Why Are ATV-UTV Tires and Wheels So Wide?

ATVs and UTVs serve many purposes, but one very specific purpose comes to mind as it relates to the powersports world: to go places and do things motorcycles can’t.

Quad bike wide tires

A four-wheeler's sure-footedness, towing capabilities, and ability to carry several passengers in some models (unlike a dirt bike) allow more people to join in on an offroad adventure. One common question that gets asked is why ATV and UTV (side-by-side) tires are so wide. It’s a valid question newbie quad riders may not know much about. Here’s more on why ATV and side-by-side wheels and tires are wide. 

Wide Wheels for Traction and Stability

To do many of the things offroad 4-wheelers do, manufacturers make some specific design choices so that each ATV or UTV can do its job. Those design choices come from the ground up, starting with the tires. 

ATV wheels and tires

Depending on the purpose of the machine, the manufacturer might spec it with a wider or narrower tire, and that decision comes with trade-offs. A wider tire offers more rubber on the trail, which means it has more grip. On the other hand, the narrower tire gives the rider more control. On some ATVs, you might even see the best of both worlds: narrower tires up front and wider tires in the back.

ATV and UTV Tire Size

The diameter of the tire also plays a role, and you’ll generally see tire sizes for offroad four-wheelers fall within a certain range, depending on the purpose of the ATV or side-by-side.

Sport and utility ATVs tires and wheels

A sports quad might have a tire diameter between 20-25 inches; a utility quad somewhere between 24-28 inches; and a quad for mudding or rock climbing might have something even bigger in the 27- to 30-inch range. You can move a little in this range — maybe an inch or two — without doing much to the ATV, but you want to make sure you have clearance inside the fenders for the tires.

Buy ATV and UTV tires

Buy ATV and UTV wheels

ATV and UTV Wheel Size

While you have a little wiggle room on the tire’s diameter, the wheel diameter dictates the tires you can install. And it’s set in stone unless you’re prepared to get new wheels (more on that in a second). Wheels are generally in the 10- to 12-inch range, so they’re way smaller than the tire diameter. That gives plenty of room for air between the tread and the wheel, providing lots of cushioning on rough terrain.

ATV wheels in snow

What If I Want Bigger ATV-UTV Wheels and Tires?

Before you get too wound up about changing ATV or UTV wheels, keep in mind that the manufacturer did thorough research and development to come up with the original specs. The wheel and tire combination on your machine is well suited to the machine’s intended purpose. 

UTV tires and wheels

However, you can make a change, but there’s a catch. To effectively change things up, you may need to invest in a lift kit or different A-arms to accommodate the larger wheels and tires underneath your ATV or side-by-side. And changing the tire size impacts something else: the torque. Larger diameter setups decrease torque, so you might need to install a gear reduction kit to make the changes work for you.

Watch the video above to see a gear reduction kit upgrade on a Yamaha side-by-side.



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