Why Are Quad Tires So Costly?
Tires can be an overlooked part of the ATV. when I bought a cheap used Chinese ATV for my kid, I let him ride around near an empty field near our home with some hills, and he was complaining that the quad “wouldn’t move as he wanted to”.
Even though I initially blamed the quad itself (which honestly deserved part of the blame) it was weeks later that I noticed the condition of the tires. no wonder why he was slipping since they had almost no tread depth. anyways, when I went shopping for new rubber, I felt the sticker shock as soon as I entered Amazon: 120$ each tire!
ATV tires are very expensive because the raw materials and the labor used in the tire industry are very costly, and also the fact that ATVs are a very small, very specialized niche.
The raw materials used to make tires consist of oil, rubber, and several synthetic materials. these materials availability is strongly determined by natural events like climate and drought. so it’s no wonder why the prices of tires can be so high.
since the last 20 years, tire prices have increased without pause, simply because of supply and demand: people need more ATV tires, and the rubber supply is limited, so it gets more expensive as time goes on.
ATV tire manufacturing process and why it makes it so expensive
The first part of making an ATV tire is mixing the costly raw materials, such as rubber, and synthetic additives to form a tough rubber piece, similar to a giant stick of chewing gum.
The tire makers can spend more than 20 dollars on buying the materials that are needed for just 1 tire.
The tire strips are then given to an experienced laborer and he then puts the strips in a circled container. he then starts building the tire by putting the strips in the container and gluing the tire strips.
After that, he removes the glued rubber off the machine. even though this step is machine assisted, skilled labor is needed to avoid QC issues, which drives costs upward.
The tire is moved to a mold and then the tire gets heated. after that, the tire gets checked for quality and some of them do not pass Quality Control tests. this means using the materials for nothing which means more $$ involved!
So tires are like nuts and seeds in this sense, they require some degree of skilled labor because some tasks are not automatized, and so the profit margins are narrower.
So maybe they are not keeping prices high just because they want to, as some people might think!
What Are Some Ways To Save Money On Tires? When Is It Better To Buy Used Tires VS Buying New?
Now, me simply telling you that they are expensive because of this or that won’t change anything. I don’t think the prices will lower any soon, and so I have some tips so that you can save money on tires.
1. Avoid cheap knockoff rubber.
I know you want to avoid plunking 500 bucks for your quad. it can be a dubious buy especially if you don’t use the ATV much or are just buying the tires for your older machine. but hear me out: cheap ATV tires cost more in the long term.
They are simply much more fragile and they last much less than established brands. they are less reliable in cold or hot weather.
I would only recommend buying cheap ATV tires if you are buying it for you old ATV or you found a sale or a good deal on amazon etc… which takes me to my next point.
2. It’s better to buy a used tire from a reputable brand than a new 30$ one.
The tires will probably cost the same. the used one will obviously show some kind of wear, but this is a way that you can save a lot of money every year.
you will get greater longevity buying a moderately used ATV tire than a new knockoff one. especially when it comes to offroad use.
these branded tires have special materials that make them much tougher and resistant, so it’s another reason to avoid buying cheap ATV tires!
3. Make sure you are buying the correct tire for the correct activity.
When it comes to quad tires, the most expensive tires are offroad and snow types, which are also the ones that most people buy. but what most folks don’t realize is that those are made for very harsh conditions such as deep mud and snow.
if you aren’t exactly gonna climb steep hills with your Polaris, a more general purpose tire can serve you well. it will also be much cheaper and easier to find.
4. Make sure that you REALLY need to change tires.
Are your tires almost flat? try checking out the thread of the tire with a penny. that way you can have an idea of when to change them. this is especially useful if you are using the ATV for more light work or leisure rides.
an ATV tire with little grip might not corner the best, but it can still be used in a slower manner.
How to avoid wear on ATV tires as much as possible
Another good way to save money on tires is simply to avoid buying them as often as possible, and this means maximizing the useful life of the rubber. there are several tips I would recommend to anybody, such as:
1. Try not to “launch” your ATV
You have probably heard the term “launch” in top gear and the like, but if not, it means simply accelerating to full speed from a standstill to check the acceleration of an ATV.
this can be fun especially if you have a high horsepower quad, but it rips on the tires, especially if you are doing it on the pavement. launching an ATV in the sand is less of an issue because of the lack of traction, but it’s still not a good thing to do.
not only it prematurely wears on the tires but it may also stress the transmission and other parts of the ATV.
2. Apply a protectant
Another useful tip is using a protective coat. rubber loses its quality when it’s very hot, and it might even crack and lose traction if not properly cared for. I use this protectant in the summer and winter months in the sides of the tire to extend their useful life.
3. Make your that your quad is aligned and balanced properly.
This is one of the things that people disregard the most. an improper alignment means that the outer or inner part of the tire is getting more pressure than it’s supposed to, which translates to less grip in the corners. if you see your tires wore out unevenly, go get the ATV aligned! it can make quite the difference.
Things to look for in tires
Now, like I said, ATV tires are expensive because of all the rubber and carbon needed which is always in high demand. can’t really do much about it, so the best thing to do is to make a good, informed buy. Some of the things to look out for are:
1. What are you going to use the tire for?
Are you gonna offroad? light farm work? just want to rip through a trail or a beach? remember that not all rubber is made the same.
2. Buy the correct size of tires!
This one can be funny. you order the tires through Amazon, have somebody put the tires on the wheel only for that person to tell you that the wheel is too big/small/short/fat. thankfully, if you buy through Amazon you can just return them, but if you buy it from a normal store it might be a different story.
3. Buying cheap tires is not recommended for heavy users.
Only buy cheap tires if on a budget or you don’t want to buy used. and ideally, they should only be used for light farm work or similar. they are simply not worth it if you are gonna have to replace them in 3 months anyway.
Anyways, ATV tires are expensive for a reason. not only is the material hard to find and the tires expensive to make, honestly we as consumers keep paying for them and there aren’t any real alternatives unless you wanna hang around with slicks haha.
So, buying 500$ worth of good quality ATV tires is worth it in the end. they will last much longer than the knockoffs and you will notice the performance bump.