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The Mysterious First Modern Quad Bike

motocross quad bikingThere are few greater thrills than adventuring through tumultuous terrain with a quad bike getting you through mud, dirt, gravel and sandy areas.

The cornerstone of adventure holidays, quad biking is simultaneously much older and much more recent than many people realise.

This is not helped by the fact that the very first quad bike ATV as people recognise the concept today is older, more obscure and far more mysterious, the company that made it seemingly not surviving long enough to reap the rewards of their innovation.

Avenger Without A Cause

Based in Monroe, Louisiana, Adventure Vehicles Incorporated started, as many quad bike manufacturers did, by creating three-wheeled ATCs inspired by the popularity and ubiquity of Honda’s all-terrain cycles in the 1970s.

Not long after this, they started to develop a front end for the popular Honda trikes that would add an extra fourth wheel, and it would not take too long for the company to combine their two-wheeled front end to their existing trike to create the Avenger 400.

Notably, the Avenger 400 is strongly believed to have been released in 1980, which would, if verified, make it the first ever modern quad bike ATV, predating the supposed “first on four wheels” Suzuki QuadRunner 125 by at least two years.

The initial market, before the leisure and adventure holiday market had really come into force for quad biking, was agriculture, as the ability of ATVs to go basically anywhere they were ended made them ideal for a wide range of farming tasks.

For an agricultural vehicle, the Avenger line was far more capable than the Honda three-wheeled alternative because of its forced air cooling, allowing it to be kept idle without overheating.

The Avenger 400 had a rigid suspension and was known for its stability, although this came at the expense of having particularly poor steering.

At the time, however, this did not really matter as having four wheels already made it a more stable option at the lower speeds farmers were likely to use them.

However, like many pioneers, they were always going to be vulnerable to manufacturers who could make cheaper, more reliable vehicles, and once the QuadRunner came out, it was not long before Yamaha and Honda followed suit.

Because they were much bigger manufacturers and because Adventure Vehicles themselves had proved how easily a three-wheeled frame could be adapted to create a quad bike, they could offer competitive machinery for cheaper.

This might have been enough to seriously hurt a relatively small manufacturer, but they did try to keep innovating, making what is believed to be the first-ever ATV with four-wheel drive in 1984 with the Honcho.

Allegedly what made their situation far worse was that at some point in the mid-1980s, Adventure Vehicles Incorporated’s main workshop in Monroe burned down.

This forced them to spend time rebuilding and relocating, by which point every major three-wheeled manufacturer had moved to quad bikes, pushing them out of the market entirely by the end of the decade.

This has caused the company to almost become lost to time, and its biggest achievements are credited to other, bigger manufacturers.