ATV Tires: The Ultimate Guide
Written by Carolyn Jackson
Just like a car, the tires wear down on ATV and will eventually need to be replaced. For cars, the timeframe for replacement is measured in miles driven and is usually between 25,000 and 50,000. For ATVs, knowing when to replace tires is a little more subjective but equally important for your vehicle’s safety and longevity.
In the ATV Tires: Ultimate Guide, we’ll cover the FAQs around ATV tires, including when to replace them, what kind of brands are out there, and how to maintain ATV tires for years to come.
- There are five primary types of ATV tires that specialize in different terrains
- ATV tires cost between $75 and $200 per tire, on average
- Do some research online before choosing a tire to purchase for your ATV
Table of Contents
ATV Tires: A Quick Overview
ATV tires are surprisingly important for the overall effect and enjoyment of off-roading. Most ATVs come standard from the factory with All-Terrain tires, but five different types of ATV tires are available, each specializing in different terrain types.
1. All-Terrain Tires
All-terrain ATV tires excel in environments like soft-packed trails, water, grass, light mud, pavement, and gravel. They can be used on the street or in snow/sand but are not specialized to excel in those environments. All-terrain tires have aggressive treads to handle multiple types of terrain. All-terrain tires typically wear out faster than their counterparts because of their flexibility to handle multiple terrain types. Most ATVs come standard with All-Terrain tires.
2. Snow and Sand Tires
Snow and sand tires are typically described as paddle tires. They resemble a water wheel that would generate power in that they have large treads at even intervals on the outside of the tire. (image below) The paddles (the rubber pieces poking out) add traction and control in environments like sand or snow. The paddle tires will work well in packed snow, loose snow, sand, dunes, and even mud with consistent forward motion.
Note: Paddle tires are not suited for day-to-day riding or hard-packed surfaces like pavement or trail. Using snow or sand tires on the incorrect surfaces will wear them down faster and lead to troubling damage. However, as long as you only use these tires on snow and sand, they will likely last longer than any other type of ATV tire.
3. Mudding Tires
Mudding tires are similar to snow and sand ATV tires in that they also utilize the paddle structure. Tires designed specifically for mudding usually have very aggressive paddles spaced further apart to ensure mud does not pack into the voids in the tires, creating a loss of traction. Just like sand or snow tires, using paddle tires outside of a muddy environment will be a bumpy ride, and the wear and tear will occur exponentially quicker.
Mudding ATV tires are sometimes made with multiple rubber layers, so they are less likely to pop, adding weight for increased control and navigation.
4. Street Tires
Like all-terrain tires, street ATV tires do well on packers surfaces like gravel, trails, or pavement. Adding street tires to your ATV can make these vehicles street legal. Street tires have significantly smaller treads and are designed for a smoother ride. You can expect street tires to wear the fastest because of how rough pavement is on the rubber tires.
Pro Tip: Check your state and local requirements to see what tires are required for your ATV to be street legal.
5. Racing Tires
The final type of ATV tire is a racing tire. These are built with agility, speed, and handling in mind. They’re designed to help with turning and picking up acceleration quickly. Racing tires have a more regulated tread pattern with sharp edges designed for grip and constant contact with the more compact trails for racing ATVs. Racing tires usually wear out at the same rate as street tires because they are used at such high speeds for longer periods.
When to Replace ATV Tires
As you may have gathered reading the different ATV tires, it all comes down to the tread and the tire’s health. Unlike counting in engine hours or miles driven, ATV tires are diagnosed subjectively by how much tread remains, the ride’s feel, and any glaring damages to the tires.
When deciding to replace your ATV tires, there are three things to consider:
- Check the tread and compare it to the manufacturer details
- Notice if the feel of your ride has changed (gradually or suddenly)
- Periodically check your tires for punctures, air pressure, and damages
The best course of action for caring for ATV tires is to use them in the right place. ATV tires are very intentionally made for unique types of terrain and struggle to perform well for places they are not designed for. Do not use a paddle tire on asphalt, or when you go out trail riding, you will find the ride unenjoyable, and your tire quality will suffer greatly.
Additionally, it is highly recommended to inspect your ATV tires after each ride. If you ride daily, set a reminder in your phone to inspect all four tires once every month or so. When you inspect your ATV tires, look for the following:
- Rips or tears
- Bald spots
- Tread health
- Air pressure
It is unsafe to ride an ATV if the tread has worn too thin, so please be conscientious of maintaining your tires, rotating them when necessary, and replacing them before they become a hazard.
