The Ultimate ATV, UTV, and Side by Side Tire Guide: Performance Beyond the Basics - PRECISION ATV FAB

The Ultimate ATV, UTV, and Side by Side Tire Guide: Performance Beyond the Basics

Tire upgrades are the number one upgrade riders add to their machines. In this guide, we're diving deep into tires, from types to traction, and how they elevate the performance of your ATV, UTV, or Side by Side. Let's roll!

Enhancing ATV or UTV Performance through Tire Selection

Mud tires excel in grip when the going gets muddy, but they struggle on harder surfaces. Ever tried tackling muddy trails with tires built for smooth rides? I have customers who did, and trust me, it didn’t go well. Tires built specifically to handle mud have excellent clean-out which can mean the difference between getting stuck and defeating that mud pit! The sloppier the mud and the more clay in it, the more aggressive the tread pattern needs to be to pull you out of it. 


All-terrain tires—the versatile option. These tires handle various terrains, from dirt trails to gravel paths, making them the go-to choice for mixed terrain riders.

If you find yourself frequenting hard-packed trails and doing a lot of off-road racing, racing tires would be a good choice. 

What about sand tires? Think of them as your specialized tools for cruising dunes effortlessly.

So, when selecting tires, consider your primary terrain. Matching the right tire type to your favorite riding grounds ensures a smoother, more enjoyable ride. 

ATV, UTV, and Side by Side Tire Recommendations:

Maxxis: Known for durability and diverse treads, Maxxis tires are like the all-around athletes of the ATV tire world. From mud to trails, they've got a tire for every terrain.

ITP Tires: If you're after innovation, ITP brings it. Their tech-savvy tires offer a mix of performance and durability, perfect for those who want a bit of everything. For a good Trail & Mud tire, look at the Blackwater Evolution.


Kenda: Budget-friendly without compromising quality, Kenda tires are the go-to for many DIY enthusiasts. They've got the basics covered, making them a solid choice for various terrains. A good 12” tire is their Bear Claw.

Carlisle: Want reliability? Carlisle's your buddy. Known for creating robust tires, they shine in durability, handling, and longevity, at a reasonable price—perfect for the rugged ATV life.

STP Outback Max

STI Tire & Wheel: Looking for a balance of performance and affordability? STI has your solution. They offer a range of tires catering to different terrains, making them a favorite among savvy riders. If you are looking for an aggressive tread pattern for serious mudding, try their Out & Back Max.

In my professional opinion:

Aggressive ATV mud tires excel in mud and snow due to their deep, spaced-out treads. However, they provide a rough ride on trails, wear faster on hard surfaces, and can hinder handling and speed due to their added weight.


Factors Affecting ATV Tire Prices

Ever wonder why prices vary? Prices will always vary by tire size, ply rating, tread depth, rim guard and tire weight.

Prices also vary from brand to brand. Those high-end brands have their perks—premium materials and fancy tech. But here's the kicker: mid-range brands can offer solid performance without the VIP price tag. 

My Take:

Mud tires often lean on the pricier side because of their specialized traction wizardry. Meanwhile, all-terrain tires offer a sweet spot—versatility without breaking the bank. I used to think that splurging meant top-notch quality. But in reality, there's a tire out there for every budget! 

Understanding Size and Weight of ATV, UTV, and Side by Side Tires


Your ATV comes with tires in a size that’s meant for your machine’s gearing. Even though most ATVs have a CVT transmission, going to a bigger tire can lead to clutching issues, burning belts and serious mechanical breakdowns. You can often swap up to a two-inch taller tire without issues, but beyond that, you should check with the manufacturer.

All tires are specified in overall tire diameter x tire width x wheel size (Ex. 25x10x12 is 25" tall x 10" wide x 12" wheel diameter). Look at the sidewall of your ATV for the size. t If you want to run larger tires, it’s best to have a minimum engine size of 450cc or more to run 27" and taller tires. This is especially true with very aggressive tires. 28" or larger tires are options for the serious off road enthusiast with larger engine sizes.

ATV with mud tires


Going to a taller tire will increase the weight, but so will an aggressive tread pattern on a mud tire. This can impact acceleration. Lighter tires can actually improve acceleration. 

  • Ply rating: Most ATV tires have 4-6 plies of rubber. The more plies, the better your resistance to punctures, but they add weight. 
  • Tread Depth: ATV mud tires typically have a 1 to 1.5 inch tread depth. Aggressive mud tires can hit the 2+ inch depth.
  • When you add extra weight to an ATV, whether with passengers, cargo, or tires, the performance of the machine can be affected. Aggressive, taller mud tires can add 10 lbs or more per tire! Just be aware!


Optimizing Air Pressure for Performance

Check the Manual: Manufacturers often provide specific guidelines for tire pressure based on the ATV model and the type of tires it's equipped with.

Tire Sidewall Information: Look for information on the tire sidewall. It typically indicates the recommended pressure range. However, be aware that the maximum pressure listed may not always be the ideal pressure for optimal performance.

Terrain Consideration: Adjust tire pressure based on the terrain you'll be riding on. Lower pressure can provide better traction on soft surfaces like mud or sand, while higher pressure is suitable for hard-packed trails.

YouTube video on checking Tire Pressure of ATV

Check out this YouTube video from Fischer's Off-Road on "Tips on Checking & Setting the Air Pressure in your ATV or SXS Tires."

Balance Front and Rear: Maintain a balance in tire pressure between the front and rear tires. This ensures even weight distribution and contributes to stable handling.

Regular Checks: Periodically check tire pressure, especially before heading out for a ride. Changes in temperature and riding conditions can affect tire pressure. A small investment in a portable tire pressure gauge is a handy tool for any ATV enthusiast.

Personal Riding Style: Consider your personal riding style. If you prefer a softer ride with more traction, you might lean towards the lower end of the recommended pressure range. If you prioritize a firmer ride and reduced rolling resistance, you might opt for the higher end.

For more details on pressure recommendations, see our article:  8 Budget Friendly Ways to Boost ATV Performance


Lifespan Expectancy of ATV Tires

Typically, ATV tires last anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 miles. The type of terrain you conquer plays a role. Aggressive off-road terrains like mud or rocks can accelerate wear, while more even surfaces are gentler on your treads

Regular checks and proper maintenance can extend tire life. Keep an eye on pressure, rotate tires, and address alignment issues promptly. 

Pro Tip: If your tires are having trouble holding air, it’s probably time to replace them.


Key Takeaways:

  • Tire types matter—pick the right ones for your favorite terrains.
  • Budget wisely; there's a tire for every pocket without compromising quality.
  • Choose the right size and weight for your needs.
  • Optimize your tire’s air pressure for the best performance and lifespan

So, choose wisely, gear up, and let those tires roll you into countless thrilling adventures. Happy riding!

 GIRL MUD BLOGGING- photo by Paul Chambers


✅ How do I choose the right ATV tire type for my riding needs?
Consider the primary terrain you'll be riding on. Different tire types, such as all-terrain, mud, and sand tires, are designed for specific conditions. Match the tire type to your favorite riding environment for optimal performance.

✅ What factors should I consider when deciding on ATV tire prices?
Tire prices can vary based on factors like tire type, brand, and quality. Balancing your budget with the specific needs of your ATV and riding style is crucial. Sometimes, mid-range brands offer a solid compromise between performance and cost.

✅ How often should I check the air pressure in my ATV tires, and why is it important?
Regularly check your ATV tire pressure, especially before each ride or after significant temperature changes. Proper air pressure ensures optimal traction, handling, and a smoother, safer ride.
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