Honestly, we’ve talked to hundreds of ATV and UTV owners who have absolutely no clue what to look for when choosing tires.
Frequently, the tires that come with your new ATV aren’t anything more than bare minimum, low-tech donuts destined for a short lifespan.
It’s one sure-fire way for a manufacturer to shave some cost on the MSRP of a wheeler and, unfortunately, it’s false economy. Not all new ATVs fall into this trap but if you own one that has skimped-out on rubber, you will simply never get the most from your off-road vehicle with cheap tires on it.
Here are some things to look for:
Generally, the more plies the tire has, the longer it will last and the stiffer the sidewall will be. A balance is needed here, particularly with mud tires.
The sidewalls need to have enough “give” to conform to the turf and provide bump absorption, but also need to be stiff enough they don’t get gouged by rocks and stumps or worse cut the sidewall against the rim on impact.
This is actually the grade or texture of the rubber the manufacturer is using in the tire. If the durometer is way soft, you can rip and tear the lugs or simply grind the tread away on hard surfaces.
If it’s too hard, the tire will be slick and slippery on hard, wet surfaces and won’t allow the sidewalls to flex enough to provide good ride characteristics.
Tread pattern and placement:
Oftentimes aftermarket buyers purchase tires that merely look good and don’t serve the riding style the owner has. If you’re riding on gnarly rock surfaces, you need a tire with a tread pattern that wraps around the sidewall a bit so you can bite the granite when you’re wedged somewhere.
If you ride mud a lot, you need widely spaced lugs that will clean-out quickly but with enough lug depth you can get a grip on terra-firma even when submerged. There are a ton of different tread configurations available and you should do some research before you buy.