Quad bikes - attachments, loads and towing

Guidance for farmers to better understand how to safely attach, secure and carry loads using quad bikes, and how to tow and ride safely with the load.


The problem

Carrying loads on the front or rear racks of quad bikes can be convenient, but is risky when the extra weight changes the stability of the quad bike.

Quad bikes can become unstable and roll over when:

  • loaded incorrectly
  • overloaded
  • using attachments and towing
  • doing tasks they are not designed for


Operating a quad bike can be a risky activity, the operator can be injured or killed if the plant is not handled properly.

It can be dangerous to carry loads on the front or rear of a quad bike. The extra weight can affect steering and braking, alter the centre of gravity, and make the quad bike difficult to control.

Liquid in containers or tanks (carried or towed) can increase the likelihood of rollover because they can shift when cornering or going over slopes.

Controlling risks

You can control the risks by:

  • planning your work
  • never operating an overloaded quad bike
  • identifying all hazards and whether there is a safer alternative vehicle
  • fitting your quad bike with a roll-over protection device (ROPS)

Towing and load limits

Always follow the manufacturer’s recommended load and towing limits. These are specified in the operator’s manual and on the quad bike. Quad bike brakes and suspension are designed to work effectively within these limits and on relatively smooth and level terrain. Towing with quad bikes is not permitted on Victorian roads.

Loads and towing are affected by:

  • load weight
  • load type
  • location of the load
  • attachment weight
  • operator weight
  • terrain
  • environmental conditions

The combined total weight should not exceed the manufacturer’s weight or towing specifications.

Riding with the load

  • Do not overload the quad bike.
  • Make sure loads are safe and stable, and secured to racks with straps.
  • If towing a load, only connect it to the towing point of the vehicle.
  • Keep the load low.
  • Avoid high loads, because they raise the centre of gravity.
  • Reduce speed.
  • Use low gear and allow longer braking distance — the more weight carried, the slower you should go.
  • Avoid hills and rough terrain.
  • Reduce the weight of the cargo in rough terrain or as the slope increases.
  • Do not operate on steep slopes.
  • Understand the stability limitations of the quad bike and ensure it is fitted with a ROPS.

Carrying a container or towing a tank

Make sure the tank or container:

  • is within the quad bike manufacturer’s load limits 
  • has internal baffles to restrict the movement of the liquid
  • has smooth external surfaces with no sharp edges 
  • is carried as low as possible to keep the centre of gravity low 
  • allows the operator to move freely and ride the quad bike actively 
  • does not obscure the operator’s vision or interfere with the controls 
  • does not touch the operator or restrict their ability to separate from the quad bike if it rolls 
  • is properly sealed to avoid splashing chemicals onto the plant rider or surroundings
A person spraying vegetation next to a quad bike fitted with a spray tank.
Figure 1 Ensure the spray tank is designed for the bike and meets the weight limitations of the plant.

Legal duties

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, employers must:

  • so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment
  • that is safe and without risks to the health of employees and independent contractors
  • where a risk cannot be eliminated, it must be reduced so far as is reasonably practicable
  • provide the necessary information, instruction, training or supervision to employees to enable them to do their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health

A self-employed person must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the conduct of their undertaking.

An employer or self-employed person must:

  • identify all hazards associated with the use of plant, and 
  • so far as is reasonably practicable, eliminate any risk associated with the plant

Where it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, the employer or self-employed person must, so far as is reasonably practicable:

  • substitute the plant with plant that has a lower level of risk, or
  • isolate the plant from persons, or
  • use engineering controls, or
  • implement a combination of any of the risk control measures above

If the risk associated with plant remains, the employer or self-employed person must reduce the risk so far as is reasonably practicable by using administrative controls.

An employer or self-employed person must, so far as is reasonably practicable, eliminate the following risks or, if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risks, reduce them so far as is reasonably practicable:

  • powered mobile plant overturning
  • objects falling on the operator of the powered mobile plant
  • the operator being ejected from the powered mobile plant
  • powered mobile plant colliding with pedestrians or other powered mobile plant

Further information