ATV tires are going to be subject to wear and tear – perhaps even more so than other vehicles’ tires given the riding conditions. It is important to understand how these tires work to be prepared for the day it needs to be changed, especially if that day could be today.
Are ATV tires tubeless? Practically all ATV tires are tubeless. ATV tires are made to withstand a rocky terrain (with sharp objects) and have low pressure. While adding a tube is possible, being tubeless makes ATV tires more durable and able to offer a smoother riding experience.
While this is true for almost any, if not every, ATV off of the shelf, this still leaves questions about ATV tires that need to be answered. In summation of the questions (and answers) surrounding tubeless and tubed ATV tires, I included a pros and cons list at the end of the article for quick reference. Continue reading to learn more about the advantages of tubeless ATV tires, how to inflate them, and more.
Why Are ATV Tires Tubeless?
As mentioned above, ATVs are just that – All-Terrain Vehicles. The tires are a critical part of these vehicles that help determine not only the smoothness of the ride but also the vehicle’s ability to maneuver properly. What does this mean for ATV tires?
Most importantly, your ATV tires are going to have to be filled to very low pressure. Most weather and terrain conditions (snow, mud, sand, etc.) will require they be as low as 3-4 PSI. For trails and other similar rides, 5-6 PSI will be more standard, and then for higher speed areas, 7-8 PSI will work.
Regardless of which of these options you end up choosing, this is much lower than a car’s or even a bike’s tires would be inflated to. Lower PSI allows ATV tires to have better traction, allowing them to make it through the more difficult terrains.
Considering you will likely be going on a surface that is not smooth, this helps to add to the safety of your ATV and the range of adventures you are able to go on with your vehicle.
Are There Other Advantages to Having a Tubeless Tire?
Of course there are other advantages to having a tubeless ATV tire! There are multiple other reasons that tubeless tires are superior for ATVs besides just their ability to provide stability. These reasons have to do both with practicality and comfort.
From a comfort standpoint, a tubed tire will be much bumpier than a tubeless tire. ATVs are used for riding all around rocks, sand, snow, mud, trails, and more. This means that the surfaces impacting your tires will often be unpredictable. When a tube is added, it requires a higher PSI to stay inflated and work properly. Usually, this means the tire will be firm.
When a firm tire hits bumps, rocks, sharp turns, and divots – these are not absorbed by the tire so the rider feels more of this.
On top of the comfort issues of a tubed tire, there are more practical issues as well. Firstly, a high PSI tire will be more likely to pop on sharp turns and sudden bumps. This has to do with the nature of physics and the pressure added by a sharp object to a tubed tire.
In comparison, consider a pin brushing against a tightly filled balloon versus one with less interior pressure. The balloon with the most pressure from internal gases is sure to pop more quickly. The same is true for your ATV tire.
Another big reason is the ability to patch the tire. If your tube pops, you are likely to be stuck/unable to repair it. When a tubeless tire gets a hole – it is usually small and due to something sharp. These holes are easier to patch with a string plug kit, allowing you to safely and quickly get back to riding.
I like to use this Emergency Flat Repair Kit (link to Amazon) because it has everything you need to fix a flat on the trail. It comes with a plug kit, Co2 cartridges to refill the tire, and can be brought with me easily on the quad.
A popped ATV tire is the last thing you want to have to worry about while you are out for a ride with friends or family members. Not only is this highly inconvenient, but there are obvious safety concerns with this as well. If your tire pops while you are driving, this could lead to a severe injury.
Also, if your tubed tire is causing you to bump tremendously, this could make it more difficult to hang onto your steering wheel and cause you to fly off. It might seem dramatic, but this will feel like you are riding a bull- and we have all seen videos (or experienced personally) of how difficult it can be to hang onto something that bumpy.
How To Inflate A Tubeless Tire
It may seem counterproductive to many people to have a tubeless tire – where does the air go? Once you understand the way it works, however, it will make much more sense to how tubeless tires work.
How do you inflate a tubeless tire? Simply put, the same way as a tubed tire. You use an air compressor and fill the tire. More intricately, the tire will expand while being filled and form an air-tight seal around the bump protruding on the edge of the rim.
At first, this might not sound like it will work, but the way the tubeless tires are engineered is to fit on a rim almost airtight, and then to form a seal as they inflate. This seal forms as little as 1-2 PSI on ATV tires ensuring that your tubeless tire remains at a low pressure to work as it was designed to do.
Here’s a quick video showing the process of changing an ATV tire. Now imagine how much more difficult it would be if there were a tube in there as well.
Should I Add Tubes to an ATV Tire?
While we have given information on tubeless tires, you might be wondering about the value of tubed tires for your ATV. Adding tubes to your ATV tires is possible, but, in most cases, it is inadvisable to do so.
Should you add tubes to an ATV tire? In most cases, adding tubes to an ATV tire will make it less durable, less smooth of a ride, more prone to damage, and will not be as easy to patch in the event of a flat tire. There may be short term reasons to add a tube, but it is best to use tubeless tires on your ATV when possible.
The main reason to add a tube to a tire (according to some ATV users) is a quick fix to a problem that still needs to be addressed. More or less, this is like placing a bandage on a wound that needs more in-depth treatment. The underlying problems would probably include a break in the rim where the air seal is. If this happens, and you are unable to replace the rim, a tube has the potential to solve this issue temporarily.
While this is doable, the broken rim will still pose a possible hazard for the tube itself, so it is best not to drive on this for long. Additionally, you will want to use low speeds and precautionary standards as you take your ATV in for repair rather than continuing to ride it all afternoon in this condition.
Another reason to add a tube is for the cost difference. While I do not condone this one, I get that everyone has a different financial situation. Tubes tend to be about $10-$20 cheaper than tires, so adding tubes could be cheaper than new tires. Again, this should be a temporary fix until a new tire is able to be placed on it as it can cause serious safety hazards.
Here’s an example video showing someone putting in a tube rather than replacing the tire completely. This is just to show in some situations a tube might save you a couple bucks.
Pros and Cons of Tubed and Tubeless ATV Tires
There were a lot of topics (mainly concerning tubed and tubeless advantages) covered in this article. To ensure that they are all listed for you to easily (and quickly) understand my opinions, I have added these pros and cons list to be more accessible. Hopefully, this will help you to make a more informed decision on which type of tires you should use on your ATV.
Tubeless Tires Pros
- Smoother Ride
- More Durable
- Easier to Patch
- Lower PSI Capabilities
- High Performance
Tubeless Tire Cons
- Slightly More Expensive (though a long-term solution)
Tubed Tire Pros
- Higher PSI (only good for paved roads)
- Slightly More Affordable (though a short-term solution)
Tubed Tire Cons
- Bumpy Ride
- Prone to Flats
- Hard to Patch
- Poor Performance