A history of ATV

How it all began, and where itís headed

Story by Steve Casper, Nov. 19, 2007
 

1970
Honda introduces the first all-terrain vehicle, the three-wheeled US90 with a 7hp engine, for US$595.

1979
Yamaha introduces its first ATV, the YT125.

1981
Honda introduces the ATC250R, the first high-performance two-stroke three-wheeler adapted from motocross technology. Kawasaki introduces its first ATV, the KTL200-A1.

1982
Suzuki introduces its first ATVs, including the first four-wheeled ATV, the QuadRunner LT125. It has an odometer, five forward speeds, plus reverse. Honda begins to sell the first ATV designed specifically for utility use, the ATC 200E ĎBig Redí three-wheeler.

1984
Yamaha and Honda begin selling four-wheeled ATVs.

1985
Suzuki introduces the first high-performance, two-stroke four-wheeler, the QuadRacer LT250. Polaris Industries becomes the first North American company to enter the ATV business, introducing snowmobile technology such as automatic transmissions to replace manual gearboxes and floorboards rather than footpegs. Kawasaki offers its first four-wheeled ATV.

1986
Honda introduces the most successful racing quad in history, the FourTrax 250R two-stroke. The company also debuts the first four-wheel-drive quad, the FourTrax 350 4x4.

1988
ATV manufacturers agree to stop selling three-wheeled models after the U.S. government raised safety concerns. The industry also launches safety programs to train riders. Honda introduces the FourTrax 300 and FourTrax 300 4x4, which become the most versatile, most popular ATVs in history selling more than 530,000 units over the next 12 years.

1992
The last holdout in the high-performance 250cc two-stroke four-wheeler class, the Suzuki QuadRacer, disappears from the showroom floors.

1996
The first Arctic Cat ATVs go on sale.

1998
Bombardier of Valcourt, Que. begins selling ATVs.

Late 1990s to early 2000s
A resurgence of high-performance ATV models return to showroom floors with all-new premium 4-stroke models from virtually every ATV manufacturer.

2001
Polaris offers a 683cc engine, the largest ever so far in an ATV, on its Sportsman model. It sells for US$7,399.

2006
Bombardier introduces the fuel-injected 800cc Outlander, a V-twin-powered machine that features class-leading horsepower and torque.

2008
The displacement wars continue with Arctic Cat taking top honors for the year with their new ThunderCat 1000, twin-cylinder four-stroke sport/utility model.