Quad bikes are about to get a workout as feeding, fencing, slug pelleting and other chores begin in earnest.
To keep your ATV in good order, Alex Heath summarises some pre-winter maintenance tips...
With winter just around the corner and the workload for many farm ATVs set to increase, now is an ideal time to give one of the farm’s smallest yet most important workhorses a thorough once-over.
To understand what farmers need to do to look after their ATV, we visited dealership Guy Machinery, Clitheroe, Lancashire, where workshop technician Paul Cowking shows us what needs to be done.
As an example, he uses a pair of Can-Am Outlander quads, a 450 and 570 version.
As well as the machine itself, a good maintenance policy on quads is also beneficial to rider safety, where unlike most vehicles, they are well-exposed to any mishaps.
As always, the user manual should be consulted before any work is carried out to find out fluid levels and timings for any work needing doing.
The natural environment for a quad is outdoors, often in less than clement conditions, with mud and muck both contributing to premature wear and failure of parts.
As such, keeping the bike clean is one of the best preventative measures which can be made.
MUCH of the maintenance required centres around wheels and the components associated with making them turn and stop.
A frequent culprit of neglect is lack of grease around the quad’s prop shafts, says Mr Cowking.
On some of the more modern quads, greasing the prop shaft is not possible, but it should still be checked for play as this can send vibrations into bearings.
Likewise, ensure boots protecting the knuckles are in good condition and are well-sealed to prevent dirt from entering.
Jacking the bike up, give the wheels a wriggle to check for play in the bearings. Mr Cowking says preventative action is far cheaper than leaving them until they fail, as often this can result in brake discs and callipers having to be replaced as well.
While some bikes now use bushes throughout on pivoting joints, some still require greasing.
Suspension elements, particularly A-arms, need a dose every month. While around this area, check differential oil levels and top up as required.
BRAKES should be adjusted periodically to ensure they have the required stopping power, a fiddly task, but one which can easily be carried out in the workshop.
Identify if the bike has independent front and rear brake circuits, or in the case of Can-Am and Polaris, a linked system.
As part of daily checks, brake fluid level should be checked on the handlebars, but it should be changed as a matter of course every two years.
Checking the brakes requires the wheels to be taken off. Ensure the pistons which activate the brakes are not seized.
Brake pads and discs should be changed immediately if the performance is less than satisfactory.
Brake pads with significant wear should be replaced and pistons pushed back into their housings.
Wheels should be replaced with the bolts torqued to 100Nm, ensuring all visible bolts are also tight.
WITH so many different types of engines and transmissions on the market, it is difficult to give one set of guidelines. Best practice is to consult a user manual and your dealer to see what you can do and when on-farm.
Even with the two Can-Am models, the requirements for the two different engine and transmission combinations require separate and precise attention.
It is recommended to change the engine oil every year, but if it is being worked hard, it should be done sooner.
A plug on the bottom of the sump can be taken out to drain the oil, before being replaced carefully so the threads on the aluminium plug are not stripped.
At the same time, replace filters and ensure all seals have been removed so the new one fits and seals properly.
The 450 model requires 3.5 litres of oil, while the 570 requires 2.1 litres, as it has a separate reservoir for the transmission, whereas the smaller bike’s engine and transmission share.
Mr Cowking recommends changing the spark plug once-a-year to be safe. It can be fiddly to get at, but the foil heat shield can be bent backwards slightly for access.
WITH many modern bikes now running a CVT-style belt-driven transmission, the condition of the belt is vital.
It is simple to remove the cover and check the condition of the belt, with many manufacturers recommending it should be changed around every 2,000 miles.
A handy tip when towing a trailer is to run the bike in low box, as more of the belt is wrapped around the drive pulley, lessening stress across the belt. With the cover off, check the one-way clutch is not seized.
Air and fuel filters should be inspected frequently and replaced periodically, generally every two years.
When replacing the air filter, treat the sponge cover to a light spray of oil.