Our essential guide to owning a quad bike

Quad bikes (also known as an all-terrain vehicle or ATV), are a popular and most practical asset to any farm allowing speedy and efficient access to even the most remote or inaccessible areas. But are you correctly registered and covered to drive it on public roads and on private cross country fields and lanes?

On and off road

Quad-BikeA quad bike is classed as a B1 vehicle by the Government which means that to drive a road-legal quad bike on public roads, the driver must hold a full car licence or full motorcycle licence category B1. You cannot use any other motorcycle licence to ride a road-legal quad bike.

However, you do not need a driving licence to ride a quad bike off-road and do not have to tax and register your quad bike if you’re only going to use it off-road. There is an off-road register where you can record the details of your bike, which could help the police find it if it’s stolen.

If in doubt as to whether your quad bike is road legal, your local quad bike dealer should be able to help you or contact the Department for Transport.

Agricultural quad bikes

If you’re using a quad bike for agriculture, horticulture and forestry work you need to register it as a light agricultural vehicle. As a concessionary vehicle, you will benefit from zero-rated vehicle tax but to qualify you must provide proof to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

Your “nil” tax disc must be displayed on the vehicle and must be renewed every year – failure to do so can result in a fine.

It should be noted that quad bikes used as light agricultural vehicles should only have a driver’s seat and are not allowed to carry passengers.

How old do drivers have to be?

Quad bike laws should not be confused with conventional bikes laws which stipulate that a rider needs to be 16 years old. A quad bike can only be ridden on public roads by someone who is at least 17 years old and who holds a full driving licence.

The only exception to this rule which is for anyone receiving the higher level of mobility from the Disability Living Allowance, in which case the minimum age is 16 years.

Safety first

At present, there is no law requiring quad bike riders, whether on or off road, to wear a helmet and suitable protective clothing in England, Scotland and Wales. However, given the safety risks when not wearing this gear, taking this precaution is highly recommended.

Insuring your quad

Due to the new continuous insurance enforcement (CIE) regulations, it is now a legal requirement to have a quad covered by a relevant quad bike insurance policy. The rules were introduced in June 2011 in a bid to crackdown on uninsured motorists.

Under the new rules, unless the owner has declared it off the road with a SORN (Statutory off Road Notice), quad bike owners could be fined if they are not covered by a relevant quad bike insurance policy – even if the quad is not in use. They could face a fixed penalty of £100 with a potential maximum fine of £1,000 and could have their vehicle wheel-clamped, impounded or even destroyed.

The details of all insured vehicles should be on the MID. You can check your quad bike insurance details are on the database and correct at Askmid.com. Or for more guidance on the new rules visit Direct.gov.uk.

On road rules at a glance

  • You must register your quad bike with DVLA and the bike must have front and rear number plates.
  • Quad bikes used on the road need a valid MOT certificate if they are more than 3 years old.
  • To drive a quad bike on the road you need to have a full car licence or a category B1 licence if it was issued before January 1997.
  • Only insured vehicles fitted with road-legal kit and registered with the DVLA should be used on public roads.
  • You must have third party insurance to drive a quad bike on the road.
  • A quad bike can only carry passengers if it is designed to do so and has the right number of seats. Check with the manufacturer if you’re not sure.
  • Quad bike drivers and passengers in England, Scotland and Wales do not have to legally wear crash helmets, but it’s recommended. You must wear a helmet if you’re driving a quad bike in Northern Ireland. You can be fined up to £500 if you do not.
  • Use suitable front and rear lights if it’s being used on the road after dark.
  • It is illegal to use an unregistered vehicle on a public road.

For more advice and a no obligation insurance quote for your quad bike, contact us today.