Don’t you just love getting a new set of tires? There’s just something about having a brand new set of treads whether they’re for your car, truck, ATV, or SxS. It just makes you feel good inside. From that nice, clean, sharp edge on the lugs to that awesome new tire smell, it’s always a good day when you get a new set of rubber.
Our most recent good day came in the form of a new set of Advantage tires from Vee Rubber, and our Can-Am Maverick was the lucky recipient. The Maverick came from the factory with Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires, and we have had very few complaints about that particular tire. But one area in which we have typically been a little disappointed is wear resistance. The relatively soft compound of the Bighorns offers great grip in most situations but tends to round off easily, especially when subjected to gravel or hard surfaces. Because the Vee Rubber Advantage tire is a very similar tread design, we thought that it would make for a good comparison to the OEM Maxxis Bighorn 2.0’s.
Our Advantage tires have many similarities to the Bighorn 2.0’s. In addition to the tread design similarities, both tires are of a 6-ply radial construction, so we wouldn’t be switching to a completely different class of tire. However, our replacement tires were a different size than our stock skins. The Maverick came from the factory with 27x9R12 front and 27x11R12 rear tires. Our Vee replacement tires were, according to the numbers, wider and shorter than the stock tires at 26x10R12 front and 26x12R12 rear. At first, we weren’t so excited about mounting up a set of tires that were supposedly shorter than the tires they were to replace. But much to our surprise, the 26” Vee Advantage tires were actually slightly taller than the 27” Maxxis Bighorn 2.0’s. After a little bit of investigation with a tape measure, we discovered that the advertised size of the Vee tires is actually closer to the installed dimensions, whereas the Maxxis numbers are somewhat inflated (pardon the pun) in both height and width.
The difference in dimensions is not the only contrast between these tires. While both tires are 6-ply radials, the compound of the Vee Advantage is noticeably firmer than the Bighorn 2.0, and while the tread design is similar, the Advantage’s lugs are significantly wider. We felt that this could remedy the problem we experienced with quick wear on the Maxxis meats.
The Vee Advantage tires were a bit of a challenge to mount. The extra inch of width (actually more like 2”) makes it noticeably tougher to push that second bead over the rim and the firmer rubber compound makes the beads seat much harder than a softer tire. As our friend Brian likes to say, “You just gotta want it!” All of our tires took in excess of 30psi to get the outer bead to pop; which is much closer to the max bead seating pressure (listed at 36psi) than we’d like to see. For that reason, we’d probably recommend professional mounting of these tires unless you have significant experience and the proper safety equipment. If you do choose to mount these tires on your own, we’d recommend a healthy amount of bead lubricant and a pile of patience. With that said, the fact that these tires take more effort to mount gives us confidence that they’ll be less likely to lose a bead during aggressive cornering.
The first thing we noticed was that the Vee Rubber Advantage tires have an aggressive, solid feel to them thanks to the hard rubber compound and wide lugs. You can definitely sense your contact with the ground and the sidewalls feel firm, not wishy-washy at all. In fact, we lowered the air pressure by a couple of PSI to get away from the sensation that we were “riding high” on the center of the contact patch. We thought that we could corner very aggressively on dirt in our Maverick without feeling that we were going to roll a tire off the bead. Ride quality is firm - maybe firmer than you’re used to - but not to the point of beating you and the machine to death, and the Vee tires didn’t want to deflect off from bumps.
Forward traction was all that we expected from the design, and the tires transitioned from spin to grip very predictably; which is something we’ve experienced problems with on other tread designs. The rear tires also slid predictably with no surprise step-outs in two-wheel-drive or four. We also spent significant time in the snow with these tires, and this is where the extra width became an apparent benefit. The extra floatation kept us up on the top of the snow instead of spinning down and digging in -which is a bad deal when you’re driving a SxS in deep snow! However, the extra width and floatation did seem to make the front end want to push in corners more than the OEM tires. We believe that a cut bisecting the long lugs on the front tires might help with the pushy steering.
We think that overall handling is improved with the Vee Advantage due to the harder rubber compound, and we found that the key to getting the most out of these tires is to not overinflate them. Softer tires require more air pressure to keep them from having that “spongy” feel. Even at lower pressure, the Advantage doesn’t seem spongy. However, overinflation tends to make them feel loose because they ride too high on the lugs. Overall tread wear is also improved, especially if you ride on harder terrain or do a lot of gravel road travel - as we call it, “road-o-crossing.”
As the name implies, this tire does offer an Advantage… that Advantage being a proven aggressive tread pattern combined with the added wear and damage resistance of a harder rubber compound. If you’re fed up with tires that lose their edge and traction quickly, then the Vee Rubber Advantage just might be a good choice for your next purchase.