Which Tires Are Best?
Checking your air pressure is so important that whether your ATV has been in use all year long or you’re just taking it out of the garage for a quick stroll around your property, it’s still probably a good idea to look at your tires. However, choosing the best possible tires for your vehicle and maintaining the right pressure also requires a bit of knowledge about them.
The optimal tires for your all-terrain vehicle really depend on what you’re planning to do with it. For instance, a pair of all-terrain or all-purpose tires will do exactly what the name says they do. You’ll do fine with them while driving on grass, mud, sand, and pavement but they will not shine on any of those surfaces.
Mud tires are the ones structured to get you out of dirty situations. They come with deeper aggressive treads to better dig through mud and get a good grip. These qualities also mean that they won’t perform great on soft sand or pavement.
Off-road tires come as the peacemaker between all-purpose and mud tires. They are more aggressive than all-terrain ones without being as deep as the mud tires. All things considered, they’re a balanced item to have.
Turf-saver tires are made for the other side of the spectrum, offering the best traction on pavement and other hard surfaces. Then you have sand tires for, you guessed it, soft sand and another array of tires like rear sand ones or flat ribs which come in handy in very specific situations. Of course, you can also have snow tires for your wintery needs.
Optimal ATV Tire Pressure
If the best tires are chosen judging by the activity you need to undertake, the right pressure, on the other hand, is based on the manufacturer’s recommendations, terrain and load. Starting from the recommendations from both the ATV and the tire manufacturers which will generally range from 5 to 15 psi (pound-force per square inch), you should take the following criteria into consideration:
If you’re riding on hard surfaces such as pavement, dirt, trails, and hard snow it’s best if you stick with the suggested pressures to ensure the best traction and ride comfort. On soft surfaces such as gravel, mud or soft snow you can choose to reduce tire pressure to as low as 2.5 PSI or 3 PSI since this will really improve traction and flotation.
However, if you reduce it, you have to pay a lot of attention as anything lower than 2.5 PSI is generally considered too low and you risk popping the tire off the bead.
If your ATV is sporting a single rider and no load it’s always better to stick with manufacturer recommendations which, again, pretty much always ensure the best results, making appropriate adjustments for the terrain. If you’re doing any kind of activity which requires extra load carefully increase the tire pressure to compensate, but never more than what’s listed on the sidewall.
How To Check The Pressure
You’ve chosen the required tires, you are armed with the proper information about them and now it’s time to simply, you know, actually check the pressure.
The first and the most important thing is to get a tire pressure gauge specifically made for ATVs because most of the ones made for cars and trucks measure PSI starting at 5.0 so they will be famously inaccurate for lower values. Gauges made for ATVs, however, usually start at 0 and can go up until 5.8 PSI. Try to get one with a non-slip rubber handle and a nice display.
You have to look in the owner’s manual to find the standard cold tire inflation pressure. Since tires are best checked cold, that number is the lowest PSI suggested by the manufacturer. Also, don’t forget that the front and back tires may require different pressures, so pay attention.
The next step is to unscrew the valve stem cap from the valve stem on the tire. This usually looks like a black or even silver pencil-sized extension near the hubcap, typically about 1’’ long.
Go ahead and press the air pressure gauge evenly onto the valve stem and record the reading given using the machine’s (hopefully digital) display. If you hear any hissing sounds it means the gauge is not tight or even enough to be able to get an accurate reading so you may need to adjust its angle.
Furthermore, if you are using a digital model, you may need to press a button in order for the machine to start reading the pressure. If you went full-traditional, the metered stick should automatically start doing its job, which is somewhat ironic.
Replace the valve stem cap to finish the job. The cap does not hold air in but what it does is it keeps things like dirt and moisture in check from reaching the valve mechanism in the valve stem, which does indeed hold the air inside the tire.
Tips And Performance Considerations
As we said, always remember that the manufacturer’s PSI recommendations are exactly what they are named to be so you should be careful enough to adapt the optimum tire pressure to your specific situation.
Furthermore, a non-required increase in PSI can also lead to uneven tire wear, longer braking distances, and even reduced handling so you really have to make sure you don’t over-inflate the tires.
Another thing we want to add is the need to understand the popular myth about the max pressure value in the owner’s manual. Sooner or later, somebody from the community will inform you of this misconception that the max pressure suggested by the manufacturer is actually all the pressure the tire can handle before it pops out or gets damaged.
In all fairness, the max pressure is simply the pressure at which the tires will still carry the maximum amount of weight before they fail in doing so due to overuse. This is why that limit is so important because once you go past it, you should be prepared for the possibility of malfunction and a bumpy ride where every pothole can spell disaster for you and your ATV.
Just like we said before, if you’re going to carry a heavier load it’s always good to increase the pressure to make up for the added weight. However, once you unload it, it’s imperative that you remember to release the pressure from the tires back to the standard specifications or else we’ll be back to square one.
You never want to test Mother Nature so make sure to always check the air pressure of your tires as the seasons change. Cold weather will always reduce it while warm weather will naturally increase the air pressure.
