Last Updated: August 13th, 2023

History of ATVs: How 3-Wheeler ATVs Became 4-Wheelers

History Of Atvs: How 3-Wheeler Atvs Became 4-Wheelers
History Of Atvs: How 3-Wheeler Atvs Became 4-Wheelers

Nowadays, when you notice an ATV, you will always find the four-wheeled one. In some parts of Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, the All-Terrain Vehicle is also called a ‘four-wheeler‘ in the name. As you know, they are very similar to a bike. The other common name for ATV is ‘quad-bike. The ATV we see today wasn’t exactly like that in the ’80s or the ’90s. Let’s learn the history of All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs).

The First ATV: The Versatrek Jiger

The Jiger, a Canadian invention, was more than just a vehicle; it was a symbol of human ingenuity and a testament to our desire to conquer all terrains. This unique vehicle was the brainchild of John Gower, a visionary who dared to think outside the box. The Jiger was not just an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV); it was an Amphibious All-Terrain Vehicle (AATV), capable of traversing both land and water with ease.

The Jiger was a sight to behold, with its six wheels and a glowing yellow exterior that was as vibrant as the spirit of adventure it embodied. It was powered by a 5.5 horsepower engine and weighed around 200 pounds, making it a formidable presence on any terrain.

The Six-Wheel Giant ATVs

History Of Atvs: How 3-Wheeler Atvs Became 4-Wheelers

The first ATV-executed concept looked like a juggernaut and would have dominated on multiple kinds of terrains without any issues. This vehicle was made in Canada and had six wheels. The name stood for Jiger and was a one-of-a-kind vehicle in the world.

The Jiger had an engine of 5.5 horsepower and weighed around two hundred pounds in weight. But in the early years of the Jiger, it could be only bought through a special kind of order and wasn’t produced in bulk until after 1965.

The vehicle had always been without straddle. But when the straddle-ridden ATV existed, the Jiger was given a new category called the AATV, where the first letter stood for Amphibious.

John Gower was the prime mind behind the invention of the Jiger. The first Jiger, made fully functional, was glowing yellow in color and had tires of Firestone.

But the tires, later on, had to be replaced by genuine balloon tires. After this, whoever was willing to get a Jiger six-wheel ATV could get a roof on the Jiger for protection from the afternoon sun and occasional rain.

Jiger Atv For Military Pictures 1963

Near the ’70s, the engine was modified, and around two thousand special order Jigers were delivered by that time. The company concluded the production of Jigers in 1968. But before they closed totally, versions of the Jiger were purchased by the US Army Department, the British Army, and the sophisticated NASA.

History Of Atvs: How 3-Wheeler Atvs Became 4-Wheelers

This proved the credibility and uniqueness of the vehicle and made Gower proud of his creation. Many companies still make new six-wheeled ATVs.

The Rise and Fall of the Three wheel ATV

History Of Atvs: How 3-Wheeler Atvs Became 4-Wheelers

For the question of how many wheels the original ATV had?, you should know that although the six-wheel one was the first ATV, the three-wheeled one didn’t come much after The original three-wheel ATV design originated in the mid-’60s after the six-wheel Jiger was already known to people.

Much surprisingly, the three-wheel ATV named the Sperry-rand Tricart was made as a graduation project at the Cranbrook Academy of Arts.

The designer, John Plessinger, sold the patent and design rights to Sperry Rand, who made them commercial.

Many other small companies tried to make an impact but were defeated as Honda and other giants entered the three-wheel ATV market. The first ATV with only three wheels was the US90 model, which was straddle-ridden and comfortable.

Later, Honda trademarked the term ‘All-Terrain Cycle,’ which also connects to all three-wheelers existing today. The vehicle surprisingly had the balloon tires like the six-wheel AATV. Honda was the market king around the early 80s because of its ruling patents of design and engine positions.

They got royalties for the patent from companies entering the ATC market with their vehicles. Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha entered the market in the 80s, and Honda got new competitors. Later on, many sports ATVs were introduced into the market, all with great features like suspension and racks for utility, and they became very popular and much more in selling figures for the companies.

Later on came the 200cc models, which sold record units for being the largest displacement vehicle under Honda. They sold all of six models in huge quantities, making a large sum of five hundred thousand units sold in just three years.

