Four Wheelers vs. Dirt Bikes: Which is Better for Kids

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Outdoor activities are undeniably beneficial to a child’s physical and mental well-being. And what’s better than taking your kids out for some off-roading on their four-wheelers or dirt bikes to explore the great outdoors? Now, as a parent, differentiating between four wheelers vs. dirt bikes is undoubtedly challenging.

Both of them offer unique advantages over one another. Four-wheelers are easier to learn, while dirt bikes are cheaper and weigh less.

So which one of the two would be better in the long run? There’s only one way to find out! Just jump down below and see my article. I have enough material to cover every query you might have on this topic. Hurry!

Dirt bikes vs Four wheelers: An in-depth overview

Dirt bikes and four-wheelers are excellent for teaching motor skills, responsibility, and improving cognitive functions while still keeping your child happy and active. Plus, they are super badass. But which one is better for a kid?

To answer this question, we must consider factors such as, preferences, age, weight, safety, cost, and so on to determine which one would be better for your child.

Four Wheelers vs. Dirt Bikes: Which is Better for Kids

So, in this article, We’ll go through some of these points so you can make an educated decision about whether to buy a dirt bike or a four-wheeler for your kid.

But you can only differentiate them if you know these products well enough, so I’m gonna give you a brief idea of what four wheelers and dirt bikes are before we head down there:

Four-wheelers for kids

Also known as ATVs and quad bikes, four-wheelers are all-terrain vehicles. These one-person vehicles run on rugged, low-pressure tires that help them to remain gentle and steady on all sorts of ground.

While four-wheelers, in general, have a variety of functions, children’s ATVs are solely made for recreational purposes.

They usually feature a straddle seating arrangement, two handlebar steering, and the ability to navigate across a range of terrain and conditions. ATV riding is fun, great for teaching endurance and developing quick decision-making skills.

Dirt Bikes for kids

Dirt Bikes motorcycles are lightweight and designed for off-road riding. They are built with a wide range of suspensions and wheels. As a result, these guys are primarily suitable for rough surfaces. Just like kid’s ATVs, mini dirt bikes are solely created for recreational purposes.

Riding a dirt bike is an excellent physical practice that stimulates both the body and mind. They help kids by improving their reflexes, concentration, and teaching balance. Also, they are great for family bonding as you go out on trips together and make new friendships that may last for a lifetime.

Now, let’s head on what you came here for:

Dirt Bike vs ATV: Head to Head

Now that we know, what four-wheelers and dirt bikes are, let’s take a look at all of the variables to see how they stack up face to face. This will help you find the best option for getting your child curious about the exciting world of off-roading.

1. Dirt bikes are better for kids

There are no particular age restrictions for dirt bikes. If your child can ride a bicycle without training wheels and balance without any issue, they are ready for dirt bikes. They’ll be able to keep indulging in this hobby as they grow up.

On the other hand, four-wheelers have strict age restrictions. No kid under the age of 6 should be allowed on an ATV.

2. ATVs are easier to learn

With proper instruction, a kid can learn to ride a four-wheeler in 5 to 30 minutes. However, Dirt bikes need proper guidance and a lot of concentration, so it might take them a few days before they get comfortable with the bike.

Bike riding has a much intensive learning curve, and you can’t cut corners. Otherwise, your kid is highly likely to suffer from a dirt bike accident. Many offroaders attempt to ride ATVs first to transition into dirt bikes.

3. Four-wheelers offer more functionality

From a utility perspective, ATVs have much more practical usage than dirt bikes. You can carry heavy loads on a four-wheeler. You could even pull a buddy’s ATV out of a sticky situation.

You’ll find ATV to be common in hunting season, although many states forbid running them for hunting. Remember to check if you fall under that restriction or not.

In rural areas, people sometimes use ATVs for lawn mowing, carrying logs, seed planting, snow clearing, etc.

But your kid is relatively young to hunt or farm, so that I wouldn’t be bothered about that for now.

They’re also popular on camping trips since you can carry equipment on them, giving your shoulders a rest. Having one around on a camping trip will surely win your kid a few points from his peers.

4. Dirt bikes are more thrilling

Kids like to live in the moment. They’re not like us who plan 5 or 10 years into the future. Whatever they want, they want it now! And when it comes to offroading or motocross- they want action, thrill, and heart-pounding moments.

I don’t think this is something up an ATV’s alley. This is an area where dirt bike dominates single-handedly. Offroading is a complex sport with innate competitiveness attached to it. As such, occasional rushes of adrenaline are far too common. Kids love to feel that.

Focusing sternly on what’s in front of you, measuring all the corners, angles, and straight lines as you coordinate your hands and feet to brake, throttle, accelerate and move is exciting for a kid.

This might be a routine for us grown-ups, but to them, it’s a strategic challenge they love to take on again and again while honing their decision-making and analytical skills.

Such conditions make dirt bikes the better option for a superior offroading experience.

5. Dirt bikes are better for racing

Dirt bikes have a higher top speed compared to ATV. If your kid loves racing and wants to grow up to take part in those motocross events, a dirt bike is the right vehicle for him. Sure, an ATV might run fast on a straight track, but offroading is much more than just a simple straight line.

Narrow spaces, acute corners, and uneven lands limit the enjoyment you could have with a four-wheeler. Dirt bikes thrive in such conditions.

6. Dirt bikes weigh less

Naturally, a quad bike is heavier than a dirt bike.  A kid’s dirt bike usually weighs around 80-120 lbs, with only a few exceptions going close to 190 lbs. But for ATV, such weight is routine since even the lightest four-wheeler should be around 180lbs while the average weight is close to 220 lbs.

