Your quad is NOT roadworthy
OFF-ROAD ONLY: Be warned - adding indicators and a hooter to
this quad will not make it roadworthy.
Quad sales in South Africa have grown over the past few years to the point
where they currently make up nearly 50 percent of the motorcycle market.
There is now a tendency for the public to ride these little four-wheelers on
public roads, albeit usually only quiet suburbia or residential estates.
I've yet to see one on a freeway in rush hour – but I'm sure it's coming.
The National Road Traffic Act requires every vehicle to be registered on the
Natis system, even if used exclusively for off-road. Naturally, if a vehicle is
required to be registered, a licence must be paid (this is, after all, South
Africa), once again irrespective of whether the vehicle is to be used on or off
Thus licence discs are being automatically issued to new quad owners since the
Natis national registration system does not recognise the concept of
registering a vehicle for off-road use only.
After that it's relatively easy to fit lights, speedo, indicators and mirrors
in compliance with the Road Traffic Act, get a roadworthy certificate and
voila! You have a street-legal quad, right?
When the South Afrcan Bureau of Standards, which represents the department of
transport in approving new vehicle models for registration on the Natis system,
discovered that quads were being used on the road they approached the
Association of Motorcycle Importers and Distributors.
As a result of this meeting the regulations for such vehicles – which are
actually in place but not enforced – will in future be more strictly applied.
Quads are designed and built for off-road use only; they don't have the correct
equipment to render them roadworthy. Not only that, quad suspension is seldom
set up for use on tar surfaces.
Although most will quite happily run at 60 or even 80km/h, their handlebar
steering is extremely direct and at that speed on tar they become difficult –
and dangerous - to control.
SABS 047, which describes the specifications for roadworthy vehicles, also says
that "no vehicle shall be issued with a certificate of roadworthiness unless
the driving axle is fitted with a differential".
Since most quads have a solid, one-piece rear axle, it shouldn't be possible to
get them through roadworthy anyway, new or second-hand.
Only a very few 4x4 quads have a differentials on the rear axles and these are
even less suitable for road use than the normal rear-wheel drive machines.
So be careful, warns Amid's Arnold Olivier, when buying a quad, new or used,
under the pretext that it can be certified roadworthy.
Amid is currently negotiating with the department of transport to create a
different licence class for off-road vehicles, even the bureaucrats recognise
the unfairness of the present system.
That takes time, however, so for now the licencing situation will stay the
Olivier also warns that a quad is regarded as a motorcycle in terms of the
National Road Traffic Act. So to ride one on the road (roadworthy
considerations notwithstanding) you need to have the appropriate motorcycle
You'll need to be 16 years old and hold a class A1 rider's licence for quads of
less than 125cc, or 18 with a class A licence for anything bigger.