What Brands of ATV Tires Should I Buy?
There are dozens of ATV tire brands on the market. Many of them are widely available and considered knock-offs of the main contenders in the ATV tire market. Here is a list of some of the top brands and what they are known for:
Maxxis is known for its racing tires as well as snow tires. They have a solid collection of ATV tires and UTV and SxS tires that make for excellent after-market upgrades. Prices range from the low $100s up to $300.
Sedona is a great all-around ATV tire company. They make performance/racing ATV tires, sand/snow tires, all-terrain tires, as well as a large collection of mudding tires for ATVs. Their prices range from $70 to over $300 per tire.
Kenda is a well-known and highly reviewed ATV tire manufacturer. They make tires that represent all five categories of ATV tires we’ve mentioned and then some. Kenda’s tires are more affordable, ranging from $30 per tire up to a little over $100 per tire.
ITP is noteworthy because they truly specialize in ATV tires. They make tires for all-terrain vehicles, including ATVs, UTV, and golf carts, and have tires for every terrain you could traverse. Typically ITP tires cost anywhere from $50 a piece to $250 apiece.
Carlisle has one of the bigger collections of ATV tires available from a single manufacturer. They make tires for various products, all related by their practical uses, such as combines, tractors, lawnmowers, etc. Carlisle prices are in the $80-$175 range most typically.
GBC is a great all-around ATV tire brand, especially for aftermarket upgrades. They have what seems like a tire for everything, from performance to mud and sand to snow and rock. Most GBC tires land in the $50-$150 range, making it one of the more affordable brands on our list.
How Much Do ATV Tires Cost?
ATV tires cost about the same as a car tire, or perhaps a little less if you go for a budget option. Typically, you can expect to pay between $75 and $200 per tire. If you ride more than 3 hours every week, you can sometimes expect to change your tires every 3-4 months. However, if you ride less frequently or on less harsh terrain, it could be significantly longer between tire replacements. Also, rotating your tires can help increase their lifespan.
What drives the cost of ATV tires?
- Size: The larger the tire, the more it will cost. This is why youth ATV tires are almost always under $100, but you can find full-sized sand ATV tires for over $400 apiece. Stock ATV tires are typically 25-26 inches in diameter and 6-10 inches wide, but if you are replacing the manufacturer tires, a bigger tire is more desirable. Tires can get up to 32 inches in diameter for some mudding tire options.
- Tread: The more aggressive the tread, the more you can expect the tire to cost. For example, a beefy paddle sand tire with huge indents from the tread will cost more than a street or all-terrain ATV tire.
- Commonality: If the tire you are looking for is frequently purchased and widely available, it will likely cost less. Tires that are specialized or even made specifically for one vehicle will cost significantly more than a standard tire.
Pro Tip: In general, you can go up one inch in diameter (height) and width from the manufacturer tire that came with your ATV without causing suspension and driveline issues. If you want larger tires than this, you will need to increase your ATV’s clearance with a lift kit.
How to Read ATV Tire Sizes
ATV tires come in unique sizes, with an even more unique method of describing that size succinctly. The format you will see online and when tire shopping for ATV tires is as follows:
- The first number (25) is the overall height or diameter of the tire. In this example, the tire is 25 inches in height (diameter).
- The second number (8) is the overall width of the tire. In the above example, the tire is 8 inches in width.
- The third number (12) is the rim diameter of the tire. In this example, the tire’s rim diameter is 12 inches, which means this tire is designed to mount on a 12” rim.
How to Buy ATV Tires
When searching for new tires to update or upgrade your ATV, your first stop should be the internet. Cliche, we know. But it is paramount to do some research on your ATV, what it can handle, what it currently has, and how much tires you are interested in cost on average. This will prime you for any conversations moving forward.
Next, we recommend contacting your dealer you purchased the ATV from. The dealer should know many different ATV tire types and have some additional knowledge from working in the industry that might help you decide. Additionally, suppose you purchased your ATV used or do not want to go to a dealer. In that case, you can go directly to your manufacturer’s website and see if they have any affiliation with any tire manufacturers. However, note you will likely still need to work with a dealership or mechanic to install the tires.
What to think about when purchasing ATV tires
- Installation cost
- Shipping cost
- Taxes and fees such as federal or state disposal fees
- Balancing/Alignment fees
Pro Tip: Often, if you purchase four tires simultaneously, you will get a discount either on the product or on the installation.
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