ATV Television's Blog

The Latest News and Doug's Ramblings & Ravings.
Including Doug's "Here's what I think!" and "What were they thinking!"

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Value of Air

Don’t Forget the VALUE of Proper Air Pressure!

You’ve heard me constantly yammer on about the difference that the proper (radial!) tires make on an ATV. There are very few machines come with tires that actually help the ATV handle properly, and in fact most stock tires usually make ATVs handle more like a watercraft than a machine planted on the ground! The thin, rounded, bias-ply tires roll over too easy when cornering and provide less than precise steering. Of course, the problem is that you’d never know that the ATV could handle better until you actually change the tires.

Once you change the stock tires to anything else, you become a believer that those new tires you put on are the best in the world! The trouble with that is that it is based only on the difference they made on your machine. It’s something I see over and over again. People talk about the virtues of the tires they have put on their ATV based entirely on how they compare to the stock tires they replaced. Little do they know that almost any tire they could have bought is better than the stock tires!

So that’s something to keep in mind when your friend replaces his worn stock tires with a set of Goodyear Mud Runners and tells you how much better they are ;-)

So, once again, tires are one of the most important modifications you can make to your ATV. But choose them carefully!

But there’s more, as I was reminded just the other day. Air pressure makes a difference in every tire’s performance! And tire pressure changes with altitude! But we’ll leave that part of the discussion for another time.

Here’s my story. I was riding one of my favorite ATVs equipped with one of my favorite tires. A Suzuki King Quad with Carlisle ACTs on stock wheels. I was riding on some trails I had not been on in a long time. Several times I mentioned to my friend that the trail was really slippery. He agreed but then he was riding a Brute Force with the stock tires on. So what did he know?

As we rode, I kept going over in my mind as to why I was not that happy with the performance of this ATV and these tires. Maybe it’s me? Maybe I’m just off today? Maybe its? Maybe what?

Towards the end of the ride, we stopped near a small stream to enjoy looking over the valley below as a powerful thunderstorm moved its way slowly through. While listening to the thunder, I looked at my tires. They seemed a bit stiff looking so I decided to check the air pressure in them. To my surprise, the front tires were at 4 ½ pounds, but the rears were at almost 7 for some reason!

I lowered the rear to 4 ½ while questioning how I could have been that far off. It took little more than 1 mile for me to realize the incredible difference that adjusting the air pressure made.

So my point is - check your air pressure often, and if you have never changed it, try it? Even a ½ pound one way or another, or from front to rear can make a noticeable difference in how your ATV works. And all tires are a little different. The heavier, stiffer tires can certainly get by with a lot less air pressure than the thinner, more flexible tires.

So do yourself a favor – go ride your ATV with a little different pressure than you’re used to and see what happens……

Sunday, August 15, 2010

At a Loss for Understanding!

At a loss for understanding!

I am so fortunate to live where on any given day I can hook up with a friend and go for a ride. Not just any ride mind you but a ride that most people would spend a year planning and spend their hard-earned vacation time to do. All this in what I call my ‘back yard!’ Of course it’s a backyard necessitated by my job of testing ATVs and UTVs, and the products that go with them – but that’s another story I guess…

So it was that a good friend, Kenny and I had some time on our hand to explore an area where we had not gone before. That is always an exciting prospect and always an adventure!

The trail we chose did not let us down. It was a seldom-used trail that with only a couple distractions led us on an incredible 2-track journey. A journey that traversed side-hills, climbed some rather good distances through the aspens, dropped steeply into a distant stream and followed it to what was for us, a great lunch stop.

We continued exploring a few of the other side-trails in the area, one traveling tightly up through the dense aspens and pines, past a few mining relics, and along a ridge with those incredible views that bring people to the area. It was one of those trails that because it was ‘seldom used’ was almost completely free from the usual litter of beer cans and water bottles.

We had found a jewel of a trail for sure. It was with great expectations that we followed it onward and upward. What could be any better than this? Here was a 2-track trail with everything we could ask for. It was one of those trails where should we run across some liberal extreme environmentalist shouting how ATVs destroy the wilderness, we could poke them back in the chest, go toe-to-toe, nose-to-nose, and say, “Show me where the damage is? This trail is no different than any riding and hiking trails we’ve been on, and better than most!”

I spent a good many days of my life building hiking trails, including a connecting section of the famous Pacific Crest Trail. Even building a trail for hiker’s and horseback rider’s, the government’s requirements were that you needed to make enough clearance between trees and rocks and switchbacks that a sensible rider on an ATV could ride them without harm. That wasn’t their wording or intent, but my point is how big they required a simple hiking trail to be.

But I digress.
This was a great trail. One of my favorites. It was one of those trails that I feared telling anyone about because since it wasn’t marked a 50” trail I was sure if they knew about it, the ‘Wild Crowd’ would try to ride it in their 60”, long travel, race machines! And then it would be ruined. This great 2-track, scenic trail, free of trash and even tire damage from fast machines would be destroyed. Closed. Forever, thank you very much.

Wait a minute! What’s this? A gate? The trail’s closed from here on to motorized travel? Yikes! Look what they’ve done. Eeww, look what they’ve done! Ohhhh, look what they’ve all done….

It seems we had run upon a gate installed across the trail blocking it to all motorized forms of travel. In their effort to do that, the forest service had not just installed a gate and a sign, but also downed trees in an attempt to cover the trail and to hinder any possible circumnavigation around the gate. It was an ugly attempt to close what had been so far a perfect example of the perfect reason to leave these kinds of trails open for use by ATVs.

But it also seems that we weren’t the first to run across this seemingly newly installed deterrence. Someone else had been there prior and left their distaste for this closure by leaving an even uglier reminder of the type of people that come to ride these trails. The people that seem to either unwittingly or uncaringly help to bring about these trail closures in the first place.

Suddenly Kenny and I were looking at each other and wondering what shocked and irritated us more, the forest service’s closure of this incredible trail for what seemed like no reason, or the distasteful reminder of the people we are classified with as ‘trail riders’ or ‘ATVers!’

It would all make at least some sense if the trail defecators were there first and then the trail was closed. But this was more of a case of ‘we’ll show you why this trail should be closed!’

I just don’t understand – any of it. Add it to the list I guess.