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The Best ATV Tires

a group of ATV tires with treads

The roar of an ATV engine, the thrill of speeding across open trails, the rush of adventure—riding an all-terrain vehicle delivers an unparalleled adrenaline surge. But while ATVs are built tough to handle all types of terrain, having the proper tires can transform your off-roading experience. With the wrong tires, your ride can quickly turn into a slippery, bumpy nightmare. Equipped with the ideal rubber for your vehicle and conditions, you’ll stay in control no matter the landscape.

This guide will cover everything you need to know about selecting ATV tires to maximize performance, safety and fun. We’ll explore different tire constructions, tread patterns, ply ratings and specific recommendations for mud, sand, rocks, trails and mixed terrain. By understanding ATV tire basics and matching the best design to your riding style, you can conquer any landscape with confidence. Let’s hit the trails!

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Types of ATVs

ATVs come in different styles to suit a variety of purposes. The main types of ATVs are:

 

Sport ATVs

Sport ATVs are built for recreation and high performance. They typically have large, low-pressure tires with deep tread for extra traction. Sport ATVs are designed for one rider and have a straddle-style seat. They are lighter weight than other types and optimized for precise handling, acceleration, and thrill-seeking rides.

 

Utility ATVs

Utility ATVs are made for work applications and rugged terrain. They have higher ground clearance and can haul cargo or pull trailers. Utility ATV models may come with 2-wheel drive for basic needs or 4-wheel drive with differential locking for challenging conditions. They are stable and durable with stouter frames.

 

2-Wheel Drive ATVs

2-wheel drive ATVs power either the front or rear set of wheels. 2WD systems are lighter, more nimble, and simpler to maintain. They provide adequate traction for flat trails and groomed terrain. 2WD ATVs cost less than 4WD versions.

 

4-Wheel Drive ATVs

4-wheel drive ATVs deliver power to all four wheels for maximum traction. The operator can engage 4WD when needed for wet terrain, steep hills, or hauling heavy loads. These ATVs have greater pulling strength and stability in rough conditions. 4WD does add complexity and weight.

 

Terrain Considerations

The type of terrain you’ll be riding on is a key factor in choosing the right ATV tires. Each terrain type requires tires with specific features to provide optimal traction and control.

 

Mud

For muddy conditions, look for ATV tires with deep, aggressive tread lugs that can penetrate through the mud and grip the ground below. Wider spaced lugs help prevent mud buildup in the tread. A rounded tread profile also works well to eject mud as the tire rotates.

 

Sand

Sand dunes and beaches demand ATV tires with paddle-like tread blocks to float atop the loose sand. Wide, siped lugs provide maximum surface area to gain traction. An open tread pattern prevents sand compaction within the tire. Radial tires excel in sand with their increased flexibility.

 

Rocks

Rocky terrain requires durable ATV tires to resist punctures. A tread pattern with tightly spaced lugs delivers better grip on hard surfaces. Staggered shoulder lugs provide extra side bite for cornering over rocks. A stiff carcass prevents tire deflection against sharp rocks.

 

Hills

For climbing hills, choose ATV tires that resist rolling resistance. Radial tires typically have less drag while ascending slopes. A round profile minimizes flexing as the tire deforms over bumps and inclines. The tread compound should also remain pliable for grip even in cold weather hills.

 

Trails

On dirt trails, look for versatile ATV tires with an open tread pattern to shed mud and debris. Interlocking center lugs enhance straight line stability while cornering lugs improve grip during turns. The tread blocks should be tapered to minimize vibration on uneven terrain.

 

Mixed Conditions

For a mix of terrains, consider a hybrid ATV tire with an adaptable tread design. These tires have some spaced lugs for mud traction combined with a stiffer pattern in the center for hard surfaces. While a compromise, hybrid tires provide decent all-around performance.

 

Tire Construction: Bias vs. Radial

When shopping for ATV tires, one of the first decisions is whether to choose a bias or radial construction. Bias tires have been around for decades and use crisscrossing layers of ply cords at a 30-40 degree angle. This creates a very rigid sidewall that handles heavy loads well. However, the drawback is increased rolling resistance which reduces fuel efficiency.

