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Story By: Craig Goley
Photos By: ATV Source & Scott Wilhelm

Meet Pirelli's "Mud Wiser" and "Rut Buster" ATV Tires

PirelliOne of the best-known names in motorcycle tires (street, track or dirt) just upped the ante in the ATV tire market.  ATV Source attended the press launch of Pirelli's two newest ATV tires, the Mud Wiser and the Rut Buster.  The testing ground was the Wisp Ski Resort, located in McHenry, MD.  This is the same location were round 9 of the GNCC series was held in 2005.  The GNCCer's were there just a week before the press launch, which provided for excellent trails and conditions to test these two new tires.

Mud Wiser
Mud Wiser

Rut Buster

Rut Buster

With Pirelli's long history of performance made tires behind them, you can bet these ATV tires will incorporate the same winning technology and performance.  Pirelli said, "These tires aren't just ATV OEM replacement tires, but OEM upgrades."  In addition to decades of performance history built into Pirelli's tires, they also had help from ATV-racing legend, Donnie Banks. Donnie Banks helped with testing and development which makes these tires top-notch contenders.

With all this history and expertise in development, how did these ATV tires perform? Not so fast, we will get to that in a bit; let's get a closer look at each ATV tire.

Tire Profiles
The Mud Wiser, as the name suggests, is aimed at dealing with the nasty stuff, those deep pits full of thick gooey mud.  More than just a mud tire, Pirelli also employed all of its racing technology to produce an ATV mud tire that has straight-line and lateral high-speed stability.  The Mud Wiser's unique tread pattern provides that get-out-of anything traction both forward and in reverse.  These tires have 6-ply construction for durability and puncture resistance, and the deep tread carries an “over-the-tire-shoulder” design for grip, traction and tractability in all sorts of conditions.  Pirelli developed its first ATV tire to be an exceptional handler, whether it’s in deep mud or on regular trails.

The Rut Buster, as you might have guessed, is aimed at dealing with the loose stuff, such as, ruts and rocky trails.  "Pirelli has pegged the Rut Buster to be a “get it done” set of ATV tires, excelling in everything from the loosest sand to the most formidable rocks."  The design of these tires gives the rider excellent stability and smooth handling.  They designed the Rut Buster to provide constant traction, on and off the trail. In addition to the smooth, excellent traction control, this tire features Pirelli's contoured profile, which makes them easier to steer.

The Rocking Test
The Wisp Ski Resort was kind enough to provide Pirelli with a fleet of 12 Suzuki 400 Vinson 4x4 Automatics for their tests.  Six of the Vinson's where outfitted with brand new rims and Mud Wiser tires, and the other six were outfitted with brand new rims and Rut Busters.  This gave each test rider a chance to swap rides throughout the testing to see how each tire performed on the trails and in the mud.

Mud Wiser tires were no match for the rocks, roots and ruts.

Rocks, Roots and Ruts were no match.

The trip to the trail location, which Pirelli scouted out a day earlier, was filled with roots, loose rocks, an off-camber rock climb, and plenty of ruts.  To get to this trail, we had to climb the steep ski slopes and then access an asphalt roadway for a very short distance. We noticed on the asphalt, the Mud Wiser tires gripped the asphalt and hooked up extremely well.  When purposely doing carving maneuvers to see how well they turned, they felt like a performance car tire gripping the road.  At times, the ATV wanted to two wheel because of this gripping performance.  The same goes for the Rut Buster; the contoured profile, allowed the tire to easily float or push from side to side with total steering control.  Now, both of these tires are not built for asphalt riding, but for the rare occurrences where one has to use paved roads to access their trail system, you will like the soft easy ride and grip these tires provide.

As mentioned before, the trail obstacles were tree roots, loose rocks, an off-camber rock climb, and plenty of ruts.  The Mud Wiser tires provided very good traction and climbing control when traveling the trails.  We noticed that the grip, especially when the tires got down into a rut, easily pulled themselves out.  As for the rocks and roots, they tend to slip some and push the ATV to one side, making the rider shift their weight to regain control of the ATV.  This isn't a huge shift, but more a slide and glide of the ATV tires.  Once you ride these tires more, we are certain rider control will become second nature when one has to conquer such obstacles. The off-camber rock climb was easy to navigate.  On several approaches we hammered our way up and through the rocks and protruding tree roots. The Mud Wiser tires bounced and clawed their way to the top with ease.  We did several attempts in the same fashion, and each time, the tires performed very nicely on the rocks and tree roots.  After a few additional attempts, we slowed things down and crawled up the rocks and over the tree roots to see how well the Mud Wiser tires handled.  To our surprise, since this tire is not made for rock climbing, the Mud Wiser tires easily crawled up and over the rocks and tree roots.  Very limited slipping occurred at these slow speeds.

