Bias vs. Radial ATV Tires: Which one To Go for?

Last Updated on November 20, 2023 by ATVNotes

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Whatever you want from ATVs – adventure, fun, and recreation in the off-road terrains far away from the hustle and bustle of hectic everyday life or the application in firming and utility uses – their tire construction is a crucial consideration. It is the type, style, and level of your riding that should determine your ATV tire preference – construction, size, and load rating. That is where ply rating and construction considerations like 4ply vs 6ply vs. 8ply, bias vs. radial and other ATV tires debates loom pretty significant. Bias and radial ATV tires are two different tire constructions that offer varying merits and demerits.

Bias tires, have been around for much longer, use a diagonal ply construction. Radial tires use a more modern design with steel belts running perpendicular to the direction of travel. Thus, bias tires generally have a more aggressive tread pattern that provides better traction in loose terrain, such as sand or mud. Radial tires, on the other hand, typically have a flatter profile and wider contact patch that provides better stability at higher speeds on hard surfaces like pavement.

Bias tires tend to be more puncture-resistant and have more weight capacity due to their thicker sidewalls not without rough rides and faster heat build-up.

As hinted at the outset, ATV riders, especially the novices, feel overwhelmed by the tire related dilemmas – this and suitable ply rating debate like 6 ply or 8 ply and 4 ply or 6 ply are frequent among the mid-level and veteran ATV riders. And another popular debate among the experts suggesting suitable tires for the novice who just has stepped in is 2 ply vs 4 ply tires.

However, while deciding for a suitable tire construction; thorough examination of the strengths and weakness of both bias and radial will make you vote for the worthy contender easier. Let’s see whether the debate ends up with declaring a clear winner, or the result is a close tie. Better start by briefing on these two ATV tire competitors. 

What are Bias-ply and Radial ATV Tires?

Even an introductory exposure to these two tires should stay within your note that Bias and Radial tires come with different properties and construction. From their grip to their tread life, there are many differences between Bias and Radial tires. To understand the differences between Bias and Radial ATV tires, know about them first.

Bias Tires

Unlike conventional ATV tires, these are some of the oldest ones on the market already dumped for on-highway application. It is important to note that these tires are made using ply cords that run in a diagonal direction angle at 30 to 40 degrees from bead to bead, where the next ply is laid on top in the opposite direction – clearly visible from the image below.

Bias ATV Tires

Thus, you will see a crisscross pattern formed on top of these ATV tires. As a result, these ATV tires have narrow footprints and thick sidewalls. This feature allows the ATV tire to offer much-needed maneuverability on tough terrains. Bias types tires offer less flex and so are preferred for the extreme off-road conditions when and where you need increased clean-out, superior grip and traction.

As for downsides, they cause rolling resistance resulting in increased fuel consumption, minimal control and traction.


  • Superior traction in muddy and wet terrain
  • help grip on uneven surfaces like mud or snow better
  • providing improved control and safety riding
  • offer more stability when racing through tight turns and corners
  • maintain speed with greater confidence
  • affordable price and easy repair


  • tend to be heavier than radial or tubeless tires
  • additional weight can make maneuvering difficult
  • cause increase in fuel consumption for vehicles with smaller engines
  • soil compaction on top of reduced traction and foot print
  • wears faster than radial tires
  • increased flex leading to more rolling resistance and heat generation

Radial Tires

Also known as standard tires, these models are made using cords extending from bead to bead at 90° to the tire’s center position. Take note that the ply cords are usually parallel to each other and are usually combined with steel belts to keep the tire more stable on the road. Moreover, this arrangement helps to avert irregular wear and tear.

Radial Ply ATV Tire

Radial tires will not disappoint when it comes to handling. When it comes to steering the wheels, be certain that you will have an easy time, thereby enjoying more convenience.

Finally, these tires offer low rolling resistance, so users save more on fuel whenever they are on their usual adventures. Since these tires are ideal for smooth rides, they boast a longer life and have become very popular among ATV enthusiasts and manufacturers.

To talk of the only flip side, they are expensive and demand more upfront cost but this is duly compensated for by the increased longevity – more extended tire life than its cheaper counterpart.


  • flex sidewalls for improved stability
  • puncture and water resistance
  • wider contact patch for increased stability
  • allows for functional grip in wet conditions not getting stuck
  • helps reduce tire slippage on loose terrain
  • more resilient to cuts and punctures than bias ply or cross ply tires
  • designed with increased stiffness on the tread face resulting in reduced heat build up
  • longer lasting and wear resistant
  • minimal rolling resistance leading to high speed and low fuel consumption


  • Higher up-front cost
  • Difficult to repair

Bias vs. Radial ATV Tires Reviews & Comparison

You already have had an impression of what Bias and Radial ATV tires are. Now, know the differences at length that set them apart. Thus, you can end up favoring the universal victor or take the side of the tire right for you.


