If you think of an ATV tire, you immediately think of toughness and resistance to hard terrain. Naturally, ATV tires ought to be far tougher than standard tires both on the inside and on the outside. The tread must suit the terrain you ride on, and the core of the tire should be as impenetrable as possible.
Traditional tires feature a single inner tube, much like the tube you’ll find on a bicycle. Unfortunately, this tube is rather susceptible to punctures, even when impact is minimal. Luckily, Wade Summer, a motorcycles enthusiast spent years trying to come up with a better, more durable solution. His work culminated in the invention of tire balls, which he officially launched in 2003. Since then, most experts agree that tire balls offer far greater protection against punctures than traditional tire tubing.
What are tire balls?
Tire balls are individually inflated air cells, made from urethane, a substance 10 times stronger than traditional tire tubing. Each tire ball within an ATV tire features a basketball-like valve and is inflated individually using a needle. In average-sized ATV tires, you will find 13 or 14 tire balls both in the front and rear tires, so as you can imagine, each tire ball is quite large.
Because each tire ball is made from extremely durable material, tires featuring tire balls are seen as virtually flat-proof and much more suitable for heavy off-road impact than traditional tube-featuring tires.
How do tire balls change the performance of an ATV?
ATVs with tire balls outperform vehicles with traditional tires. Improved traction, puncture resistance, and increased stability are some of the advantages. Let’s look at each.
When fitted with tire balls, your ATV has better traction because the lower air pressure increases the contact patch between the trail and the tire. More tread will touch the ground, creating a larger traction area. As a result, you can accelerate more quickly and brake faster.
Tire balls increase the air pressure resulting from air compression in the contact zone. While lowering tire pressure with traditional tube-featuring tires increases the risk of rim-to-ground contact, tire balls actually increase the air pressure and eliminate rim-to-ground contact. Consequently, the risk of getting a puncture is much lower.
When you eliminate air contact from the contact zone, the performance of your suspension improves. That’s been the case with traditional tires. Tire balls act differently because each cell has an increased air pressure, making the riding experience smoother because the suspension performs better.
When riding around a corner, the tire balls have no rollover effect and provide increased stability.
Tire balls fit in virtually all types of tires
You don’t need a special type of tire to use tire balls. Replacing traditional tubing with tire balls isn’t rocket science either, and you can find plenty of easy-to-follow instructional videos on tire ball websites or on YouTube.
Cost and fitting
The costs of fitting tire balls range between approximately $100 and $200, depending on your tire size. Tire ball manufacturers offer kits and provide everything you need for fitting; including instructions, tire balls, lubricant, inflation needles, and tire ball rim.
Most tire balls come with a 1-year warranty
Tire ball manufacturers happily provide a 1-year warranty, which is something you’d never expect from traditional tire manufacturers. This is a further testament to the durability and performance of tire balls.
A word of caution—We are aware of the availability of subpar-quality tire balls that will not pass the test of time. If you are changing over to tire balls, make sure to purchase them from a reputable source and carefully follow all instructions to prevent accidents.
Riding a tire ball-fitted ATV
Apart from the relief of not having to worry about getting a puncture at every turn, riding a tire ball-featuring ATV is a pleasure. Improved stability, as well as better traction and suspension performance, are just some of the advantages. Most ATV enthusiasts agree that riding a tire ball-fitted ATV makes for a smoother and more pleasurable experience.
“Hats off to Wade Summer” is what we say, leaving behind the pain and nuisance of messing with tire pressure and having to change a burst tube at the side of the road.