Heavier vehicles might be hard for a kid to maneuver.

7. ATVs have a longer season

You’re probably thinking, “what does that even mean?”. Simply put, ATVs have more uses in off-seasons throughout the year. A dirt bike is almost helpless in winter, and it can’t run on ice and snow. But ATVs can, as long as the snow is light.

People who love to ride in cold weather should opt for ATVs because they have better traction. Dirt bikes are absolutely hopeless at that time of the year. Remember to keep yourself warm though!

And it’s not just snow, ATVs are better for running through mud, sand, and swampy places too!

8. ATVs are more comfortable

Well, duh! This doesn’t even need mentioning, to be honest. ATV has relaxed seating with four wheels providing better stability. Plus, the suspension is robust. Dirt bike is the exact opposite; its suspension isn’t robust enough to facilitate its high octane riding style.

Comfort is an essential factor of riding, and if your kid feels severe back pain after a riding session, then it’s not worth it. Overall, 4 wheelers have a better comfort factor.

9. Four-wheelers last longer

This should not come as a surprise. Because ATVs have more utility than dirt bikes, they are tailor-made to be durable. They don’t wear and tear easily and can take heavy loads for longer periods of time.

Since dirt bikes are all about speed, your kid will be riding them as fast as they can all the time. This will in return degrade the parts over time, and you’ll have to replace the parts often. In comparison, you’ll see ATVs with 20-year-old parts since they are focused more on the casual side of riding.

10. Dirt bikes are easier to haul

Since most dirt bikes are under 200 lbs, they are easier to carry. You could transport a kid’s dirt bike on a car or a normal pickup. ATVs, on the other hand, are too big and need trucks to carry them around.

11. Dirt bikes are more affordable than four-wheelers

You can get a basic mini dirt bike for around $250, and a pretty decent model should be around $300.

Whereas the price of a four-wheeler is higher. A low-end ATV may cost around $300. And if you want to get the more substantial electric version, you have to count around $1000.  Moreover, electric ATVs need charging, so that calls for additional costs.

12. ATVs can carry someone else

The fun of riding multiplies when you have someone to share your experiences with. To me, a dirt bike is the better off-roading experience, but that’s only for the solo rider. If you want company on a dirt bike, the other person has to be a biker as well because it’s dangerous to ride with someone on a dirt bike, especially kids.

That’s not a stipulation for ATV as you can carry someone behind your back easily, there is enough space and the four-wheeler is stable enough for it, and it’s comfortable too!

13. Dirt bikes are better at trail riding

Due to being the smaller one of the two, dirt bikes are more trail-friendly. They can run on roads that are as wide as deer trails. They also run faster and have better engines.

Taking the trails over and around the mountains are the joys of off-roading. But many of those tracks are inaccessible by a quad bike.

14. Dirt bikes are faster

Dirt bikes have a higher top speed and better acceleration than a quad bike. But why is that even though ATV has the stronger motor? The secret behind this is the power to weight ratio.

Sure, ATVs have better motors, but they also weigh a lot, dirt bikes are lighter in comparison and have smaller frames. Meaning, the engine has to do lesser work to move it around, letting it hit the top speed faster.

15. Dirt bikes have lesser fatal accidents

We talked about many things in the article, the most important question of all is now around the corner- Which one would be safer for your kid? And the answer is, dirt bikes are safer than four-wheelers.

I’ll tell you why. A study from a John Hopkins team suggests that ATVs are 50% more prone to deadly accidents, causing you to visit the ICU, even though dirt bikes have a higher accident count.

It is because ATVs seem more stable and easier to master, it gives the rider a false sense of security. They rely on it too much and speed up or try to corner on uneven surfaces, leading to accidents.

Quite often, kids are seen not even wearing helmets because they and their parents think they’d be safe- this is a bad thing to assume.

Furthermore, they can flip easily. So when the kid loses control, the whole metal vehicle rolls over on the ground with the child. This is particularly a big problem with 4-wheelers because they are pretty heavy, often injuring the kids badly, as compared to the lightweight dirt bike for kids.

On the other hand, Dirt bikes encounter more accidents than a 4 wheeler; however, the worst possible injuries of a dirt bike accident are broken bones, bumps, and minor scratches unless you’re carelessly doing risky actions like running in front of a truck- seriously, please keep an eye on your kid!

That brings us to our next question. How do I ensure safety for my kid while riding? Here’s your answer:

Safety tips while riding

Your child’s safety is your first priority. Here are a few safety guidelines that should be followed no matter what off-road vehicle your child is riding!

  • Never let your child ride without parental supervision
  • Set a strict speed limit.
  • Always make sure they are wearing a helmet and other appropriate riding gear
  • The clothes they are wearing should neither be too tight nor too baggy
  • No passengers on the dirt bike or four-wheeler.
  • To make sure they follow all their safety rules, get them to sign a bond that says if they break any safety rules, their bike will be taken from them. This will make them understand the gravity of the situation.

So? What are you choosing?

I think I did a convincing job of describing the ins and outs of four-wheelers vs dirt bikes. Clearly, Both off-road vehicles have their advantages and disadvantages, and they’re overwhelming, to say the least.

ATVs are for casual and leisurely trips with your loved ones. Dirt bikes are for exhilarating adventures and memories.

No matter whichever one you choose, don’t overlook safety. And one last thing, don’t overthink it and have more fun with your child.