A Detailed Buyer’s Guide For Polaris Ranger Tires
As much as we here at Everything Polaris Ranger would like to provide you with a simple solution for Polaris Ranger tires, unfortunately, there is no magical one-size-fits-all UTV tire that is perfect in every way and in every situation. An aftermarket Polaris Ranger tire that is perfect for mudding may perform worse that stock tires on sand. And to delve a bit deeper, even categories like sand and mud are slightly vague to say the least. The sand in some places can be fine and circular, while in other places it can be river sand, shaped more like small pea gravel and very thick / heavy. Similarly, mud is also a loaded variable. The depth of the mud, the viscosity of the mud, and the clay content of the mud can all affect the performance of a Polaris Ranger mudding tire. Mississippi river gumbo mud is not the same as mud you’ll find in other places. Despite this fact, we will do our best to parse through these issues and shed some light on what makes a good side-by-side tire. We will also discuss some of our go-to tire brands to optimize the performance of a Polaris Ranger.
Polaris Ranger Mud Tires
Before you decide on a mud tire for your Polaris Ranger, you should first reflect on whether or not you’re a mud rider. Will you be proactively seeking out muddy terrain, or will you reluctantly tackle mud if you encounter it on the trail? If you’re like most riders we talk to, you’re probably looking for a decent mud tire that also works well on hard-pack trails.
BKT Tires, Term Tires, Outback Tires, and Motohavok Tires are common brands that work well both in the mud and on the trail. Of these, Terms stand out due to their versatility. They don’t bite and break on roots, they have good flat-top performance for hard pack, and they grab well in the mud. Big Horn tires are also a common sight in the Polaris Ranger community. They go great in most conditions, and unlike taller and heavier tires, they don’t start to shake when you go above the 30MPH threshold. Executioners, for example, are a great tire for those bad mud days. But if you do any long distance dirt or gravle road driving, you’ll soon realize the difference between general performance Polaris Ranger tires and domain-specific Polaris Ranger tires.
Regardless of whether you’re looking for a tire that’ll get you out of / through the mud when you have to go in it, or a tire that will excel when you want to go through mud, a self-cleaning mud tire is always a plus. Turner’s Crossbone tires are a good, non-tractor-design tire, and Mud Lites are alright for all-around performance as well -- although the latter doesn't have as much of a bite as other mud-specific UTV tires. Intimidators are another Polaris Ranger tire brand that we like. They get the job done in mud and can handle rocks and hill climbs as well.
Polaris Ranger Sand Tires
If you’ve ever taken your Polaris Ranger with mud tires onto sand, don’t worry, it’s not just you. Sure some Polaris Ranger mud tires may perform slightly better than others on sand, but there is a reason why they make paddle tires. Mud tires tend to dig in, and are simply unable to get on top of the sand. We’ve seen machines with Mega Mayhem tires -- which perform flawlessly on most other terrain types -- spin out in the sand and to nothing but get stuck. Even stock tires perform better that mud-specific UTV tires in the sand.
But if you do find yourself on the brink of a sand dune ride with nothing but mud tires at your disposal, a little hack you can try is swapping the left and right tires. The reverse pattern will make them want to climb on top of the sand instead of digging in. And while this is might not work in all situations, it is pretty useful if you’re going to a sand-only UTV park.
Polaris Ranger Stock Tire Sizes
Another variable that cannot be generalized is the size of a Polaris Ranger tire. As they say, size isn’t everything. And if you’re running a stock machine without a lift, forward a-arms, or portals, you are limited in terms of tire size. For the old Ranger body style, the stock tires were 28” on 14” rims. On the new body style, however, the stock tires are 27” and the wheel is 12”. Furthermore, the old Ranger body style had forward a-arms, so you can’t fit 28s on a stock (non HL) Ranger without a lift -- well, technically you can, but they will rub with most setups.
Polaris Ranger Tire Pressure
A quick and easy way to alter the performance of your Polaris Ranger tires is to adjust their PSI. If you’re running a lower ply tire, anything around 14psi is good as the tire lacks the thickness to handle lower pressures. If, however, you run higher-ply tires, you can take you’re pressures down to around 8psi before the sidewall will start to bulge. No matter what ply tire you run, we wouldn’t suggest going below 8psi. If you hit a big rock or root, it could contact the wheel and cause serious damage. And it’s much cheaper to pop a tire than to replace a dented wheel. Besides, the tote can take way more that the wheel can.
But why would you mess around with your side-by-side’s tire pressure? Well, there are many benefits that lower tire pressures can bring. For instance, if you run 8-ply tires, the ride can be pretty harsh compared to stock tires. So by deflating the tires a bit, you can achieve a smoother ride and handle bumps better. Rock crawling performance gains are one of the biggest beneficiaries of airing down your tires, which mold over the rocks more easily at lower pressures. Running a lower psi also gives your UTV tires a wider footprint, which means more traction
But many riders aren’t worried about better traction, and are rather concerned with blowing beads, which is never fun in the bush. Lower tire pressures also lower ground clearance, which is another issue of contention. We’ve found that most Polaris Rangers drop around 1/4” for every psi let out, so finding a compromise is important. If you’re not a rock crawler, the improvements in ride quality and traction may not be worth the loss in ground clearance.
There are still many topics yet to cover about Polaris Ranger tires and we could go on ad infinitum. Snow tires, tire chains, and power loss / sluggish acceleration from larger tires are all important, and we’ll touch on these and many more Polaris Ranger Tire topics in future posts. But until then, keep riding!