Balancing ATV tires
Balancing the tires on your ATV is a very important process since the tire and wheel assemblies should be balanced before you use them if you want to get the best performance out of them. If you do not balance them, then you will get a much poorer performance and accelerated tread wear.
Furthermore, wheels that are out of balanced also produce more vibrations that can be felt through the steerer and can make the vehicle feel very uncomfortable to ride, and as mentioned above, it can also result in premature tire wear.
While you can go to a professional to have your tires balanced, doing it on your own can save you money, and allows you to do it as often as you like without having to go to a tire shop.
The process itself is also not that difficult, and we will present all of it below. If you do feel that it is too much for you to handle, you can have the first few tire balances done at your local tire shop until you get a grasp of how to manage the whole process by yourself.
The items that you will need are a static wheel balancer or a bubble balancer, a few rags, a small hammer, a flat-blade screwdriver, and assorted wheel weights. Most of these items you will probably already have readily available while the others are not that hard to come by.
First, you will need to place the balancer on a level work surface, and if you don’t yet have one you can find it cheap at your local tire shop, or order it online from your favorite shop. Afterward, make sure that the air bubble is center inside the dot.
If this is your first time operating a balancer, you should take the time to consult the owner’s manual to see how to adjust the balancer head properly and center the bubble. Another alternative to this step is to place small shims such as washers under the base of the balancer until you have centered the bubble.
Before you begin to center the wheel, you need to double check carefully again to make sure that the bubble is centered correctly. The next step is to take a quick look at the tire to see if everything looks as it should and then use a screwdriver to remove any of the wheel weights that are on the assembly.
Now you should check the position of the bubble and add some wheel weights on the opposite side of the heavy area of the wheel. The location to add the weights will be the side where the bubble is resting.
If you do need to add more grams, it is best to add the weights on the inner and outer side of the wheel. Once you have positioned the weights you can use a hammer to tap on them gently until they get in. Do make sure that the area where you put the weights on is clean and dry, especially if you are using stick-on weights.
You will need to repeat the previous step as many times as necessary to make the bubble centered on the balancer. Make sure that you don’t accidentally place weights on the opposite sides of the wheel since if you do, you will have to redo all the steps from the beginning.
Do keep in mind that the types of weights that you will need to use depends on the rims that your ATV has. Some models require you use stick-on weights while others have lips where you can use clip-on weights. Don’t forget to check the rims before you start the process to make sure that you purchased the right accessories.
If your rims are dirty, there are special racing weights that can be used to clear mud scrapes or brake calipers. In the case of stick-on weights, you should tape them over with duct tape to help them stay on even when you are riding through mud or water. The duct tape might make them appear unsightly, but it will also keep them in place for a longer period.
Wheel alignment and pressure
While balancing your tires can enhance and even extend their useful life considerably, there is a wealth of additional tips that you can follow to improve the durability of your ATV tires even more.
One such tip is wheel alignment, and this is a small process that should not be ignored. If you are not certain whether your wheels are aligned properly, one way to tell is to see if they are wearing faster than usual. You can notice this if one portion or side of the tire appears more worn than the others.
If you take the time to align your tires properly, this process will not only prevent issues when you are traveling at high speeds, increase the durability of the tires, and provide better efficiency for your ATV, but it will also make the vehicle handle much better.
Another tip that you can follow if you want to keep your ATV tires in tip-top shape is to maintain the PSI at the right levels. The recommended value varies from manufacturer to manufacturer so you will have to check what the owner’s manual says.
If your manufacturer does not have a particular recommendation, you can use the pressure limit that can usually be found printed on the actual tire. Keeping your tires at a perfect pressure is very important since if it is underinflated, the treads and sidewalls will wear down much faster.
An underinflated tire can still give you a relatively smooth ride, but you are at a higher risk of punctures and even blowouts. This could leave you stranded, or even worse, cause serious injury to yourself or the people around you.
If the tires are overinflated, then the center of the tread will be the one that will have to handle the entire weight of the vehicle and that will make it wear down faster and will reduce your traction considerably.
Thus, before you begin riding, you should take the time to check the PSI, and make adjustments accordingly if it is not “just right”.
Protection and warranty
While most people are careful of the obstacles on the road, there is an invisible threat that can do a lot of harm to your tires and that is the sun. The UV rays can seriously damage the compounds in ATV tires, which is why you should be mindful of where you park your vehicle.
If an inside location is not available, you can purchase UV reflective wheel covers or you can use some pieces of plywood and lean them against each of the tires to shield them from the sun.
It is important to maintain your ATV tires all by yourself, but you shouldn’t forget about the warranty the manufacturer has provided either. There are some things that could result in your warranty being voided and each manufacturer tends to have different instructions and restrictions.
This is why it is very important to be mindful of the manufacturer’s warranty. Take the time to read it carefully and as many times as you need to grasp all the information.
There are instances in which having a balancing of the tires or even an alignment done by an unauthorized mechanic can void your warranty. Thus, never start specific maintenance without being 100% that it won’t affect your warranty in any way. Some manufacturers can void a warranty even for installing the wrong tire size.