Does ATV Tire Width Matter? (Yes, here’s why)

Treating your ATV to some new rubber or just wondering what difference a wider tire might make? Well you’re in the right place.

The width of an ATV tire will effect speed, handling and component wear. An ATV can usually handle one size larger than stock tires, two sizes bigger or more may cause damage and safety concerns.

In this post you’ll learn how wider tires affect your ATV handling and how it can damage critical components.


Putting a wider tire on your ATV is one of the fastest ways to enhance its handling. But how will it ride? With new wider rubber fitted to your ATV, it will feel like a different bike.

You’ll immediately notice, a heavier steering feeling. At take off you’ll notice the bike feels a little heavier, almost sluggish, especially on hard surfaces.

Likely, at this point you won’t be impressed, but then you’ll hit the loose.

On the loose you’ll notice more grip and and stability. Braking will be more efficient, you’ll brake later, carrying more speed through the corners.Your cornering speeds increasing as you’ll feel more confident.
Basically, fun meter reading “FULL”.

Pros & Cons of Wider Tires

Wider tires offer you a mix of good and bad, and it will depend how you use your ATV.

Generally, wider tires are better suited to lower speed loose/wet twisty tracks and narrower tires better for higher speed sealed surface road work.

Some of the advantages of wider tires, include:

  • Cost – Inexpensive way transform both the looks and performance of your bike.
  • Funometer – More is usually more fun when it comes to outdoor kit, and that includes wider tires.
  • Greater stability – Your ATV will have a wider track and that’s great for cornering stability. Wider track equals higher cornering speed.
  • Greater traction – A wider tyre makes a larger surface contact patch and that translates into greater traction.

The disadvantage of wider tires include:

  • Less power – It takes more energy to move a larger mass, and wider tires are bigger.
  • Less torque – The larger contact patch increases resistance which soaks more engine power.
  • Slower top speed – More mass is less when it comes to top speed.
  • Gas mileage – Engine will use more gas, because it’s working a little harder.
  • Wear & Tear – Your suspension, steering and drive line components won’t last quite as long.

Tire Size

Moving higher by one or maybe two tire sizes from stock is OK, but more than that risks problems.

ATV suspension, steering and drive line components are engineered to take specific loads. Increasing the tire size increases stress loads and components could fail.

Most at risk are suspension, steering and wheel bearing failures. Oversized tyres can load suspension ball-joints and bushings to breaking point and cause wheel bearings to collapse.

With all that traction its not uncommon for a 1/2 shaft to break or worse, broken differential or transmission.

John Cunningham

John Cunningham is an certified mechanic and writer on I’ve been a mechanic for over twenty years, I use my knowledge and experience to write articles that help fellow gear-heads with all aspects of ATV ownership, from maintenance, repair to troubleshooting.

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