The ATV and UTV market is growing faster than a man-beard during “No Shave November”. Year after year, we’re seeing significant increases in top-of-the-line UTV’s being introduced to both the American public and even the U.S. military. Yes, you read that correctly. The U.S. Army is adopting 20 Polaris MRZR X’s to be used as unmanned robotic vehicles by the infantry brigade. There’s a boom in the market and the proof is in the pudding. With turbocharged 168-horsepower engines, long travel suspension, and a myriad of performance features being offered on the latest models, it’s hard to not fall in love with these bad boys. And as a complementary market segment to the automotive aftermarket, we’re thrilled to explore this topic further right here on The Engine Block.
We’re parking power plant and suspension talk for today, with plans to focus on new kicks for that brand-spankin’ new ATV or UTV. Hadn’t considered the upgrade? Then you’re missing out. It’s no different than a proper wheel and tire package for your Jeep or truck. ATV and UTV models can be equipped with a variety of wheel and tire finishes, designs, and sizes. And just like the Jeep or truck market, there are a lot of benefits when using bigger wheels and tires on ATV and UTV units. Lucky for us, we were able to wrangle in our off-road and wheel and tire expert over at Keystone Automotive to discuss the topic—the one and only Dan Guyer.
If you’re new to the ATV and UTV world, then you’re going to want to know what you can and can’t do when it comes to an upgraded wheel and tire package. For anyone who is already familiar with any sort of off-roading, you know that the nature of the beast is relatively unchanged. Selecting a wheel and tire package isn’t going to be any more complicated than it usually is. Not to mention, setting up your ATV or UTV with a more aggressive tire tread pattern and wheels has the same advantages as it does on a Jeep or truck. It improves traction, ride quality, and is a great way to personalize a rig.
“It’s no different than saying, ‘Hey, I’m taking my Jeep off-road. What characteristics does it need to have?'” said Guyer. In fact, you’ll notice many of the same brands actually crossover between traditional Jeep or truck off-road wheel and tire packages for ATVs and UTVs. Pro Comp, Maxxis, Super Swampers, and GRID Off-Road are just a few familiar faces.
Spinnin’ in the Dirt
Let’s start where it really counts. Tires make direct contact with the ground and are responsible for keeping a driver climbing through those trails. Whether it’s on sand, mud, or all terrain, there’s a variety of options available to consumers. Beyond just the tread pattern, the genetic makeup of the tires also will vary. “You’re going to find suppliers making a lot of bias ply and a lot of them making radials. It really comes down to the application,” added Guyer. His advice is this: for high-speed applications, stick to the radials. Likewise, bias ply goes hand in hand with crawling. Again, it’s nearly identical to selecting tires for a Jeep or truck.
Looking for a trusted off-road brand that supplies tires for both Jeep or truck and ATV or UTV units? ProComp offers the Xtreme Trax ATV and UTV tire for general all-terrain use. Super Swampers slays the muddy landscape with a Vampire EDL. And you’ll find the Maxxis Snow Beast to be the perfect option for wintertime fun. All three of these suppliers boast an impressive product portfolio. Maxxis tires are often the OE supplier for these rigs, so out of the gate you’re in good hands.
The last thing to keep in mind when shopping for tires is the level of clearance you’re planning once the build is complete. Just like a Jeep or truck, there’s only so much room. “The thing about side by sides is people are actually doing lift kits on them,” added Guyer. That’s right—you can lift a UTV! You’ll find that some tire options will even reach over the 30″ mark, which is great for off-roading since bigger tires are less likely to get stuck. If 30″ sounds appealing to you, start shopping around for a lift to match. Super ATV, High Lift, and Xtreme are great options to keep in mind while browsing.
Looks as Good as It Performs
There’s arguably no better area to let your personality shine through than with a new set of wheels. Expect to find an ample supply of styles and finishes for both ATV and UTV units. If your ride will be solely dedicated to hardcore off-road use, here’s your chance to splurge on bead-lock wheels. GRID Off-Road offers forged bead locks for those looking to put their rig to the ultimate test. While this particular design isn’t always a necessity, it’s certainly a big upgrade over standard.
Plan for Trouble
No matter what you choose for a wheel and tire package, “you have to be conscious about getting a spare because they usually have different tires from front to back,” said Guyer. This does shake things up a bit, and we know it’s a stretch of the investment, but having the right spares on hand while off-roading can be the difference between stranded and making it home. So, we recommend getting a spare for the front and one for the rear. Perhaps use your Christmas envelope for one and next year’s tax return for the other…
Typically, we say screw what everyone else is doing—follow your arrow, as the hipsters are saying. But in this case, hell, we’re down for a slick set of wheels and tires on our new ATV or UTV. We’d love to see your build pics, so share with us in the comments section below!