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ATV Tire Guide (How to Read Sizes & Change Tires)

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Your tires are one of the most important components affecting how your 4×4 performs off-road and in rough terrain. 

Different types of tires can affect handling, speed, and performance in a variety of different scenarios. 

Making sure your ATV tires are in good condition and properly mounted are key to getting the most out of your quad. 

Use this page to learn how to read and measure ATV tire sizes for when you need to replace your old ones, and find some tips on removing and installing tires on your ATV’s wheels. 

How to Read ATV Tire Size

Before you replace your old ATV tires, you’re going to need to know what sizes to get. 

Reading ATV tire sizes is pretty straightforward, and there are 3 measurements that you’ll need to know:

  • The height of the tire. 
  • The width of the tire.
  • The diameter of the rim. 

All of these measurements can be found stamped onto the sidewall of your tire or in your ATV owner’s manual. 

The size of your ATV tire will often depend on its application. For example:

  • Sport ATVs often feature tires that are 20 to 25” wide. 
  • Utility ATVs often feature tires ranging from 24 to 28.”
  • Quads designed for mudding or rock climbing often have wider tires ranging from 27 to 30.”

Additionally, most 4x4s will feature a wider tire in the rear than the front. 

How the tire sizes are written depend on whether the tires are standard or metric. See below for details. 

Standard ATV Tire Measurements

Standard ATV tires are measured in inches. 

On a standard tire, you’ll see 3 numbers written like this: 26×8-12

ATV tires are always written in height, width, rim size, but the numbers may be separated by dashes (“-”), an “x”, or slashes (“/”).

This tire size translates to:

  • Tire height: 26”
  • Tire width: 8”
  • Rim size: 12”

Depending on the design of your ATV, you may be able to swap out larger or smaller size tires as long as they are still designed to fit your rim size. Different size tires can have performance and handling effects. 

Metric ATV Tire Measurements

Metric tire sizes use millimeters for the tire height and an aspect ratio of the height for the width. 

So, a metric tire may read: 205/80 – 12 or 205/80 R12.

This translates to:

  • Tire height: 205 millimeters.
  • Tire width: 80% of the tire height, or 164 mm. 
  • Tire construction: R stands for radial construction. 
  • Rim diameter: 12”

How to Change ATV Tires

Being able to change your ATV tires yourself comes down to having the right tools. 

Changing ATV tires is a little more difficult than changing motorcycle tires due to their larger size and deeper/stronger beads.

To change your quad’s tires, you’ll need:

  • A socket wrench to remove the lug nuts. 
  • Tire irons. 
  • A bead breaker. 
  • Soapy water and/or tire lubricant. 
  • Air compressor. 

Changing an ATV tire without the proper tools can be dangerous and cause damage to your rims. 

1. Remove Wheel from the ATV

First, you’ll need to jack up the quad and loosen the lug nuts. 

Loosen the lug nuts gradually and consistently in a criss-cross pattern. 

Remove the wheel from the axle. 

Next, you can remove the valve cap and deflate the tire. 

2. Break the Bead & Remove ATV Tire from Rim

The most difficult step in changing ATV tires is breaking the bead and removing the tire from the rim. 

The tire’s bead is the inside lip that presses against the raised lip within the rim well. The bead contains a strong steel wire to keep the tire sealed against the rim as you ride. 

The easiest way to do it is to use tire lube/soapy water and a proper ATV bead-breaker tool. 

The bead breaker works by leveraging against the ground (or something heavy) and shifting the tire bead off its seat. 

Once you’ve broken the bead, you can use a few tire irons to lift and remove the tire off the rim. 

Position a few tire spoons around the rim and leverage the bead of the ATV tire up and over it. 

Use a rim protector if necessary, and work your way around the rim until the tire has been removed. 

3. Install New Tires

After the tire has been removed from the rim, take the time to clean up the rim and inspect it for any damage. 

Apply some bead sealer and tire lube to the new tire. 

On your new tire, check the rotation arrow to make sure you install the tire facing the correct way. 

Next, slide the first side of the tire over the rim. Some more soapy water and or tire lube will make this easier. 

With one side installed, pressed the other side over the rim. You can use the tire spoons if necessary. 

With the new tire mounted on the rim, you’ll now need to re-seat the beads. 

You can do this by inflating the tire until the beads “pop” into their seats. 

Once the beads are seated, confirm that the tire is inflated to the recommended PSI. 

Seating Tubeless ATV Tires

Tubeless tires can be a little tricker to seat back onto the rim. 

If you’re having trouble inflating the tire and beading it onto the rim, you can wrap a ratchet strap around the tire and tighten it down. 

This can help to create a seal as you inflate the new tire until the beads are seated. 

4. Mount Wheel onto ATV 

Once the tire has been seated and inflated, you can reinstall the wheel. 

Insert the rim onto the axle bolts. 

Tighten the lug nuts by hand to get them started. 

Next, tighten the lug nuts in an even, criss-cross pattern to the proper torque setting. 

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