Thinking of larger tires for more ground clearance for your UTV
Have you ever wondered why your buddies UTV looks like it doesn’t hit as many rocks in the trail as yours does?
Matt came in for some routine service maintenance and this was the first time since owning this Arctic Cat that he bought used
One of his concerns was if his UTV could handle bigger tires and what else would he need if going to larger tire size?
I asked him what was he trying to get out of larger tires and he said it would be to gain more ground clearance because he seems to rub on a lot of obstacles while out riding on trails.
I let him know one of the main services that we do here is to get your UTV’s suspension set up the way the manufacturer recommends and that I would look into this on his Wildcat 1000 4-seat version, this UTV has Fox compression adjustable shocks on board. The first thing to do is set the tire pressures to recommended spec.
2014 Arctic Cat Wildcat 1000 ground clearance specification is
Front-end clearance – 13”
Rear-end clearance – 13”
After measuring Matt’s Wildcat it was set to
Front End Clearance – 12”
Rear-end clearance – 11.25”
As you can see it was quite a bit low and way out of the recommended clearance specs.
This Arctic Cat has some extras that have added weight including
- Plastic roof & front light bar
- Front bumper with a winch on the front side installed
- Rear cargo bag with accessories
- Rear tire carrier and spare tire
- Aluminum tree bars
The shocks have not been cleaned or adjusted in 4 years so working to get the shock adjusting nuts loose was not as easy as you would hope it could be.
I removed the shocks from the UTV and mounted them in a vise and then cleaned and broke loose the adjuster collars along with spray dry lube on the adjusting threads and then drying any lube off of the adjuster nuts.
Then, with some marking paint I add a point to keep track of how many turns each shock will be added at this point you take a measurement from your shock down to the bottom of the adjuster collars and this will be our starting reference point, now I start to add turns into each spring collar nut and reinstalled the shocks back on the Wildcat.
After I do an initial spring height change the next thing to do is go test drive and hit some bumps to settle the suspension down and bring it back in and measure for proper ground clearance, this usually takes 2-3 times of going through this procedure before you get the measurement that you are after.
When measuring this without any passengers we will be setting the Arctic Cat up at 13.5” clearance front and rear, this will then measure close to the 13” clearance when he loads up to 4 passengers in the unit for the ride.
Front ground clearance 13.5”
Rear ground clearance 13.5”
On this vehicle, we are setting this up on weight scales and will be recording the weights of Matt’s Wildcat Weights are
Total weight w/out passengers – 2007 lbs.
Front weight w/out passengers – 851 lbs. 42.4%
Rear weight w/out passengers – 1156 lbs. 57.6%
Corner weights w/out passengers – L/Front 432 lbs.,R/front 419 lbs., L/rear 597 lbs., R/rear 559 lbs.
The shocks have been all set at 12 turns in on the compression adjustment this will be exactly in the middle setting and will give Matt some room to adjust his suspension in either direction depending on how many passengers and the riding he will be doing for the particular day.
Ground clearance gained from before adjustments made
Front-end clearance – 1.5”
Front-end clearance – 2.25”
In order to gain this much ground clearance with larger tires, you would have to double the readings we gained because you only get ½ the amount of ground clearance from tires.
In order to get 1.5” front clearance, it would take a 3” larger tire size
In order to get 2.25” rear clearance, it would require a 4.5” larger tire size
The results are now Matt will be clearing more obstacles while driving his UTV and you know we all want this as a result,
If Matt would have bought 2” larger tires to solve this problem he would have gained approximately half the amount of ground clearance that he just gained with the proper suspension set-up
After the ride height was all set I went on to the front end Alignment
It came in at ½” toe-out
Set to 0 this is the preferred setting I have always liked this on any car I have owned to be less resistance and straight as an arrow is what worked best on my race cars and it works great on my own Polaris UTV
Now that we have set Matt’s suspension where Arctic Cat recommends it set.
It is time to test drive and Matt can decide if this was the amount of clearance to do what his driving conditions and habits are or is it time to look at different ways to get more clearance
After looking at the individual weights of the Wildcat the left side has more weight and especially the left rear, after showing Matt this he realized that putting his biggest passenger in the left rear was not the best placement, he has learned that his brother in law that is 6’6” will now be riding on the right side to get the left to right weight more evenly distributed
In a UTV the left to right weight distribution should be as close to even as possible for the best stability when you are on that sideway inclines-you know the ones where you are just sure the vehicle is going to roll off the cliff because of how much camber angle you are on.
I will make sure to have more posts on particular UTV’s that will have the complete suspension set-up and the more we learn the more it should help benefit the way you ride.
Call now to set an appointment to get your UTV set up the way it was intended to be from the manufacturer
Thank you for reading. Until we ride again.
Owner of UTV Service specializing in shocks and suspension.
I have always loved making cars and now UTV’s run and handle there best. I do not believe in taking short cuts and when something comes along that does not fit my values I will not sell or back that product.
Business owner for over 35 years. 3-Time Nascar short track champion at our local race track Rocky Mountain Raceway in Salt Lake City, Utah
2017 Polaris XPT 2-Seat Turbo-Current
2015 Polaris XP1000 -Sold
2011 Polaris RZR 800- Sold