Radial tires have ply cords running at a 90 degree angle perpendicular to the tread. They have more flexible sidewalls that deflect easily over bumps, improving ride comfort and handling. Radials also benefit from lower rolling resistance, enhancing speed and fuel economy. The tradeoff is a less durable sidewall not ideal for rugged utility use.

Here are some key differences between bias and radial ATV tires:

 

  • Bias ply tires have a rigid sidewall while radials have more flexible sidewalls.
  • Radials provide better handling, cornering, and a smoother ride.
  • Bias tires withstand heavy loads and rugged terrain better than radials.
  • Radials have less rolling resistance which improves acceleration and fuel efficiency.
  • Bias construction costs less than radial tires.

 

For aggressive riding over rocks or through mud, a bias ply tire is a smart choice. They are less likely to get sidewall punctures. For recreational trail use and dune riding, radial tires offer superior handling and control. Evaluate your needs to decide whether bias or radial construction is right for your ATV.

 

Tire Ply Strength

One of the key factors in choosing ATV tires is the ply rating, which indicates the strength and durability of the tire. Ply refers to the number of layers of rubber-coated fabric in the makeup of the tire. Most ATV tires will have a ply rating between 4-8.

4-ply tires are typically best suited for recreation and light trail riding. They provide good traction and ride comfort, while being lightweight and affordable. The main downside is they lack durability for heavy loads or rugged terrain.

6-ply tires offer a good balance of strength, tread life, and ride quality. They are ideal for all-around ATV use on trails and varying terrain. The extra plies give increased puncture resistance compared to 4-ply.

8-ply tires are the toughest and most durable choice. With their robust construction, they can handle heavy loads, sharp rocks, and rugged utility use. The thick tread and sidewalls resist punctures and abrasions. The trade-off is a stiffer ride and heavier weight.

For farm, ranch, and heavy duty hauling use, 8-ply tires are recommended. For casual trail riding and lighter loads, 4-ply or 6-ply tires should suffice. Evaluating your specific needs and riding style will determine the right ply rating.

 

Tread Patterns

The tread pattern on ATV tires is a key factor in determining performance in different conditions. The tread refers to the arrangement and depth of grooves, lugs, and sipes on the tire surface. Choosing the right tread pattern can optimize traction, handling, and control for your specific riding environment.

Deep tread lugs with an aggressive pattern excel in muddy terrain, swamps, and loose dirt. The widely spaced lugs help eject mud and debris, while biting into soft ground. Deep lugs also provide plenty of edges to grip surfaces. However, these tires may vibrate and buzz on hard surfaces.

Tires with a more open tread pattern are ideal for rocks, packed earth, hard trails, and other firm terrain. The pattern provides plenty of surface contact while allowing small rocks and gravel to eject through the grooves. Open treads also tend to run smoother on paved roads. However, they lose some traction in soft conditions.

Paddle-style tires are specially designed for maximum traction in sand dunes, beaches, and desert riding. The paddle lugs have curved edges to actively scoop and funnel sand, keeping the tire surface clear. The paddle effect also prevents side slippage on hills and inclines. However, paddle tires compromise performance on other terrains.

Considering where you predominantly ride can help narrow down the optimal tread pattern. There are also hybrid all-terrain treads that aim for balanced performance across different conditions. While not specialized, they allow decent grip and control in both soft and firm environments.

 

Mud Tires

When riding through deep mud, swamps, and loose dirt, having tires with an aggressive tread pattern is crucial. Mud tires have large, widely spaced lugs that extend to the sidewalls. The deep open spaces allow mud to clear out as the tire rotates without getting packed in. Popular mud models include:

 

GBC Dirt Devil – With a unique “tri-bar” lug design, the Dirt Devil provides excellent traction in muddy conditions. The 8-ply rating makes it durable for rough utility use. Owners praise the stability and control from this tire when riding through thick mud bogs.

