So, you are thinking about getting yourself a quad bike and eager to find out all that vital information you need to know to get yourself riding a quad bike! Well in this article I’ll go through not only the basic controls and how to handle your average quad bike, but also try to answer all those common questions you may have too.

How do you start a quadbike?

Let’s start off with the basics, shall we? This will depend on the quad you are using, but essentially most quads will have a key ignition, where you’ll either twist the key to start the bike or on more modern quads after the key is placed in the ignition and twisted to the relevant spot, you’ll hold a brake and press the electric start button and brrroooommm the quad bike should spring into life.

One thing to note is making sure if it is a manual gearbox, that is in neutral or you have the clutch ready, so you are in control of the quad bike when you start it, without it jerking uncontrollably in gear.

How to ride a quadbike and quadbike controls

Now before I get fully into details about what each control does, it is important to say, that there can be differences between quad bikes, and it is always important to consult the user handbook or someone knowledgeable for the quad bike in question. Quite often the differences is based on what type of transmission it is, manual, esp (semi-automatic), or automatic.


Located on the right handlebar, is a thumb lever which controls your throttle. Press the lever to gradually increase engine speed, then release to stop driving throttle to the wheels.

Front brake:

Located behind the right handlebar is the front brake lever. By pulling this lever towards the hand grip it will then start to progressively put the front brake on, squeeze the lever towards the handlebar until the desired braking is reached.  It is worth mentioning that the front brake tends to offer quite sharp braking so it is important to get used to this and how it reacts, as to not cause issues under braking.

Rear brake:

Located on the opposite side of the front brake (on the left side, behind the left handle bar grip) is the rear brake lever, which operates in the same manner as the front brake, pull in the lever to get the desired braking you want. The rear brake tends to be a little bit gentler compared to the front.

Please note if you are on a manual transmission quad bike, the left lever will likely be a clutch, and you will instead activate the rear brake with a foot brake instead.


On a manual transmission quad bike the left lever tends to be the clutch lever. The clutch needs to be pulled-in (while throttle is briefly released) in order to change gear. When the clutch is pulled in the rider can then knock (using the foot gear selector) into the desired gear. The clutch is then slowly released when on the biting point with increased throttle to continue smooth riding and acceleration.

Foot brake:

Located near the right footrest. This brake operates the rear brake, so pushing the pedal down will engage the brakes.

Parking Brake:

Most quads use a locking mechanism on the hand brake lever to activate the parking brake. Squeeze the lever against the handlebar and press the parking brake lock to engage.

Other controls of interest are:


This normally red button tends to be on the left switch gear on a quad bike, and once pressed will strop the engine from running.

Electric start:

For more modern quad bikes, they tend to have an electric start button, which when the key ignition is in the right position - will then start the quad bike.

Lights: ‎‎

Commonly there is a switch for your lights to swap between the dipped beams and high beams.

Gear Selector:

If on a manual quad-bike, the left foot area will have a gear selector which generally works when in neutral (not in gear), by clicking the foot peg down (when clutch held in) to engage first gear, then knocked up for all following gears. Generally, neutral is positioned between the first and second gear. If you are on an ESP (semi-automatic) you will most likely have up and down arrows on the left of the hand controls to change gears without the use of a manual clutch.

Gear Shifting:

Automatic ATV: typically has a hand lever to switch between the available gear ranges.

  • P: Park
  • R: Reverse
  • N: Neutral
  • L: Low Gear Range
  • H: High Gear Range

Are quad bikes hard to ride?

This totally depends on the rider and their confidence and ability.

It can take people by surprise and take some time to adjust to how a quad bike rides and performs. Despite having four sturdy wheels, quadbikes at high speeds can be quite difficult to handle.

It is always best to go about learning to ride a quad bike in the proper way and with proper safety measures taken, especially with safety gear - we have all heard horror stories when people have taken to riding a quad bike in a far too casual a fashion without proper thought and process to learning safely.

Do quad bikes have gears?

This all depends on the type of quad bike you go for, and even some models will have manual or automatic options available just like a car.

Manual quadbikes do have gears and a clutch, meaning that you will work your way up the gears as you go along and build up speed.

Although, when it comes to automatic quads some will do all the changing for you. A few automatic quads however will have a gear switch with two options of high and low, which you will have to choose before you set off.


A better option when getting through or up tricky terrain.


Won’t be much help when climbing terrain, but will help to give you more power when cruising at higher speeds.

Practice makes perfect

While you’re getting used to your quad, it is sensible to begin in an open space, ensuring no other people (or animals for that matter) are in close proximity.
It's important to take time in learning the throttle and brakes and how to use them effectively, and like anything start slow and build your way up in speed.

Can you ride a quad bike on the road in the UK?

This all depends on the type of quad bike you go for, there are quad bikes made so they comply with the necessary road safety standards and laws.

If you are hoping to ride your road-legal quad (or ATV) on the roads, you must be at least 17 years old and have a full UK car driving license or a category B1 licence if it was issued before January 1997.

You will also need to make sure you have taxed your quadbike through the GOV.UK website., and if your quad is more than 3 years old a valid MOT certificate is required.
One of the last things you will need to get your quad on the road is the correct insurance. Road legal quads follow the same legal requirements as cars, needing a minimum of third-party insurance.

Where can I buy quadbike insurance?

While learning how to ride a quad bike is one of the most important steps in becoming road safe, it is also important to remember to insure. Quad Bikes are specialist vehicles, which can make it slightly trickier when it comes to ensuring your shiny new baby.

Be sure to check Lexham’s Quadbike Insurance, to find a policy that is right for you and your pride and joy.

Should I wear a motorcycle helmet on a quad bike?

While in the UK you are not legally required to wear a helmet or protective clothing, we really advise you should.

However, if you are in Northern Ireland, if you are caught not wearing a helmet while riding a quad bike you can be fined up to £500, so let that be a reminder to you all!

What licence do I need to ride a quad?

Well, if you’re looking for licence information along with a whole host of other useful information can be found on our popular Quad Bike FAQS article, so if you want to check if you have the right licence make sure to give that a read.

What quad bike should I get? ‎‎

If you are just starting out your life on a quad bike, then make sure to check out our best quad bikes for beginners’ article and our top 10 best road legal quad bikes article to give you lots of ideas for splashing that cash on a new adventurous toy.

If you are more of an experienced rider wanting more thrills or power, then we also have you covered with our 10 best quad bikes packed with some of the biggest quad bikes you can get your hands on in the UK.

Should I take a Quad Bike Training Course?

While it is not a legal requirement to partake in a training course, you may choose to in order to boost your confidence before you hit the roads.

There are many quad bike training courses available (though be prepared many are off-road based) throughout the country, providing courses varying in length, for both recreational and professional purposes.

The European ATV Safety Institute (EASI) also provides safety courses, stating on their website that anyone who buys a new or used ATV from the six leading manufacturers that are Honda, Kawasaki, Polaris, Suzuki, BRP, or Yamaha from an authorised UK dealer is eligible for free or heavily subsidised EASI rider training - So it’s definitely worth checking out.

Do you have any more quad questions?

So there you have it! There is our rundown on how to learn to ride a quadbike. If you have any other questions that have been left unanswered, please feel free to share in the comments or head to all you need to know about quadbikes - FAQs!

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