terrain or when making emergency stops or turns.
These issues are made worse when the quad bike is weighed down with heavy equipment or you're towing an attachment not designed to be used with your particular model.
Plan your task and identify the safest equipment to use to complete it.
When mustering cattle with a quad bike you could be crossing rough terrain at speed or need to make tight turns to chase cattle.
There is a high potential for a collision or roll-over incident, due to the terrain or rocks, logs and holes hidden in long grass.
The alternatives for mustering may be to use a horse, a motorbike or dogs.
Using a quad bike to carry a large amount of equipment to do a task may not be the best option either.
If you're erecting or repairing a fence then perhaps carrying your equipment and workers in a ute or other vehicle is a better option?
You will need to check the manufacturer's guidelines to assess whether your quad bike is suited to carrying heavy loads or towing attachments and that they're fitted correctly.
Spraying weeds is another common task on properties, but towing a heavy attachment can pose a danger by increasing the instability of the quad bike.
The weight from large volumes of liquid add to the potential for a quad bike to lose steering or braking control and may lead to a roll-over, especially if the tank doesn't have baffles to stop the movement of liquid when the quad bike is turning or travelling across sloping ground.
Even a small amount of liquid in a large tank will affect the stability of a quad bike.
A better option may be to use a tractor or ute that has the capacity to carry a larger volume of herbicide mix and which has a spray rig.
There will be times when using your quad bike is the best tool for the task…. whether you're inspecting fences, checking animals, spraying small areas, or doing other small maintenance tasks.
At other times a side-by-side quad bike, a tractor, ute, horse or other vehicle may be better suited.
Ultimately you need to decide whether your quad bike is up to the task by assessing the risks….
Other safety tips include: wearing helmets, long sleeve shirts, gloves, boots and eye goggles. Being trained in the use of quad bikes. Maintaining your quad bike to the manufacturer's specifications and checking the brakes and tyre pressure daily. Not doubling passengers. Knowing your property's terrain and not venturing into no-go zones.
Develop a safety procedure for your property and make sure everyone follows it.
Work safe. Farm safe.
RUN TIME: 3 mins 29 seconds
Quad bike safety
A short set of films highlighting the safe use of quad bikes.
Part 1 - Introduction to quad bikes
Download a copy of this film (ZIP/MP4, 30MB)
Introduction to quad bikes
Because they're manufactured by well-known motorcycle companies, many people think of ATVs as being similar to motorcycles.
In fact, they're very different to motorcycles, and for that matter, any other type of farm machinery.
They're extremely versatile on farms and have a wide range of uses including:
- mustering stock
- carrying tools for mending fences
- some spraying operations; and
- towing light trailers.
ATVs are available in a wide range of sizes and engine capacities, however the largest, heaviest and most powerful machine may not necessarily be the one that's best suited to your particular requirements.
A mid-range of three hundred to five hundred cc's offers a good power range and will perform most jobs around the farm that are suited to ATV use.
It's important to always take into consideration what your work needs will be when you're deciding on the size, power and weight of your ATV.
ATVs have definite limits for carrying and towing capacities and these limits must not be exceeded.
The owner's manual clearly states these carrying and towing limits, as well as the safe operating procedures for the machine.
You should read the owner's manual carefully before riding the ATV, even if you're experienced in using farm machinery.
Carrying limits are also clearly marked on the carry racks at the front and rear of the ATV.
Any loads placed on these racks should be within the load limit and securely fastened. It's also important to keep the load as low as possible. A high load will raise the centre of gravity and may cause the ATV to overturn under certain conditions.
Carrying loads heavier than the limit or not securing the load can also make the ATV unstable.
When spraying from an ATV with a maximum sixty kilogram carry rack the spray tank should be limited to sixty litres, in other words, one litre of water equals one kilogram.
The spray tank should also contain baffles to prevent the liquid from surging to one side on a slope and over balancing the ATV.
ATVs are designed as rider active vehicles, this means that the rider leans his or her body weight to the left or right and moves forwards or backwards to assist with balance and stability when turning or going up or down sloping terrain.
The rider must keep his or her feet on the footrests at all times. This assists in controlling body balance and machine stability.
ATVs are designed for the rider only, carrying a passenger restricts the rider active operation, and in some instances the passenger's weight may cause instability of the ATV which can result in it overturning.
For your safety and the safety of others you must not carry a passenger on the ATV.
Farmers sometimes modify plant and machinery and some farmers have fitted homemade roll bars to ATVS.
Any structural modification alters the manufacturer's original design features and may void your warranty and your compensation entitlements in a workplace accident.
An ATV is not a tractor and therefore should not be fitted with a roll over protection structure.
