All About ATV Tires
By Midwest Traction on May 2, 2018
Understanding your tires will help you find the right fit for your riding preferences. This post is here to clarify a few things, but if you’re still a bit lost, give us a call! Our sales reps will get you squared away.
We get this question a lot:
Does my tire come with a rim? No. If you order a tire and require a wheel, you’ll need to order that separately.
You may see measurements like 12x7. This means the wheel is 12" high (bead to bead) and 7" wide. As far as materials, steel wheels will last longer but are heavier. Aluminum alloy is a cheaper, lighter option, and if you're looking for something even lighter, magnesium alloy is about 30% lighter than that. While it's a durable material, it is prone to rust.
The distance between where the tire is mounted to the centerline of the rim is the offset. To find it, measure the distance from the center weld to the center bead area on both sides. (The outer edge is the one with the valve stem.)
To calculate the offset, take the inside measurement to the center and add it to the outside measurement. Note: This is NOT the same as wheel diameter. Wheel diameter is the width of the bead, not the rim. Your first measurement will be the off-center inside, and the second is the off-center outside.
Ex: 5+2. Mounting hub is 5" offset from the back of the wheel (closest to the vehicle) and 2" from the front of the wheel (closest to the street).
Located in the exact center of the rim width.
Fits further into the fender well.
Most often, a positive offset is found on 2WD front operated vehicles and all front and rear independent 4WD. The mounting pad position is in front of (outboard) the centerline, which is closer to the street side.
Typically found on standard rear-wheel drive ATVs or reversed/deep dished rims, a negative offset accommodates larger tires and improves stability, but it comes at the cost of bump-steer and fatiguing the wheel bearings.
The mounting pad sits behind (inboard) the centerline, closer to the vehicle side.
Ex: 4/110. Means there are 4 bolt holes with 110 mm between opposing holes. These must match the OEM wheel. Smaller vehicles typically have a smaller number of bolts, larger has more. The distance between bolts is measured through the center of the imaginary circle they make (diameter).
Bolt pattern is sometimes referred to as Pitch Circle Diameter (PCD). They usually come in 3, 4, or 5 lug patterns.
Example size: 4/110 = 4 bolt holes with 110 mm between opposite holes.
The number of lugs/holes must match the OEM wheel. Smaller vehicles will have fewer bolts and larger vehicles will have more. The distance between the bolts is measured through the center of the imaginary circle they make.
3 lug patterns are measured by creating an imaginary circle connecting the 3 lugs and drawing a line through the middle.
4 lug patterns use the distance between diagonal holes, measuring from the center of each lug.
5 lug patterns are a bit more tricky to measure, as no lugs have truly opposite holes. To estimate the distance, measure a straight line from the back of one hole to the center of the one that would be across from it. If you desire an accurate measurement, utilize a bolt pattern gauge.
The type of tire you use depends on the application and location where you'll ride. These are the greatest influencers of ride comfort and safety, so it helps to know what you're looking for.
Look for medium depth tread that’s less than an inch. These tires are great for year-round use on non-extreme conditions, but they don’t perform well in mud or snow. Consider investing in ATV tire chains, or prepare to purchase separate tires for those applications as needed.
These tires feature a lower profile and an aggressive, uniform tread pattern to provide grip while maximizing surface contact. You’re looking for speed and consistent cornering, handling, and control capabilities, which requires stiff knobs and wide spaced treads for bite and cleanout. These tires will be more flexible, but that means they’ll wear out faster.
Sand tires look different than any other ATV tire and feature two different treads in the front and back. The front will feature a smooth or singular center rib to provide floatation and steering while the rear features paddles to propel your vehicle through the loose surface.
Look for heavy duty tires with strong treads and high ply ratings. You’ll need extra durable tires with more lugs on the shoulder and a tighter tread pattern to increase your contact with the surfaces you’ll be encountering. Seek deep, angled groove designs for extra grip on rocks.
Mud and Snow
For looser terrain, wide, deep treads are a necessity. These tires are not good on hard surfaces like pavement or hardpack, and they’re not for turf. Tread depth should be between 1 to 1.5 inches with large, deep lugs that look like shovels. Rubber on this type will be much stiffer. If you need extra grip, consider ATV tire chains.
ATV Tire Sizing
Finding Your ATV Tire Size
Knowing this information expedites the process of replacing your tire, but if you need help, our sales team can walk you through it on the phone.
The markings on your tire’s sidewall carry a lot of important data, so we’re going to break it down. Refer to the infographic at right to capture the most crucial information quickly.
Example: The image to the right depicts a radial tire that's 23-10R-12. If the measurement looked like this 23-10-12, it would be a bias ply tire that's 23" in height, 10" in width, and has a wheel diameter of 12".
Bias vs Radial
Choosing bias versus radial depends on the ride you're hoping to get from your tire.
These tires tend to offer more flexibility, which is important when you need to maximize contact with the terrain. They feature criss crossed ply cords, typically at an angle of 30*-60* overlapping across the centerline. Additional flexibility means the tire rides more comfortably on rough surfaces, but they tend to wear out more quickly.
These combine both ply and belt cords for more reinforcement that are laid at 90* angle to the centerline of the tire and overlap bead to bead. Because they're stiffer, they last longer and result in better control and handling with more puncture resistance than a bias ply version. They perform best on smoother terrain, as the stiff carcass makes uneven surfaces feel bumpier.
The higher the number, the stronger the tire. However, this comes at the cost of weight. A higher ply rating will result in a heavier tire. For racing, you'll want lighter tires, but for something like extreme off-roading or places where objects are likely to puncture your tire, you'll want a higher ply rating.
Terms You Might See
Bead Seat - The position where ATV tire rests and seals on inside of the rim
Center Bore - The hole in the center of the wheel machined to match the hub of specified vehicles
Hub Centric - The center bore hole matches the hub diameter to center the wheel via the center hole instead of the lug nuts
Lug Centric - Centered by bolt holes rather than the center bore
Mounting Pad - The surface on the back of the wheel’s center that comes in contact with the brake drum or rotor surface
Backside Setting/Backspacing - The measure from the mounting pad to the inner edge of the wheel
Rim Width - Width measure from bead to bead, rather than edge to edge
Rim Diameter - The overall measure of the wheel’s bead seat
Rim Flange - The outermost edge of the rim that clip-on weights attach to
Safety Bead - Raised area circling the rim of the wheel located slightly inward from bead seat