Bias tire sidewalls are stiffer than bias tire sidewalls. One of the main merits of stiffer sidewalls in ATV tires is increased stability. The stiff sidewall helps to prevent the tire from flexing too much during high-speed turns, which can lead to a loss of control. Additionally, stiffer sidewalls also provide better resistance against punctures and cuts from sharp rocks or debris on the trail.

However, there are also some potential downsides to using tires with stiffer sidewalls. One of these is reduced comfort and ride quality. Stiff sidewalls can make for a rougher ride on bumpy terrain, which can be uncomfortable for riders over long periods of time. Another potential issue is decreased traction on loose or sandy surfaces due to reduced flexibility in the tire’s tread.

You cannot declare bias ATV tires that have stiffer sidewalls are right for your ATV as it depends on your individual needs and preferences as a rider. If you prioritize stability and durability above all else, then radial tires may be the best choice for you. However, if you value comfort and versatility more highly, then you may want to consider the bias ply options that offer greater flexibility in their construction.

Comfortable Ride

Bias ATV tires are typically less expensive than radial ATV tires and they also offer less comfort and traction as they, featured with stiff sidewalls, make for a harsher ride on rough terrain, causing the rider to feel every bump and jolt.

On the other hand, radial ply ATV tires have cords that run perpendicular to the tread, resulting in a more flexible sidewall. This flexibility allows for better shock absorption and creates a smoother ride overall.

Which tire is more comfortable for your specific riding needs? It’s essentially bias ply ATV tires. But you cannot favor it without taking the type of terrain you’ll be riding most frequently into account.

For those who frequent rough terrains like rocks or deep mud pits, radial tires may be the better choice due to their ability to absorb shocks and provide better handling. However, if you’re mostly using your quad for leisurely rides through fields or light trails with minimal obstacles, bias ATV tires could save you money without sacrificing too much comfort.

Ability to Resist Overheating

When riding your ATV, the chances of the tire getting heated up are very high. The bad news is that heat accumulation can interfere with the structural integrity of your tires. Thankfully, radial tires can avert such occurrences as they are made to remain cool for longer sessions.

In fact, their more flexible structure helps to reduce the accumulation of heat in sensitive areas. This way, you can be sure that you will be safe even when riding your ATV on a hot sunny afternoon. This characteristic makes radial tires better than bias tires judging by the ability to resist overheating.

Increased Traction

When it comes to traction, bias tires tend to perform better in mud and other soft terrains because they have deeper treads that can dig into the ground. However, they may not be as effective on hard surfaces like rocks or pavement because their treads are less stable and may wear down faster. Radial tires, on the other hand, offer better stability on harder surfaces thanks to their softer sidewalls and more even distribution of weight across the tire’s footprint.

If you primarily ride in muddy or loose conditions, bias tires may be your best choice for maximum traction. However, if your ATV sees a mix of different terrains or frequently rides on harder surfaces, radial tires may provide more versatility without sacrificing too much performance in softer conditions.

Pressure and Cut Resistance

The ply cords play a significant role in protecting the treads of the radial tires whenever you are on the road. After all, the radial tires come with steel belts and rubber-coated radial plies that help protect the tread area of your tire from any form of external damage.

Therefore, you do not have to grapple with cuts and puncture issues anytime you are riding your ATV. Even if you ride your ATVs regularly, you can rest assured that radial tires will remain pristine for longer periods.

Improved Flexibility & Handling

When it comes to flexibility and handling, radial ply tires tend to be more flexible than radial tires due to their construction. This allows them to conform better to uneven terrain and provide better traction on slick surfaces. Additionally, bias tires can handle higher speeds than radial tires due to their thicker sidewalls.

However, when it comes down to improved flexibility and handling on an ATV, most riders will prefer the added benefits that come with using radial ATV tires over bias ones.

Fuel Efficiency

Since radial tires offer little to no rolling resistance, your ATV riding on radial tires will not consume more fuel. After all, one factor that influences your vehicle’s fuel consumption is the rolling resistance of its wheels.

Besides reducing the fuel consumption of your ATV, lowering the rolling resistance goes a long way in preventing heat build-up leading to irregular and premature wear and tear of the tires. This makes the tires last longer, thereby offering you value for your hard-earned money.


Bias vs radial ATV tires price discussion has led me to consider purchasing bias tires if you are on a budget and want to upgrade ATV tires. This is because these tires are normally manufactured at relatively lower costs than radial tires and are available at cut-down prices. However, this opportunity comes at the expense of a shorter tire life. But if you are a novice starting out with easier off-road terrains, investing in affordable tires will be wise.

