Flats the Pits
Last spring while ATV riding, my left front tire suffered a puncture. While the hole wasn’t major, it did cause the tire to rapidly loose air pressure and the only way I was able to make it back to camp was by repeatedly re-inflating the tire with a hand pump. Examining the tire at camp, I noted that a large nail was causing the issue. Unfortunately, it was a long drive to a repair shop and I had no tools available to fix the issue, so the rest of the long Patriots day weekend, I had to sit at camp while the rest of my friends enjoyed epic trail riding. Shame on me, for not having the knowledge and tools that would have allowed me to make this super easy tire repair.
One of the most common breakdowns an ATV can have is a flat tire. Preventing this from happening starts even before hitting the trail, by checking tire pressures. Choosing the right ATV tire pressure is based on a combination of the manufacturer’s recommendation, terrain and load. For example, when riding on hard surfaces, such as pavement, packed dirt and hard snow, stick with recommended pressures of 7 to 8 PSI for best traction and ride comfort. On soft surfaces, such as gravel, mud or soft snow, tire pressures can be reduced to 3 to 4 PSI which improves overall traction. When transporting heavy loads, such as an additional passenger, tools or gear, tire pressures can be increased to 8 to 9 PSI (just never exceed the pressure listed on the sidewall). If readers find all of this confusing, most ATV manuals reference 5 to 6 PSI as a good compromise for normal trail riding and also a safe PSI for avoiding most tire troubles. As always, reference the owner’s manual, as with all the different designs of ATVs, these general guidelines may not work for your particular machine.
Several products exist that allow ATV tires to continue to function even if they receive damage. The least expensive of these options is Slime tire sealant (https://www.slime.com). This fantastic product can be added to leaky ATV tires or simply added to tires as a preventative measure. Small tire punctures, like nails, are instantly sealed by the “slime” product and it is likely that ATV riders won’t even realize they have received damage. Because of this, ATV riders who “slime” their tires should thoroughly inspect their tires after each ride. “Sliming” costs approximately $12 per tire.
A more expensive but ultimately more aggressive option, to protect ATV tires, are Tire Balls. This product consists of many small tough rubber balls that are placed inside each tire during the mounting process. The balls allow an ATV tire to continue to function, at nearly full speed, even with a large hole and no air pressure in the tire. Tire Balls retail for around $200 per tire and are available for most sport quads, 4x4s and UTV tire sizes. Contact Tire Balls (https://www.tireballs.com) for ordering information.
Trail Side Repair
Having the proper tools and knowledge will fix most tire troubles. Most critical is never leave home without a tire repair kit. While several companies make these repair kits, my favorite is made by Slime. This simple kit is comprised of only four components, a reamer for cleaning out the puncture hole, rope plugs and rubber cement for sealing the hole and a plug driver for inserting the rope plug into the hole. With this simple kit, tires even with significantly large punctures can be repaired with multiple rope plugs stacked on top of each other and sealed with rubber cement. At the very least, a big leak can be slowed enough to get home. Make sure to add to the Slime kit, a set of pliers for pulling the nail out of the tire and wire cutters for trimming the rope plug.
Central Maine Trail Riding
Despite the posting of large parcels of land in Central Maine, local ATV clubs do an excellent job of working with landowners to keep trails open. The three clubs in the general area of Central Maine, include the Central Maine ATV Club in Fairfield, the Messalonskee Trail Riders in Oakland and the China Four Seasons Club in China.
I recently had a chance to talk with Tom Rumpf, president of the China Four Seasons Club. Tom told me that due to decrease in volunteerism, dwindling land and landowner relations there has never been a more critical time for sportsmen to join an ATV club.
The China Four Season Club is an impressive facility, boasting a sizable club house, ample parking and a beautiful sand beach located on the shores of China Lake. All 40+ miles of club maintained trails are easily accessible via the club house. Tom outlined that the club has a large number of exciting activities and events scheduled to occur throughout the summer months for club members, including a club ride with a date to be determined, club booth at “China Days” the first weekend in August and a club raffle for an AR10 rifle.
If interested in learning more about the Four Season Club please call 207-416-2070, email firstname.lastname@example.org or join one of their club meetings, held on the 2nd Thursday of every month at 7 pm at their clubhouse located across from the town office in South China, ME 04358.