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What Is The Right Ply Rating For Your Tire?

How much do you really know about the ply rating on your ATV tires? It's certainly not as exciting as talking about off-roading, but sometimes the devil is in the details.

Ply ratings appear on a tire's sidewall to identify how much load the tire can carry. The load is only accurate if tires are kept at the industry-specified pressure. The ply rating and the tire construction each have an affect on the tire's pliability, stability and handling characteristics.

Radial vs. Bias Ply


These have a stronger casing and sidewall, utilizing plies or belts (typically rubber-coated plies composed of textile cords, usually nylon) for better puncture resistance, which run diagonally from one bead to the other. One ply is set on a bias in one direction, and succeeding plies are set alternately in opposing directions crossing each other.

Bias tires can handle rougher terrain and steeper hillsides. But they make for a rougher ride and the tread wears out faster, especially if you drive too much on hard-surfaced roads. Bias tires are not as stable at higher speeds and have a poorer fuel economy than radials. Riders prefer bias tires for their ease of repair and lower cost.


These have a single layer of rubber-coated steel cables arching from one bead to the other to form the tire casing. Rubber-coated steel belts are placed in the crown under the tread to form a strong stabilizing unit. Radial can handle higher speeds, have a smoother ride and a longer tread life. Radial tires are more flexible, which reduces rolling resistance and provides a better fuel economy. They cost more, puncture more readily, and are difficult to repair, though they shouldn't need replacing as often.

Which is Best?

When choosing, it comes down to what kind of rider you are. If you ride in a rough environment that often leads to tire punctures and don't plan to use your ATV on hard surfaces very often, go bias. If you ride more on hard surfaces and want to go faster while maintaining control, go radial.

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