ATV tires come in many different sizes, shapes, treads, and materials. It can be hard to weed through all the options to find a tire suited for your style of riding. Getting the right tire for your environment will increase handling, cornering, and braking depending on the terrain you ride.
Replacing your tires when they need it helps performance as well, the difference between used and new tires is noticeable right away. It’s worth it to spend the extra money to get a quality set of tires, but you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a good tire that will last you years of riding. Here are some things to consider when looking for a new set of tires for your quad.
ATV Tire Size
The first thing to find out is the size of tires your ATV takes. You could always buy different wheels for your ATV and match the tires to the rims, but lets assume you just want to replace the tires. Tire sizes are usually shown in a three number format separated by a dash or an x or both, like this, 25×10-12 or 25x10x12 or 25-10-12.
The first number is the tire height when the tire is inflated. The second number is the tire width when fully inflated. And the third number is the wheel diameter. So for a tire reading 25×10-12, the tire is 25″ tall, 10″ wide, and will fit on a 12″ rim. If your tire is a radial construction tire, you might also notice an R in there too, like this, 25-10R12.
If you want to get the stock tires for your quad, check your users manual. Or to replace existing tires that are worn out, simply check the side wall of the tire you want to replace to find its size.
ATV Tire Design
Now that you know what size of tires you need, you can decide what type of tire suits you best. This depends on what type of riding you do most often, and what type of rider you are. The types of tires you can expect to see will fall into one of these categories: All-Purpose, Off-Road, Motocross, Mud, or Sand.
For any of these types of tires you want to look at the ply and tread depth. The tread depth is just how deep the tread of the tire is. The tire will grip better and last longer the more tread depth there is. The tire ply is how many layers of material the tire is made out of. The more ply, the stronger the tire will be and the more resistant to punctures it will be. A stock tire is around 4-6 ply with a tread depth around 0.5-0.6 inches.
All Purpose ATV Tires
If you want to keep things simple, and be able to ride on all of these terrains without having to change tires out, I would go with the All-Purpose tires. These are usually what a new ATV comes stock with on it anyways. If you do decide to go with these tires, get a tread depth at least 0.5″ or more. That way the tires will last a while.
All-Purpose tires are by far the most popular and most purchased type of tire for four wheeling. You can go from muddy river bed to packed down trail and experience the same performance from your machine. Of course, mud tires will beat these in the mud any day. But for the average rider, All-Purpose tires are the way to go.
I found this Set Of 4 Wanda ATV Tires (link to Amazon), for under $250 for all 4 tires. Wanda makes a good all terrain tire, and the reviews are excellent for this one. It has a heavy 6 ply rated nylon material to help resist punctures. Just make sure to select your size tires when ordering. I have seen tires selling for around 100 dollars a piece on Amazon, so this is a pretty good deal to replace all your tires in one go.
Off-Road ATV Tires
Off-Road tires are similar to All-Purpose tires in a few ways. The only real difference is that the Off-Road tires are made with stronger tread, and are usually more durable. They need to be in order to handle the off road trails.
Because you can encounter everything from snowy mountain trails to sandy wooded trails, Off-Road tires are basically stronger all terrain tires. The Kenda Kutter XC Tires are a good mid range quality tire for off road use.
Motocross ATV Tires
ATV motocross is usually an all man made course. The soil is loose, so you would want a tire that has stiff knobs to help you get through corners. But you also want a spaced out tread pattern to help with grip during acceleration.
Grip becomes extremely important when there are jumps and other obstacles that could cause injury. The Maxxis Razr Tires are great for motocross, but I would only use these on tracks you are familiar with and know there aren’t any rocks or logs that will puncture this 4 ply tire.
Mud ATV Tires
These types of tires usually have deeper lugs than most of the others. Mud tires need to give you traction in the worst case scenarios. The tires have these big knobs on them which help dig you out of mud or snow. They will get you through more muddy areas than an all terrain tire will.
