Asking what the best tire is for the Can-Am Defender is like asking which Can-Am side-by-side is the best — some are great for curtain applications, while others are more suited for different applications. And so it is with Defender tires. A tire that propels your Can-Am Defender effortlessly through thick mud will, without a doubt, perform poorly on pavement or hard-packed trails. Similarly, a sand tire designed for dune and desert riding won’t do as well in the mud. In addition to the type of UTV tire, the size, weight, and alignment of your Defender tires will also play a roll in their performance. Taking a holistic perspective, we looked at the durability, drivability, and cost of nearly every Can-Am Defender tire out there, and here are our findings.
Maxxis Carnivore Radial Tires
If you’re looking for a good Can-Am Defender tire that will last when running on gravel and pavement, won’t sink up in sand, and still pull in mud, look no further than Carnivore tires by Maxxis. You can get a set with HD4 wheels or Dragon Fire wheels for around a grand, and although they are designed for all-around use, they perform very well on dirt hills and go great in the mud.
Compared to other terrain-specific tires, Carnivores can hold their own. Be it on sand or shale, they aren’t fussy and won’t give you many problems. They are especially good for working Defenders, as their 8-ply construction makes them perfect for hauling heavy loads. Whether it be logs, tools, or a big ol’ buck, Carnivore tires can withstand the weight.
Carnivores come in 28”, 30”, and 32” heights, and are non-directional. Compared to other all-terrain UTV tires, they are a bit more aggressive, with thick tread used to grip the trail. The only downside to buying new Carnivore tires is that they are a more expensive in Canada, where the government implements steep taxes that often offset a cheaper exchange rate. On the plus side, if you are buying from a private seller, you will not need to pay Canadian tax.
Pro Armor’s Duel Threat Tires
For all-around use, we’ve found the Dual Threat tire set by Pro Armor to be near the top of the class. Run 29x9 in the front and 29x11 in the rear and you’ll smooth sailing with zero noise on asphalt. The inner tread has a harder durometer for long wear, while the outer tread is stickier to really bite off road. They are virtually unstoppable off-road and measure a true 29” with a 10ply construction. The only caveat is that these aren’t the cheapest tires out there. At around $250 a pop, a full set will set you back. Add wheels to the mix and even the richer riders among us might shudder a but. However, because they withstand the most heavy-footed riders, they are a more long-term solution that will prove more cost effective in the long run.
Intimidator Tires By SuperATV
According to a few Defender owners we’ve talked to, the 34x10.5x15 Intimidator tires are the best they’ve ever owned. Not only do they clean out well on every type of terrain — mud, snow, rocks, trail, etc. — but they are also surprisingly smooth. They are definitely not a pure mud tire, yet do very well in muddy terrain. Unlike other tires, they are wider and heavier. This is great from a traction perspective, but may be problematic from a clutching perspective.
When running the larger Intimidators in watery mud, you should be fine. But in the thicker, “peanut butter” mud, the extra weight maxes out the machine’s torque, which can be problematic. If you do 36” Intimidators, you'll most likely need clutch work and / or portals to reduce the gearing. However for trail riding and crawling on smooth clay terrain, 34” Intimidators should suffice.
For exclusive sand riders, the Blackbird sand tire by TMW Offroad is hard to beat. For mudders who spend all their time in the slop, SuperATV’s Assassinator tires are sure to up the fun factor. BKT’s are awesome for pavement riding, but the DragonFire XM310 tires also hold up on gravel/pavement and ride smooth — the perfect tire for that Florida sugar sand. Bighorns are also popular, however they are made from a soft compound and wear down on machines with drivers with an itchy right foot. Whatever tire you choose, however, periodic rotations are a must. Now quit reading and get out there on your Defender!