Part 2 - Quad bike rider safety
Download a copy of this film (ZIP/MP4, 30MB)
Quad bike rider safety
Let's now look at some important aspects of ATV rider safety.
All ATV manufacturers strongly advise the rider to wear an approved helmet.
A helmet is the most important item of safety equipment related to ATV use, and offers essential protection to the head if the rider should fall from the machine.
There are many types of helmets available, some with air vents for cooling and peaks to shade the eyes and face.
Manufacturers also specify age suitability for ATVs of various sizes, weights and engine capacities.
Riders should be over sixteen years of age before riding larger ATVs.
Some ATVs are designed for ages twelve to sixteen years and some small capacity machines are designed to be ridden by children.
Children should only ride ATVs designed and approved for children of particular ages and riding should always take place under adult supervision.
Don't allow under age riders on your machine.
Your owner's manual will state the age suitability for your ATV.
As a safety measure always remove the key from your ATV to prevent children from riding without your knowledge.
Underage riders on large ATVs can result in serious accidents and perhaps even death.
ATVs are not designed for use on bitumen roads, however some farmers may need to cross a road to get from one paddock to another.
Extreme care should be taken when doing this, especially at the point of change over from dirt to bitumen.
This causes a change in the handling characteristics of the ATV and in these situations the rider should reduce speed and remain at low speed while on the bitumen.
Remember travelling on bitumen should be kept to an absolute minimum.
As mentioned earlier, the primary rider protection item is the helmet. Many ATV accidents result in serious head injuries for those riders not wearing a helmet.
The next important item of personal protective equipment is eye protection.
Goggles are best, but tinted safety glasses, like these, may be worn.
They offer protection for your eyes, not only from the sun's glare but also from insects, dust and stones that may fly up as you travel across country terrain.
It's also a good idea to wear over the ankle boots whenever possible, farm boots are ok.
Leather roping gloves are good for protecting the hands and also allow for superior operation of the ATVs controls.
Long trousers or jeans and a long sleeve shirt will protect you from sun burn and from scratches caused by branches and twigs.
Part 3 - Basic safe operating skills
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Quad bikes – Basic safe operating skills
Now that you're dressed for safety, let's take a look at the controls and basic safe operating skills for ATVs.
The front brake leaver is on the right handlebar.
A rear brake pedal is near the right foot rest, and also a rear brake lever is on the left handle bar.
On some models all brakes are operated by one leaver on the left handlebar.
Gears are selected and changed by a foot leaver near the left foot rest.
Some ATVs like this one have automatic transmissions.
The throttle is controlled by a thumb operated leaver on the right handlebar.
It's important to familiarise yourself with the operation of each of these controls before riding the ATV.
Again, consult your owner's manual for details on the operation of these controls.
You should also carry out a simple check of the main controls each day before riding to make sure they are in good order.
ATV tyres are the large balloon type that run on very low pressure, around four to six pounds per square inch. This allows the ATV to travel easily over all types of off road surfaces.
Check your tyres regularly to ensure the pressure is equal in each tyre.
You should have your ATV serviced by an authorised dealer at regular intervals.
ATVS used on farms quickly accumulate mud and dirt in many of the mechanical components, such as the brakes and drive train.
Failure to have these items cleaned and serviced on a regular basis could lead to a breakdown of the components and even result in a serious accident or injury.
Part 4 - Basic riding skills
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Quad Bikes – Basic riding skills
Let's now move onto basic riding skills.
Experienced riders of ATVs can handle most situations, but new riders need to practice their ATV riding skills slowly and smoothly under safe conditions.
The best way is to attend an ATV rider training course.
These courses are conducted in many rural centres, contact your nearest ATV dealer for details.
If you can't get to a training course, this video will help you understand the basic riding skills.
First, choose an open, flat area for the exercises we are about to do.
Ok, let's begin with mounting the ATV and starting the engine.
- Grip the handle bars firmly.
- Put one foot on the foot rest.
- Stand up and swing your other leg over the saddle and put your foot on the opposite foot rest.
- Seat yourself in the centre of the saddle and relax your arms, shoulders and elbows.
- Check that the park brake is on, and then start the engine.
- Now select first gear.
- Gently accelerate by pressing the thumb throttle.
- Ride forward a few metres.
- Release the throttle
- Squeeze the handbrakes, and lightly press on the footbrake to come to a smooth stop.
Next, repeat this exercise a little faster, once again coming to a smooth stop.
When you're comfortable with the ATV it's time to try some turns.
Begin by turning to the left and right at low speed, riding around two markers about fifteen metres apart.
First, ride around the markers to the left, turn the handle bars to the left and lean your body weight to the left while turning.
