There are many types of ATV tires. But similar to cars, ATV snow tires are more expensive than regular all-terrain tires. And this begs the question: Do you really need snow tires for your ATV? And if you do, what are the best ATV snow tires? You’ll find the answers here. Let’s get cracking.
The Best ATV Snow Tires
The Maxxis 4-Snow tire is unique. It’s an innovative ATV tire designed for challenging road conditions, and we’re not just talking about snow and cold weather. The Maxxis 4-Snow is also great for light mud and sand, but it excels greatly over ice and snow.
Maxxis imbibed the 4-Snow tire with a reversible tread design. The scoop side is great for deep snow while the backside is designed to work better on hard ice. The 4-Snow is manufactured using a special soft compound that remains pliable in cold weather. The result is superior grip, better control, and balanced handling even in the wettest, coldest, and slipperiest pavement.
And there’s more. The Maxxis 4-Snow’s tire diameter is designed to expand up to 40% when accelerating. This provides better ground clearance and additional traction without the need to constantly change gears.
- Sporty design
- Fantastic grip on snow and ice
- Comfortable ride on harder pavement
- Reversible tread design
- Nice price
- Not much
Kenda K299 Bear Claw
If not for a minor technicality, the Kenda K299 Bear Claw should be on top of our list of the best snow tires for ATV. However, it’s not a proper snow tire. Instead, the Bear Claw is an A/T or all-terrain tire. And despite this, it’s still the best. In fact, it’s our preferred tire of choice when riding over rough terrain including snow, mud, and gravel.
The Kenda Bear Claw is as tough as, well, a bear’s claws. You can buy ATV all-terrain tires for less money, but the Kenda Bear Claw is 6-ply rated. This means maximum toughness, ruggedness, and capabilities over varying off-road terrain.
The tire is equipped with angled knobs to grab over loose terrain like snow, mud, sand, and gravel. While it’s true the Kenda Bear Claw is not classified as a snow tire, you can always install tire chains if you need more grip. For the money, it remains the best general-purpose ATV tire in the market.
- Tough as nails with 6-ply construction
- Good for snow, mud, and sand
- Comfortable ride
- Aggressive design
- It’s a bit pricey
ITP Mud Lite
Similar to Kenda Bear Claw, the ITP Mud Lite is not exactly a snow tire per se. Instead, it’s also an all-terrain tire like the Kenda, but it’s a nice option when forging over snow in your ATV. The ITP Mud Lite is constructed from a long-wear tire compound and is 6-ply rated to deliver outstanding toughness and durability.
But the best part is how it behaves over wet snow. The tread design offers tons of grip and is also ideal for general off-roading over light mud, gravel, snow, and grassy terrain. It also has an innovative center tread contact area to offer a smoother ride.
The ITP Mud Lite is not only a great ATV snow tire, but it’s an awesome tire overall.
- Unique groove design delivers a comfy ride
- Relentless grip on snowy roads
- Excellent for general off-roading
- Tougher construction for better durability
- Affordable price
- Faster wear on harder surfaces
Maxxis Big Horn Radial
The Maxxis Big Horn Radial is also a general-purpose all-terrain tire. But with its wider footprint, radial construction, and aggressive tread pattern, it performs admirably over snow, as well. This tire is a bit hard to find. But if you do find one, buy it on the spot. It’s one of the best ATV tires we tested for a while, although the price may not be for everyone.
What we really like about this tire is the solid raised white lettering on the sidewall. It gives your ATV a rugged, go-anywhere vibe. We also like the aggressive shoulder lugs that protect the sidewalls against cuts, tears, and punctures.
The Maxxis Big Horn Radial is a top-notch ATV tire. Over snow, it’s not as good as the Maxxis 4-Snow, but it delivers the goods in all types of rough and challenging terrain.
- Aggressive styling
- Wider footprint
- Fantastic grip on snow, mud, and sand
- Comfortable ride
- It’s a bit expensive
Do I need snow tires in my ATV?
As usual, the answer depends on where you live. For example, if you regularly use your ATV in deep snow, then yes, snow tires will help your ATV get a better grip on snowy pavement. It also benefits performance and handling during harsh icy winters.
Similar to snow tires for cars, ATV snow tires are manufactured using winter-specific rubber compounds. Snow tires are engineered to remain pliable when exposed to freezing weather. Pliability (or flexibility, for this matter) is important in a snow tire. It needs the capability to deliver relentless grip as the mercury falls. Rubber tends to shrink and harden when exposed to cold weather – you need not look further than the windshield wipers in your car, of which the wiper blades are made of rubber.
It’s the same effect if the rubber is constantly exposed to direct sunlight and harsh UV rays. It’s the reason why tire manufacturers develop compounds using silica, orange oil, canola oil, or any other additive to improve the rubber’s pliability. Snow tires, in particular, are infused with potent additives to remain flexible in icy weather.
However, if you live in places with mild to moderate snowfall, all-terrain tires are a safe option provided the treads are still deep enough. The best ATV snow tires have a minimum tread depth of one to 1.5-inches. Anything less than an inch of tread is only good for mild off-roading and general road use.
When should I replace my ATV tires?
ATV tires (or any road tire, for that matter) are equipped with wear indicators; pay attention to these when checking your tires. As previously mentioned, most ATV snow tires, or all-terrain tires, have a minimum tread depth of one to 1.5-inches. Anything more than one and a half inch is considered a mud tire, and mud tires are not ideal for snowy pavement!
Mud tires have deeper and more aggressive treads to dig into the mud. But in the snow, you need something that grips while ‘floating’ on the surface. And believe us when we say that digging into knee-deep snow will only leave you stranded in your ATV.
So, all-terrain ATV tires are great for snow. If and when you need more grip, you can always install tire chains, which are a more economical option than buying a new set of snow tires. But hey, nobody’s stopping you if you have the means and the storage space to keep a different set of ATV tires per season, right?
What’s the best option for ATVs that ride purely over snow?
The answer may surprise you. If your habitat is as white as Christmas for a majority of the year, ATV tires are not your best option. What you need is a set of ATV tracks or a proper track system similar to military tanks.
And you know what, there’s a big reason why battle tanks are equipped with tracks instead of standard wheels and tires, and it’s the same reason why you should invest in an ATV track system if you always ride in the snow. Tracks work better in the most extreme snowy conditions and can forge over depths that exceed the ground clearance of your ATV.
However, everything changes when riding on hard tarmac, in which tracks are virtually useless over normal roads. But the option is still there. If you’re not ready to spend money on a track system, snow tires are the next best thing when riding over deep snow.
Do I need to balance ATV tires?
It depends. Since ATVs are driven mostly over rougher terrain, you won’t feel the vibrating effects of an ill-balanced wheel and tire as much in off-road than on an actual highway. With that being said, here are our recommendations:
- ATV tires should be balanced if you constantly travel upwards of 30 mph.
- Balancing is necessary if your ATV is equipped with standard road tires instead of chunky all-terrain rubber.
- Balancing is not required if your ATV is constantly driven off-road.
Can I plug a flat ATV tire?
Yes, but only if you have a tubeless tire in your ATV. All you need is a tire plug kit, which you should carry all the time when roaming in the wilderness. Using a tire plug kit is easy enough. Most of the time, you don’t need to remove the wheel from the hub. Tire plugs are handy when a tire shop is many miles away from the next stop, so make sure you always carry a tire repair kit in your ATV.