ATV in action

ATV is the acronym of “all terrain vehicle”.  Like the name implies, these four-wheeled dynamos are built to cruise up hills, through mud, over rocky surfaces, and can even tackle the snow with ease.  But an ATV is only functional on all terrains if the wheels and tires are up to the task.

While a powerful engine, strong chassis,  and good suspension are important components to any ATV, it is the wheels that make it possible for all-terrain vehicles to crank out solid performance, even in the absence of roads.

All ATV wheels share the same characteristics:  extra durable tear- and snag-resistant materials that can protect the tires against punctures from sharp rocks and debris,   large defined treads for better traction in all kinds of terrain,  and large, balloon-like shape to help the wheels avoid lodging into small pits and between rocks along the trail.  These wide tires also help the wheel climb up and away from any barrier.  In some cases, these balloon-like tires can even allow the vehicle to glide.

The ATV was made up in Japan by the Honda Research and Development team.  This group, led by Osamu Takeuchi, created the machine because of society’s rising need for a versatile, small,  and powerful vehicle that would be suitable for winter travel.  The result was a prototype designed by the development team that featured six wheels.  While the primary success of these vehicles was due in part to the ATV wheels, the invention didn’t have the cutting edge technology that allowed it to meet the demand.

Undaunted, Osamu Takeuchi took an American invention named  the ‘Amphi Cat’ and applied the design to the burgeoning ATV.  The U.S. Amphi Cat had rolled on six 20-inch low-pressure, high flotation balloon tires.

Mr. Takeuchi modified his ATV invention until it was able to acknowledge the Amphi Cat’s wheel design.  This became the brand name of modern day ATV wheels.

Today’s ATVs feature a variety of  tire and wheel designs, each created to meet the demands of specific types of terrain.  While most wheel types will permit the ATV to operate adequately on other types of terrain, some ATV wheels are not compatible with certain topography.  For instance, racing ATV tires are not effective while driving on sand dunes.

Race Tires

Those who race ATVs need specialized tires to generate better traction over a variety of surfaces.  Racing ATV tires typically sport more defined tread and knobs.  These tires are also typically flatter, to allow ample hold on the topography.  In other words, flatter tires have more “clench” on the track.

Sand Tires

Also  named  “Paddle Tires”, these tires have distinctive treads that actually “paddle” through the sand.  The tires are usually broad and balloon-like.  There are not many treads on the tires, but the few that are there are very wide.  The balloon construction stops the ATV from sinking even in the softest sand, while the large “paddle” treads provide effective traction.

Trail Tires

The most heavy-duty of all ATV tires, trail tires are created of puncture-resistant, heavy duty materials.  There are many obstacles on the trail that can cause a tire to prick or puncture, such as branches,  sharp rocks,  or even large wood splinters.  For true all-terrain use, some trail tires are also wide and balloon-like.  This particular shape allows the ATV to perform well in soggy terrain or mud , and can protect the ATV and its rider from sinking in to bogs or sandy areas.

Despite the kind of terrain you’ll be riding, there are certain characteristics to look for when puchasing ATV tires.  Make sure that the tires have a wider balloon shape, well-defined treads,  and are created from tear- and snag-resistant material.  Remember, if it won’t cross all topographies, it’s not much of an ATV.

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