Do ATV Rims Make a Difference in the Ride? 

If bigger is always better, you wonder if that would apply when it comes to upgrading the size of your ATV rims. You’d love to improve your ride, even more, so are bigger rims the solution?

The size of your ATV rims does make a difference in the quality of your ride. Larger rims improve your traction and ground clearance, not to mention your ATV will have a tougher look. However, going too large with your rims and wheels can strain the axles, driveline, drive belt, and clutch. 

In this informative guide, we’ll explain why you should upgrade your rim size and which size is the best for your ATV so you can avoid the above downsides of too-big rims. If you’re new to ATVs and buying tires and rims for the first time, this is one article you’re not going to want to miss! 

What Are ATV Rims?

First, let’s begin by defining ATV rims.

The rims are a part of the wheel and are technically the outermost edge. However, when most people talk about rims, they’re referring to the entire wheel and thus the tire. 

Keeping that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the various types of ATV tires on the market. For more help on what tires you should buy for your ATV click here!

Sand Tires

The first type of ATV tires is sand tires. The rear wheels will feature paddles that are designed to propel your ATV when riding through sandy conditions such as dunes. 

The front wheels, in the meantime, are almost completely smooth save for a center rib. This rib is designed to enhance your steering capabilities. 

If you don’t ride in sand on your ATV, then you should never need a set of sand tires. These tires are more expensive than the other types likely because they’re considered specialty tires. 

Mud Tires

The lugs throughout a set of mud tires are thick and deep to provide ATV drivers with the kind of traction and grip they need when riding across slippery, slick mud. 

Unlike sand tires, which are only handy when riding in the sand, mud tires can also double as snow tires if you don’t want to buy ATV-specific snow tires. 

Off-Road Tires

Why stay on the trail when ATV off-road tires exist? 

Designed for riding in desert conditions, mountainous terrain, and all sorts of other situations, off-road ATV tires are built durable. They also have a powerful tread.

Racing Tires

If you’re racing on a manmade course, then racing tires are the perfect pick for your ATV. These tires are also known as motocross ATV tires.

The stiffer knobs of racing tires can keep your ATV supported in loose soil. The treads have distance between them to maintain your grip as you go fast, which is necessary if you want to win the race!

All-Purpose Tires 

The last type of ATV tire is the all-purpose tire, a catch-all type of tire that can handle any type of regular terrain you might come across when driving your ATV. These tires are also built for handling wet conditions.

The tread pattern of all-purpose ATV tires varies, as does the tread. In some cases, you might see the tread extend all the way around the tire’s sidewall. 

Some manufacturers focus more on building high-quality shoulder knobs that strengthen the grip. 

The Benefits of Upgrading to Bigger ATV Rims

A set of bigger ATV rims has either a larger offset, width, or diameter than the norm and sometimes all three. 

An ATV rim offset, by the way, is how much space exists between the bead set centerline and the hub mounting surface of the wheel. We’ll talk more about rim offsets later, so keep reading.

What are some advantages of upsizing your ATV rims? Per the intro, here’s what you need to know. 

Improves Traction in Tough Conditions 

When you see snow on the ground, do you find yourself unable to resist hopping on your ATV and going for a ride? Do you live for splashing around in mud puddles or riding in sand?

If so, then upgrading the size of your ATV rims could be right for you. Larger wheels usually have better traction, especially when riding in deep snow or mud. The smaller your tires, the less traction you’d have in the same riding conditions. 

Handles Uneven Terrain

Uneven ground can be a struggle on your ATV, but not once you upsize the rims. You’ll find yourself skating by on jagged or uneven terrain as though it was smooth, even ground throughout. 

Betters Your Ground Clearance

All vehicles have ground clearance, which is also known as ride height. Ground clearance refers to how much space there is between the vehicle’s lowest point and the base.

The higher your ride height, the more vertical space for the wheels. This will allow your ATV wheels to absorb more shock so your body doesn’t have to. 

Looks Cool

Finally, larger ATV wheels just look awesome. Your ATV setup will have a meaner feel and you’ll be more confident when you ride. 

The Downsides of Upgrading to Bigger ATV Rims

Wouldn’t it be great if bigger ATV rims had no cons? Yes, it would, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.

If you upgrade the size of your ATV wheels by one or two sizes, then you shouldn’t have to stress about the following effects. It’s those who must go three or four sizes larger who need to worry the most. 

Greater Risk of Rollovers

Rolling over on an ATV is like capsizing on a boat. You lose control of your ATV and tip to your left or right. 

Usually, the causes of ATV rollovers are sharp or fast turns, driving on uneven terrain, or hitting a guardrail, rock, curb, or another obstacle. 

The disproportionate profile of your ATV with too-big wheels also increases your risk of rollovers. 

You could get seriously hurt if your ATV flips you over when you’re driving quickly enough. Thus, any instances of rollovers are too many! 

Premature Parts Wear

Wheels that are not equivalent to the rest of your ATV can cause a whole slew of parts to possibly wear down faster than they should.

