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Quad Bike vs. Dune Buggy: Which Is Better For You?

Having to choose between a quad bike and a dune buggy is an excellent problem to sit with. Either way, you are getting a four-wheeled machine that will add some excitement to your life. The deciding factor regarding any purchase is the “what are you going to use it for” question. Answer that, and any purchase becomes easy, especially when choosing between different but also similar items. The one that fits the best, with regards to functionality and price, usually gets the nod.

 If you stay close to the beach or a desert, and you love dune bashing, off-road exploring, then a beach buggy might fit your needs the best. If you are looking for a general workhorse (farming, construction, hunting), do some competitive racing, the ability to ride in almost any environment, then a quad may be better for you.

Modern-day quads are used in all sorts of inventive ways, from mowing lawns, planting seeds, logging wood and firewood, hunting, hauling materials, and so much more. If you are living in farm and wooded areas, then it is the best machine to buy. This article will compare quads and dune buggies regarding functionality, the general safety of the vehicles, and the best quad bikes and dune buggies on the market today.

Choosing Between A Quad Bike And A Dune Buggy

Life is all about choices. Some are hard, some are easy, and sometimes you get to make some fun ones, where the outcome is a win-win, for instance, choosing between quad bikes and dune buggies. When spending your hard-earned cash on big-ticket items, you will subconsciously weigh up the pros, the cons, and what you will get in return when parting with your money. 

Dune buggies were initially designed as recreational vehicles, fitted with large and wide tires, to be used on dunes, beaches, desert areas, and roads (street legal buggies). Typically, a rear-mounted engine was used to power a buggy. Existing vehicles can be modified to create a dune buggy, or you can custom build one yourself.  Today dune buggy manufacturers take out all the effort, time, money and produce machines of quality straight from the factory floor.

Quad bikes are also known as ATVs (All-Terrain Vehicle) and defined by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as “A vehicle that travels on low-pressure tires, with a seat that is straddled by the operator, along with handlebars for steering control.” Just like the name implies, quads are designed to handle all types of terrain, more so than other vehicles.

Why do you want to buy a dune buggy or a quad? What will the machine primarily be used for, and in what setting/terrain? These are essential questions that you need to answer and help make a choice easier when deciding whether you need a quad or a dune buggy.

What Can You Do With A Quad?

Quads are considered workhorses when it comes to farming and is many a farmer’s best friend. They are also accommodating when used for hunting, camping, wood logging, ice fishing, and hauling materials. By simply adding a three-point hitch to the rear of your quad, you will be able to attach a massive range of different implements, transforming your quad’s ability to another level of functionality.

Farming

Quads are used on farms, homesteads, and many agricultural environments around the world. Here are some examples of what your quad is capable of doing with the right attached implement and engine power:

  • Plowing
  • Spread Manure
  • Pasture Topping
  • Field Mowing
  • Lawn Mowing
  • Hauling Feed
  • Tilling
  • Plant Seed
  • Spray Weeds
  • Dethatching
  • Raking
  • Windrowing

Hunting

Many hunters are hooking up a hunting trailer to their quads to help with the transport of their hunting gear and game. The capability of transporting a moose or deer is priceless and makes hunting a lot more comfortable. Quad hunting is banned in certain states, so if you plan to use your quad for this, check with local authorities what their rules are.

Ice Fishing

Your quad can be used when going on an ice fishing trip. Hook up a sled in snowy conditions and a snow trailer when the snow is low. Perfect for hauling your gear to your preferred ice fishing spot. Installing a floatation device to your quad is a requirement for safety reasons.

Wood Logging

If you are staying in cold and secluded regions, you probably need to gather firewood or when you visit your cabin in the woods for a nice breakaway. Whatever the circumstance, a quad fitted with the proper implements, will be able to perform the following actions:

  • Skidding
  • Log Splitting
  • Hauling Wood

Due to the quad’s generally small size, it is ideal to use in wooded areas, making light work of collecting wood through various applications.