ITP Mud Lite – Featuring square-shouldered knobs, this tire excels at finding grip on muddy and soft terrain. The staggered lug pattern maintains constant contact with the ground as the tire spins. It has a 6-ply rating suitable for heavy 4×4 ATVs.

Sedona Mud Rebel – Built using a specialized compound and deep tread pattern, the Mud Rebel tackles mud pits and swampy trails with ease. It has curved outer knobs that dig into slick surfaces. The 8-ply rating provides strength and puncture resistance.

Maxxis M966 – With its unique paddle-like tread design, the Maxxis M966 propels through thick mud effortlessly. The staggered blocks provide a self-cleaning effect as they rotate. It has a 6-ply rating for stability under heavy loads.

When riding in predominantly muddy conditions, a dedicated mud tire like these models will provide the best traction and control. Their deep lugs and sturdy construction are ideal for combating messy terrain.

 

Sand Tires

ATV tires designed for optimum performance in sandy conditions feature large, paddle-like lugs to provide maximum traction. These paddle tires help the vehicle stay atop loose sand instead of sinking in. Some top sand tire models include:

 

ITP Holeshot GNCC: With its unique paddle design, this tire excels for duning, desert riding, and beaches. The side lugs give great side bite for cornering in soft sand.

Sedona Mud Rebel: This affordable tire has an open tread pattern to eject sand and prevent clogging. The paddle design and chunky lugs offer excellent forward drive.

GBC Sand Demon: Built for high speeds and acceleration in deep sand, this tire has staggered paddle lugs to reduce vibration. It works well for dunes and trails with sandy patches.

Maxxis Sand Wasp: Featuring a paddle design optimized for different UTVs, this tire throws sand effectively for superior cleaning and cool running.

High Lifter Outlaw 3: With extra wide paddles, this specialty sand tire has unbeatable traction for extreme duning. The durable carcass prevents sidewall punctures.

Look for paddle tires with self-cleaning properties to shed sand and prevent buildup in lugs. Wider tread widths like 10-14 inches tend to float better on sand than narrow tires too.

 

All-Terrain Tires

All-terrain tires are designed to provide decent traction across various surfaces without sacrificing ride quality. They strike a balance between mud, sand, and trail abilities. All-terrain ATV tires have an open tread pattern to shed mud and allow for self-cleaning. The lugs are spaced moderately apart to grab loose dirt and rocks. However, the lugs are not as prominent as a dedicated mud or trail tire.

All-terrain tires work well for ATV riders who encounter mixed conditions on a regular basis. They perform better overall on hard-packed trails, gravel, and forest floors compared to specialized mud or sand models. All-terrain tires are a jack of all trades but master of none.

Some of the top all-terrain ATV tire options include:

 

  • Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 – The Bighorn 2.0 is arguably the most popular all-terrain ATV tire due to its excellent traction and smooth ride across various terrains. The tread pattern is optimized for performance in mud, rocks, and on trails.
  • ITP Holeshot ATR – This tire handles high speeds well and provides great traction on hard-pack conditions. The staggered lug design grips loose dirt effectively.
  • Sedona Rip Saw – An affordable all-terrain choice with an aggressive tread for added bite. It excels on rocky trails and packed dirt.
  • Kenda Bearclaw HTR – A long-wearing all-terrain option with tightly spaced lugs to shed mud. The rounded profile adds stability.
  • Dunlop Quadmax Sport Radial – This radial tire has a continuous center rib to minimize vibration on trails. The tread pattern prevents buildup in mud and snow.

 

For ATV riders who split time between trails, dunes, mud pits, and more – an all-terrain model can be a great choice. Focus on tires with an open tread pattern to prevent clogging while maintaining responsive handling.

 

Rock Tires

Rock crawling is an extreme form of off-roading that requires tires with maximum traction and durability. Rock crawling tires need to grip uneven surfaces covered in jagged rocks and boulders. They also need to withstand constant abrasion from the unforgiving terrain.