Since tire pressure has a direct impact on your safety, it should theoretically be checked before each ride. It’s up to you to judge how often you need to do this but keep in mind it only takes about a minute to get it done.
Last but not least, don’t get lazy and rely on the eyeball method to gauge air pressure in tires! Unless you’ve got a microscopically-detailed vision, it’s very hard to tell the difference between a tire with 10 PSI and one with 20 PSI. Besides, tires usually show a bit of bulge on the sidewall of radial tires. If you’ve inflated them and that bulge is gone, know that you overdid it.
What ATV tire pressure do manufacturers recommend?
For most ATVs, the normal tire pressure is recommended to be between around 4 and 8 pounds per square inch, or PSI. It is important to take a look at the user’s manual that came with your vehicle if you want to get the most accurate information.
To give you an idea of how much the tire pressure can vary from model to model and manufacturer to manufacturer, in the section below, we will take a look at the recommended tire pressure of the most popular ATVs currently on the market.
Let’s start with the Honda ATV tire pressure, which tends to be around 4 PSI on both the front and rear tires for most of its popular models. To be more specific, we can look at the Honda Rancher, one of the brand’s top models. In this case, the Honda Rancher tire pressure that the user manual recommends is 4.4 PSI for the front tires and 3.6 PSI for the rear tires.
If you’re curious about the ideal Polaris ATV tire pressure, this is not something that is easy to answer since this manufacturer has a large selection of both ATVs and UTVs of different sizes that are designed for different purposes, and as such, require different tire pressures.
The recommended ATV tire PSI varies by a large degree. For example, the Polaris Sportsman 450 model needs a tire pressure of 7 PSI for all tires. On the other hand, the recommended tire pressure is much larger with this brand’s range of heavy-duty UTVs.
The Polaris Ranger tire pressure, for example, should be of about 10 PSI for the front tires and 12 PSI for the rear ones.
As is the case with other manufacturers, Yamaha ATV tire pressure varies model by model as well. The Grizzly is one of its most popular ATVs, and for this one, the recommended PSI is around 4 to 6 PSI for all tires, depending on the type of tire that you have and the riding conditions that you plan to tackle.
It is important to note that all these numbers are here to help give you an idea of how the recommended tire pressure can vary a lot with most ATVs. If your model doesn’t appear in this list, you will still need to look in the user manual to find the manufacturer’s recommendations for terrain and load.
If you’ve lost the user manual, or you can’t find the section that mentions tire pressure, you can still find the information you’re looking for online. Most, if not all, ATV manufacturers have all the information about each model they produce on their website.
There you can find a digital version of the user manual as well as a list of frequently asked questions and maintenance tips. All this makes it very easy to find the information that you are looking for in a matter of minutes.
What causes low tire pressure?
Tires will lose some air naturally over time, and this means that not riding the ATV for months can cause it to lose some air. This is why it is recommended to check the air pressure before you ride after a long break using a low-pressure tire gauge for ATV tires.
Another common problem that can cause low tire pressure is a foreign object that’s stuck in the tire. This can be anything from something small, such as nails or staples, to larger objects, such as thorns. Sometimes it can be difficult to find them since they can blend into the tread, making them difficult to notice.
The solution to this problem is to inspect the tire carefully if you experience low tire pressure frequently and patch the tire if the hole is not too big. If the hole is large, you might need to purchase a new tire.
Quick temperature changes from hot to cold can cause the tire to deflate. The same thing is true if you’re changing elevation rapidly. There’s not much you can do to avoid this from happening, but you should keep an ATV tire pressure gauge with you and check the tires before you ride if you’re coming from a place with different elevations and temperatures.
Lastly, a common cause for low tire pressure is that the tire is simply too worn out, and this may make it lose air. The more you ride, the more the tire will wear out, and it will start to lose air. The solution in this situation is simple. You will need to remember to replace your ATV tires when they’re visibly worn out or dry rotted.
Understanding ATV tire sizes
Learning how to measure ATV tires is one of the most common questions that ATV riders have. Understanding the way that ATV tire sizes work is very simple, and below, you can find a practical example that can help you read all tire sizes.
We’ll take 25x8x10 ATV tires as an example. As you can see, there are three sets of numbers that are separated by an X, but they can also be separated by dashes or slashes.
The first number, 25, represents the height of the tire when it has been fully inflated. The second number, 8, is the overall width of the tire when inflated. The last number, 10, refers to the diameter of the rim that the tire can fit. All of these measurements are in inches.
Tire pressure and its effect on buoyancy
A bigger tire pressure won’t make your tires more buoyant since there is a point where more air pressure can make the tire heavier. Instead, it is all about water displacement. Think of a boat, it doesn’t have any air pressure in it, does it? Instead, the boat floats because it displaces more water weight than it weighs.
If you want to achieve the same effect with your ATV, you will need to look for ATV flotation tires. These tires have treads that are designed like paddles, and this helps provide increased mobility in the water to give you better control and speed of the vehicle.
You can also purchase flotation attachments that are mounted either side to side or front and back. Thus, if you want to bring your ATV with you when fishing, you won’t have to increase tire pressure. You will, however, need to purchase flotation tires or attachments.