a close up of an atv tire size

ATV Tire Sizes: The Complete Guide

Struggling to figure out how to read ATV tire size? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Dealing with those acronyms, numbers, and pen widths can be very confusing.

But don’t get discouraged. I’ll provide you a complete guide to to help you understand those tire digits. I’ll show you how to read ATV tire sizes and how to pick the correct tires for your ATV.

With these instructions at hand, learning how to read ATV tire size is a breeze! So without further ado, let’s dive right in…

How To Read ATV Tire Sizes

If you’re new to ATV riding or just need a refresher, understanding how to read ATV tire sizes is essential. When shopping for new tires, you’ll likely come across tire sizes that may seem confusing at first glance, like 25×8-12. However, by breaking down the numbers and letters, you can quickly decipher what each means.

It’s important to determine if you’re dealing with standard or metric ATV tire sizes, as this will affect how you read and interpret the tire size. From there, you can use a sizing chart to determine the tire’s width, aspect ratio, and rim diameter.

So, don’t let tire sizes intimidate you. Instead, let’s take the time to learn the Standard and Metric Sizing Charts below and make informed decisions when it comes to your ATV’s tires.

Standard Sizing Chart

An infographic about how to read atv tire size: standard sizing.
Image Source: Boost ATV

The curious numbers used to define conventional ATV tire sizes indicate tire dimensions. The standard size chart’s first number shows a tire’s height in inches at its recommended air pressure.

The second number represents the tire’s width when mounted and inflated. Finally, the last number shows the diameter of the wheel on which the tire will be mounted.

In the world of ATV tires, this format is more commonly used than metric. But it’s important to note that not all manufacturers use the same standard sizing system. So, be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s specifications when shopping for new tires.

Metric Sizing Chart

An infographic about how to read atv tire size: metric sizing.
Image Source: Boost ATV

Even though standard tire sizes are more common for ATVs, sometimes metric sizes are used. You’ll know you’re working with metric dimensions if you see a tire size like 205/80R12.

The letter “R” in the center of those numbers indicates that you’re working with a radial structure. In metric measurements, tire width is measured in millimeters and aspect ratio in percentage. The last digit reflects the diameter of the wheel in inches.

Although there may be more numbers and letters, these are the most crucial for determining the size of your ATV tires.

How to Convert a Metric ATV Tire Size

Converting a metric ATV tire size to a traditional tire size may seem daunting, but it’s quite simple. Begin by locating your tire size on the sidewall of the tire and looking at the first number, which is usually measured in millimeters. To convert this number to inches, simply divide it by 25.4. This number becomes the second number in a standard ATV tire size.

The second number represents the tire’s aspect ratio, or height, as a percentage of its width, but it’s also measured in millimeters. To convert this number to inches, multiply it by 2 and divide by 25.4, then add it to the wheel diameter. This new number is the first in a traditional size.

The final number represents the diameter of the wheel on which the tire will mount, which is usually already in inches.

What Does Each Number Mean?

An infographic labeling each number and letters on the side of the tire.
Image Source: Outdoor Tire

Each number in your ATV tire is there to guide you in choosing the right tire for you. As seen in the image above, all of the numbers play important roles in the performance of your tire.


When it comes to ATVs, tire width can be a decisive factor in speed, handling, and even the wear and tear of parts. Generally speaking, you’re safe going up one size over stock; anything more might lead to damage or put your safety at risk.

Aspect Ratio

The aspect ratio is the ratio of the height of your tire’s sidewall to its width. So, if your tire is 205 mm wide and has 55 mm high sidewalls, its aspect ratio is 55%. The aspect ratio of a tire is important because it affects the tire’s diameter, handling, and rolling resistance. If the aspect ratio is high, the rolling resistance will be high, and if it is low, the rolling resistance will be low.

In other words, if you want your ATV to handle better, you might want to think about getting a lower aspect ratio. If you want to raise your ATV, you might want to think about getting tires with a higher aspect ratio.


Bigger tires have bigger diameters, and vice versa. However, understand that having larger diameters will reduce some low-end grunt, increase clutch and drive belt wear, and give you a higher chance of axle failure.

Load Rating

The load rating of your tire tells you how much weight it is designed to carry. The more weight a tire can handle, the higher its load rating. Please do note, however, that the number on the side of the tire is not the real weight limit. When you buy a tire, the user’s manual or specifications will usually tell you the load rating and how much weight it can hold.

