THE MINI QUADARD
50cc 4-wheelers, or "Mini Quadards" as they are called in Europe, became popular in the USA around early 2006, when a variety of affordable models came to market. The original 4-wheeler (pictured on the left) is manufactured by Blata Corporation, and has an MSRP of $999.00. Technically, it is not 50cc - the model shown has a high compression 39cc 2-cycle motor, generating 3.4 HP at a screaming 8,000 RPM. With a maximum load of 209 lbs, this quad is race-prep-ready and amazingly fun.
When cheaper mini quads became available, a variety of models flooded the market, most with 47cc engines so similar to the Blata that even some parts were interchangeable. Consumers quickly caught on that the quad actually makes a perfect entry-level ATV for a younger rider just becoming familiar with the dynamics of riding a gas-powered vehicle.
Note, however, that these 4-wheelers were designed with an adult rider in mind, so you must take extra precautions if you are going to allow a minor to ride it. Fortunately, most models come equipped with speed restrictors and a safety shut-off leash.
The two-cycle 4-wheelers today are inexpensive, easy to maintain and troubleshoot, and are a great way to learn the responsibility of owning and operating a vehicle. Furthermore, the two-stroke engine provides for a great opportunity to learn about the mechanics of a simple engine. Experienced riders and enthusiasts can upgrade their engines with a plethora of available aftermarket parts.
OPERATING THE FOUR WHEELER
Most four wheelers come equipped with front and rear disc brakes (sometimes even dual front disc brakes). They are engaged by handlebar levers. There is a throttle on the right handlebar, where some models also include a speed restrictor. Newest models include a number of safety features, including a safety leash with emergency engine shut-off either on the left handlebar or on the rear of the unit.
Unlike ATV's, mini quads are not well suited for operation is sand, dirt, or on hilly terrain. While the engine is fast and powerful, its small displacement means it does not have a lot of bottom-end torque. Nor do 4-wheelers have built-in torque converters for lower gearing. For this reason, it is best to operate them on flat, paved surfaces, such as race tracks or designated parking lots. If you are a heavier rider, be careful to prevent clutch burn-out: if you apply gas and the quad is either too heavy to move or stuck, continued application of gas will make the centrifugal clutch slip and burn out.
NEED FOR SPEED
Most mini quads have the exact same engine as pocket bikes. Because the quads have and extra pair of wheels and a larger rear axle, the engine needs to be more powerful, especially if it is to carry an adult. Part of the hobby of pocket quads is modification. Recommended upgrades for the engine include a big bore kit, more powerful carburetor, reed cage, and exhaust. With the necessary modifications, the mini quad can pop wheelies with adults over 250 lbs, and reach breakneck velocities.
CUSTOMIZING 50CC 4-WHEELERS
If you own a welding shop and have access to small auto parts, you may as well take customization to the extreme and create quads like the one pictured here. There are companies dedicated to creating high pefromance quadzillas complete with four stroke, or high output two stroke engines. Options include: 110cc, 125cc, or 150cc air cooled 4-cycle engines, 49cc big bore 2-stroke engines, and 39cc or 47cc water-cooled 2-stroke configurations.
If you are working on a limited budget and do not have your own shop, there is still a large number of parts you can use to trick out your quad. That includes high performance big bore kits, larger carburetors, tuned exhausts, high-power ignition coils, fiberglass reeds, etc. Most of these parts can be installed with nothing more than a basic set of allen keys, patience, and a screwdriver. By using different size sprockets and counter-sprockets, you can further fine-tune the torque to top speed ratio for the best results. Be it you dream of 50-meter wheelies or closed-circuit racing at freeway speeds, a custom-built or modded four wheeler will bring racing to a whole new dimension.
4 Wheelers are designed 'for racing use only'. Please race at your own risk. Any use by minors must be strictly supervised at all times. Please use caution and always wear protective gear.