How to Read ATV Tire Size: Explained for Beginners


Considering that you will be riding your ATV on all sorts of terrains, it’s important to use the right set of tires. I previously showed how to do the best tire pressure but now, I will explain how to read ATV tire sizes.

ATV tire sizes, like “25 x 8 – 12,” are easy to decode once you know the basics. The sequence represents the tire’s height, width, and the rim diameter, usually in inches. Occasionally, markings such as ‘R’ might indicate special features, like radial construction.

Keep reading if you want to get my full breakdown on how to read ATV sizes and receive answers to questions such as what happens if you use smaller tires on your four-wheeler.

infographic showing how to read ATV tire sizes

How to Read ATV Tire Sizes

At first glance, ATV tire sizes might appear as a jumble of numbers and letters. But once you understand the notation, it becomes straightforward. Let’s take the following ATV tire size as an example: 25 x 8 – 12.

The breakdown of the notation is simpler than it looks. The first number (25) is the height or diameter of the tire, representing the distance from the ground to the top of the tire. Next, the second number (8) signifies the width of the tire.

Lastly, the third number (12) shows the diameter of the rim the tire is meant to fit onto. Most of these measurements are usually given in inches, and occasionally, you might spot other symbols or letters, like ‘R’, indicating special features like Radial construction.

Key Points to Remember:

  • ATV tire sizes typically follow the format: Height x Width-Rim Diameter.
  • Measurements are often in inches.
  • Additional markings may provide more information about tire construction or specific features.

Since I am talking about ATV tires, I want to highlight that I have a post on my blog that showcases all you need to know about ATV bolt pattern and sizes.

The Importance of Choosing the Right ATV Tire Size

a dirt UTV tire

Choosing the appropriate tire size for your ATV is not just about ensuring a proper fit. It will directly impact the way your four-wheeler works. This is why it’s not a good idea to ever use car tires on an ATV. Nonetheless, getting the ATV tire size wrong will make your ATV difficult to handle. The tires will not have the grip and stability needed for safety.

The bad handling is not the only thing you need to worry about. A mismatch in ATV tire size will also lower the torque. It will feel like the four-wheeler doesn’t get enough gas. It’s also important to mention that the wrong tire size will lead to uneven wear and tear. Therefore, you will have to replace them sooner than expected.

Variations in Manufacturer Tire Sizing

While there’s a general format for ATV tire sizing, different manufacturers might have their unique nuances when it comes to size notations. This variation can sometimes be attributed to the brand’s origin, their targeted audience, or specific design philosophies.

Let’s take Yamaha for example. This is a company that originates from Japan and it might sometimes use metric measurements, leading to size notations such as 635×203-305 (where measurements are in millimeters).

Given these variations, ATV enthusiasts must be attentive when choosing tires for their vehicles. It’s always beneficial to:

  • Thoroughly check the ATV’s manual, which will provide recommended tire sizes in the notation the manufacturer uses.
  • Consult with dealerships or the manufacturer directly when unsure about the size notations or if seeking alternatives.

Sidenote: A skill that all ATV owners need to master is how to get right the ATV tire balancing.

Can You Fit Larger/Smaller Tires on Your ATV?

The simple answer is, it depends. Fitting a larger tire can provide better traction and ground clearance. However, it may strain the ATV’s engine and affect the speedometer reading. Smaller tires might improve speed but can lower the ATV’s ground clearance. In both scenarios, the risks of misalignment, instability, and accidents increase. Always consult an expert before making such decisions.

Bob Kelly

Hey there, my name is Bob and I've been riding ATVs, dirt bikes, and UTVs for most of my life. Going on outdoor adventures has always been my passion. I love sharing tips and tricks with beginners who are getting ready to join the world of outdoor enthusiasts. You can reach me at bobtheatvguy@gmail.com if you want to get in touch.

Recent Posts