Avoid Flat Tires – Prevention products
Testing tires and dealing with flat ones is a big part of the duties at the magazine. Whether it’s racing highly modified machines or trail riding stockers, we are always prepared for the inevitable. For you, the same preparation can assure that your precious free time or expensive race entry won’t be wasted on a flat tire. We have put together a guide of the best products you can use to avoid or fix a flat tire, because flats happen.
As ATVs and now UTVs grow larger and get heavier, their tires need to get thicker to handle the weight. An eight-ply tire is now the new normal for replacement tires on a UTV, and a utility ATV can safely be upgraded from the stock four- or six-ply tires to eight-ply tires and be pretty indestructible. For the ultimate in flat prevention, two companies are currently offering 12-ply tires that are virtually bulletproof. Well, even with a bullet hole in them, they can still run at a good speed for as long as it takes you to get back to the trailhead. These tires were first developed for military applications and have found a good home in the off-road world.
DWT produces their Moapa-labeled tire in both 8- and 12-ply carcasses for UTVs, utility ATVs and sport ATVs. The larger tires come in sizes 25×8-12, 25×10-12, 26×9-12, 26×9-14, 26×11-14, 28×10-14 and 28×12-14 and start at $154.99 each. These 12-ply tires typically weigh about 8–10 pounds more per tire than an eight-ply setup, so that’s still lighter than carrying a spare tire and wheel. This tire is a non-directional, aggressive tread patten that works best in hard-packed, tacky or sandy terrain.
For sport quads, the run flat comes with the XCF V3 nameplate. This yellow yellow label, hard-compound, 12-ply tire was developed for the desert racers using 23×7-10 fronts and 22×11-9 rears. Multiple Baja wins and championships have been taken thanks to this product. The sport quad tires start at$109 each.
Over the years, we have seen these types of products come and go. The fact that sticking a foam or rubber device between your tire and wheel to keep it up is nothing new. We have seen everything from foam swimming pool noodles to tennis balls placed in ATV tires to prevent flats. Thankfully, there are several companies that have perfected this idea, making products that can stand up to the heat of a flat tire, are light enough to be used by racers, and last long enough that a trail rider would be comfortable using them.
(502) 243-1601, www.tireballs.com
These little, oval-shaped urethane balls have been successfully utilized by top GNCC pros for over a decade now. Brutal races like King of the Hammers and Baja have also been won with the product. Depending on the size of your tire, a number of small, air-filled Tire Balls fill the void between the tire and wheel. And even if you suffer a massive puncture and one of the balls fails, you have a bunch more available to get you to the finish line. Recently, the Tire Balls product line has grown to include products small enough to fit in a lawnmower up to 42-inch Ultra Four rock-crawling racing cars. On the powersports side, Tire Balls are used by guys like Chad Wienen, Chris Borich and Mitch Guthrie to name a few. Prices to outfit a rear sport quad tire start at $189.95. To outfit a UTV, expect to pay about $220–$250. Expect those prices to come down as new, lower-cost materials are going into production as we speak.
FLAT TIRE DEFENDERS
West Coast, (602) 300-6080; East Coast, (585) 261-1711; www.flattire defender.com
This multi-piece sectional foam product is available for sport ATV and UTV applications and works in tires up to 30×10-14. MX tires as small as 18×10-8/18×10-9 can be outfitted, as well as front tires too. If you think a product like this would work on your 4X4 utility ATV, those sizes from 25×8-12 all the way up to 29×11-14 are available. The defenders can be used on all types of wheels and with or without air depending on your traction needs. A typical 4×4 tire will need 12 pieces installed. As an added benefit of the flat prevention, the foam is energy-absorbing, which helps suspension action and prevents pinched tires and wheel damage. Sport quad retail prices range from $105–$115 per kit (one kit equals one wheel). ATV/UTV (4WD) retail prices range from $120–$130 per kit.
