ATV Wheels high quality tread
ATV Maintenance Tips

How to Measure for New ATV Wheels and Tires

Owners are always exploring ways to increase their ATVs’ performance, and one of the best and easiest ways to accomplish that goal is to upgrade the vehicle’s tires. However, the majority of owners have no idea how to choose the best tires for an ATV. Measuring for tires and wheels is certainly going to be an important step, and there are specific factors to consider when doing so.

ATV tires river crossing water

Where Do You Ride?

When selecting ATV tires and wheels, it’s always crucial to determine where you’ll be riding the ATV, as the tires chosen should be matched to the riding conditions. In many instances, it will make sense to have more than one set of ATV wheels and tires on hand if you live in an area where conditions change dramatically from one season to the next.

For example, many riders live in regions where warm-weather months mean lots of trail riding over a variety of conditions. Those riders may want to consider all-terrain tires for most of the year. However, if they live in areas with a lot of with a lot of snow during the winter months, having a second set of tires and wheels designed to take on deep snow.

Crawler tires are ideal for riders who live in regions with lots of rocks. These are also known as rock tires and are constructed to change shape easily when traversing rocky areas. That means they’re less likely to see damage from the rocks.

Sand tires are designed to float on the top of sand rather than sinking in, which makes them ideal for beach areas or the dunes of the Southwest. The tread on these tires is also intended to provide enhanced handling characteristics when riding on sand.

The final major category is mud tires. Mud tires have a unique lug pattern that improves traction in especially slippery, mucky conditions. The treads are designed to be self-cleaning, which means you won’t lose traction when moving through boggy areas.

atv quad wheels basic knobby desert

Always Keep Safety in Mind

Safety experts encourage all ATV owners to pay attention to safety issues while riding. In the case of tires and wheels, that means checking the wheels for damage before every ride. Even a minor crack indicates it’s time to replace the wheel. Tires must be kept properly inflated and their condition must be monitored to spot damage before a tire failure can occur.

If you’re upgrading your ATV’s wheels and tires, look for wheels that are crafted with safety in mind. When replacing tires, always purchase quality tires from respected suppliers. Never take safety for granted, as even a minor incident can result in serious injuries.

Of course, safety experts always encourage riders to be familiar with their ATVs’ maintenance requirements to ensure accident risks are minimized.

atv snow tiers

Understanding the Pros and Cons of Larger ATV Tires

In most cases, the tires provided with ATVs are intended to provide the buyer with a balance of performance characteristics. In many cases, ATVs being sold in a specific region will be equipped with the most common tires used in that region. While those tires may be okay for nominal off-road conditions, they are probably less than ideal for the harsher conditions many riders typically experience.

Most riders looking for a performance boost from their ATVs opt to upgrade to bigger tires. Indeed, there are numerous benefits to moving to a larger size of tire, but there are also some drawbacks to consider.

Advantages of Larger ATV Tires and Wheels

First, let’s look at the benefits of upgrading to larger tires and wheels. The most obvious advantage of moving to larger tires and wheels is better traction. In virtually every situation, larger tires make it less likely riders will find themselves stuck in sand, muck, or snow. That’s a huge advantage, especially for riders who frequently ride alone.

Next, larger tires and wheels mean the ground clearance of the ATV will increase. While gaining an inch or two of clearance may not seem like a big deal, but even a minimal increase in ground clearance can mean the difference between high centering on a rock and damaging your ATV and enjoying a full day of carefree riding.

Finally, bigger ATV tires and wheels look better. While looks may not matter to some owners, the vast majority of ATV owners care about appearances. Adding accessories is one way to improve the look and feel of a factory-stock ATV, with new, larger wheels and tires being a favorite add-on.

Disadvantages of Increasing the Size of ATV Tires and Wheels

So, just what issues might ATV owners face after installing larger tires and wheels? Here are just a few potential problems they might experience:

  • Reduced low-end power. Larger tires mean the rider will have less off-the-line power available. This isn’t a big issue for many riders, but there are times when any power reduction can be a major disadvantage.
  • Body and suspension clearance problems. Bigger tires and wheels will mean less room for components when moving over trail obstacles or turning. Damage to body panels, tires, and other parts can occur.

  • Increased wear on all drive components. Clutches are especially prone to increased wear, but other drivetrain parts can also be impacted. Axles, bearings, and belts all wear faster when they’re required to deal with larger wheels and tires.

  • A higher risk of rollover accidents. Increased clearance is always great, but that increase changes the ATV’s center of gravity, which means the potential for rollover accidents is higher.
  • Unsprung weight is increased. Larger tires and wheels are generally a little heavier than smaller ones. When moving to larger wheels and tires, look the combined weight of the larger wheels and tires. Choose lighter wheels when possible to offset the increased weight of the tires.

Even though there are issues that must be dealt with when wheel and tire sizes are increased, there are always ways to resolve those problems.

First, it’s important to understand the design characteristics of your ATV. Every manufacturer matches the wheels and tires to other components of their ATVs. That simply means handling, clearance, and power dynamics are all impacted by the wheels and tires installed. So, when you’re moving to larger ATV wheels and tires, paying close attention to associated design details is going to be important.

If you’re only going to increase the tire size by one or two increments, there may be no issues. Manufacturers of most smaller ATVs caution against moving up more than one tire size without making other modifications. Larger ATVs can normally be fitted with tires up to two sizes larger than the original tires without any problems. However, going beyond that point will almost certainly require some modifications.

ATV Tire Wheel Measurement Clearance

Choosing the Best Clearance Solutions When Installing Larger ATV Wheels and Tires

Riders generally understand there will be issues to face when upgrading to larger ATV wheels and tires and are willing to take the steps necessary to resolve those problems. So, where should the start?

  • First, measure all clearances with the stock wheels and tires. That means both the height and width of both wheels and tires. In many cases, this data is readily available from the manufacturer, but it still doesn’t hurt to take your own measurements. Measure how much space is available between the tires and wheels and body panels. Turn the wheels to the maximum in both directions and see how much space is available before any components are hit.

  • Next, consider wheel travel. How much suspension movement is there before other components interfere with that travel? If wheel travel will be compromised by installing larger wheels and tires, other modifications may be necessary.

  • Finally, consider what mechanical changes may be required to ensure reliability on the trail. If significantly larger wheels and tires are being considered, upgrading the ATV’s driveline may be required. Again, remember that one or two increases in size are unlikely to create any problems.

If you’re facing clearance issues, there are some solutions to look at. First, a minor clearance issue might be resolved easily with spacers. Spacers will move the wheel outward slightly and increase the clearance for turning. Wheel offsets can also be changed to manage a clearance issue. Check offsets on the wheel provider’s site to see what options are available.

Wheel travel and ground clearance can be enhanced with a lift kit. Remember, however, that simply lifting an ATV will increase the risk of a rollover accident. The lift kit selected should also be designed to increase the stance of the ATV to keep that risk to a minimum. That improved width also eliminates steering issues typically encountered when larger wheels and tires are installed.

Now, you’re ready to look at new wheel and tire combinations. Remember to keep those measurements handy when shopping for new wheels and tires, and consider purchasing other components intended to make the move to larger ATV wheels and tires easier.

Upgrading your ATV’s wheels and tires provides a great way to enhance the vehicle’s performance, and choosing the right sizes and styles will always be vitally important. If you’ve got questions, it pays to ask for advice from the experts before choosing those wheels and tires.

ATV Maintenance Tips

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