The radial tires tend to have better tread wear and thus can last for ages than their counterparts. Therefore, although radial tires require higher upfront costs, they will be money-saving in the long run. That’s why veteran ATV riders frequenting medium to tougher off-road tracks like rocky and gravel terrains prefer radial tires to their cheaper counterpart.

This guide dedicated to radial and bias ply ATV tires differences and the value offered against the price can help you be more decisive.


Another major difference besides the above-mentioned parameters is their constructions. The radial tires with its pattern of the ply cords come at the conventional 90-degree radial plies combined with steel stabilizer belts. This characteristic makes the tread and the side wall work differently.

The bias tire comes with an array of plies made of rubber material and usually overlaps with each other at 30 to 45 degrees. Consequently, the sidewalls and tread work harmoniously as the plies angle is consistent.

These are the crucial points to consider when preferring one tire construction over other. However, this video can help you understand further. This tire construction debate loses its importance when you consider top quality higher ply ATV tires like 8 ply, 10, and 12 ply ATV tires.

Bias vs Radial Motorcycle Tires

Bias-ply motorcycle tires have a more traditional design, featuring layers of material that are arranged diagonally across the tire’s surface. This design provides more stability at high speeds and better shock absorption, making them perfect for heavy touring bikes.

On the other hand, radial tires have a flatter profile and feature cords that run perpendicular to the tire’s centerline. This design allows for greater flexibility and responsiveness when cornering at high speeds. Another crucial consideration both for ATV and motorcycle ride is radial tires also tend to be lighter than bias-ply tires, which can lead to improved handling and acceleration.

Ultimately, whether you choose bias or radial motorcycle tires will depend on your personal preferences as well as the type of riding you plan on doing. If you’re looking for stability and comfort over long distances, bias-ply may be your best bet. If agility and performance are what you’re after, then a set of radial tires may be more up your alley.


Are bias tires better than radials?

Bias-ply tires are known for their durability and resistance to punctures. They also tend to be less expensive than radial ply tires due to their simpler construction. However, they tend to produce more heat when used at high speeds which can lead to increased wear rates or even failure if you push them too hard.

Radial-ply tires generally offer better handling and stability at higher speeds due to their improved sidewall strength but these advantages come at a higher cost compared with bias-ply alternatives. So, whether bias or radial ply is better depends on your needs as a driver.

Are bias tires bad?

Bias tires have been around for a long time and are still in use today. They are popular among off-roaders because of their ability to handle rough terrains. However, they are slowly being replaced by radial tires, which have gained more popularity over the years.

Bias ply tires have plies that criss-cross each other at an angle, creating a diagonal pattern across the tire’s sidewall. This method gives bias tires increased strength and durability but comes with some drawbacks such as poor handling on wet surfaces and uneven wear patterns.

But bias tires aren’t necessarily bad; they still serve their purpose in certain situations such as off-roading or heavy-duty applications where strength is important. Do bias tires last longer?

Are radial and bias ply tires used together?

While it is technically possible to use radial and bias ply tires together on a vehicle, it is not recommended by tire manufacturers. Mixing different types of tires can lead to uneven wear and handling issues, as the two types have different construction methods and properties.

It can also result in poor handling characteristics such as increased sway or pull when turning or braking besides affecting vehicle stability during emergency maneuvers or sudden stops. As such, it is best practice to replace all four tires with the same type when it comes time for replacement.

What about bias vs radial tires price?

Bias tires are generally cheaper than radial ones due to their simpler construction method, which involves placing multiple layers of rubber-coated fabric diagonally across the tire’s frame. On the other hand, radial tires are constructed with steel belts that run perpendicular to the tire’s circumference, making them more expensive.

However, it is important to consider that the initial cost of a tire is not always indicative of its long-term value. While bias tires may be cheaper upfront, they tend to wear out faster and have a shorter lifespan compared to radials. Ultimately, investing in high-quality radials could potentially save you money over time by providing better durability and improved performance on the road.

Which is Better: Bias vs Radial Tires?

Bias ply and radial ATV tires are two popular options for off-road enthusiasts. We, by now, have learnt that the main difference between the two is in their construction. Radial ply tires tend to be more expensive and offer better puncture resistance and load carrying capacity. They also offer sidewall flexes, which help prevent damage from sharp rocks or other objects on the trail. However, they can be less comfortable on rough terrain and may wear out faster than radial tires.

On the other hand, bias ATV tires are known for their superior ride comfort and handling on rugged terrain. They also provide better traction in wet or muddy conditions due to their flexible sidewalls.

Radial tires are typically more expensive than bias ply options, but they often last longer due to their durable construction.

Ultimately, the winner of bias vs radial ATV tires debate comes down to your type, style, and stage of riding. Both types have their advantages and disadvantages depending on your riding style and environment. This is why tire construction plays merits significant attention in your ATV tire preference. So, consider your needs carefully before making a purchase decision.

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