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Best ATV Tires

Updated June 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 52 Models Considered
  • 44 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 221 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best ATV tires

    Last Updated June 2018

    Whether you use your off-road vehicle for work, fun, or competitive sports, you've probably found that choosing ATV or UTV tires can be a bit of a headache. It's not the sizes – that's straightforward enough – it's details like whether to go bias or radial, directional or non-directional, what tread design to choose, what lug depth is best, and so on.

    Nothing is more important to the performance of your ATV or UTV than your choice of tire. They're the only thing that comes in contact with the ground. The most powerful engine in the world is wasted if you don't have a good grip underneath it. On the other hand, a tread that's too aggressive will make a horrible mess of almost any riding surface.

    On the road, conditions change little. The weather varies, but aside from getting wet or icy, the street surface stays pretty much the same. Off road, terrain can change dramatically. Mud, gravel, rocks, packed dirt, sand ... each has an impact on your choice of tire.

    The single-most important aspect when choosing an off-road tire is its intended use. Always select the best tire for the terrain you cover.

    Getting the right ATV tire is all about choosing the one that works best in the conditions you encounter most often.

    If you’re ready to buy new ATV tires, we highly recommend the five products in the matrix above.

    At BestReviews, we provide honest, unbiased information to help you choose the best when making a purchase. The tires above offer excellent solutions to practically all of your off-roading needs.

    If you'd like to know more about the process of choosing the best ATV tires, keep reading.

    CAUTION

    A cracked ATV tire is a problem waiting to happen. Replace it.

    Radial tires vs. bias tires

    Off-road tires are made one of two ways: radial construction or bias construction.

    Radial tires

    Radial tires are constructed with rubber-coated steel belts and cables. They're extremely strong and durable, and they offer a smooth ride and can support extreme loads. Just about every truck, pick-up, and car on the road uses radial tires.

    On the downside, they're more expensive and more difficult to repair if you get a puncture.

    The Unbeatable All-Rounder

    In anything but the most extreme conditions, the Bearclaw delivers sure-footed performance that inspires confidence. Six-ply construction makes it tough, highly resistant to punctures, and durable. Owner feedback reflects our own findings: this is an exceptional general-purpose tire for all types of ATVs, UTVs, and other off-roaders.

    Bias tires

    Bias tires are made of several layers of textile (usually nylon) cords coated in rubber. This makes the tires on the whole less rigid. While that's a disadvantage on the road, it can be an advantage off-road.

    The ability to flex means the tires offer better grip on uneven terrain, conform more easily to undulations, and absorb outcrops that might throw off a stiffer radial tire.

    Bias tires do, however, have higher wear rates, less directional accuracy, and lower grip at speed. What’s more, they are considerably cheaper than their radial counterparts. As a result, they dominate the ATV tire market.

    If you use your ATV/UTV on the street, buy radial tires. For all other uses, we recommend bias tires.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    There are two ways that manufacturers overcome the disadvantages of bias ATV tires: ply rating and tread design.

    Ply rating

    Traditionally, ply rating simply referred to the addition of more layers of material to give a tire greater rigidity. A four-ply tire offered more strength and resistance to punctures than a two-ply tire, for example.

    The same rating system is still in use, though advances in rubber and nylon composition – as well as in bonding technology – mean that a six-ply tire, for example, may no longer actually have six layers.

    Ply rating is also important when calculating load capacity. A two-ply tire is usually a light-duty tire, best for a golf cart or lawn tractor. A six- or eight-ply tire has a much higher load capacity. It's built to support a large 4x4 vehicle, haul a load, or cope with rough terrain at speed.

    FOR YOUR SAFETY

    Pay attention to ply rating. A higher number means more load capacity and greater puncture-resistance.

    Tread design

    There are two aspects of tread design: directionality and lug style.

    Directionality

    On a directional ATV tire, the tread points one way. This becomes obvious just by looking at it. The tire has to be mounted on the vehicle facing the right way. The purpose of directionality is to clear loose dirt, water, or mud as the tire rotates. This helps the driver steer more easily and more accurately in difficult conditions.

    Non-directional ATV tires have the same “footprint” either way. Their job is to spread the load more evenly. This usually delivers more comfort, better wear, and less impact to the ground surface.

    ATV tires with higher inflation ratings (PSI) are more rigid. Less flex means they are better for hard-packed dirt.

    Staff
    BestReviews

    Lug style

    Lugs are the rubber tread blocks on a tire. Most off-road vehicles are bought new with a general-purpose or all-terrain tire. They have numerous small lugs, close together, with a tread depth of an inch or less. They work fine for yard work, lawns, gravel paths, etc. They offer a good balance between traction and wear rates. They don't do well, however, on more challenging surfaces.

