When selecting new tires for your all terrain vehicle, there are a lot of factors to consider, including the construction, size, tread pattern, price, and brand. If you purchase the wrong set of tires, you may damage your vehicle, impair your fuel economy, or decrease your ATV’s performance. Follow this ATV tire buying guide, and you can easily choose the best tires for your vehicle. You can also read our related article on how to choose new atv tires.
Though it is sometimes overlooked, construction is an important characteristic of an ATV tire. Each ATV tire has either a bias play construction or a radial construction. Bias tires are constructed with a stronger sidewall and casing. They also have belts or plies that run diagonally between beads in order to protect against punctures. Radial tires, on the other hand, are composed of a single layer of steel cables that stretches between beads to form the casing. The tire also includes rubber-coated steel belts under the tread for stability.
Choosing Bias or Radial
To choose between radial and bias constructions, consider the type of riding you enjoy most. If you spend a lot of time on steep hillsides or rough terrain, bias tires are the best choice. They are also less expensive and easy to repair. However, the ride will be rougher with a bias tire, and the tread will wear out quickly, especially if you travel frequently on hard-surfaced roads. In addition, bias tires have lower fuel economy than radial tires, and they are less stable at high speeds.
Radial tires are better for high speeds and hard-surfaced roads. The ride is smoother, and they won’t wear out as quickly as bias tires. They are also more flexible, which leads to better fuel economy. However, radial tires are more expensive, easily punctured, and difficult to repair.
The Bottom Line
In the end, it is all a matter of preference. If you frequently ride on rough terrain where your tires will be prone to punctures, go with a bias tire. Conversely, go with a radial tire if you like riding at high speeds on smooth surfaces.
ATV tires have one of five tread patterns: mud, trail, sand, racing, and snow. The pattern that is best for you depends on the type of riding you do most often.
Mud tires feature an angled pattern of tall treads with large voids in between each tread, designed to provide greater traction in the mud. They also work well on other types of terrain, with the exception of hard surfaces.
- Mud tires offer more traction in slick, wet environments and are less likely to spin in the mid.
- Mud tires are also good on most other types of terrain.
- Mud tires are self-cleaning. As the tire moves through the mud, the mud is pushed outward from the center of the tire and off over the sides.
- Mud tires don’t work well on hard surfaces, such as densely-packed trails and paved roads.
- If you ride mud tires on hard surfaces, the tread will wear down quickly.
- Because of the angled tread pattern, mud tires are sometimes unstable on hillsides or sharp turns.
Also known as all-terrain tires, trail tires are designed to perform well on a variety of terrains. The tread on a trail tire ranges from one-half an inch to three-fourths an inch in height. The treads usually overlap, and the gaps between treads are smaller than the gaps of a mud tire.
- Trail tires offer good traction for most types of terrain.
- Trail tires offer better vertical and lateral stability than most other types of tires.
- Trail tires usually last longer than mud tires.
- Though they perform fairly well on most terrains, trail tires don’t excel on any one type of terrain.
- Some trail tires don’t self-clean as well as mud tires.
The treads on a back sand tire resemble paddles. On the front tires, the only tread is a raised rib that runs down the tire’s center.
- Sand tires are the only tires that can provide good traction in the sand. With any other type of tire, the ATV’s engine has the potential to overheat.
- Sand tires don’t provide stability on any terrain other than sand.
- Sand tires will wear out quickly if you use them on any terrain that isn’t sand.
Racing tires are constructed with small, knobby treads distributed across the tire both vertically and horizontally. They are designed specifically for racing at high speeds.
- Racing tires are the best tires for high-speed runs on medium- to hard-packed courses.
- Racing tires provide stability for racers.
- Racing tires won’t wear down as quickly during high-speed runs as other tires will.
- Racing tires can be expensive.
- Racing tires aren’t a good choice for riding on softer surfaces, like mud and soft earth.
Snow tires have horizontal treads that function similarly to snow chains. These treads prevent the tires from spinning in the snow by allowing them to dig to the firmer ground beneath.
- Snow tires provide the best traction in wet snow.
- Snow tires are made from soft rubber, which also prevents them from spinning.
- Snow tires are soft, which means that the treads wear down easily on hard surfaces.
- The treads on a snow tire are not ideal for riding smoothly on any terrain other than snow.
The Bottom Line
No tire tread will be perfect in all situations. Choose the best tread for your vehicle based on the terrain you encounter most frequently. If you ride on multiple terrains and you can only afford one set of tires, all-terrain tires are probably the best choice. However, if you can afford to buy more than one set of tires, you can purchase all-terrain tires for everyday riding and one or two specialized sets for riding in sand or mud. If you race your ATV, racing tires are a must. If you live in a cold, wet climate, consider purchasing snow tires for the winter and all-terrain tires for the rest of the year.
AMS is a company with a strong dealer network that primarily builds tires for ATVs. AMS is a good choice for riders who don’t have a lot to spend on new tires. The brand offers plenty of good quality tires for low prices.
The Black Widow, an affordable all-terrain tire.
The Swamp Fox Plus, a hybrid tire designed to operate efficiently in both mud and snow.
Carlisle Companies, Inc. has been producing tires for a variety of uses since the early 1900s. Carlisle Tire and Wheel, a division of the company, primarily produces ATV tires.
The AT489XL, a popular tire with an aggressive tread pattern.
The Dunlop Company first came on the scene in 1889 and has been synonymous with tires ever since. In fact, many ATVs come with standard Dunlop tires at the time of purchase.
The KT151, a front tire with excellent steering stability and traction control.
The KT123, a self-cleaning front tire with a variable V tread pattern.
ITP is most well-known for its racing tires. In fact, most of ITP’s tire testing is completed by professional racers. However, the company produces quality tires for all type of terrains.
Mud Lite, a mud tire that offers a smooth ride and unbeatable traction.
Sand Star, a quality sand tire with a durable carcass and excellent cornering capability.
GBC Motorsports formed in 1995 and focuses on developing quality ATV tires for every terrain and riding style.
The Dirt Commander, an all-terrain tire with superior traction and a tough construction.
The Race Rex, a racing tire with flexibility and traction.
Kenda is one of the top tire manufacturers for industrial vehicles, trailers, bicycles, motorcycles, and ATVs.
The Kenda Dune Runner, a front tire designed for superior steering in sand.
The Kenda Speed Racer, a tire designed specifically for dirt track racing.
Maxxis has more than four decades of experience manufacturing ATV tires.As one of the leading ATV tire brands, Maxxis has developed a tire for nearly every purpose.
The M967 Mudbug, a lightweight mud tire that promises traction and a smooth ride.
STI Tire and Wheel has been manufacturing ATV tires for over 30 years. The company produces ATV tires for all types of terrain and riding styles.
The Black Diamond, a crossover all-terrain tire designed to provide maximum traction and control in all terrains and weather conditions.
Mud Trax, a mud tire with an aggressive tread and a solid reputation.
Gorilla Axle produces everything ATV, from tires to suspensions. They pride themselves in producing quality ATV parts for affordable prices.
The Gorilla Axle Silverback, an extremely aggressive ATV mud tire with tall treads.
The Interco Tire Corporation manufactures ATV tires, as well as truck tires and industrial tires.
The Super Swamper, an all-terrain tire designed to prevent rollovers.
The Swamp Lite, a tire capable of handling hard-pack, as well as slushy conditions.