Hauling

If hauling materials is what you are after, then a sizeable 4WD quad will make the most buying sense. Quads are capable of transporting a wide range of materials in a well-built trailer. If you stay within the manufacturer’s towing weight guidelines, you will be able to tow heavy loads without tipping the trailer, loads made out of the following:

  • Rubble
  • Sand
  • Cement
  • Concrete Blocks
  • Tools
  • Metal
  • Wood
  • Trailers

With a strong quad bike, you will be able to reach hard-to-reach places that won’t be possible with a dune buggy. Many remote cabins would not exist if not for the quad’s bike-ability to transport building materials, food, gas to the difficult-to-access areas.

Camping

Want to do some trail riding and spend the night camping while you’re at it? Using your quad to go camp is a win-win situation. Haul your camping gear with you in the ample luggage space provided on most quad models, or hook up a camping trailer and explore mother nature in style.

All Terrain Access

Quads are made to withstand and perform in many terrains. They can be used at the beach (dune bashing), in forests, wet areas, deserts, and harsh, challenging environments. Arm yourself with a 450cc powerhouse, and you will be able to navigate almost any obstacle put in front of you.

Fatalities involving quad bikes are on the rise all over the world. In Australia, the number of quad bike-related deaths since 2011 stands at 150 people, primarily due to rollovers. Quad bikes do not have roll bars, and when they roll over, it’s generally onto the driver, often with deadly consequences. Dune bashing is considered somewhat dangerous if done by an inexperienced quad bike driver.

Performance Enhancement

Quad bikes are manufactured with the best possible performance in mind when they leave the factory floor. Modifying your brand-new quad is a bit pointless, seeing that you stand to lose the manufacturer’s warranty if you start adding turbo’s, advanced exhaust systems, and more robust gearboxes.

However, if performance enhancement is high on your to-do list, buying a second-hand quad will allow you to freely add to your quad’s performance and get your hands dirty.

Racing

If racing is your reason for choosing a quad bike, then there are many fast quads to choose from:

  • Polaris Scrambler XP 1000S
  • Cam-Am Renegade X XC 1000R
  • Arctic Cat Thundercat 1000
  • Can-Am Outlander X XC 1000
  • Suzuki LT500 (Quadzilla)
  • Yamaha Raptor 700R
  • Honda TRX 700XX
  • Bombardier DS 650
  • KTM 525 XC
  • Yamaha YZF 450 R

Best Quad Bikes To Buy

Here is a list of some of the more popular quad bikes that are available on the market today:

Quad ModelHorsepowerDisplacementAverage Price
Polaris Sportsman 57044567cc$7,000+
Honda Fourtrax Foreman RubiconN/A518cc$8,700+
Can-Am Outlander 57048570cc$7,000+
Can-Am Renegade X XC 1000R911000cc$13,000+
Yamaha Kodiak 70050686cc$7,300+
Yamaha Grizzly EPS50686cc$10,000+
Polaris Scrambler XP 1000S891000cc$15,000+

What Can You Do With A Dune Buggy?

Dune buggies have come a long way since the rear-wheel Volkswagen chassis-Meyers Manx- dune buggies of the ’60s and ’70s. Today there are dune buggies on the market that will take your breath away as they fly over dunes, trails, and wide-open spaces.

Then there is the custom-build market, where enthusiast builds their own dune buggies, adding turbos and making all sorts of engine modifications to further enhance the performance and power of their buggies. A modern-day dune buggy is made for the beach and desert areas. Any place with dunes, even wide trails, is no match for them.

Dune Bashing

Dune bashing is an off-road practice, experienced in dunes at the beach or in a desert, and can be compared to a rollercoaster in the sand. Skilled drivers use different speeds and vehicle angles to mount and descend high and low dunes. If you are an adrenaline junkie and thrill-seeker, then dune bashing with a dune buggy is for you!

Brand new and custom-made dune buggies are built with a low center of gravity, making them hard to roll. Some newer models also come fitted with roll bars for added protection when flying over dunes and sand. Generally, they are safer to use in dunes than quad bikes.

