Although the ATV usually comes with 3 or 4 wheels, there are 6-wheel models that are used for special applications. The sizes of engines currently available are in the range of 49 cc to 1,000 cc.
A decade before the modern-day Japanese models were introduced, the US had designed and manufactured similar 3 and 4- wheeled ATVs. Similar, small-sized vehicles meant for off-road use were made by several manufacturers during the 1930s. These were designed for traversing over dry land as well as streams, ponds, and swamps.
Commonly made of fiberglass or plastic tub, they were usually equipped with 6 wheels which had low pressure tires. These amphibious vehicles were the first all-terrain vehicles. Unlike the ATVs of today, these were meant for multiple riders, and had control sticks or steering wheels, instead of handlebars.
Safety Issues of 3-Wheel ATVs
Due to legal battles about the safety issues concerning 3-wheel ATVs during the latter part of the 1980s, and consent decrees, all manufacturers ended the production of these vehicles in 1987, switching to 4-wheel ATVs.
Because the 3-wheel ATV was much lighter, they were very popular among some expert riders. Cornering is far more challenging with the 3-wheel vehicle as compared to the 4-wheeled vehicle, since it is even more important to lean into the turn.
Since the 3-wheeled ATV has a single wheel in the front, which makes it lighter, a potential danger is the chance of flipping backwards, particularly when climbing up an incline. Rolling over also occurs during going down a steep incline.
However, with the consent decrees expiring in 1997, manufacturers began making the 3-wheeled models once again, although very few of them marketed these days.
They are also capable of hauling small loads on racks that are attached to them or small dumpers. They can also be used for towing small trailers. Because of the difference in the weight of the two, each type of ATV has its own advantages on different terrains.