Under the same conditions, the Rut Busters had a different feel to their travel and we noticed there was a slight push of the front-end.  The loose rocks and roots, were easy to climb and the ATV tire didn't slip off to one side unlike the Mud Wiser.  Ruts were just as easy to crawl through and pull out of, and the off-camber rock climb was a blast with the Rut Busters.  Hammering over and around the tree roots was much easier with the Rut Busters.  At slower speeds, the Rut Busters allowed for more tire tread surface to rock contact, which gives the rider more control and less wheel slippage.  In all, the Rut Buster proved to be an excellent rock climber.

Since we were there to put these tires to the test, we purposely thrashed and pounded the tires.  Every rock, tree root, and rut we encountered, we hit hard and sometimes fast.  Talking to some other test riders, they too mentioned they purposely tried to get a flat and or break the bead around the rim.  To our amazement, not one tire produced a flat nor did anyone break the bead on the entire trail ride.  The 6-ply rating on the tires truly held up to its purpose.

The formidable mud hole.

Mud Wiser's and Rut Buster's
tackling the mud hole.

The Muck Test
The Wisp Ski Resort and Pirelli had one more test to produce.  They dug out and flooded a portion of their half-pipe and created a monster of a mud hole.  On one side, there was a three-foot ledge, which for any quad, would be a major obstacle.  The mud was about 2 1/2 feet deep and very soupy.  With the Mud Wiser tires on board, the first attempt into the slop was the first mistake of the day.  We tried to conquer the deepest and longest part of the mud hole on the first try.  As you can guess, we sunk the ATV up to the floor boards and had to be pulled out.  We decided to ease our way from the outer edges back into the deeper mud on each pass.  We made several runs without getting stuck, until we felt we could conquer the deepest part of the mud hole again.  Unfortunately, we did get stuck a second and third time, but onlookers pointed out, our Suzuki Vinson wasn't in full four wheel drive.  This had us thinking how when we first attempted the mud hole, we heard something pop in the front end.  We checked out the suspension and rode the ATV to make sure everything was all right.  However, we overlooked the fact that the front wheels were not under power while in 4x4.  After learning this, we were actually amazed, as our ATV was really only in two wheel drive going through the mud hole.  This gave us the confidence that the Mud Wiser tires were definitely some awesome mud tires.  In addition, the tires provided great cleaning ability, which we credited in helping our Vinson push rather than pull and push our way through the mud hole if we had all four wheels under power.

The Rut Busters did an fairly nice job of tackling the mud hole, but they encountered more wanting to be pulled out than conquering when attempting the deeper parts of the mud hole.  Tackling sections of the hole that was less than a foot deep was easy for the Rut Busters.  Overall, the Rut Busters cleaned themselves well, and also provided a little extra flotation, but the deeper the mud, the harder it was for the Rut Buster to stay on top of the mud.

Pirelli got two thumbs up for making two excellent tires for the ATV market.  Not only has Pirelli put a lot of thought into these tires, but they have also put all their knowledge of tire manufacturing and design into them.  This gives the Mud Wiser and Rut Buster the extra leverage when one is looking to replace those worn out OEM tires, or just wanting to upgrade to something miles ahead of the competition.  We recommend you stay with the stock tire size when replacing the OEMs if you own an ATV 400cc or below.  We noticed that the extra gripping power of these tires brought down the overall horsepower of the smaller engine sized ATVs.  One cannot go wrong if you put either the Mud Wiser or Rut Buster on your ATV.  Be on the lookout for ATV Source's long term evaluation test in the coming months.

Finding your Size and Price
The Mud Wiser is available in two front and four rear sizes, all tubeless.  The fronts are sized AT 25 x 8-12 and AT 26 x 10-12.  Mud Wiser rears are offered in AT 25 x 10-12, AT 26 x 12-12, AT 25 x 11-10, and AT 22 x 11-10 sizes.

The Rut Busters come in four sizes.  There are AT 25 x 8-12 and AT 24 x 8-12 tubeless fronts, and for the rear there are AT 25 x 11-10 and AT 25 x 10-12s.

Both of these new Pirelli ATV tires are competitively priced.  Suggested retail for the Mud Wiser tires range from $53.95 to $97.95.  The Rut Busters are priced from just $37.95 to $77.95.

See price list below for entire pricing and sizes.

Parts Unlimited MSRP Price List 2005
Tread Parts Unlimited
Part #
Description Retail
Mud Wiser 03200105 25X8-12TL NHS $57.95
Mud Wiser 03200106 25X10-12TL NHS $68.95
Mud Wiser 03200107 26X10-12TL NHS $97.95
Mud Wiser 03200108 26X12-12TL NHS $87.95
Mud Wiser 03200109 22X11-10TL NHS $65.96
Mud Wiser 03200110 25X11-10TL NHS $72.95
Mud Wiser 03200111 22X8-10TL NHS $53.95
Mud Wiser 03200112 25X12-10TL NHS $79.95
Rut Buster      
Rut Buster  03190045 25X8-12TL NHS $69.95
Rut Buster 03190046 25X10-12TL NHS $77.95
Rut Buster 03190047 22X11-8TL NHS $62.95
Rut Buster 03190048 20X7-8TL NHS $37.95
Rut Buster 03190049 23X8-11TL NHS $72.95

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