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All you have to do to find the right tires for your ATV is solve a simple math problem –  S(x)=∫axf(t)dt  – and you’ll automatically know the perfect tires for your unit. We’re kidding, of course; that’s calculus and we’d have no clue how to solve that equation! But looking at ATV tire sizes for the first time can be just as intimidating. Luckily, we’re here to make it easier by helping you solve the tire sizing equation and giving you some best practices for deciding which tires will be best for your ride.

Understand Tire Sizing and Spacing  

While we were joking about the math equation, tire sizes are identified by a series of numbers. Once you understand how to read the combination, it will be easy to search for tire options available to you. All of this information will be in your owner’s manual or in the side-wall of your existing tire.  

The first set of numbers indicates height and width, usually separated by a dash or the letter “x.” For example, you may see a tire number beginning with “14-7,” indicating that the tire is 14 inches tall and 7 inches wide. Sometimes the first set of numbers will include a third dimension, which stands for the size rim on which the tire will fit. So, a tire number that begins with “14x7x12” tells you the tire would fit on a 12 inch rim. Finally, you may see an R included, such as “14-7-R12,” which indicates the tire is designed with radial construction.

If you’re measuring this yourself, it’s important to note that these numbers are always calculated when the tire is fully inflated. You should also make sure to measure from bead seat to bead seat, not from one rim edge to the other. This is important because rim edges vary depending on the brand and tire style, meaning you can’t use that as a baseline.

The second set of numbers you’ll see describe the “offset” of your tires. The first number represents the distance from the inside wheel edge to the mounting surface of the ATV. The second number represents the distance from the mounting surface to the outside wheel edge. If more of the wheel is inside, that’s called a “positive offset,” if more extends outside it’s a “negative offset,” and if the numbers are equal it’s a “zero offset.” So, if you see “4+3” as the second set of numbers, that’s a positive offset with 4 inches of the wheel inside and 3 inches of the wheel outside.

The final set of numbers in the combination tell you how many bolts are in the rim of your wheel and how far apart they should be spaced in millimeters. So, if the final set of numbers is “4/156,” then you know the wheel needs 4 lug bolts placed 156 millimeters apart.

Think About How You Ride 

Now that you’ve learned how to size your tire, it’s time to pick the type of tire that’s best for your unit. There are different options depending on how and where you ride. Here are the most common options. 

All Purpose

These are typically what come with your unit. They work well on any type of riding terrain, meaning you don’t have to switch out your tires to go between the motocross track, a sand dune, or a muddy river bed. They offer an intermediate grip, but you should get a tread of at least .5 inches so they’ll last for a while. 

Off Road

Off road tires are basically one step up from all purpose tires. They offer the same versatility, with a little more durability. The stronger tread makes them a little better at handling really intense off road rides, giving you the peace of mind that you can truly tackle anything. 


Since the dirt on motocross tracks tends to be loosely packed, you want tires that have a spaced out tread pattern and stiff knobs. These features on these tires will allow you to effectively corner, but also get the grip you need when accelerating. 


Of all the tire options, mud tires tend to have the deepest lugs. These tires are designed to have the traction you need to get out of the muddiest pit you can think of. The knobs on these tires are also especially large and almost act as shovels to help you dig out. If you live in a colder climate, these tires also work great in the snow. 


With sand tires, the front two wheels and the back two wheels look slightly different than other ATV tires. The front wheels are slick with only a small ridge down the middle or on the sides to help with steering and the back wheels have a paddle-like shape on the tire to help push sand out behind the unit, making them the most recognizable ATV tire. 

Conclusion: As you weigh the options around what tires might be right for your unit, follow the ATV Trader blog for more helpful tips and tricks. You can also check out for the largest selection of new and used ATV and UTV units across the country.


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Ethan Smith
Ethan Smith
is the Content Manager at Trader Interactive, managing marketing content development for ATV Trader, Commercial Truck Trader, Cycle Trader, Equipment Trader, RV Trader, and more. Ethan believes in using accessible language to elevate conversations about industry topics relevant to marketplace buyers and sellers.

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