Some of the top rock crawling tires include:

 

  • ITP Mud Lite XL – An 8-ply radial tire with a tread pattern designed to clean out and find grip on rocks. Sidewall lugs add lateral traction.
  • Maxxis Creepy Crawler – Features stone ejector ribs to prevent punctures and damage from rocks wedging in the tread. Made with a durable 6-ply carcass.
  • GBC Rock Crawler – An affordable 6-ply bias tire with an open tread pattern to shed mud and excel on rocks. Stone guards protect the sidewalls.
  • Sedona Rock-A-Billy – Uses a silica-reinforced tread compound to take on sharp rocks without chipping or tearing. An aggressive lug design for climbing.
  • Kenda Klever R/T – A radial rock tire with staggered shoulder lugs, split center tread, and angled middle knobs to crawl over large boulders.

 

Other key features of top rock crawling tires are a rounded tread profile to roll over rocks, sidewall protection, and a durable carcass material like DuPont Kevlar. Choose based on the type of rocky terrain you tackle most.

 

Trail Tires

Trail riding ATVs require tires that can handle a wide variety of surfaces from hard-packed dirt to loose gravel to muddy sections. The ideal trail tire provides stability, traction, and durability without compromising ride comfort.

Some of the top models for trail use include:

 

  • ITP Holeshot ATR: An all-terrain radial tire with an open, staggered lug pattern to shed mud and excel on trails. The 6-ply rated construction handles tough terrain.
  • Maxxis Bighorn 2.0: One of the most popular trail tires, the Bighorn uses a non-directional tread in 5, 6, and 8 ply ratings for all-around performance.
  • Sedona Trail Saw: An affordable 6-ply tire with large, widely spaced lugs to provide excellent traction in dirt, gravel, and mud when trail riding.
  • Kenda Bearclaw HTR: This trail tire uses a radial design and deep, open tread pattern to deliver a smooth, stable ride across varied off-road conditions.
  • ITP Mega Mayhem: With 8-ply construction, this heavy-duty tire is meant for aggressive riding on rocks, ruts, and tough terrain commonly found on ATV trails.

 

Choosing the right balance of traction, handling, comfort, and durability for your specific trail conditions will lead to better ride experiences and longer lasting tires.

 

Hybrid Tires

Hybrid tires are designed to provide traction and durability across varied terrain. They balance key elements of mud, trail, and all-terrain tires to handle a mix of conditions. Hybrids have moderately aggressive tread patterns with side lugs for lateral grip. The tread is usually not as deep as dedicated mud tires. Hybrids perform well on hard pack, loose dirt, gravel, wet surfaces, and mud. Popular hybrid tire models include:

 

Maxxis Bighorn: One of the most popular hybrid tires, the Bighorn offers excellent traction and tread life across different terrains. The tread pattern is suitable for trails, rocks, mud, and sand riding.

ITP Coyote: This hybrid tire has an open tread design to shed mud and excel on trails. The rounded tread profile provides a smooth ride on hard surfaces.

GBC Dirt Commander: With a versatile tread pattern, this hybrid tire handles everything from mud to hard pack terrain. An aggressive shoulder design boosts cornering grip.

Sedona Trail Boss: This tire balances smooth highway manners with capable trail performance. The tread design combines scoops, lugs, and grooves for multi-terrain traction.

Kenda Bearclaw HTR: The Bearclaw HTR is rated for higher sustained speeds on pavement but still hooks up well off-road. An open tread clears mud effectively.

Riders who split time between trails, mud, sand, and pavement may find a quality hybrid tire the ideal choice. Evaluate your most common riding conditions when selecting a hybrid model.

 

Tire Brands

When shopping for new ATV tires, you’ll come across many brands to choose from. Some of the top manufacturers of ATV tires include:

 

Maxxis

Maxxis is one of the most popular ATV tire brands on the market today. They offer a wide selection of tires for different terrains and conditions. Some of their top ATV tire models include the Bighorn, Bighorn 2.0, Carnivore, and Razr. Maxxis tires are known for providing excellent traction and durability.

 

ITP

ITP (Interco Tire Products) has been manufacturing ATV tires since 1982. They specialize in building rugged tires that can withstand punishing off-road conditions. Some of their most popular ATV tire lines include the Holeshot, Mega Mayhem, Mud Lite, and Versa. ITP tires excel at traction in mud, ruts, and loose terrain.

