The evolution of road legal ATVs and SSVs is a tangled web and in this article, experts from Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP), try to explain:

All-terrain (ATV) and side-by-side/utility vehicles (SSV/UTV) fall under two distinct categories – those that are non-road legal (categorised as ‘international’ models by BRP), or road legal 'EC approved' (L or T category) models.

In the UK, the ATV and SSV market is mostly made-up of non-road legal models, which are registered by the user with the DVLA as an agricultural vehicle and used as a working machine for farming, forestry, land management or similar purposes.

When used on the road, these vehicles don’t require an MOT but they must be registered and licensed for road use and have a number plate and third-party insurance. They also need fully compliant lighting (lamp, reflector and rear markings, and other devices) if used after dark.

If users are riding on a public road between sunrise and sunset they are not required to fit a lamp or reflector, but they are required to make hand signals to indicate slowing down or a change in direction.

In addition, if the agricultural quad is capable of speeds exceeding 20mph, then a user is required to fit a speedometer and a horn, so that it is compliant with the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 and the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989).

The DVLA states that an agricultural vehicle can be used on more than one piece of land if it meets the following requirements:

· Is used only for agriculture, horticulture or forestry work

· Is used on public roads only when passing between different areas of land occupied by the same person

· Does not travel further than 1.5 km on a public road when passing between two such areas and has a nil licence in force in respect

At the forefront of design and development of road legal vehicles for the utility sector, BRP ensures that its branded Can-Am ATVs and SSVs are both compliant with the current legislation in place and provide the user with the power, performance, versatility and comfort they require.

According to Hannu Harkonen, Can-Am's product responsible product management EMEA, versatility and freedom are the main benefits of its road legal vehicles: “Users appreciate the total peace of mind when it comes to using their ATVs anywhere, including further afield.

"Riders of Can-Am road legal vehicles know that when they come from our factory they are fully compliant with the current regulations and offer the high performance and quality they have come to expect from our brand.”

To comply with road legal, there are two categories that are covered in the European regulatory framework – L and T. But since the new EU type-approval frameworks for 'two- or three-wheel vehicles and quadricycles' (L-category) and 'agricultural and forestry vehicles' (T-category), respectively, came into force, there has been a shift by BRP over to the T-category.

The reason for the move, according to Mr Harkonen is quite simple: “Once you start ticking the boxes to become compliant with the L category, there is a significant trade off in terms of performance as the vehicle has to meet the strict noise and emissions limits associated with the L-category regulations.

"In comparison, the T category allows us to offer high performing units with a performance comparable to the non-road legal models in terms of power output and top speed.”

The UK Government has recently completed its consultation about non-road legal ATVs and SSVs registered as agricultural vehicles and for those vehicles to require road-legal compliance (EC approval) for agri registration. The result was no change in the regulations but there will be – and there are already – advancements in the technology used on the vehicles that utility users use on a daily basis.

An example of this is the new road legal ATVs in the Can-Am Outlander range, which are approved under the new European Union T3b category. These ATVs are fitted with ABS technology, an industry first, which allows them to reach high levels of performance whereas vehicles not equipped with ABS are limited to 60km/hr.

The ABS technology that has been installed on the Outlander range has been developed specifically for ATVs in partnership with Bosch, a pioneer in this field. This has been tested thoroughly during a comprehensive engineering programme that included more than 40,000km on a variety of typical UK terrains, including mud, snow, tarmac, gravel and dirt.

This ensures that when the ABS technology is activated, it maintains stability when braking on slick surfaces and provides the user with consistent, predictable responsiveness by preventing wheel lock-up on any terrain.

Elise Auvachez-Millot, BRP director of public affairs and government relations, added: “We know that there is market for road legal vehicles in the UK, especially with the recent consultation of the UK Government on tractor registration. We have analysed and worked on the new European regulatory framework to be able to provide our customers with vehicles that are both compliant and have the power, performance, handling and ease of use they require to perform their jobs effectively.

"And BRP will not stop here with innovation and advanced technologies. Next year, Can-Am will introduce a range of Maverick Trail side-by-side vehicles also equipped with ABS. We aim to stay in tune on political and policy developments and are monitoring Brexit, and advocating for the continued alignment of UK technical regulations with EU legislation,” she said.