Understanding ATV/UTV Tires and Sizing

When you’re considering replacing your equipment’s original tires, it’s important to understand UTV/ATV tire sizing. Having the right size tire is just as important as with street legal passenger vehicles. It’s not only important for performance, but also for handling.

ATV/UTV Sizing

ATV/UTV tires are similar to passenger vehicles, but they are not the same. Reading the sizing requires a little bit of extra knowledge.

For example, an ATV/UTV tire might have the sizing, “30×10.00R15

Here’s the explanation;

30 = the overall height of the tire in inches at its proper operating air pressure
10 = the width of the tire in inches when inflated to its proper operating air pressure
R = the tire’s construction type***
15 = the wheel size

***ATV/UTV tires have a bias ply or a radial construction. The R, as in this example, has a radial ply construction. If it has a D listed in the tire size, it is a biased construction.

What’s the Difference Between Radial/Bias Construction?

The main difference between radial and bias ply tires is how they are constructed. According to For Construction Pros, Radial tires are constructed in two parts. The casing has one layer of rubber-coated steel cables that arc from one bead to the other. Then several rubber-coated steel plies make up steel belts that are placed under the tread to stabilize the crown. These belts resist cuts and punctures.

For Construction Pros also details how a bias-ply tire is made of layers of rubber-coated, criss-crossed plies of fabric placed at angles of approximately 30 degrees. Nylon is the commonly used fabric. The tire is constructed to form a single working unit, as opposed to the multiple parts that make up the radial ply tire. Check out the below image to see a detailed visual comparison of the differences in construction between the two different types of plies.

Radial Tire Advantages

  • More efficient fuel consumption
  • Improved traction and flotation
  • Improved cut resistance in the tread area
  • Built to run cooler than bias tires
  • Longer tread life

Bias Tire Advantages

  • Crosshatch construction provides stronger/tougher sidewalls
  • Usually much easier to repair when damaged
  • Due to the design of the tire’s construction, bias ply want to roll straight as the trailer itself often does
  • Generally less expensive
  • Potentially smoother ride

The above list of advantages were compiled using information obtained from articles by For Construction Pros, Recstuff.com, and eHow. All three of the linked articles are great resources for finding out more info on both radial and bias ply tires. They are worth a read!

Replacing/Changing your ATV/UTV Tire Size

Sometimes, riders like to replace their original equipment tires with larger tires. Not only does increasing tire size increase ground clearance, but it also can give your machine a more aggressive look. Although this may be beneficial in some ways, it could cause damage if you aren’t careful to maintain correct spacing between the tires, the fenders, and suspension. So if you’re thinking of increasing your tires size, make sure you maintain appropriate spacing.

Also, being mindful of the increase in weight and width is very important. Making your machine wider and heavier could cause mechanical issues. It’s suggested that you don’t increase the height or width by more than an inch if you choose to increase your tire size. This is so that, not only you won’t have to make any modifications to your suspension, but you don’t potentially cause any damage to the handling and performance of your machine. If you do want to increase more than an inch, then you’ll have to consider modifying the suspension so that you don’t cause any damage.

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