    Trail tires/motocross ATV tires look similar to general-purpose tires, but the lugs are spaced wider apart. The tread depth can be up to one-and-a-half inches. They're great for mixed surfaces, loose dirt, and gravel.

    Mud tires offer a more aggressive lug pattern: fewer, bigger chunks of rubber that are one-and-a-half inches deep or more. Large gaps between lugs allow for rapid dispersal of liquids. Nothing works better in wet conditions.

    Sand tires have very few lugs. Their job is to find traction on an extremely loose surface, so the lugs often go at right-angles across the tire surface or in a curved pattern around it. They're unbeatable for dune racing but highly specific and pretty poor on any other surface.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    The best mud tires have lugs that run around the tire shoulder for extra grip.

    Other considerations

    Tread coverage

    If you're tearing around a canyon floor, ride quality is not going to matter much. On a side-by-side or work vehicle, though, increased comfort comes from having a tire with plenty of tread coverage.

    Wear rates

    The same goes for wear rates. All-terrain tires spread wear more evenly and last much longer than, for example, mud tires.

    Softer tires give better grip but wear more quickly. Think carefully about the conditions you usually encounter, or you might be replacing your ATV tires more often than necessary.

    Staff
    BestReviews

    Terrain

    Desert plants and rocky river beds can cause lots of punctures. If that's your terrain, choose a tire with a high ply rating. It will have tougher sidewalls.

    Sizing

    You don't have to replace your tires with ones of exactly the same diameter or width (the only thing you can't change is the rim size). This gives you the opportunity to shop around for a better deal. However, be aware that if you go bigger on diameter, you'll raise the center of gravity, which may affect handling. If you go smaller, you'll reduce ground clearance. Experts recommend you don't move more than an inch away from original sizes.

    EXPERT TIP

    If you're a sports rider or racer, consider investing in an additional set of wheels. You can then mount alternate tires that you can change quickly to suit different conditions.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    ATV tire prices

    With a wide range of sizes and tread patterns, ATV tire prices vary greatly. We can’t offer precise guidelines on what to expect in terms of cost, but we can give you a general idea of what you might encounter.

    • ATV tires from the top brands cost anywhere from $60 to $130, depending on specification.

    • Larger tires cost more. You might pay $75 for a 12x8 tire and $110 for a 12x12 tire.

    • There's usually an additional premium of 10% to 20% for radial tires, should you need them.
       

    While cheap ATV tires are often false economy, well-known brands usually deliver surprisingly good value. Our recommendation is not to buy solely on price, but to decide on the type of tire that meets your needs.

    Tread More Carefully

    Not every off-road user wants to tear up the place. When it's important to have as little impact on the terrain as possible – but still get the job done – the Carlisle is your tire. Designed particularly for utility vehicles like side-by-sides and golf carts, this tire wins praise for its comfortable ride and long life.

    ATV tire tips

    • Be as specific as you can when matching construction and tread pattern to your terrain. An ATV used for golf course maintenance needs a radically different tire than does a quad used for desert racing.

    • Check tire pressure regularly. If you're a sports rider, you should do it every time you go out. Uneven tire pressure around your vehicle will upset balance and handling. Also, if your tire pressure is low, you're more likely to suffer a flat. Incorrect inflation can increase the rate of wear.

    • Always carry some kind of puncture repair equipment. Tire slime and tire repair foam products can provide a convenient “get you home” solution, but read the instructions carefully. Some products can corrode your wheels if left too long.

    • Clean your ATV tires and wheels after use. It's not just about appearance; brake dust and other contaminants can cause long-term damage. Washing your ATV tires will give you the chance to inspect them so you can spot any damage before it causes a problem.

    Many ATV tires are not street-legal. If you're going to ride on the road, check local laws carefully before buying.

    FAQ

    Q. What do the numbers on an ATV tire mean?

    A. ATV tires typically have three numbers, set out like this: 20X10-8. (Sometimes the “X” is replaced by a dash.) The first number is the overall diameter of the tire. The second number is the width of the tire. The third number is the diameter of the wheel rim it fits. All measurements are in inches.

    Q. Will a deeper tread improve grip in ice and snow?

    A. It can help in soft powder, but on hard-packed snow and ice, ATV tires will struggle for grip just like car tires. You can try snow studs, but these need to be screwed into the tire. An easier solution is a set of ATV tire chains. These are specifically designed to give your off-road vehicle the traction you need in frozen conditions.

    Q. When I need new ATV tires, should I stick with those supplied as stock?

    A. Stock ATV tires are usually designed for good all-round performance, but they probably don't excel in any particular area. If you spend a lot of time on sand dunes or in the mud, you need a very different tire than originally provided. Changing brands can help you find the best ATV tire for the terrain you cover. Performance can improve, and you might save money, too.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bob
      Bob
      Writer
    • Chris
      Chris
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor

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