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5 Possible Consequences Of Installing Larger ATV Tires

Chaparral Motorsports
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April 30, 2021
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Last Updated: April 30, 2021
ATV Over Rocks

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are designed for adventure and exploration, these machines also provide ample opportunity to make a statement about personality and preference for many people. Big ATV tires can be practical in certain circumstances, but their limited use makes them more of a cosmetic change for most ATV owners.

While the change from standard tires to oversized ATV tires may be a calculated decision by the owner, it is crucial to take the time to understand the implications of such a shift. Between the extra weight and height adjustments, there are a number of ways swapping your tires might lead to potential problems.

Swapping your tires to oversized options increases the height of your ATV and alters the performance of the machine. Because of the many changes that occur through such a transition, the owner of an ATV needs to consider all potential results, weighing the pros, cons, and costs of each to determine the best course of action.

There are at least five possible consequences of altering your ATV's form and function, and it is vital you recognize each, limiting false expectations.

1. Potential Warranty Problems

When manufacturers build ATVs, they have specific expectations of the performance of the engine and other component parts. Altering the machine in any way can change these expectations. Most manufacturers include clauses that any modifications can lead to the elimination of the warranty, meaning that if any problems arise during the warranty window after a mod, the manufacturer is not responsible.

While the ATV owner may not feel that voiding the warranty with just a tire change is fair, the manufacturer must limit liability. Without setting limitations on the number of modifications an owner can do to a bike, the company opens itself up to future litigation and potential bankruptcy from lawsuits. An ATV manufacturer must look out for the best interests of its brand, image, and clientele.

2. Skewed Center of Gravity

ATV Center of Gravity

Beyond the warranty issues, there is the problem of a skewed center of gravity. Putting oversized tires on your ATV lifts the body of the machine, possibly drastically affecting maneuverability. While raising the body is often the point, with riders often wanting more clearance, the height gains can result in the machine's instability, meaning it is more likely to tip over.

Also, with larger and heavier tires, the turning radius of an ATV can be significantly reduced. The handling of your machine can also suffer from larger tires because the increased weight and size of the ATV make it harder to steer and control. While it is not impossible to drive a vehicle with oversized tires, it is crucial to understand the impact on your riding style and the reasoning behind such a change.

3. Slower Acceleration

Supersized ATV wheels weigh significantly more than the standard tires that come with your machine. Also, the tires' rotating mass makes gearing and rotation more challenging off the start. Between the added weight and increased tire mass, you will have slower low-end acceleration.

For some riders, the slow start is worth it for the added clearance and appeal of the ATV, but for racers or anyone interested in getting from point A to B quickly, the cosmetic and practical benefits may not be enough to convince them to switch tire sizes.

To understand whether the tire change is worth it for you, you need to determine what type of rider you want to be. You also need to consider if the gains outweigh the potential cons for altering your ATV.

4. Loss of Low-End Torque

ATV Tire in Mud

Part of opting for larger tires is understanding the gear ratio of your machine. The tire's height determines the rate; therefore, if you choose supersized tires, the ratio increases. The rotating mass of the tire also increases, meaning you lose low-end torque. In layman's terms, the bigger the tires, the harder the engine has to work to make them move, potentially straining the ATV's motor.

If you do not want to experience significant low-end issues, you can perform a gear reduction and install a clutch kit. A gear reduction should help your tires spin faster, and the clutch kit provides more low-end torque. Unfortunately, making these changes limits your top-end speed. To figure out whether these modifications are worth it, you need to determine whether speed matters to you more than going through the mud or having extra height.

5. Accelerated Wear and Tear

ATV Rotor

If it is not evident by now, installing larger tires on your ATV also accelerates the wear and tear on it. Manufacturers make specific predictions based on the parts they use to build the vehicle. When you start altering those parts, the life of your machine comes into question. Larger tires weigh more and use more force to move. Your engine needs to work harder to propel your ATV through the mud or trail than with standard tires, meaning your engine is doing more work than it was initially designed for.

The added weight of larger ATV tires will also impact your ATV brake pads and rotors. Aside from taking longer to slow to completely stop the machine, your brake pads and/or rotors may wear prematurely. All of this is not to say that swapping your tires for larger ones is a bad idea, but you should consider all the pros and cons before altering and possibly voiding your warranty.

Installing oversized tires on your ATV does have benefits, primarily additional clearance, but is that enough reason to potentially void your warranty and alter the appearance of your vehicle? Only you can decide whether larger tires are worth the risk and whether they will benefit your riding style. If you've weighed the pros and cons and want to get started, check out our article on the Parts Required to Install Larger ATV Tires.

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