Now ride around the markers to the right and lean, this time turn the handle bars to the right and lean your body weight to the right.
When you feel confident with low speed turns, increase your speed a little and repeat the turns.
Now the important things to remember are:
- Keep your feet on the foot rests at all times.
- Slow down before the turn.
- Turn your head and look where you want to go.
- Turn the handle bar in the direction you want to go.
- Lean into a turn and gently increase speed as you exit.
- As you improve your turning skills you could increase your speed.
Part 5 - Advanced riding skills
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Quad bikes - Advanced riding skills
The next section of this video will introduce you to more advanced riding skills.
It's very important that you're confident in the basic skills and have gained considerable experience on the ATV before attempting the advanced skills shown here.
Normally you'll have ample time to apply your brakes and bring the ATV to a stop, however there will be times when you'll need to stop your ATV quickly, such as when an animal darts in front of you or a large obstacle appears in your path.
To do this keep your eyes up, looking straight ahead.
Apply both the front and rear brakes quickly but smoothly.
Keep the pressure on until you come to a complete stop.
It's best to practice these quick stops on a flat, open area.
Rider active skills apply when riding up or down hills.
When riding up hill, you'll need to lean your body weight forward. If the hill is steep you may need to stand on the footrests and lean your weight forward over the front wheels.
Whenever possible you should ride straight up the hill, not across.
Remember to use your common sense when riding over hills.
As a general rule, if the hill is too steep to walk up it's too steep for your ATV. So don't attempt to ride over, go around instead.
Take extra care going uphill when carrying a load such as a full spray tank on the rear rack.
If the hill is too steep the weight may tip the ATV backwards.
When riding downhill, shift your body weight to the rear of the saddle.
Engage a lower gear if available, don't touch the throttle, and apply both brakes gently as you go down.
While the ATV is designed as an all-terrain vehicle, care should be taken when travelling over unknown or uneven ground.
Even on your own land, animals or weather conditions may cause holes or weakness of areas below the surface that may not be apparent to the rider until it's too late.
Developing an ability to read the terrain is an important skill for the ATV rider.
Always scan well ahead of your intended path, looking for signs of subsiding ground, large rocks or fallen trees.
When riding near fences be on the lookout for old wire which may lay hidden in the grass, this has the potential for serious injury and you can never be too careful.
When riding hills or undulating ground scan ahead for water ruts and any signs of loose surface material on the slopes.
When mustering sheep or cattle, don't let your attention become too fixed on the stock and forget to scan ahead of you for hidden holes, rocks and logs that could cause you to fall from the ATV.
The most important rule about reading the terrain is, if you can't see clearly for twenty metres ahead, then slow down so you can take evasive action to any dangerous situation.
While your ATV is quite capable of towing a trailer it's wise to remember, as with loading, there are limitations.
Each manufacturer has a recommended towing capacity for each particular model and you should make sure that you don't exceed that recommendation.
The towing capacity of your ATV can be found in the owner's manual. Please check this before coupling or loading your trailer.
Towing a correctly loaded trailer on level ground is a reasonably simple task, and one you should be able to perform easily, however towing a loaded trailer uphill or downhill is more difficult.
When towing uphill the ATV will be under extra engine load and too much acceleration may cause rear wheel drive machines to lift the front wheels from the ground.
When towing downhill the load will tend to push the ATV, making it difficult to maintain direction.
It will also create extra strain on the ATVs brakes.
Towing across a slope is even more difficult, the trailer tends to slip down the slope making it hard to keep the ATV and trailer in line.
Remember when towing, it's good practice to use moderation with speed and turns and only tow trailers up or down hills with gradual gradients.
When reversing with a trailer, you must make sure that you have a clear view of the reversing direction, turn your head and look in that direction.
Keep in mind the load and speed when reversing.
Go slowly, and make sure that you can manoeuvre the ATV so the trailer goes in the direction you want it to.
It's similar to reversing a trailer with a car and the same techniques apply. However, you must ensure that you're in control and that you have the ATV moving slowly and positively.
When travelling through water on your ATV, do so at a sensible speed.
Check that the water is not too deep and be alert for any obstructions in your path that may be partly submerged.
When using your ATV on your property, be aware that incorrect use of an ATV will cause damage to your land, and can cause erosion if you make wheel ruts and deep grooves in areas that easily damaged by water runoff.
Please use your ATV responsibly.
Your ATV will become an invaluable part of your day to day farm activities, and while we hope you'll enjoy the experience of riding your ATV, we remind you that it's a very powerful machine that needs to be treated with respect.
By using safe riding practices, you'll get the most out of your ATV for many years to come.