(253) 973-5111, www.ridetireblocks .com
If you ask top West Coast racers Beau Baron or Davi Haagsma why you never hear of them getting a flat tire during a race, they will reveal that all of the Maxxis tires they run have Tire Blocks installed inside them. These lightweight sections of highdensity foam take up nearly all of the space between each tire and wheel. In fact, Baron runs with zero air pressure in his tires at all times. The blocks are stiff enough to hold up the weight of an ATV or UTV without the driver even knowing there’s a puncture. Yet, the foam is flexible, providing damping during hard hits or when going over rough terrain. Tire Blocks are available for all popular sport quad tire sizes, both MX ($113) and XC ($130). For UTVs, they can outfit everything from a 25×8-12 ($145) tire all the way up to a 30×10-15 ($255). SEALANTS Liquid tire sealants have been around as long as the compressed product called Fix a Flat. They work similarly, as the tacky liquid rotates around inside your tire looking for a puncture to escape out of. Some products have more glue and are thicker, and some have more liquid but with fibrous particles to help plug up the holes. The two sealants we are showcasing have to be squeezed into an airless tire before it fills up or prior to mounting. The escaping air pressure then forces the liquid toward the hole to seal it up.
HIGH LIFTER PRO LOCK
(318) 524-2270, www.highlifter.com
Pro Lock is formulated to lock in air and lock out air leaks. High Lifter claims it will fill up to a 1/2-inch puncture in the tread or up to a 1/4-inch size hole in the sidewall. It also stops bead leaks and pinhole leaks in wheels. Furthermore, they claim it will not freeze, rust or clog up valve stems. For an average-sized 4×4 quad, you would want to use 32 ounces per tire. You can buy 32-ounce bottles for $16.95 each or $284.95 for a 5-gallon bucket.
The most common way to fix a flat tire out on the trail is to plug the hole with a rope-style plug. We always carry a plug kit with us on every ride, along with an air compressor or CO2 cartridge to fill the flat tire back up. The rope-style plugs come in several thicknesses and colors depending on the manufacturer. We like the tackier ones, and the bigger, the better. When we have to use them, if possible, we set the rope plug in the sun to warm it up before use. They seem to seal better that way.
(530) 345 8000, www.dynaplug.com
The Xtreme Dynaplug kit is a cool, billet-aluminum applicator and case all in one. The applicator can hold three plugs, a reamer, and the kit itself comes with five more plugs for spares at $69.99. PUMPS There are many ways to fill up a flat tire, but some are much more convenient than others. Now, with virtually every utility ATV and UTV coming with a standard 12-volt outlet, finding a power source is easier than ever. For sport quads without a 12-volt outlet, most compressors come with pigtail connections that can be installed on the vehicle’s battery with a quick-disconnect plug. For kick-start quads, there are CO2 options as well.
(530) 345 8000, www.dynaplug.com
The Mini Pro GT inflator is a compact 12-volt-powered air compressor, tire gauge and flashlight all in one. We have been using this product for months now and can say it is the best compact compressor we have tried in a long time and is holding up very well. The pump alone costs $69.99, or $79.99 with a two-compartment neoprene pouch. Furthermore, Dynaplug sells a Deluxe roadside kit that comes with the compressor, an Xtreme Dynaplug kit and a power bank LED flashlight for $159.99.
(209) 366-2163, www.powertank.com
During our UTV race season last year, we devised a little system to plug tires and air them up quickly; it was almost like cheating. We used a quick-release fire extinguisher mount and Power Tank’s 20-ounce CO2 canister filled up at the scuba diving shop. To use them, we would have one guy get the tank ready as the other one would plug the tire up with repair ropes that were pre-installed in an insertion tool. The tools were kept in a PRP storage bag that sits between the seats. The Power Tank could fill a 30-inch UTV tire in under 10 seconds, so our tire repairs were done well under a minute, and we had a lot of practice pre-running with stock tires. For any ATV/UTV, we suggest the Powertank’s Power Shot Trigger System, which contains a 20-ounce CO2 tank and a trigger tire inflator with a push-on chuck. Also included for the $159.95 is a storage bag, a big tire plug kit and gauge.