 

Kenda

Kenda is another leading brand in ATV tires providing a range of options from all-terrain to mud-specific tires. Top models from Kenda include the Bearclaw K299 and HTR, Klever M/T, and Executioner. Kenda ATV tires offer durability combined with excellent traction on trails, rocks, and other surfaces.

 

GBC Motorsports

GBC is a company that specializes in manufacturing tires for ATVs, UTVs, dirt bikes, and dune buggies. They are known for tires that provide aggressive tread patterns and deep lugs for maximum traction in mud, sand, and other extreme conditions. Some of their most popular ATV tires are the Grim Reaper, Dirt Devil, and Badlands.

 

Sedona Tire & Wheel

Sedona produces tires designed specifically for ATV and UTV use. Their products aim to provide traction, puncture resistance, and durability across different terrains. Top Sedona ATV tire models include the Mud Rebel, Trail Boss, and Rock-A-Billy.

With all the major brands, it’s important to consider the specific tire model and its intended use rather than just the brand name alone. Evaluate the tread pattern, size, ply rating, and tire construction to make sure you get ATV tires suited for your particular needs.

 

When to Replace Your ATV Tires

Knowing when it’s time to replace your ATV tires is important for performance and safety. Here are the main signs that indicate your tires are due for a change:

 

Tread Wear

Take a close look at your tires’ tread depth. Most ATV tires come with tread wear indicators – narrow strips of smooth rubber across the tread. When the surrounding tread wears down to become level with these indicators, your tires are considered worn out and should be replaced. Generally, you’ll want to replace ATV tires once the tread depth is around 1/8 inch or less.

 

Dry Rot

Rubber compounds can deteriorate over time, leading to cracking and dry rot, even if the tires have adequate tread depth. Check tire sidewalls and the tread surface for any cracks or signs of aging. Brittle and cracked rubber means a loss of strength and integrity, requiring new tires.

 

Loss of Traction

Pay attention to your ATV’s handling and braking performance. If you notice a decrease in traction, especially on loose or wet surfaces, your tread design is likely worn past its effectiveness. Rotating the tires can help restore some grip, but deeply worn treads will have poor traction requiring tire replacement.

Don’t wait until a tire fails or goes flat. As soon as you detect reduced traction or any other signs of excessive wear, it’s safest to replace your ATV tires.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, choosing the right ATV tires for your vehicle and terrain is crucial for performance, handling, and safety. The key factors to consider are the types of conditions you’ll be riding in most, your ATV’s purpose, tire construction and tread patterns, ply ratings and load capacities.

For mud riding, deep lug tires like the GBC Dirt Devil or ITP Mud Lite excel, while sand calls for paddle-style tires with maximum surface area contact. All-terrain and hybrid tires offer versatility for mixed conditions. Radial tires provide better handling, and higher ply ratings around 6-8 ply withstand heavy loads and utility use.

Replacing worn ATV tires regularly is imperative, as insufficient tread and damaged sidewalls greatly reduce traction, braking, and handling. Worn tires also increase your risk of punctures, blowouts, and rollovers. By selecting the ideal set of tires for your ATV and inspecting them routinely, you’ll enhance performance, extend their lifespan, and ride safely across all terrains.

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The Best ATV Tires Q&A

The best ATV tires for riding in Canada depend on the terrain and conditions you’ll be riding in most often. For a versatile tire that handles well on trails and moderate mud/snow, the Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 and ITP Mud Lite AT are top choices. If riding primarily on muddy/snowy trails, the GBC Dirt Devil or ITP Mega Mayhem are excellent aggressive tread options.

The most popular ATV brand in Canada is Can-Am. Other top brands include Polaris, Yamaha, Honda, Arctic Cat, Suzuki, and Kawasaki. Can-Am ATVs are known for their power, handling, and comfort on Canadian terrain. The Can-Am Outlander and Renegade models are among the best-selling ATVs in the country.

