27 March 1998

ATVs crank up the power – but is it whats called for?

WITH rear three-point linkages, sophisticated transmission systems and power outputs up to 37hp, ATVs are getting ever larger.

And as greater demands are placed on ATVs and the equipment they use, could they be the next generation of compact tractor?

Developed initially as go anywhere, low ground pressure machines which found favour with the slug pellet brigade, ATVs are being used more and more on farms to carry out tasks which fall squarely in the lap of the compact tractor.

For the manufacturer, it means more power and an increase in size are required for the ATV rider to be able to comfortably carry out these extra tasks. But for the rider, it could result in reduced versatility as equipment gets too cumbersome for one person to handle.

"There may be a level at which an ATVs versatility and manoeuvrability are compromised, but this level is not yet apparent," says Richard Whittaker of Suzuki GB.

However a different view is held by Kawasaki, which believes the UK has little need for an ATV over 400cc.

"ATVs should not be about big engines and high power outputs. ATVs should be about one man and his lightweight workhorse – a combination which cuts down the amount of manual work previously carried out," says Kawasakis spokesperson, Robin Penrice.

"With the exception of the largest ATVs, one person should be able to manhandle an ATV should it become stuck – without having to call for the assistance of a tractor and driver."

Like telescopic handlers, ATVs could continue to get bigger, before manufacturers reintroduce the concept of making them small again. &#42

Are ATVs being asked to do too much?