The leaves are changing color and the first frost will soon harden the ground in many parts of the country. Along with the cold temperatures comes the excitement of the hunting season and outdoor winter activities; especially for those with all-terrain vehicles (ATV) and utility vehicles (UTV). If you have not already done so, now is the time to begin winterizing your adventure vehicle. You may need ATV snow tires or new all-terrain tires that work well on snow. Finding the most efficient, high-quality ATV tires for your specific needs is important for ensuring maximum enjoyment and safety during the hunt, or whatever activities you have planned throughout the winter months.
Do I need ATV snow tires?
Likely not. Almost any ATV tire will work on packed or hardened snow. The benefits of a dedicated ATV snow tire are most obvious when riding after a heavy snowfall, on untracked trails, or in heavy wet snow. If you use your ATV mostly before winter weather hits, and only occasionally after a fresh snowfall, a good all-terrain or even a mud tire should get you through the winter without problems. If you do ride year-round and live in an area with frequent snow, you would definitely enjoy the added traction of an ATV snow tire. Unfortunately, there are tradeoffs to all that extra snow traction. For one, dedicated ATV snow tires are expensive. Secondly, you would need to change them out every spring which has the added risk of damage to the beads during the bi-annual mounting process (unless you have an extra set of rims). Thirdly, ATV snow tires are very specialized and only a few manufacturers even produce a dedicated snow/winter tire for ATVs, Quads or Utility Vehicles.
What are my options?
The alternative to a dedicated set of ATV snow tires is a set of good all-terrain tires with the tread features that aid in deep snow traction. Also, certain ATV mud tires and all-terrain tires can be studded. Studs will greatly improve grip in deep snow, packed snow and on ice, so this is a fairly common solution for many riders in northern states. Another option is snow chains. These are easily installed for the occasional ride on snow, and an excellent solution if your regular tires aren’t providing the grip you want.
What makes a great ATV snow tire?
For deep snow traction, you want to stay floating on top of the surface as much as possible and not digging down into the snow. Just like in sand, you want to avoid excessive wheel spin, so wider tires with tread paddles or independent blocks running radially across the tread work best. Deep chevron shaped paddles like you find on ATV mud tires generally cause the tire to dig too deep in loose snow. The wide bars and large void area between the tread on this type of tire also mean less radial edges and direct contact to a packed snow or ice surface. The result is less grip on well traveled packed snow and icy trails.
The type of tread rubber compound is also a consideration. ATV snow tires have rubber compounds that stay more pliable at colder temperatures. The softer rubber of ATV snow tires provides more grip on ice, and on cold dry roads and trails because the rubber flexes around terrain irregularities and obstacles. If you do need the versatility of an all-terrain tire, pick one that has an all-season tread compound. This at least assures you the tread rubber won’t overly harden in cold temperatures. Our top picks for winter riding all have good four season tread rubber.
Which ATV tire work best on snow and ice?
Not very many tire manufacturers market models of dedicated ATV snow tires. Happily, there are all-terrain tires that have some of the tread and design features that aid in winter traction. Here are our top picks for ATV riders wanting the very best snow traction possible, but don’t want to change out their tires for a dedicated ATV snow tire. Without studs, these tires are also excellent options for sport riders who like the fun of controlled sliding and drifting on ice.
- #1 – Kenda Bearclaw EVO K592
The Kenda Bearclaw EVO K592 tire has the best reviews for winter traction among our customers. It has large radial paddles for pulling power in wet snow or deep light snow plus the addition of raised ribs between the blocks. These raised ribs provide additional pulling power and protection to the tire casing. When new, the dimpled tread blocks in the Kenda Bearclaw EVO K592 help in both deep snow and packed snow. The addition of a center row of tread blocks adds more biting edges as well which is a benefit in all types of snow and ice, particularly at higher speeds. The tire also has an extremely wide and flat profile which helps the tire stay on top of the snow instead of digging a hole and causing the wheels to spin. The tread can take studs but still stays fairly pliable in cold weather.
- #2 – Carlisle 489 A/T tire
The Carlisle 489 A/T tire is an extremely versatile all-terrain ATV tire that works very well on snow and ice. In hard packed snow, where floatation is less of an issue, the Carlisle 489 excels thanks to the jagged tread pattern and plenty of leading edges for bite on snow and ice. The tread pattern is very good for snow traction and the rubber stays soft at cold temperatures however, the profile is not optimized for soft snow conditions. Unlike the Kenda Bear Claw, the crown of the tire is more rounded which causes it to sink into deep snow more than a dedicated ATV snow tire should. To overcome this, many or our customers stud this tire for extra traction and end up with an excellent tire for icy trails and mixed winter conditions.
- #3 – Greenball Spartacus tire
The Greenball Spartacus tire offers an aggressive tread pattern of independent tread blocks arranged in an offset paddle formation. This type of tread provides a lot of biting edges. The blocks themselves are dimpled for added traction when the tire is new. The offset paddle tread design makes for more balanced traction and less tradeoff between deep snow or packed snow surfaces. The Greenball Spartacus tire has a radial construction which gives the tire a wide flat crown for more floatation on soft snow. The alternating sized lugs and wide void areas prevent snow from packing in around the tread lugs. Considering all these features and the low price, this is an excellent all-terrain tire for anyone doing a lot of winter riding.
Since 2004, Tires-easy has provided high-quality, cost-efficient tire options to United States consumers. With over 50 years of experience in the tire industry, the staff at Tires-Easy offers tailored customer service and dependable guidance for any customer’s needs. For more information or to speak directly with a representative, please feel free to contact us.