These Interco Swamp Lite ATV Tires are just plain cool looking. They are 6 ply tires and come as a pair. Be sure you get the right size for your wheels.
Sand ATV Tires
Sand tires are only really needed if you plan on riding in the dunes. Which by the way is a blast, it’s worth trying out. Usually the rear wheels will be like paddles to push you through the sand, and the front wheels will be smooth except for a rib down the center for steering.
Sand tires can be expensive, and for only really being useful for riding in the dunes, it’s hard to justify. You could probably be fine with your all purpose tires, but you’ll get sick of getting stuck and pulling yourself out. Here is an example Maxxis Razr Blade sand tire to check out.
When Do You Need New Tires?
How do you know when you need to replace your ATV tires? There’s no point wasting money on new tires until you need to right? Usually you’ll be able to feel the tires getting worn out. You might notice your tires not gripping as well as they used to. You can tell when taking corners that the back end may be sliding out more than it used to and things like that.
Tires usually last about five years, so if you’ve had them for four or five years it might be time to have a look at them. Tires should look dark black, after you wipe the dirt off them. Old tires will have the knobs rounding down, which reduces grip. And they will look weathered and faded, either from the sun or because they are old.
If you notice any cracking in the rubber, you might need new tires. The tires rubber material gets dried out and cracks over time weakening the tire.
TIP: Keep your tires inflated to the proper psi, that will help your tires last longer and your quad will handle better. A good standard ATV tire pressure is around 5 psi for normal riders. If you want to learn more about tire pressure or even customize your tire pressure to fit your style of riding check out the ATV Tire Pressure article here.
Taking care of your ATV wheels is just as important as the tires. If you buy brand new excellent quality tires and put them on cracked rims, they could pop your brand new tires. There are a few different types of rims and they have their respective purposes.
The most common type of ATV rim is made out of steel. That’s because they are cheap and easy to make, but they are also heavy. Heavy wheels aren’t good for every situation. For example, if you plan on going sand riding in the dunes, you want a light weight wheel to put paddle tires on. Aluminum alloy or magnesium alloy rims are recommended for the dunes. People also upgrade their rims based on their riding style and preference. Larger wheels will give you more power, but smaller wheels will give you more speed.
If you aren’t going to be doing any professional racing or riding in extreme terrain, the normal stock rims are probably fine. But if you need to replace them, or want to upgrade to a lighter wheel, you should know how to read your wheel size.
The wheel size is usually stamped right into the rim itself. It might look something like this, 8×8,3+5,4/110. The first 8 is the diameter of the wheel, that means you need a tire with that diameter to fit it. The second 8 is the width of the wheel. The 3+5 is the offset of the wheel, this wheel would be 3″ off center and 5″ offset to the outside. I’ll tell you about offset in a bit. The 4 is how many bolt holes (lugs) in the rim, and the 110 is the spacing of bolt holes in millimeters.
ATV Wheel Offset
Your ATV wheel offset can be changed so that the quad will handle how you like it to. If you’re not having handling problems with your ATV, you probably don’t need to worry about this. But if you don’t like how it handles, it could be too loose or too stiff, then you can change the width of the front or rear end to handle how you want it to.
There is an inner wheel half and an outer wheel half as they align with the hub. Our example will be a 3+5 wheel offset. As you can see in the picture below, the 3 represents 3″ on the inner wheel half, and the 5 means 5″ on the outer wheel half.
The inner wheel half is the side facing the ATV, and the outer is the side facing away from the ATV. The hub is where your rim mounts to your quad. Adjusting the wheel offset is basically bringing the wheel closer or further away from the ATV.
Some people will get rims with a negative offset like 2+5 in order to widen the stance of their quad. This is mostly done for looks rather than handling. Although some quads with a straight axle in the rear take a 2+5 wheel, the most common wheel offset is 5+2. Almost all utility ATVs and UTVs will have a 5+2 offset, as well as any quad with independent rear suspension.