Utility vehicles have productivity edge over quad bikes
Published 24/02/2016 | 02:30
Has the quad bike had its day? There is certainly something of a trend developing as the workhorse performance of the utility all-terrain vehicle (UTV) and its versatility in being able to carry passengers and materials wins over more farmers from their simpler counterparts.
True, this type of vehicle costs more to buy than all but the most expensive quads.
Usually a UTV will cost in the region of €10,000-€12,000.
And farmers no doubt like the compact size and easy get-on-and-off nature of a quad bike for performing many of their daily duties.
But on a productivity basis, the utility all-terrain vehicle - or side-by-side ATV as people in the trade often call them - takes some beating.
For one thing, these vehicles can take at least one passenger in addition to the driver, while also providing a more secure perch for man's best friend.
At the same time, the driver and passenger can take along the materials they need to complete tasks from feeding to fencing paddocks.
Established machines like the Kawasaki Mule and John Deere Gator have been joined by a host of alternatives from some familiar names like Massey Ferguson and Kubota, and indeed some less well-known manufacturers in farming circles such as Polaris.
However, one of the pluses for the traditional quad bike is its versatility, which has been further boosted in recent years by the vast array of implements now available.
These include everything from mini sprayers, toppers, trailers, weed wipers, fertiliser spreaders and even muck spreaders.
The other big advantage a quad has over the UTV is price, with budget machines starting from a quarter of the price of the bigger UTVs.
For herding cattle, agility and acceleration is often better on the quad bike as well due to gutsy petrol engines.
However, recent advances in the diesel engines used on most of the latest UTVs have almost wiped that particular advantage out.
Another consideration is that quad bikes are smaller in size and tend to be able to go places that a UTV will not.
The key disadvantage with the quad bike continues to be safety.
For whatever reason, farmers are slow to learn to wear helmets despite the devastating injuries we all know can occur when an ATV overturns.
The absence of a roll bar on an ATV leaves a high risk of injury in the event of overturning.
There has been buckets of research done on this topic, and even wearing a helmet will not guarantee safety in a bad accident.
This is one major area where the UTV wins out because it has a roll over protection structure fitted to protect the driver and passenger.