How Off-Road ATVs Work

By: Ed Grabianowski

ATV Tires and Wheels

The wheel hubs of ATVs measure between 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 centimeters) in diameter, and 5 to 8 inches (13 to 20 centimeters) wide. They mount to the axles with four bolts. Most wheels are made of aluminum, but you can buy steel ones as well. You can find wheels in a variety of colors, from chrome to flat black or anodized to resist corrosion, to brighter colors like yellow or blue.

The stock tires that come with most ATVs are "all-purpose" tires. They're designed for optimum performance across a range of conditions, but not for specific tasks. If you're upgrading your ATV tires, you need to think about what they'll be used for. If you plan to do a lot of trail riding in difficult terrain with lots of loose soil or mud, you'll want an aggressive tread with large lugs, bars or paddles to dig into the dirt. These tires also work well in snow.


However, if you want to use your ATV primarily as a workhorse, aggressive treads will tear up your lawn and will be unstable on flat terrain. For these purposes, you want a more shallow tread that spreads out the weight of the ATV and doesn't sink or dig in to your lawn. Finally, although aggressive treads work well in snow, if you plan to do a lot of work in snowy and icy conditions, you should consider special soft compound tires designed for maximum winter traction. Some ATV tires even have steel studs, and many owners wrap chains around the tires for traction on ice.

Next, we'll study the engines that give ATVs their power.