Wednesday, July 11, 2012

ATV History - Part 1

atv history
The ATVs (all terrain vehicles) we know today had very humble beginnings in the mountainous farming regions of Japan. The muddy mountain roads became difficult for the farmers to travel during spring thaws and were almost impossible to drive over with conventional vehicles or big machinery. The Japanese, always a culture to modify and tinker with something until they could improve it, created the three wheeled ATV. This vehicle did wonders for helping the local farmers. The ATVs were less expensive than the larger farm vehicles and it proved to be an excellent little workhorse.
The Japanese didn’t stop there, though. ATV manufacturers took it a step further and realized that they could market these ATVs to Americans. America had nothing like the ATV and the first ATV arrived on our shores in the early 1970’s. Honda was the forerunner of the ATV, and had a proven track record with motorcycle sales in America, having introduced the Honda Cub to millions of Americans only a decade before. The successful marketing slogan “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” came at a time when bikers had a bad reputation and proved to people that the average Joe could enjoy motor sports as well. By the 1970’s, Honda had a reputation for building reliable, state of the art machines and their ATV was no different. This time the marketing scheme would be to show people how thrilling recreational ATV riding could be.
Over thirty years ago the Honda US90 made its debut and was called the ATC90. Oddly enough, the initial intent of the ATVs may have started out at the opposite end of the spectrum from Japan’s working class ATV, but in the end the results were the same. After gaining popularity as a recreational vehicle, the ATV soon became popular as a working vehicle as Americans began to realize exactly how versatile this little three-wheeled vehicle could be.

The ATV proved to have several advantages for the working class man. First and foremost, the ATV was cheaper to operate than a tractor or pickup truck and during the gas crunch of the 70’s that was a big plus. The ATV was also easier to maneuver in tight spots and could travel over practically any type of terrain.  The only problem people found was the tires. The tires of earlier ATVs were low-pressure and while this worked fine on mud or sand, the tires punctured easily when going over sharper terrain, like a harvested field or sharp rocks. Overall, the ATV did work that no other piece of heavy equipment could do. The original tires weren’t repairable either.
 To be continued...