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SkunkedAgain

Atv - Snow Tires or Chains

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I'm still inching along in my plan to buy an ATV. I'm going to get something small and light so that it's easier to move around. It will be primarily used for three purposes: 1) to pull dead birch and pine to my woodshed; 2) to slowly ride the rocky trail back in the woods; and 3) for transportation across the lake in the winter.

 

My question has to do with the last part. I know that a snowmobile would be best, and that's what I used to own. I'm switching to an ATV because it's more versatile. There are times in the winter when it will go across the packed snow or snowmobile tracks just fine. My question is about some of the less certain times. When the snow is deeper and an ATV is less favorable, what works best - snow tires or chains? This would be a mix of driving on the trail to get to the lake, and then onto the lake.

 

Do snow tires really have much of an impact or is it just a mild improvement over the stock tires?

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I bought new tires for my Sportsman 500 last year.  I think the lugs/tread is about 1-1/4".  They work great for plowing my driveway.  I went out on the lake via my neighbors road a couple weeks ago, he plows a short trail out on the lake every year for use to drive out on our atv's for ice fishing.  He hasn't plowed since walleye season closed, so it has snowed and drifted over a little.  I tried driving my atv out and between the slush and deeper snow, I was bottoming out and getting stuck.  I don't know if chains would help that much if you're bottoming out and getting hung up on the frame.  Not to mention if you break through the hard packed trail or hit the deeper snow once you're out on the lake, you'll have a heck of a time getting going again-bring the shovel! Also, if pulling a sled of some sort behind you, that

will compound things. Did I mention that I have a couple of snowmobiles that I'll sell you for a good price, that will take care of that problem:)

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I have Zilla's which have 1 1/4" tread and they go through a lot of snow. That being said, chains on the rear are salvation in slush or even bare ice or loose snow over ice. On bare ice it's hard to get the rig moving pulling a sled. They will also help on icey slopes like at landings. Still, don't forget the shovel.

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My experience is that more often you will get hung up before losing traction from your tires. Taller tires will give you more ground clearance and let you get through more deep stuff but as a general rule the more you do just changes where you get stuck not if.

 

As far as extra traction, on my sportsman and RZR I just screwed 1/2"sheet metal screws into the lugs and that gave me lots of bite on glare ice. 

 

 

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chains on the front too, unless you use sheet metal screw!!!  that's the old way and works too!!!

 

that is if you have 4 wheel drive....

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what about j-wheelz? Been around for a few years now but I never hear much about them?

 

Or you could just get a set of tracks? :)

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tracks, tracks, tracks if you ask me.  You can get some pretty good deals on used ones as well, just need to buy the mounting hardware specific to the machine.  I have a 825 gator and without tracks I go no where in the winter with my snow load.

 

 

IMG_4165.JPG

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i've had a wheeler for 3 years now and in the brainerd area, i havent come across a situation yet when the snow was too deep to drive on. This last blast is pushing it, but with chains, no problem. most of the time the snow is blown off or hardens up fast on the lake-just have to stay away from the plowed roads/drifted areas. If i were to go to the tracks route, I would just buy a used snowmobile for 1/2 the price:D

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23 hours ago, PurpleFloyd said:

As far as extra traction, on my sportsman and RZR I just screwed 1/2"sheet metal screws into the lugs and that gave me lots of bite on glare ice. 

PF- do you leave the screws in year round? Ever had any come out? I've seen this but never tried it.

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I only used them in winter and only if there was ice and no snow. It only took less than a half hour to do 4 tires and they come out faster.

never had one tear out but I'm sure you could if you tried hard enough.

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So it sounds like I need to be realistic about what an ATV can do in the snow, carry a shovel, and invest in a set of chains. Got it!

On 3/19/2018 at 4:40 PM, CigarGuy said:

Did I mention that I have a couple of snowmobiles that I'll sell you for a good price, that will take care of that problem:)

Ahhh, I appreciate the offer but I'm done with snowmobiles for now. Besides, I'd have to clear a bunch of trees and build a shed to start housing all of this stuff. I'm committed to going the ATV route and if I can't use it at times in the winter, so be it.

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Consider putting a plow on that ATV and use it to knock off the tops of larger drifts as you drive, just enough to keep you going, and not getting hung up.  Ice chains make an ATV surprisingly un-stoppable.  

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