Staggered Tires vs. Running All 4 the Same?
If you are reading this article you are most likely in the market for a new set of tires for your ATV or Side x Side and you are unsure what sizes to buy. This is one of the most commonly asked questions we get from our customers so you are not alone! Please continue reading and we'll shed some light on this topic and cover some pros and cons of each scenario.
- Handling / Cornering
- Increased Stability
- Spare Tire Issue
- Tire Height
- Tire Rotation
- Large Sizes Not Common
This is how almost all ATV's and UTV's come from the factory. When we say staggered tires we mean that your front tires are skinnier than your rear tires. Typically a new machine would come with 8 or 9 inch wide tires on front and 10 or 11 inch wide tires on the rear. The manufacturers use this setup for a few reasons. The most obvious reasons are performance and handling. It only makes sense that your handling will be better with a skinnier tire on the front. It's easier to turn, it's skinnier so it's easier to navigate through rocks and other obstacles on the trail. It keeps your front end light and keeps your maneuverability in check. And since all of these off-road vehicles are rear wheel drive it only makes sense that you would want the wider tires on the rear to give you a nice wide footprint on ground. This gives you the best traction possible to help you accelerate through the trail with ease. Another reason (believe it or not) is just cosmetic, many people prefer the look of the staggered tires. That is how ATV's have always been so in their mind that's how it should stay. Another factor that sometimes gets overlooked is your cleanliness. That's right, cleanliness. If your front tires are narrow they will stay tucked in under the fenders where they belong and as they flip up mud/water etc.. your fenders will be able to shield that debris and keep you clean for the most part. If you run wider tires on the front to match your rears you will most likely get a mud bath when you plow through your first mud hole. I feel like keeping your front tires narrow is important for the reasons we've mentioned here but I'm also not opposed to using the wider sizes on front and keeping all 4 tires the same. We'll discuss the pros of going that route later on in this article. Another pro with using wider tires on the rear is this increases the overall width of your machine and increases the stability of your vehicle. It might only be an inch or two but it makes a difference.
Some of the disadvantages of running staggered tires are minor but still worth mentioning. First, if you want to carry a spare tire on the trail you will not be able to bring one of each size. And since the 11 or 12 inch wide rear tires won't work on the front of most vehicles you would need to use a front tire for a spare. This isn't a big deal because if you get a flat tire on front you are good to go, and if you get a flat on a rear tire you can still throw the spare on there and use it to get you home but you would not want to use that long term. Another con is the height of your tires. When they are staggered they are rarely the same height. (they are usually within 1/2 inch of each other but rarely the exact same) If you are the type of rider that just jumps on and rides and you don't fret over the little things this won't be an issue for you. If you are the type of guy that scrubs your machine with a toothbrush and keeps it polished all the time you are also the type of guy that will get annoyed if your front and rear tires are not the exact same height. (this might seem silly to some but trust me when I say that many riders will get a tape measure and compare the heights of their front and rear tires and they'll make a big deal out of it if they aren't the exact same.) What most guys don't realize is that there are so many variables that can affect the overall height of your tires. The rim width, air pressure, weight of the vehicle, weight of the cargo on the vehicle, age of the tire and the current temperature are all factors. It's almost impossible to make staggered width tires and mount them on 2 different sizes of rims and have them come out the exact same height. Again they are close (usually within 1/2 inch) and it's not an issue for most people but if you are the type of person that might be annoyed by this than I would recommend you run all 4 tires the same and avoid doing the staggered tires. You will notice as you shop for tires that the staggered tires becomes less common as you go up in height to the larger tires (like 30 inch and above) When you start running 30 inch or taller tires it's extremely common to run them all the same width so that is what is mostly offered in those sizes. The last thing to point out on this topic is that if you are looking to extend the tread life of your tires by rotating them you will not be able to do this with the staggered fitment, and we would recommend you go the other route with all 4 tires the same.
All 4 Tires the Same
- Spare Tire
- Rotating Tires
- Large Sizes Available
- DOT Tires Available
- Not ideal without Power Steering
- New Rims Recommended
Over the last 10-15 years the ATV and UTV industry has changed big time! Side x Sides have pretty well taken over and as they continue to evolve they are basically becoming mini vehicles like a truck or a jeep. The idea of running the same tires on the front and back of your vehicle is becoming more and more common. Let's discuss this option and hopefully help you make your decision as to which route you want to go. There are 2 pros that really stand out to me when I think about using the same tires on front and rear. Spare tire and tire rotation. If you have the same tires on the front and rear you can carry 1 spare tire with you on the trail and it will be the exact same as your front or rear so no matter where you get the flat you will be good to go with your spare. Also, many of our customers are rotating their tires to maximize their tread life. If you are using the same tires on front and back they are universal and can be rotated. We mentioned a pro of the staggered fitment is the cosmetics, the same goes for using the same size. Many of our customers prefer the looks of using the same size on front and back. If you are shopping for 30 inch or larger tires you will notice that almost all the options out there are offered in the same width (usually 10 inches wide) so you will have plenty of options to choose from going this route. Also, if you are looking for DOT approved tires you will have many to choose from as most of the DOT tires for ATV's or UTV's are offered in 10 inch widths.
In our opinion the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to using the same size tires all the way around. But here are a few cons to consider. First, if your machine does not have power steering it will will be more difficult for you to handle the wider tires on the front of your vehicle. Now days this is usually not an issue because most vehicles are coming stock with power steering. Second (and this is definitely an issue you need to be aware of!!) If you plan on running the same width of tires all the way around on your vehicle you will need to replace your factory rims with some aftermarket rims that are all 4 the same width. Your factory rims are most likely 2 different widths (designed for the staggered tires that come on it from the factory) but you would not want to mount 4 tires that are the same width onto 2 different sizes of rims. They could not be rotated & the tires will not be the same height because they would be mounted on different widths of rims.