ATVing On A Budget–April ’00
A stroll through Gecko campground at the Glamis Dunes in California might have you convinced that ATVing is way too expensive. The rigs and machines that get your attention are pricey, no doubt. A heavily modified and custom-painted quad for hillshooting could easily set you back $20,000. A Prevost motorhome?with color coordinated trailer, of course?could empty well over $600,000 from your wallet.
But ATVing doesn’t have to be that expensive. If you, or someone you know, hesitates getting into the sport because the whole thing seems too pricey and complicated, this story is for both of you.
Before you buy an ATV, you need a way to haul it. If you have a pickup truck, you’re all set. Even the largest 4×4 quads will fit into most pickup beds. Loading ramps are convenient but, by backing your truck up to an embankment, you can load and unload without them.
A van is another a great way to transport your ATV. Any quad will fit into a large van and many quads will fit into a minivan. If you don’t have a van or pickup, don’t despair. For only $10 a day, U-Haul will rent you a trailer with a built-in ramp which is perfect for one quad (or two standing up on the grab bar?just make sure they are tied down securely!).
QUADS, TOOLS, SUPPLIES
Now that you have a means of transporting it, you can buy that quad! The most expensive four-bys are in the $7000 range. If you don’t need a huge motor and all the bells and whistles, however, you can get a Yamaha Timberwolf 250 4×4 for close to half that?$4300. Sport and beginner machines are cheaper still. The Polaris Trail Blazer 250 and Yamaha Blaster 200 run just $3000 each, and they are excellent machines.
If you plan to do only routine maintenance on your ATV, then you won’t need to buy any tools. Most quads come equipped with a small tool kit that’s okay for changing spark plugs, changing the engine oil and removing the air filter.
You will need to buy a few gas cans, however. We really like the plastic five-gallon Moose modular cans, which can be stacked or interlocked side-by-side. They go for $35 each. If you want to save a few bucks, pick up a standard five-gallon plastic can at an auto parts store for $8.
The type of riding gear you buy depends on the type of riding you do. In any case, you’ll certainly want at least a helmet, goggles, gloves and boots. Bet you didn’t know you can get all four of these items for under $200! Even the least-expensive off-road helmets available at motorcycle/ATV dealers are DOT-approved and offer great protection. You could spend up to $320 on a pair of Alpinestars Tech 8 boots, but these are primarily for racers and very aggressive riders. A pair of boots like the Ocelot Series Twos ($110) don’t offer quite as much protection, but they are much better than hiking boots.
Racers, who ride or practice many times a week, will turn to top-of-the-line riding pants and jerseys, which are very durable and long wearing. Recreational riders who go out once or twice a month will probably be happy with any of the budget riding gear listed here. Although many 4×4 riders wear jeans, riding pants breathe much better, dry out faster and don’t stick to the seat of the ATV.
Your first ATV excursions will probably be just for the day. Eventually, though, you’ll probably want to spend a few days and camp out at your favorite riding area. If you have a van, it can become your sleeping quarters. Otherwise, conventional three-man tents go for a little as $40. You can pick up a decent sleeping bag and mat for as little as $40, while a small cooking stove runs about $20. A 100-quart ice chest goes for $90.
IS THAT IT?
Yes, that’s about you’ll need to go ATVing. It’s not a matter of the length of your motorhome, or how much chrome you have on your ATV. It all boils down to having fun. If the best things in life aren’t free, they are darn close!