How to Drive a Manual ATV without Stall – Step by Step Guide

How to drive a manual ATV? It’s easy. All-Terrain Vehicles or ATVs are Powersports vehicles that offer an efficient way to get around outdoors and are great for off-road trails, solo riding, and making quick turns. Most often, ATVs are used for recreational purposes, but there’s an entire sport build around it called ‘Quad-X ATV Motocross Racing Series,’ which is popular among the quad enthusiasts.

You can categorize ATVs in two ways:

  1. Leisure-focused ATVs
  2. Sport-focused ATVs.

The leisure-focused ATVs are equipped with an automatic transmission that allows you to ride the machine without worrying about operating the clutch or shifting the gear. On the other hand, sport-focused ATVs utilize manually operated transmission that allows you to adjust its performance when riding by shifting to another gear or pulling in the clutch lever. It is just like riding a motorbike.

However, it can be a bit difficult to drive a manual ATV for those who haven’t ridden a machine with gear before. But, it is quite easy as compared to learning to ride a motorcycle because an ATV has a four-wheeler gear that doesn’t require you to maintain the balance when riding.

All it requires is a small amount of practice and an understanding of the four-wheeler gear as well as the clutch. With that said, in this post, we will help you learn how to drive an ATV so that you can pursue your hobby for leisure or any other purpose.

What are the manual transmission components?

Where throttle clutch and shifter are located on ATV

There are three primary manual transmission components in manual ATV. The following are the three key areas of the ATV when it comes to driving a manual transmission: 

  1. Clutch Lever 
  2. Foot Shifter 
  3. Throttle Lever 

Clutch lever

The clutch lever is a component that engages and disengages the transmission to the wheels to transfer torque. It is located behind the left-hand grip and controls the operation of clutch plates to the drive shaft. The lever needs to be squeezed whenever you change the gear. It works similar to the clutch mechanism of a motorcycle.

Foot Shifter 

The foot shifter or the gear shifter is located on the bottom, next to the left side of the four-wheeler, near the footpeg/rest. This is where you physically push the gear up and down with your foot depending on your need for torque or your speed. To shift the gear from neutral to the first gear, press the foot shifter down gently one time. This will give you enough torque to move the machine ahead. Once the machine starts moving, you can shift the gear from 2nd to 6th gear by flipping up the foot shifter with your foot.

Throttle lever

The throttle lever or the gas pedal is situated on the right-hand grip, underneath by your thumb, which is used to deliver fuel to the engine. By pushing the throttle lever forward, it increases the engine RPM that ultimately makes the machine go faster.

Starting your Manual ATV 

How to Drive a Manual ATV

Starting a manual ATV is different than starting an ATV with automatic transmission. With an automatic transmission, you are placing the vehicle in neutral or park position for starting the motor. But with the manual transmission, there are a couple of ways to start the machine. They include:

  • In Neutral or Park
  • In Gear

In Neutral or Park

This is the most common and recommended way to start an ATV. Starting your ATV in a neutral position allows the engine to start and heat up properly. In most ATVs, neutral can be found between the first and second gear. Moreover, most ATVs come with a Neutral Light Indicator or a gear selector readout that gives you an indication in which gear your ATV is parked.

You can look for the Neutral ‘N’ light to emerge on the display dashboard when adjusting the gear to bring the machine to neutral. This can be done by holding the clutch and clicking the gear shifter down to first. Once you reach the first gear, do a half click up, and it will bring the vehicle to a Neutral position. Now that the vehicle is in neutral, you can pull the cord or push the start button to start your ATV. It’s easy! 

In Gear

When your ATV is in gear – in any gear – it is important that you hold the clutch and squeeze it towards you to disengage. Don’t let the clutch go. Now, start the machine by pulling the cord or pressing the start button. Don’t let the clutch go all at sudden. If you do so, your ATV will stall and shut off. It may also cause accidents. So, never let go the clutch when starting the ATV in gear.

We recommend that once you have started the ATV while holding the clutch, bring down the machine to neutral or at least in the first gear. Never move your vehicle when it is motionless and above the 2nd gear. It will not give you the pickup you want and may damage the engine if you do it regularly. 

The clutch is the most important component of the manual transmission. It must be used appropriately. When changing gears, ensure that you hold the clutch – It will bring your machine back to neutral. So, practice operating the clutch lever – it is the most critical aspect of driving a manual ATV. 

Driving the ATV from a Stop

Now that you have understood all the primary components of the ATV and have learned how to start your machine, it is time that you learn how to drive an ATV from a stop.

It’s no rocket science, and by following the instructions, you can drive your ATV without any hassle. Just ensure that you have a good grasp on the clutch.

  • Make sure that your machine is in a neutral position (recommended). 
  • Pull the clutch lever and slowly push the foot shifter to the first gear. Don’t leave the clutch yet and don’t push the throttle lever 
  • Now, very slowly, simultaneously release the clutch while slowly pushing the throttle lever with your thumb 
  • Your ATV will start inching forward 
  • Ensure that you go gently on the throttle lever and if you feel like the machine has accelerated badly, you can immediately pull in the clutch lever and stop the vehicle using brakes. 
  • While holding the clutch, bring the machine back to neutral using foot/gear shifter. 

Shifting Up

Well, driving your ATV from the stop was quite easy, right? If you have done it seamlessly, it means that you have understood the operation of the clutch lever very well. So, let’s move forward and shift up. 

  • As always, ensure that the vehicle is in a neutral position when starting 
  • While holding the clutch lever, put the machine in the first gear 
  • While holding the clutch, give the engine a bit power by pushing the throttle lever 
  • Now slowly release the clutch while pushing the throttle gently. It must be done simultaneously. Your ATV will start inching forward 
  • When the ATV is in motion, pull the clutch and put the machine in second gear to give it more gas 
  • You can go on for as many gears as you want


Well, When you drive through rough terrain, you need to downshift the gear. Downshifting to a lower gear will give you more power and make your acceleration even better.

Stopping the ATV

  • To stop, pull the clutch, release the throttle, and slowly press the brakes
  • When the vehicle stops completely, bring it down to neutral 
  • Release the clutch
  • Cut the engine
  • That’s it! 

You need to practice driving the ATV at a slow speed. Once you understand how all the components work, you can work on the speed as well as riding techniques. If possible, you can consult an expert rider about how to drive an ATV with manual transmission.

Instruction Videos

Source: Tyler Joe

Source: MotoPosh

We have tried to cover everything in detail. If you have any queries or concerns regarding the topic, feel free to ask us.