The all-terrain vehicle has been a part of American culture since the 1960s, but the early iterations didn’t bear much resemblance to the 4-wheel vehicles of today. The first versions of these off-road vehicles included the Jiger of 1961 and the Terra Tiger, which came along near the end of that decade. These land and water offerings sported 6 wheels and were billed as amphibious all-terrain vehicles – AATVs. Unlike the ATV you’re familiar with, AATVs didn’t allow for riders to straddle them. Today, you can not only straddle an ATV; you can take ATV Las Vegas Tours to experience the wild and beautiful Nevada deserts up close and personal from the back of an ATV!
The First ATV
ATV history begins with the Sperry-Rand Tricart, which was the first 3-wheeled “straddle” ATV. This innovation resembled a rather large Big Wheel with an engine. It was first manufactured in 1968, and the computer parts company of Sperry Rand produced approximately 40,000 Tricarts through the 1970s. A 5-horsepower lawnmower engine powered most of these 3-wheelers. Though it moved manufacturers closer to today’s ATVs, the Tricart was still a far cry from modern ATVs. This early offering had footrests attached to the front wheel assembly, fold-down steering bars and no suspension.
A More Modern Take
Honda jumped aboard the ATV evolution in 1970 with the All Terrain Cycle, dubbed ATC90. This 3-wheeler far more closely resembled a motorcycle than a Big Wheel. Though it didn’t incorporate suspension, its large balloon tires addressed that issue. This 100% recreational ATV increased in popularity throughout the 1970s, and by 1979, a more powerful version emerged, the ATC110.
By 1981, the ATV had begun to come into its own, with full suspension, high performance and a 5-speed transmission. Honda delivered the first of these recreational powerhouses with the ATC250R. Kawasaki introduced a comparable ATV in 1981, too, the KLT200. By 1985, Kawasaki had designed a 4-wheel version, the Bayou 185. But it was Suzuki who was first out of the gate with a 4-wheeler, manufacturing the QuadRunner LT125 in 1982. It produced a far more powerful version in 1985 called the LT250R QuadRacer.
Today’s Recreational ATV
Today’s ATV references the 4-wheel recreational model that you are familiar with. They’re great fun for amateurs and pros alike. ATVs are featured in their own off-road racing events as well as Motocross. These vehicles regularly give dirt bikes a run for their money, and they’re extremely popular for sports, recreation and more. One extremely popular use of the modern ATV is exciting, engaging ATV tours in places like Las Vegas, Nevada, and the surrounding environs.