They include wheel bearings, axles, driveline, drive belt, and clutch. 

If you don’t mind tinkering with your ATV, you can equip it with modifications and accessories that can reduce some of the above parts’ wear. 

For example, wheel spacers increase your turning radius so you’re less likely to experience turnover each time you try to make a left or right turn. You’ll also have better steering resistance.

Lift kits solve the issue that is the higher center of gravity once you elevate your ATV with bigger wheels. 

The lift kit, especially when used in conjunction with the wheel spacers, will separate the wheels further from the exhaust, struts, and shocks. 

Upgrading your suspension and drivetrain will ensure these parts will be built to handle the bigger wheels of your ATV. You will have to change out your wheel bearings, shocks, tie-rod ends, A-arm bushings, U-joints, and axles, which can be costly.

You’ll also need a heavy-duty belt and a gear reduction kit.  

The gear reduction kit can lessen your gearing to increase torque, as larger wheels do reduce your ATV’s torque. 

We should note that these modifications are only a viable solution if your ATV is no longer covered under warranty.

If you do still have warranty protection, then installing any of the above measures would more than likely void your warranty. 

Tires Rub on the Suspension or Body Panels 

Finally, there’s the risk that the larger tires will rub on parts of your ATV that they shouldn’t. The tires could consistently connect with the ATV’s suspension or even the panels of the vehicle’s body.

In both cases, the result is premature wear that will siphon more money out of your pockets that you have to spend on repairs. 

How to Choose the Right Size Rims for Your ATV

Knowing everything you do now, you should buy a pair of ATV rims that are suitable for your vehicle. Like the classic Goldilocks story, the wheels shouldn’t be too big or too small, but just right.

How do you find these coveted wheels? Here’s what we recommended.

Measure the Wheel Bolt Pattern

First, you need to determine the wheel bolt pattern of your ATV wheels.

What is the wheel bolt pattern? It’s the lug pattern. 

Your ATV wheels can have either a three-lug wheel bolt pattern, a four-lug pattern, or a five-lug pattern. 

To measure for a three-lug wheel bolt pattern, you need the diameter of what a virtual circle would be if it went through all three bolts in the middle of each. If your bolt pattern was 3/90, then the wheel bolt pattern is 90 millimeters.

For a four-lug bolt pattern, measure the diameter of the two lugholes that are diagonal from each other. A 4/110 bolt pattern would be 110 millimeters.

To measure a five-lug bolt pattern, trace from the back of one hole to the middle of the hole diagonal from the first hole. A 5/110 bolt pattern would be 110 millimeters as well. 

Determine the Wheel Offset

We promised we would talk about ATV wheel offset, and now it’s finally time to do that. 

To reiterate what we touched on earlier, wheel offset is how much space is from the bead set centerline to the wheel’s hub mounting surface. 

The offset is usually expressed as two numbers and a plus sign such as 4+3. These numbers each represent something different. 

For example, the 3 would be the outside measurement of the wheel and the 4 is the inside measurement. 

ATV wheel offsets can be zero offset, negative, or positive. Let’s explore.

Zero offset wheels are those where the hub mounting surface is right in the wheel’s true center. If you measured the wheel offset, the two numbers would be identical, such as 3+3 or 4+4. 

Negative wheel offset occurs when the nose section of the ATV wheel is wider than any other point. Positive wheel offset is the opposite and happens if the wheel’s bell section is widest. 

Gauge the ATV Wheel Size

Finally, you have to determine the size of your ATV wheel, which you can do by taking the diameter and width of the wheel. 

By adding the offset numbers together, you get the width of your wheel. So, if your ATV wheel’s offset was indeed 3+4, the width would be 7 inches. That’s convenient.

Know How to Read ATV Wheel Sizes

As you browse around and look at ATV wheels, you’ll see a series of numbers. They may read something like 8×8, 3+5, 4/110. 

No, this isn’t a complicated math equation you’re required to do. Rather, each number denotes something of value. 

The first number, such as the first 8 in the 8×8 in our example, is the wheel diameter. The second digit, which would also be 8 in this example, is the wheel width.

So far then, we know the wheel is 8 inches in diameter and 8 inches wide.

Moving on to the second set of numbers, they tell us the wheel offset. Using the example from before, the 3 would mean the offset is 3 inches off-center while the 5 means 5 inches offset to the outside.

Then you’re onto the last set of numbers. The first digit, which is the 4 in 4/110, is the bolt wheel pattern. 

The last number, the 110 in our example, is the bolt hole spacing in millimeters. 

Final Thoughts 

ATV rims do make a difference in the quality of your ride, affecting your clearance, traction, and stability, especially when off-roading in mud, sand, or snow. That said, going too big with your wheels can wear down many parts of your ATV prematurely.

The best way to ensure you buy the correct-sized rims for your ATV is to measure the offset, width, and diameter. 

Remember, sometimes smaller wheels are the better option, even if they don’t look as cool.  

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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