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Kevin Helt
Kevin Helt has been racing in all forms of motorsports, building and maintaining his race equipment since 1984. He has worked in the aircraft field for about 12 years in Quality Assurance before going to work for Nmotion Race Technology in early 2004 as a dyno technition and engine builder. In 2005 Kevin became an owner and took over the parts manager position where he made many contact in the motorcycle and atv industry which has proven to be very beneficial to Nmotion. Kevin is experienced in most of the day to day operations at Nmotion where he has taken an active role in managing Nmotion.
2008-03-01 09:38:00
All-terrain vehicles
Answer: ATV - A small, open motor vehicle having one seat and three or more wheels fitted with large tires. It is designed chiefly for recreational use over road less, rugged terrain. The term “All-Terrain Vehicle” or ATV is used in a general sense to describe any of a number of small open motorized vehicles designed for off-road use. However, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) defines an ATV as a vehicle that travels on low pressure tires, with a seat that is straddled by the operator, and with handlebars for steering control. By the current ANSI definition, it is intended for use by a single operator, although a change to include 2-seaters (in tandem) is under consideration. The rider sits on and operates these vehicles like a motorcycle, but the extra wheels give more stability at slow speeds. Although typically equipped with three or four wheels, six-wheel models exist for specialized applications. Engine sizes of ATVs currently for sale in the United States (as of 2008 products) range from 49cc to 950cc and 49cc to 400cc for two stroke models. •Development •Early Days; ATVs were made in the United States a decade before 3- and 4-wheeled vehicles were introduced by Honda and other Japanese companies. During the 1960s numerous manufacturers offered similar small off-road vehicles, that were designed to float and were capable of traversing swamps, ponds and streams as well as dry land. Typically constructed from a hard plastic or fiberglass “tub”, they usually had six wheels - all driven - with low pressure (around 3 PSI) balloon tires, no suspension (other than what the tires offered) and used a skid-steer steering setup. These early amphibious models were the original all-terrain vehicles - or ATVs. Contrary to today’s definition of an ATV, they were intended for multiple riders, sitting inside, and would usually have steering wheels or control sticks rather than motorcycle-type handle bars as stipulated in the current definition. •Three wheelers; All-Sport made the first three-wheeled ATVs in 1970, which were famously portrayed in the James Bond movie, “Diamonds Are Forever”. Dubbed the US90 and later - when Honda acquired the trademark on the term - the ATC90, it was designed purely for recreational use. Clearly influenced by earlier ATVs, it featured large balloon tires instead of a mechanical suspension. By the early 1980s, suspension and lower-profile tires were introduced. The 1982 Honda ATC200E Big Red was a landmark model. It featured both suspension and racks, making it the first utility three-wheeled ATV. The ability to go anywhere on terrain that most other vehicles could not cross soon made them popular with US and Canadian hunters, and those just looking for a good trail ride. Soon other manufacturers introduced their own models. Sport or high performance models were also developed by Honda, which had a virtual monopoly on the market, due to effective patents on design and engine placement. Over the next few years, almost all manufacturers developed high performance two-stroke powered machines to compete against Honda’s monopoly on the market, but did not sell as many due to the reputation already secured by Honda in the market. But any success of this particular model would be short lived, as safety issues with 3-wheel ATVs caused all manufacturers to switch to 4-wheeled models in the late ‘80s, and 3-wheel models ended production in 1987, due to consent decrees between the major manufacturers and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. • Four wheelers; Suzuki was a leader in the development of 4-wheeled ATVs. It sold the first unit in 1982 which was a recreational machine meant for beginner riders. But by the mid 80’s all manufacturers were battling over the now very popular Sport ATV market. These were a sophisticated long-travel suspension, a liquid-cooled two-stroke motor and a fully manual 5 or 6-speed transmission. It was a machine exclusively designed for racing by highly skilled riders. Models continue today to be divided into the sport and utility markets. Sport models are generally small, light, two wheel drive vehicles which accelerate quickly, have a manual transmission, and run at speeds up to 90 miles per hour (145 km/h). Sport models are built with performance, rather than utility, in mind. To be successful at fast trail riding, an ATV must have light weight, high power, good suspension and a low center of gravity. These machines can be modified for such racing disciplines as motocross, woods racing (also known as cross country), desert racing (also known as Hare Scrambles), hill climbing, ice racing, speedway, TT (Tourist Trophy), flat track, drag racing and others. Due to EPA emissions regulations, most manufacturers started phasing out the two-stroke engine with newly designed four-stroke motors. Utility models are generally bigger four wheel drive vehicles with a maximum speed of up to 72.5 miles per hour (104 km/h). They have the ability to haul small loads on attached racks or small dump beds. They may also tow small trailers. Due to the different weights, each has advantages on different types of terrain. Six wheel models often have a small dump bed, with an extra set of wheels at the back to increase the payload capacity. • Criticisms of ATVs Since the late 1980s, ATV use has tripled across the United States. This has led to greater conflict between ATV users and child-safety advocates, rural landowners, fellow outdoor recreation lists and environmentalists. • Safety Issues In 1988, the All-terrain Vehicle Safety Institute (ASI) was formed to provide training and education for ATV riders. The cost of attending the training is minimal and is free for purchasers of new machines. Successful completion of training such as provided here is in many states a minimum requirement for minor-age children to be granted permission to ride on state land. Since the expiration of the consent decrees between the major manufacturers and CPSC in April of 1998, the manufacturers have entered into “voluntary action plans” that mimic the previously mandatory consent decrees. However, despite the move from 3-wheel to 4-wheel models and the action plans, some deaths and injuries still occur. Statistics released by CPSC show that in 2005, there were an estimated 136,700 injuries associated with ATVs treated in US hospital emergency rooms. Critics point out that blanket policies concerning age are not sufficient and often use as example that early teen male children are physically larger and stronger than many adult women riders. Some localities have either banned minors (typically those under 12 years of age) from using ATVs or are considering such legislation. Advocates of ATVs argue that starting younger improves safety. They recommend that children can develop the necessary expertise by starting as young as 6 years of age instead of waiting until age 18. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission approved the sale of sub-50cc ATVs for use by youngsters as young as age 6. • Land Usage Some ATV riders knowingly cross privately owned property in rural areas and travel over public/private properties where their use is explicitly limited. Subsequently, environmentalists criticize ATV riding as a sport for excessive use in areas environmental movement-friendly biologists consider to be sensitive, especially wetlands and sand dunes. While the deep treads on some ATV tires are effective for navigating rocky, muddy, and root covered terrain, these treads also dig channels that may drain boggy areas, increase sedimentation in streams at crossings and damage groomed snowmobile trails. ATV advocacy groups have been organized to purchase property and/or obtain permission of landowners. Many states pay the clubs to build and maintain trails suitable for ATV riding and educate ATV riders about responsible riding. Many states have also formed separate governing bodies that license ATVs separately than other ORVs. The monies from gas taxes and registrations are used to create more trails to ride and perform grooming and maintenance. Nationally, the US Forest Service considers managed ATV use to be a legitimate activity in national forests, yet it also lists their unregulated use as one of the four greatest threats to long term forest management. The US Forest Service recently released a national travel management plan designed to minimize the negative environmental impacts of ATVs while providing a safe, sustainable and enjoyable opportunity for ATV users. Remember always be responsible whenever and wherever you ride.
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