ATV Wheel Offset Explained | Hunt or Shred

ATVs are complex machines, and once you think you have it all figured out, something like wheel offset gets mentioned, and you are clueless again.

ATV wheel offset is the distance between the mounting surface of the wheel’s hub and the bead seat centerline. It also impacts the ATV’s stance for handling and ground clearance. The offset can be zero, positive, or negative, and it determines how far the wheels and tires stick out.

To help ATV owners, we created this guide using our years of experience fixing, riding, and maintaining these adventure vehicles. Keep reading to become an expert on wheel offset, so you never have to worry about choosing the wrong size again.

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ATV Wheel Offset Explained

ATV wheel offset is the distance from the wheel hub mounting surface to the bead seat center line. Choosing the correct offset is crucial because it can impact ATV handling, speed, performance, and ground clearance.

If you’re an ATV enthusiast, modifying and customizing your quad is just as important as taking it out for a ride. One key factor in deciding which components are right for you is the wheel offset of your ATV.

This parameter determines how far outward or inward your tires will be when mounted onto the hubs. Low offsets push wheels farther from your vehicle, while high offsets mount them closer inwards.

It's essential to match four wheels with corresponding offsets. There are three types of ATV wheel offset. This includes zero, positive, and negative offset.

Zero Offset

Zero offset is when the hub mounting surface perfectly aligns with the wheel's centerline. There is no overlapping or extension, which is why it’s known as zero offset.

Typically, you won’t use an ATV with zero offset because slight adjustments towards the positive or negative side have benefits. It ultimately depends on the ATV, wheels, and suspension type.

When the adjustment is made, it directly changes the spacing on the vehicle, handling, and riding smoothness. It’s best to visit a technician to handle these adjustments to avoid any issues.

Positive Offset

Positive ATV wheel offset is when the hub mounting surface is ahead of the wheel’s centerline. The bell section is raised to a broader position than the nose. With positive offset, the higher it gets, the more it will tuck in.

People use a positive offset on their ATV wheels to fit wider tires on the vehicle. This is possible because of the added clearance inside the wheel wall.

Negative Offset

Negative ATV wheel offset is an issue that many riders encounter when they begin to customize their vehicles. It occurs when the centerline of an ATV wheel is offset inwards, towards the vehicle’s body or chassis.

This positioning negatively affects the rider’s handling ability and directional control. Since the wheels are inwardly offset rather than outwardly placed, this reduces the stability of a vehicle by causing it to become more challenging to maneuver through turns and over uneven terrain.

How Do You Measure ATV Wheel Offset

ATV wheel offset measures the distance between the wheel's centerline and the mounting surface. Measuring this distance is essential to properly install and align your ATV wheels for optimum performance.

Follow these steps to do your measurements.

Remove The ATV Wheel

It’s easier for most people to remove the wheel from the ATV before any measurements are taken. If you have no experience doing this, consult an expert or a professional technician to avoid injury and ATV damage.

Locate The Lugs

Once the wheel is removed, we can lie it flat and locate the lugs. Every wheel is different, and the bolt pattern can have 3, 4, or 5 lugs depending on our ATV design and other factors.

Assuming a 3-lug pattern, we can locate the two center lugs directly across from one another. This is the easiest way to get our measurements.

Find The Wheel Centerline

The wheel centerline is the 0 mm offset, so we must find this before getting an accurate final measurement. Remember that all measurements are taken in millimeters too.

Measure & Record Measurement

Lastly, use the tape measurer and start measuring from the centerline to the mounting surface where we located our lugs before. We have a positive offset if the measurement passes the line and moves closer to the street side.

If our measurement is shorter, we have a negative offset. For example, a size of +40 would be a positive offset of 40 millimeters. The actual offset number is +/- the total measurement in millimeters.

What Wheel Offset Do I Need For My ATV?

The proper ATV wheel offset will depend on factors like tire size, lift kits (if applicable), axle sizes, and overall riding style. However, the most critical factor is the type of suspension on the ATV.

Straight Rear Axle

For a straight rear axle ATV, having a positive offset on the front wheels and a negative offset on the rear wheels is better. Ideally, the front wheels have 4+3 or 5+2, while the rear wheels have 3+5 or 3+4.

Low offsets can ensure maximum clearance between rubber and bodywork or frame parts if you're running oversized tires.

If you prefer tight turns, then high offsets would give more response during cornering maneuvers. Ultimately it depends on what kind of look and feel you want from your rig.

Independent Rear Suspension

When we have an independent rear suspension, all four tires should have the same width. The ideal measurements are 4+3 or 5+2. It's best to have a positive offset on all four tires.

It is possible to use different widths, but this only works with skinner tires because we lose clearance. It can also result in worse vehicle handling, so we prefer to stick with the same offset on every tire.  

Other Components Of ATV Wheels To Know

Besides wheel offset, it’s essential to know about the bolt pattern on an ATV wheel and the ATV wheel sizing differences.

Bolt Pattern

The bolt pattern on ATV wheels determines tiring sizing, wheel sizing, and offset requirements. With each bolt pattern, you are limited to using sizes and wheel types that match.

This includes 3-lug, 4-lug, and 5-lug patterns. The bolt pattern also changes how we measure the wheel size and offset. For example, a 3-lug is the simplest because we only measure the diameter through the center of the wheel.

But for a 4-lug wheel, we must measure between the middle two holes that sit directly across from one another. On a 5-lug wheel, measurements must be done from the back of one hole to the center or another.

Example bolt patterns include the following:

  • 3/90
  • 4/110
  • 5/110

Wheel Size

The wheel size also impacts offset because the height and width of the tire determine our ground clearance. We need to adjust the offset based on how much space we have between them.

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Key Takeaways

  • Wheel offset on an ATV is the measurement between the mounting surface and the centerline. It tells us how far the wheel sticks out and what type of handling, ground clearance, and riding performance we can expect.
  • You can then use a ruler or tape measure marked in millimeters to get your measurements – make sure that one edge is perfectly perpendicular to both sides of the rim.
  • Also, consider the wheel size and the bolt pattern on an ATV wheel before determining the offset.




41 years old. I'm a freelance writer that specializes in informational blog posts. All my articles are detail oriented and well researched. I'm a huge Arizona Cardinals fan!

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