Now, many enthusiasts are reviving the old Honda ATC and selling them for $26,500 at auctions.

Just so much has happened in connection to the modern ATV. Here, you would get much more answers than just – how many wheels did the original ATV have?

What was the first 4-wheel ATV?

The colossal brand Suzuki was the leader in making the mass production of four-wheel ATVs possible. The first model was named Quad Runner LT125. This model was manufactured by Suzuki in the year 1982.

Why did they stop making 3-wheel ATVs?

In 1998, the ATV manufacturers signed a consent decree with the US government, effectively ending the sale of three-wheelers. Three-wheel ATVs were associated with more than 300,000 injuries and 1,000 deaths between 1983 and 1988.

The manufacturing of three-wheel ATVs was stopped by every company by 1987 because of safety issues and surpassing the legislation.

All the brands agreed on a ten-year moratorium for production and financed a hundred-million-dollar ATV campaign for safety.

Even after ten years, no one returned to building the three-wheel ATVs, but the focus shifted to four-wheel designs.

The ATC, which stay in running condition, falls under the same rules and regulation today as the four-wheel ATVs. The ATVs sold under the sports banner today have very different features than the utility category.

They are much smaller in size and lower in weight. The utility models are much bigger with a lower speed limit. They are capable of pulling load on attached racks. Various models in the market today involve different suitability of applications.

Evolution of ATVs

The modern-day ATV has arrived after several changes and developments on the previous models. It is common to have questions like: How many wheels did the original ATV have? Or was the ATV always like how you see it today?

The answer to that will be No; the ATVs were very different in earlier years and were not so efficient and strong.

The All-Terrain Vehicle is one of the most unique vehicles in existence today. As the name suggests, and you might already know, they are meant to be driven on off-road trails and are thrilling to ride.

ATVs will take you on terrains where you would not be willing to go on foot but would have the urge to explore. The adventurer in you would be satisfied when you choose to ride in the woods, desert, muddy terrains, and even on snow.

Everyone should know a bit of the vehicle’s history, which is the source of immense joy today for many.

Many enthusiast ATVs turing into the S-Town are still making giant ATVs that look like a tank.

The Six-Wheel Giant Atvs

Modern-Day ATVs: A Blend of Power, Versatility, and Innovation

All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) are the undisputed kings of off-road vehicles. With their impressive power, versatility, and advanced technology, ATVs are the epitome of innovation, offering a unique blend of unmatched performance, utility, and excitement.

ATVs come in various sizes, catering to riders of different ages and skill levels, ranging from 50cc to 1000cc. These machines can weigh anywhere between 220 and over 600 pounds, and their modern counterparts can range from 1.5 horsepower to over 90 horsepower.

High-performance models can reach speeds of over 80 mph, while youth models are generally limited to around 10 mph for safety reasons.

As ATV regulations have evolved over time, many regions have introduced specific laws and regulations to ensure rider safety and environmental protection.

These may include age restrictions, mandatory safety gear, vehicle registration, and restrictions on where ATVs can be ridden. ATV enthusiasts must be aware of and abide by these regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable riding experience.

Several ATV models stand out in the market today, such as the;

  • Polaris Sportsman 570,
  • Honda TRX250X,
  • Yamaha Raptor 700R,
  • Suzuki KingQuad 750AXi, and
  • Can-Am Outlander X mr 1000R.

These models are favorites among off-road enthusiasts for their powerful engines, advanced features, exceptional handling, and high-performance capabilities.

Thus, the four-wheel ATV was not just like the ones you see today rushing through terrains. After several shifts in the industry, the four-wheel ATV was mass-produced and available from various brands.

You might rarely notice a three-wheel ATV, but they remain in very little quantity as production was stopped.

The amphibious ATV was also unsuitable for trail riding and driving for varying purposes. They could only be used for a singular application and needed much practice for comfortable handling.

Conclusion

Thus, the four-wheel ATV was not just like the ones you see today rushing through terrains. After several shifts in the industry, the four-wheel ATV was mass-produced and available from various brands.

You might rarely notice a three-wheel ATV, but they remain in very little quantity as production was stopped.

The amphibious ATV was also unsuitable for trail riding and driving for varying purposes. They could only be used for a singular application and needed much practice for comfortable handling.