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A drivers guide to driving in the UK
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Quad Bikes

If you want to ride a quad bike (also known as a all-terrain vehicle or ATV) it must be type approved, registered and taxed, it can only be ridden by someone who has passed their car driving test and holds a full driving licence and is at least 17 years old.

If you use a quad bike for agricultural work you’ll have to register it as an agricultural vehicle.

The Quad Bike as a road vehicle

Before you can ride a quad bike on the road it must firstly be type approved in line with one of the following:

•European Whole Vehicle Type Approval system (ECWVTA)
•UK National Type Approval (Small Series)
•UK Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval Scheme (MSVA)

You must be at least 17 years old to ride a road legal quad bike (if they do not exceed 3.5 tonnes).

Type approval is a testing process to check that all vehicles in the UK meet both European and domestic safety and environmental standards. When your vehicle is type approved it can be registered and taxed with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.

There are some manufacturers, like Bombardier of Canada, who have got type approval for four-wheel motorcycles, ie quad bikes. As long as the quad bike has ECWVTA and a Certificate of Conformity then it can be registered and legally used on the roads.

All terrain vehicles (Quad Bikes) can fall within categories B and B1. If the vehicle has 3 or 4 wheels and weighs more than 550kgs unladen it will fall within category B. Vehicles which weigh less than 550kgs unladen will fall within category B1. There is no legal requirement to wear a helmet but from a safety aspect it is always advisable to wear a proper helmet. A quad bike that is to be used on the road must display registration plates to the front and rear.

Under UK law a vehicle is classified as a quad bike, or quadricycle, if it has 4 wheels and has an unladen weight of 550Kgs or more. This means that it is classified as a Private Light Goods vehicle and will be taxed as such and requires a full driving licence to use it on the public highway. Quad bikes do not conform to the definition of a ‘motorcycle’ and therefore cannot be taxed in the ‘motorcycle’ tax class. You cannot use a motorcycle driving licence to ride a road legal quad bike.

There are two more classifications for quad bikes. These are for lighter quad bikes and they must also meet maximum power and speed restrictions and the construction requirements are those of a 3 wheel moped or a motor tricycle.

A road legal quad is also required to comply with the Road Traffic Act 1988. This means that it must be built to the proper standard required by law and conform to the following requirements:-

• It must be registered with the DVLA
• It must display number plates, back and front
• It must be taxed
• It must be insured
• It must have a valid MOT certificate, if over three years old
• It must have lights, indicators, road legal tyres, horn, speedometer, mirrors and every other element that would allow it to pass an MOT inspection.

Who Can Ride a Road Legal Quad Bike?

As a road legal quad bike is classified as a Private Light Goods vehicle, it can only be ridden by someone who has passed their car driving test and holds a full driving licence and is at least 17 years old. There is an exception to this which is for anyone receiving the higher level of mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance. In this case, the minimum age is 16 years.

Do I Have to Wear Protective Clothing?

Everyone riding a quad bike, whether on or off road, should wear a helmet and motorcycle protective clothing. However, there is currently no legal requirement for you to do so. There have been some horrible accidents and deaths as a result of using quad bikes without protective clothing.

The Quad Bike as a working vehicle

The quad bike is also used a lot for agriculture, horticulture and forestry work. There may be a small amount of road use in much the same way as a farmer uses an agricultural tractor. While on the road, the quad bike would have to meet the on-road requirements for an agricultural vehicle.

Using a quad bike as a normal road-going vehicle wouldn’t normally be allowed. Unlike a four-wheel road vehicle like a car, it wouldn’t be able to meet certain construction needs, such as the tyres, braking system and seat belt requirements.

Road Legal Quad Bike Regulations – Road Legal Quads and the Law

If you want to ride your quad bike on the road, it must be a road legal quad bike which means that its construction must meet the standard laid down by the Department of Transport and EU Regulation. It must also comply with legislation currently in force so that it meets European and UK safety and environmental standards. Road legal quads offer you flexibility in being able to use them both off road and on the public highway.

Definitions of a Quad Bike

There are two categories of quad bike, each with its own definition. These are called category L6e and L7e.

Category L6e - Light quadricycle

This category is a light four-wheeled quadricycle with:

• An unladen weight of 350 kilograms
• A maximum speed of 45 kilometres per hour

It must also have one of the following:

• A maximum spark ignition internal combustion engine capacity of 50 centimetres cubed
• A maximum power of any other internal combustion engine of 4 kilowatts
• A maximum electric motor continuous rated power of 4 kilowatts

Category L7e - Quadricycle

This category is a four-wheeled quadricycle with:

An unladen weight of 400 kilograms (or 550 kilograms for a goods carrying vehicle) a maximum net power, whatever the type of engine or motor, of 15 kilowatts

Four wheeled vehicles that fall outside of these two definitions would need to be type approved, registered and taxed in another category like a car.

Different types of ATV

Utility ATVs
Utility ATVs are the most popular type of ATV. These ATVs typically have short travel suspension, a large motor and accessories designed for working or hunting.
Utility ATVs are used in industries such as agriculture where repair work, feeding and other tasks have to carried out. They are also very popular with hunters who travel over rough terrain, often carrying heavy cargo. Electric ATVs are becoming more popular with hunters because they can move very quietly.

Sport ATVs
Ranging in size from 250cc on up to 700cc, these All Terrain Vehicles are lightweight, have lots of suspension to handle jumps, bumps and turns. These quads can be highly modified and enhanced with thousands of accessories to alter style and performance based on numerous criteria.
Sport ATVs are much quicker than utility ATVs and they are designed to be as light as possible with very forgiving suspension and responsive engines. Sport quads are used for racing because of their speed and suspension advantages over other different types of ATVs.

Side by Sides
Side by Side ATVs are sometimes referred to as SxS or Rhino’s. They’re like golf carts, only with suspension equal to that of sport quads, with larger, more powerful motors. SxS have the ability to carry passengers and cargo, are light weight, have extreme suspension and a short wheel-base.

Children’s ATVs
Children’s ATVs are smaller than the other different types of ATVs. They usually come between 50cc and 110cc, and in some cases go up to 125cc. They offer little or no suspension, little power and an automatic transmission or no gears at all. These ATVs are geared towards riders with little or no previous riding experience. Children’s ATVs are usually limited to weights that do not exceed around 100 to 150 lbs depending on the make and model.

MOT for road legal Quads

Quads that are registered and ridden on the road must pass an MOT once they are three years old.

Few garages have suitable testing ramps for ATVs and MOT testers can be inexperienced or unable to pilot an ATV safely to carry out the necessary brake test, so it always makes sense to choose a test station with recent experience of carrying out MOTs for quads and where the tester has the skills and credentials to road-test the machine.

The quad test costs £50.35 and takes 45 minutes

Checks made include:

• Brakes
• Footrest condition
• Front number plate
• Lights, reflectors and horn
• Steering and suspension
• Two rear view mirrors
• Wheel bearings, rear wheels and tyres which must have an E-mark for road use and at least 1.6mm of tread
• Working hazard lights; when the ignition is switched off

Quads are currently exempt from emissions testing

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