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Let's Talk Mud Tires for Your ATV

The great twentieth-century poet and author, E.E. Cummings, reminds us that the world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.€ For me this sentiment hearkens me back to my youth, that time as a child when pouring rain wasn't a hindrance, but rather a gift from Heaven, bringing with it many wonderful opportunities for play. Thousands of mud puddles formed after each storm, providing the innocence and imagination of youth with a brown, dirty, icky and oh so joyous opportunity to splash the hell out of everyone for hours on end.

As an adult, the carefree splattering of mud is no longer fun. Now it involves work like mopping the floor, washing laundry, and hosing off your shoes before you come into the house. Unless you are a four-wheeler owner with a good set of ATV mud tires, when all you hope for is deep, wet tracts of oozing gunk as far as the eye can see.

I know it's the middle of winter now, but it won't be long before melting begins and mud season is upon us.

Dirty Talk - Riding Your ATV Through Mud

Before discussing specific tire options, you need to think about the types of terrain you most frequently ride in; that's going to determine the best tires for you. Consider the following terrain types and how much of each type you cross in a typical ride.

  • Pure Mud
    Perhaps you live near the swamps of the deep south or the wet bogs of the northeast and just love to dig in the water. When the mud is up to your axles for most of the day, you know you'll need skill, specialized equipment, and a touch of courage.
  • Rain-Drenched
    Mountain trails, old Jeep roads, and anywhere else that gets a good soaking can offer slick, goopy surfaces to challenge any rider.
  • Varied
    Perhaps the most common type of riding. The trail begins at a nice firm trtrailheadthen crosses a few small streams, meanders through an open field, bogs down in water-filled ruts, and then ends up on a slick of snow that refuses to melt.
  • Hard-Packed
    Let's face it, some riders just want to stick to the roads and prefer good weather. To each his own, but their biggest problem will be dehydrated mud.

There are many terrain types, so it's important to evaluate what kinds of riding you do and how often. The answers you come up with will determine the best mud tires for you.

Choosing the Right ATV Mud Tire

First, let's talk about the three levels, or classes, of ATV mud tires. Since there are no official names for these categories, I'm making up my own.

  • All Around Good Guys
    Excellent for most types of terrain. Tires in this class have a good sturdy tread for traction on muddy or slick surfaces, but aren't so heavy to that you'll feel like you're riding a washing machine. They offer a generally smooth ride much of the time, as well as a good bite when you need it. Stay out of the swamps, though, or you'll be walking home.

Examples: Maxxis Bighorn, Kenda Bear Claw, GBC Spartacus

  • Dishin' the Dirt
    These mud-eaters are going to have some pretty deep tread, usually with a curved design for self-cleaning (engineered to shed mud or snow from the tread to maintain a strong bite). You can still ride this class of tire on most surfaces, but be warned, the ride will shake your groove thing like Peaches & Herb on their way to a Bedazzler sale at a rhinestone outlet. Too much use on hard surfaces will wear these tires a little, but you can't go wrong; they'll get you through just about anything.

Examples: ITP Mudlite, GBC Gator, Kenda Executioner

  • Mudder Lode
    The bad boys of mud riding, these tires have lugs so big they look like they could power a side wheeler up the Mississippi. Not the kind of tires you ride to the corner store, but perfect for defeating the deepest, wettest messes Mother Nature can throw at you. Best suited for aggressive riders on modified equipment, tires in this class aren't for the faint of heart.

Examples: Super Grip Mud Bitch, Interco Vampire, Gorilla Silverback

Here's Mud in Your Eye

Whether you're a hardcore mud maniac or a little mellower like me, the best way to conquer any size of puddle is with the right ATV mud tires. And, if you're a bit of a prankster, you can do like my friend shown in the pictures of this blog — leave your wife stuck in the middle of a mud hole. You'll get a good laugh out of all your friends until you show up at their doorstep looking for a new place to live.

Ryan Richards

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