Step 1: What Is a Sport Quad?
The first category is sport-utility/beginner. I would have to say this is the smallest category. If you are just starting quadding, this is where to look. These quads do not have clutches, and can have 4WD. Engine sizes range from 229cc (Honda TRX250X) to 421cc (Yamaha Wolverine). Some of these quads have automatic transmissions, while some are semi-auto. Sport-utility/beginner quads are best used in the woods on mild to moderate trail conditions. They can be ridden in the woods very slow to about 3/4 of top speed.
Next is woods-built quads. This is the best category if you are on a beginner quad and want to move up to something better-suited for the woods. These sport quads are anywhere from 282cc to upwards of 600. They never have 4WD and almost always have a solid rear axle. They have manual clutches and are well-suited for popping over logs and going up rocky inclines. Examples are: Honda TRX300X, 400X, and 700XX, Yamaha YZF450X, KTM 450XC ATV and 525XC ATV. These quads can also race, but are beter on the trails. They go on trails from mild to intermediate/advance <450cc, and mild to extreme 450>.
The third and final category is racing quads. They always have clutches and are the most expensive type of sport quad to buy. They need to be ridden fast in the woods or else they can easily stall. Most quad manufacturers only make one race quad. Any quad with the designation "R", "RACE", "Race", is a racing quad. They are almost always 450cc.To ride these in the woods you need to go fast in the woods, and make modifications, most importantly a taller sprocket. This will decrease top speed, but it will help your quad from stalling out when your revs aren't high enough. You may also want to opt for better tires, or even a lift kit, since some are so low to the ground. These quads can be ridden on mild to just short of extreme.
Step 2: The Basics
Make sure you've got both hands on the handlebars an two fingers on the clutch. Clutching is very important while on the harder portions of your ride.
Step 3: Rocks
Now we get on to the real riding. First is rocks. Getting over rocks can be very hard, depending on your skill and quad. First, I'll tell you how to get over a rocky section of trail or up a rocky hill climb. The first part is that you need to stand up and put your hand on the clutch. Then, put it in first or second gear. Next, you need to look at the hill and find a path up. If someone went up before you, try to take the same path they did. If not, then you will ned to find your own path. Try to scout out an area that looks not too hard, and if you are looking for challenge, not too easy. WARNING: IF YOU ARE ONLY A BEGINNER, DO NOT TRY TO GET UP EXTREMELY ROCKY TRAILS! There is almost always another trail around. After that, lean back and rev the quad up to around half of the powerband. When you get to the hill, start to take your path and try not to stray off it. If you see an area that will cause your wheel/wheels to dip down, do not go near it, you could flip. Proceed up the hill, gradually increasing throttle, but try to keep your speed the same. Do not spin your tires, and do not let anyone go behind you, do not follow anyone up. Keep going, and before you know it it you're at the top. Make sure to use LOTS of body english.
Second, we'll talk about rocky flat trails. These are basically flat trails with many rocks (not gravel) or rough cobblestone roads. For these, stay in second, third, or fourth gear, and go fast. Make sure you lean on the back fenders as much as possible, but do not let the front tires lift more than a few inches. Also, you need to have a quick reaction time for this. More speed now=less backaches later.
What I usually do for hillclimbs is everyone shuts off their quads, one person goes all the way up, shuts his quad off, and calls for the next person. This is the safest way to go.
For rocky hillclimbing and rocky terrain in general, you may want to outfit your quad with aluminum or stainless steel skidplates, nerf bars, and taller knobby tires. However, my old TRX250 did fine with nothing different from they day I bought it.
Step 4: Logs and "Log Popping"
When you are riding down a trail in the woods, you are more likely than not to come across a downed tree across your trail. Heavy utility quads must go over logs in 4WD, and they can't be any more than the quad's ground clearance, usually around 9 inches. But a good sport quad can pop over a log 1 1/2 feet+ in diameter.
HOW TO DO IT:
When you see a log, you will need to first judge and think if you can make it over the log. If it is a lot thicker than a telephone pole, it will be most likely impossible unless you are really good with a massive quad. Probably the maximum diameter is 2 feet. When you approach the log, put it in first gear. Go slow up to it (bigger log=less speed). Once you are almost at it, clutch a little and rev up your engine. Lean back. The instant your front tires hit the log, floor it, dump the clutch, and you're in midair. Quickly grab the clutch, lean over the middle of the quad, and let off the clutch. This all happens in a split second so you need to have good reaction time. This also takes a lot of practice Practice PRACTICE. I am lucky enough to have a pile of telephone poles in my yard, see if you can get your hands on some. You only need a section of pole or tree five feet long, it will work good enough. One more thing; when you hit the log, make sure it forms a 90 degree angle with your front tires. This id VERY important when it is wet. If you hit it on an angle, your first tire will go over, then you will be caught and slide all the way to the end, even if you turn straight. This is why I like Hondas, they have reverse. To get out of this, you need to straighten out by turning the wheels, then holding the front break and spinning the tires until you are lined up, then lean back and gas it.
Step 5: Mud Puddles
When you see a deep mud puddle, there are two ways to get through it. One is to get a lot of forward momentum, do a wheelie, and not care if you are in the ruts or not, because you're already through. However, you need to be going really fast, 40mph at least, and you get really really wet. This is good in the summer, but make sure the mud puddles don't smell like poo, because it's really annoying to have to smell it for the rest of your ride.The second way is to approach it, and see if you can see any ruts made by the 4x4s. You need to put one tire in the middle of the two ruts and the other on the side. DO NOT spin your tires, for three reasons. One is that the tires could slip off into the ruts. Two is that you could make your own ruts. Three is that you will get muddy and wet. If you do get stuck in the ruts, start to give it more gas and spin the tires a little. Rock the quad back and fourth, so that the tires catch on the bottom and sides. If you start to slow down, that is when you apply this skill. Getting stuck is the worst thing that can happen now. Mostly it's just a matter of getting some other guysand picking the quad up onto the tops of the ruts.
You don't really need that many accessories, but it would be nice to pick up a pair of extra-knobby tires (Razr Balance-Bill Balance inspired tires)