Speed Rating

And finally, the speed rating is a letter that tells you how fast this tire can go at its top speed, as long as the car isn’t carrying more weight than the tire’s load rating. Since the speed rating is a letter (for example, “S” means that the tire can handle speeds of up to 112 miles per hour or 180 kilometers per hour), you’ll need to look at the manufacturer’s chart to find out what speed each letter means specifically for your tire.

How do I Choose the Right Size Tire for my ATV?

A typical ATV tire is 25 to 27 inches tall, 7 to 10 inches wide, and has a 10 to 12-inch wheel diameter. Most sport quad tires are a little bit smaller than average, while most mud tires are bigger than average.

When people talk about ATV tires, they often only talk about the tire’s outer diameter. You can categorize the sizes of tires for most ATVs:

  • For recreation and utility: 24 to 28 inches.
  • For ATV racing or sports: 20 to 25 inches
  • For mud-riding or rock-crawling: 27 to 32 inches or more

Remember that the front tires are typically one to two inches narrower than the rear tires. The reason is that smaller tires provide greater handling, turning, and steering than larger tires. It also prevents “handlebar whips,” which occur when you strike a large rock or bump and cause the handlebar to jerk. This may injure your hand or accelerate your ATV over cliff edges, neither of which we do not want to happen.

What are the Biggest Tires I can put on my ATV?

Many people ask me whether they can put wider tires on their ATVs. Well, the biggest tires you can put on your ATV depend on several things, such as the make and model of your ATV, the size of the wheels, the amount of clearance you have, and the kind of riding you plan to do.

You see, people seek to switch to beefier tires for a variety of reasons. First, it can improve the flotation of your ATV in wet or muddy situations. Second, it can increase ground clearance to help you avoid obstructions. And lastly, bigger tires allow for a more aggressive tread design for improved traction in soft and slick situations.

It’s important to check your ATV’s owner’s manual or talk to a trusted ATV dealer or mechanic to find out the biggest tires it can safely handle. In the same way that wearing improper-fit helmets have its own problems, putting too-big tires on your ATV can cause problems like less pull, less control, less stability, more stress on the suspension and drivetrain, and even a higher chance that the ATV will roll over. It will also be harder for your ATV winch to pull the vehicle out of mud. Hence, bigger tires need several changes to avoid tire rubbing, gear ratio difficulties, torque loss, and premature belt wear.

Still, some ATV makers offer optional tire and wheel packages that let you put on bigger tires without sacrificing safety or performance. Most of the time, you can go up one or two sizes from the stock tire size, but going beyond that may require changes like lift kits or wheel spacers to make sure the tires fit properly and have enough room for your ATV.


Can I mix tire sizes on my ATV?

While it’s not recommended, you can mix tire sizes on your ATV as long as they are within the manufacturer’s recommended tire sizes. However, it’s important to note that using different tire sizes can affect your ATV’s handling and performance and may even cause damage to its tire frame.

How often should I replace my ATV tires?

It’s recommended to replace your ATV tires every 3–5 years, or sooner if you notice signs of extreme wear or damage. Regularly inspect your tires for major cracks, punctures, or dull spots, and replace them immediately if you notice any issues.

How do I determine the best tire pressure for my ATV tires?

Refer to your ATV’s owner’s manual or the tire manufacturer’s specs to find out how much air should be in your ATV tires. Most full-sized ATVs run at a tire pressure of 5 to 8 PSI (pounds per square inch), whereas youth ATVs run at 3 to 4 PSI. Still, because every vehicle, tire, and riding situation is different, the tire pressure can be changed as needed.

Can I use car tires on my ATV?

No, you should not use car tires on your ATV. Car tires, even the ones used for overlanding, are designed for use on smooth, flat surfaces and are not suitable for the rough terrain that ATVs are used on. ATV tires are specifically designed for off-road use, with treads and construction that provide better traction and durability.

ATV Tire Size Summary

In conclusion, mastering how to read ATV tire size is essential to ensuring your ATV is operating at its full potential. By understanding the numbers and letters on your tire, you can make informed decisions about tire replacements, upgrades, and maintenance.

From the standard sizing chart to the metric sizing chart, there are a variety of resources available to help you determine the right tire size for your ATV. By following the manufacturer’s recommendations, regularly inspecting your tires, and choosing the right tire pressure, you can keep your ATV running smoothly and safely.

So, whether you’re a seasoned rider or a new enthusiast, take the time to learn how to read ATV tire size and enjoy your ATV to the fullest.

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