It is necessary to choose tires for an UTV with utmost responsibility: after all, performance of the UTV will mainly depend on it. Only properly selected tires with the right amount of pressure in them will allow you to operate your UTV efficiently.
The tread pattern and tire wear control are also important, because worn-out tires or tires with an inappropriate tread pattern reduce stability of the UTV, both when riding along a straight road and while making turns. Worn-out or incorrectly selected tires cause the UTV to waste its power on unnecessary spinning of the wheels or their sliding.
Radial or Diagonal?
According to LiamsCar.com post, most UTV tires are diagonal, while the tires for cars and motorcycles are mostly radial. Diagonal tires are made of several layers of cord plies. Each layer in the tire lies at an angle to each other, hence the name of the tire - Diagonal.
The radial tire is designed in a different way – the cord runs from one bead to the other, and the central part is reinforced with a metal cord. The production of these tires is a more expensive process, and the central tread rib (protector) is less prone to deforming, but, at the same time, the sidewalls become more elastic, and the contact area remains stable and flat and preserves its size and shape. As a result, the radial tire performs well on hard surfaces, which is why it is so popular in the automotive industry.
UTV tires operate in a different mode: they are low-pressure tires that work on uneven surfaces and have large button-like lugs. Deformation of tires is essential, and it helps to maintain the traction. Naturally, it ensures high rigidity of the contact area in radial tires.
Contact Patch and Traction
The relationship between the contact patch and the traction is not as simple as it seems at first. When buying a tire, you should consider the fact that the rectilinear movement and the traction do not entirely depend on the size of the contact patch. On a soft surface, a larger contact patch does not necessarily provide more traction. It is more efficient to have smaller contact areas (lugs) and transfer force through them – by means of their traction bite.
When analyzing the relationship between the contact area and the traction, the experts use the usable to total area ratio as their guide. The total area is the entire contact area, while the usable area is the total of those surfaces that are in contact with the surface of the ground. The difference between them depends on the tread pattern in the tread rib. As a result, a pattern with wide grooves has a lower usable/total area index compared to that of a smooth racing tire (that has an index of 100%). Every new tire is designed to provide the desired index.
Maintaining a specific tire pressure is a significant factor that ensures an optimal shape of the contact patch and the elasticity. If the tire is under-inflated, the tread in the contact patch gets deformed, thus its ability to “bite” the road decreases. Over-inflated tires result in reduction of the contact patch. It also has an adverse effect and reduces flexibility of the sidewalls of the tire reducing the damping performance.
The pressure is always interrelated with the load: maintaining the proper tire section and its contact patch, with a larger load, requires more pressure. If under-loaded, the tire section can be reduced (or flattened) by about 15-20%, depending on the conditions of the road. Each pair of tires on the axle of the UTV must have the same pressure.
As a general rule for off-road use, the tire pressure of an all-terrain vehicle should be, on average, between 0.35 bars and 0.83 bars. When traveling on the road, increase the pressure by about 20-50% - depending on the type of the off-road conditions.
The information about the size of the tire is indicated on the sidewall and it is usually in inches.
For example: 25x8-12
There are hundreds of different tread patterns, and your selection of tires should reflect the purpose of their use. Try to choose tires designed specifically for the type of the surface you are going to ride on. Every type of tires has its own strengths; otherwise there should be a compromise between different operating conditions.
Manufacturers invest plenty of money into development of new rubber compounds and tread patterns. This is a very difficult process, and costly, too.
At the other end of this chain are the UTV riders. Quite often they take tires for granted. They consider neither the road conditions nor the speed. However, it is very easy to determine whether the UTV has the right tires installed. This is an important part of the maintenance.