The one horse open sleigh is a thing of the past, and for good reason. Modern man has access to 85-horse open sleighs on wheels, also known as utility ATVs, to get dashing through the snow.
The main issue regarding physics that arises in these conditions is the power output of said machines in relation to the surface condition of winter trails. For those interested in staying fast and safe in winter travel, something must be done to increase grip on snow and ice.
A variety of tire manufacturers make snow tires, which are usually more than adequate to get you through the snow, but it is important to first consider exactly what type of surface conditions you will be facing primarily. In some cases, you can leave your all-around tires on the quad and address the weather using
If you’re on a tight budget and your needs are limited to winter work tasks or non-aggressive travel, chains are the economic solution. A set of chains are the cheapest method of winterizing your tires, as well as the simplest to install. They will give plenty of grip for plowing snow or pulling weight through snowy surfaces. For ease of installation, let some air out of the tires before putting them on, then reinflate. They should fit snugly around the tires. When riding, limit speed to five to ten miles per hour because high speeds can cause broken chains and broken chains can cause severe injury to rider.
Studs or screws is another winter tire solution, but it is limited and often misunderstood. Studs do not offer much help in snow conditions on typical surfaces, but are intended entirely for use on ice. Realistically, they are designed for performance uses on ice, such as racing.
Even anglers looking for tire grip for ice fishing uses can probably avoid studs and use chains with equal effectiveness. With minimal snowfall, the studs will no longer have a clean ice surface to dig into and slipping will occur frequently.
If your winter needs are faster, edgier and more adrenaline-fueled, then you may need to look in the direction of specially made snow tires. By far the most expensive option, they also require more time and labor in switching. For many, however, their effectiveness are well worth the money. Extremely deep treads allow to penetrate deeply into the snow and create as much surface contact as possible. The treads almost always are arranged in paddle formations, which allows to kick snow out with rotation.
All-around tires (which are often marketed as snow-capable) can be used on snow, but they won’t compare to purpose built snow tires, especially at speed. If, however, you are traveling with only the weight of yourself or a passenger, and deep snow isn’t in the forecast, you can definitely get by on your factory tires.
Overall, most winter ATV riders will find chains to be the easiest and cheapest answer to their problems. There is good reason why chains have come to represent the universal symbol of the aches of winter travel. While putting them on implies that conditions are rough, those who use them are several steps ahead of those who don’t.