For riding ATVs in Canada’s varied terrain, a minimum tread depth of 5/32 inch (4mm) is recommended for proper traction, control, and safe braking. When tread depth wears down below this level on any part of the tire, it’s time to replace them. Legal tread depth limits vary by province but 5/32 inch is ideal.

For most recreational ATV riding in Canada, including trails and moderate mud/snow, a 4-ply to 6-ply tire provides the right balance of durability, traction, and ride comfort. Heavier utility use may require 8-ply or more. Choose based on your specific ATV, carrying loads, and riding terrain.

For most purposes, radial ATV tires are preferred for riding in Canada as they provide better traction, a smoother ride, longer tread life, and handle better at high speeds compared to bias ply tires. However, extremely aggressive mud tires may use a bias ply design for maximum flexibility and traction in deep mud/snow.

For dedicated trail and recreational riding on Canadian terrain, choose ATV tire sizes around 25-27 inches for most single/double seat quads. This allows for good ground clearance while maintaining stability and handling over roots, rocks, and changing terrain. Match the tire size to your specific ATV model.

Key features to look for in ATV tires for riding in Canada include an aggressive tread pattern (and good tread depth) for traction in mud, snow, and loose dirt; durable casing and ply rating for rugged terrain; good self-cleaning ability; and a tread compound made to withstand colder temperatures.

While ATV tires made for southern US riding may work reasonably well during Canada’s summer, most will not provide adequate traction, handling, and durability in our colder conditions, snow, ice, spring mud, and rugged landscape. Choosing tires designed specifically for northern terrain is highly recommended.

With proper inflation and maintenance, quality ATV tires used in Canada can last 1-4 years depending on usage level, terrain, weather exposure, and riding style. Aggressive riding in extreme terrain may get as little as a year. More moderate recreational use could see 4 years or more. Inspect regularly for wear and age cracking.

If you ride primarily in either deep mud or deep snow, choose a specialty tire to match that main terrain type. For those riding a mix of moderate mud, snow, trails, etc., an all-terrain design with open tread blocks for self cleaning works well across different Canadian conditions.

To help prevent punctures on Canadian rides, choose ATV tires with a durable 6 or 8 ply rating; keep tires properly inflated; inspect terrain carefully and avoid sharp rocks/stumps when possible; ride carefully avoiding curb impacts; and consider tire liners/sealants or a tubeless puncture resistant design.

Studded ATV tires can provide excellent added traction and braking control on hard packed snow and ice. They are a smart option for winter-only riding conditions. Most studded designs are not ideal for dirt, mud or trail use. Swapping wheels/tires seasonally may be needed.

The easiest way for most to change ATV tires in Canada is to take your machine to a qualified tire shop or dealership. They have the tools and experience to remove and install tires quickly and safely on the variety of machines used here. They can also assess tire condition, recommend replacements, and perform rotations.

Quality replacement ATV tires can be purchased across Canada from dealerships that sell major machine brands; retailers like Canadian Tire; specialty ATV/power sport shops; and online retailers like Rock Mountain, FortNine, and Green Bay ATV. Shop early for best selection.

No, regular vehicle tires should never be installed on an ATV, even for use in Canada. ATVs require tires specially engineered to handle their power, weight balance, and off-road use. Car tires will likely fail quickly, cause unstable handling, and could result in loss of control.

Yes, quality ATV tire chains provide excellent added traction and braking control when riding in snow, mud, and icy terrain. They grip surfaces that tires alone may slip on. They allow riding more marginal conditions but aren’t necessary for ideal traction tires on easier terrain.

Check your machine and tire sidewalls for the manufacturer’s recommended inflation PSI range. Given Canada’s terrain, err toward the higher end of that range for load support, preventing flats, secure handling, and minimizing tire roll. Just don’t exceed the tire or vehicle maximum pressure rating.

Getting your ATV wheels and tires dynamically balanced every tire change or season helps prevent vibration and uneven wear at speed. This improves handling, control, and tire life. Canada’s varied terrain is harder on tire balance than paved roads. An unbalanced ATV feels loose/rough.

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