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Tire tactics to tackle tough terrains

12/14/2010 @ 1:10pm

There was a time when you ran with the tires that came with your ATV or UV. But recently there has been an outburst of new tire configurations introduced to provide specific performance under certain conditions.

And for good reason since ATVs are being pushed to do more chores from transport to hauling to pulling. So if you run in mud or need your machine to produce a lot of draft (to pull an implement), you can select tires with deep lugs and in various designs and depths to get good clear out to prevent wheel slip.

“ATV tires can be broken into six categories: all-terrain, mud, sand, hard terrain or street, ATUV (side-by-side vehicles), and sports,” says Joe Greving of Cedar Rapids Tire (800/467-7325 or cedarrapidstire.com) in Marion, Iowa. “Of these types, farmers would likely want to use all-terrain or mud tires.”

All-terrain tires, Greving says, provide good traction over a wider range of surfaces such as pavement, gravel roads, and fields while operating at low to high speeds.

“They are the standard do-it-all tires, providing a smooth ride and medium traction,” Greving says. “ATUV tires are all-terrain types but are taller at 26 inches. And they are often 6-ply rated.”

Recent Advances

One recent advance in all-terrain types is the introduction of radial tires that offer better handling at higher speeds, more even wear, and higher ply rating for puncture resistance.

“Eighty percent of ATV tires are still bias ply. But radials are coming on strong,” Greving says. “They have more plies (6- and 8-ply), which gives them more load capacity and more resistant to puncture when running over crop stubble. But they are heavier due to their higher ply rating. So check with the ATV manufacturer to see if they are allowed on your machine.”

Some radials also offer wrap-around shoulder lugs that offer sidewall protection and enhanced traction on trails. Radial offerings can range in price from $130 to $220 each.

Another recent advance is mud-type tires that typically come in a taller profile (26- to 30-inch sizes) and employ deep lugs (some 1 inch or higher) that dig into mud. There are big differences in lug design and depth among makes, so talk to your dealer about which works best for you. Prices for mud-type tires vary widely in a $120- to $200-per-tire range.

You can now buy tires designed specifically to run on snow (ITP TundraCross at www.itptires.com). These tires use fully sipped (thinly cut) lugs that provide more traction-grabbing edges and maximum traction in loose, slippery conditions. Also, some snow tires come with carbide-tipped steel studs for running on ice. 

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