Street Legal

Custom-built dune buggies are usually built using the chassis and engine of an existing car. Most custom builders use a Volkswagen Beetle for this and then are registered as modified vehicles. Buying a road-worthy dune buggy is an intelligent purchase, as you will be able to drive it as a legal road car while driving it to the outdoors spot where you plan to have fun with it.

It means that you won’t need a trailer to physically transport your dune buggy, saving you money and effort in the process. On the other hand, quads will rarely be street legal, as it is considered dangerous when driving on public roads, mainly due to their tires.

Quad bike tires are designed to grip and function on loose dirt, sand, mud, and rocky environments. Due to the tires being very grippy, the danger exists of being thrown off the quad when turning on paved roads. The fact that quads offer little regarding protection is also why most countries and states do not allow them to be made street legal.

Transport Passengers

While a quad bike typically allows space for the driver only or one passenger at most, it allows for more adaptable body kits/types due to the chassis of a dune buggy. The versatility in its design allows for some dune buggies to have four, even five, passengers on board.

Dune buggies are designed for fun times, and sharing the fun with friends and family, is priceless. Some dune buggies only cater to two people; however, the extra space is then converted into packing space, with longer trips in mind.

Add Performance

Dune buggy owners are always looking to add to their buggy’s performance via numerous performance-enhancing parts and systems, sometimes even replacing the whole engine. Suppose you are one of those people that likes to upgrade their cars and tinker with engines. In that case, buying a dune buggy will give you more maneuverability regarding possible modifications than a quad bike.

Most second-hand dune buggies are modified somehow by their owner or previous owner, which is why dune buggies are such a beloved vehicle. You can always do something to its design, like changing the drivetrains and adding turbos.

Best Dune Buggies To Buy

Here is a list of the more popular dune buggies available on the market today. The list excludes custom-built dune buggies as their price, displacement, and horsepower will vary (you will have to do your research when buying a second-hand/custom-built buggy):

Buggy ModelHorsepowerDisplacementAverage Price
Meyers ManxN/AN/A$2,400 starting price for a body kit (Cost will increase as you also need a chassis and Volkswagen parts to complete the car)
BMS Sand Sniper T-1500 4S (Four-Seater)1081500cc$16,500+
Can-Am Maverick X3 RS Turbo R172900cc$27,000+
Polaris RZR XP Turbo168925cc$21,000+
Joyner Sand Viper EFI861100cc$11,000+
Yamaha YXZ 1000R SS SE90998cc$20,600+
Tatum Dragon Sand Car6506,2 L$130,000+

Take note: Buying a dune buggy from a private owner can cost you anywhere between $3,000-$20,000. It will all depend on what is under the hood, the car’s frame, the suspension system, and so forth. Building one yourself should cost you way less than buying from someone who did just that.

New buggies will need no performance enhancement as they are designed with performance in mind. It is often only the custom-built ones that you can alter and play around with mechanically. However, there are dune buggy owners that will always push the envelope with regards to performance.

Conclusion

Hopefully, after reading this article, you will know whether a dune buggy or a quad bike is for you. The quad bike is generally more of an all-rounder when it comes to performing work-like tasks and double as a fun mobile.

The dune buggy is generally just a fun machine to own. If dune bashing is high on your priority list, then a dune buggy should be your go-to vehicle. The ability to modify is also what attracts car enthusiasts.

As I said initially, either way, you are getting a new toy to play with, which is exciting in itself.

References

Quad bike fatalities have almost doubled in 2020 compared to last year | ACCC

BMS Motorsports | Riverside, California BMS® SNIPER 1500cc 4s

Sand Crawlers: 8 Best Off-Road Dune Buggies | HiConsumption

Top 5 ATVs of 2021 (motorbiscuit.com)

Louis Pretorius

As an amateur off-road enthusiast, I have always been drawn to outdoor adventure. I have decided to share all of my learning experiences with you as I dig a little deeper into my new-found passion and wonderful world of off-roading. My mission is to create the Ultimate Off-roading space on the internet in the process. Stay safe and happy Off-Roading!

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