Let’s face it; most of us simply need more tire than those that come on our new ATV or UTV when it rolls off the showroom floor. We are always keeping our eyes open for a good tire to tackle whatever the trail throws at us, and being able to depend on it to get us through. The choices are plentiful in recent years with more tires always being released. ITP has been making tires for thirty years, and is known for making great tires and wheels. Earlier this year, ITP released its new version of its Black Water ATV tire, renaming it the Black Water Evolution. We brought the news to our readers as soon as we received the press release on those tires, and secretly had a crush on them from the moment we got a glimpse of the photo. We saw the 8-ply rating and unique tread pattern with a gleam in our eye and drool on the floor. We wanted a set of these tires.
After a call to ITP, followed by some shameless begging, ITP sent us a set of 27x9R-14 and 27x11R-14 Black Water Evolutions on SS216 ITP wheels. We literally counted the days until they arrived. We love testing tires though I can’t say exactly why, and from the moment the Black Water Evolutions arrived we knew these tires were going to be a great all-terrain. We were headed off to Taylor Park, CO two days after they arrived, which offered an opportunity to put many miles on them in a matter of a few days over terrain perfect for testing tires. Taylor Park, CO is extremely rocky in places, making for a rough ride with plenty of opportunities to puncture a tire. Taylor Park also has a little mud, lots of water crossings with smooth rocks, and several places with serious hill climbs on loose soil. Taylor Park might be the “perfect storm” for testing all-terrain tires. We mounted the Black Water Evolutions on our 2012 Polaris Sportsman X2 demo, loaded it on the trailer the following day, and headed off into the sunset towards the Rocky Mountains.
First things first on the Black Water Evolution tires; they are primarily designed for UTV or large utility ATV use. This is evidenced by the fact they are 8-ply tires and by the sizes that are offered. The higher the ply rating the stronger a tire is and the heavier a tire is. This can certainly affect the ride and power of the machine you put them on. The Black Waters use a new tough tread rubber compound offering a long wear resistance resulting in a really long life. We have put around 400 miles on them so far, and there is literally no wear on them. Like tires in the 6 and 8-ply world, the Black Waters ought to last the life of a machine and then some. One other protective step ITP has taken with the Black Waters is the Sidewall Armor for added puncture resistance on shoulder area and sidewall of the tire. Radial tires are known for having more flex and a “pooch” in-between the tread and the wheel as a result of how they are made. In practicality the sidewall is the weakest part of the tire, as it is the part with the fewest plys. Most all of the punctures from typical riding are in the sidewall of the tire. All this said the more protection of the sidewall the better.
The Black Water Evolution is truly one of the best all-terrain tires we have ever tested on an ATV (and soon we will test them on a UTV). They perform exceptionally well on a variety of terrain from hard-pack trail, rocks, loose dirt, sand, and the added bonus of mud and snow though not specifically designed for that terrain. We tested the Black Water Evolutions on our Polaris Sportsman X2 550 right alongside a Polaris Sportsman Touring 550 with the original tires, making the only real differences between the machines the tires and power steering. The difference in traction was staggering. The Black Water Evolutions hook-up quickly and effortlessly on rocks with no fuss. They seem to reach out and grab whatever you take them over. A little gas and off you go. The tread pattern is nothing exactly like we have seen, but it looks good and better yet it works very well. Generally speaking, all-terrains should work well over most terrain even snow and mud. We have found in our experience most all-terrain tires do well on the trail and do “ok” in mud and snow. There seem to be some tire manufacturers making tires now that do great on most terrain and pretty darn well in mud and snow. ITP and the Black Water Evolutions fall into this latter category. On many of our adventures with all-terrains, we avoid any serious mud or snow, since we want to get back to camp without being knee deep in mud. The Black Water Evolutions allow us not to really worry about that. They are not MUD BOG TIRES, but they do exceptionally well in the mud and snow for all-terrain tires. It is nice to hit the trail and know you can tackle almost any terrain without worry. Couple this with the fact it is a tough tire, and you can have confidence you will make it back to camp without any problems.
First placing the Black Water Evolution tires onto our ATV, we noticed immediately how “solid” these 8-ply radial tires are. They have almost no flex at all when you have 8 or 10 pounds of pressure in them. This was extremely noticeable on our utility ATV, and in our opinion would be much less noticeable on a UTV (we will be able to form a better opinion on this in the near future). The ride was rough, not because of the tread design, but because of a lack of flex. Though the handling down the trails was spot on, the ride was rough. So the only thing to do was to get these tires to flex! We set off to discover at what P.S.I the ride would smooth out. It turns out that 2 -2.5 pounds of pressure is where we get some flex and pooch in the sidewalls. From that point on the ride became much smoother. The Black Water Evolutions are still an 8-ply tire even at 2 pounds, but the ride is smoother over the rocks, bumps, and corners. The Black Water Evolutions corner well and predictably at higher speeds. On a UTV, the P.S.I should be increased, and being that application is what these tires are really designed for, the ride should be exactly what you would want and expect.
On an ATV equipped with electronic power steering, you will not notice the added weight of the Black Water Evolutions compared to stock tires, but on machines without power steering you will. There is no way around this no matter what tires you have once you get to 6 and 8-ply compared to stock tires, since most stock tires are 2 to 3-ply. Our Polaris Sportsman X2 550 didn’t have power steering, so when moving the front wheels standing still, it took some effort. Once we were moving, it was not really noticeable.
Though we read somewhere there is no offset in the SS 216 wheels compared to many stock wheels, we found there was. For our application on the Sportsman X2, this was a welcome thing. The 27 inch tires would have fit on the stock wheels but not fit back on the machine, and these tires are only offered in 27 inch on 14 inch wheels. The Sportsman X2 and Touring ATVs have a bracket in a spot preventing much bigger tires from fitting. The offset of the new wheels allowed all the tires to fit.
You might wonder about what we thought of the SS216 wheels. The SS216s look great, perform well, and come with a lifetime structural warranty. They come in two sizes 12x7 and 14x7, and are made of lightweight aluminum. We like the way the wheels have a machined finish with black accents in the spoke. The SS216s catch peoples’ attention, and add that custom look to your ATV.
We absolutely love these Black Water Evolution tires, and will be using them on many a machine and many adventures. They are dependable from a traction standpoint and a puncture resistance standpoint. We would recommend these tires without any hesitation as a solid all-terrain that is as good as you can find in the market today……. and better than most. The more we use these tires the more we appreciate the traction they offer including in mud and snow. The Black Water Evolutions grab the terrain with a vengeance taking you up and over what is in front of you. That is what makes a great all-terrain tire.
Extremely durable and puncture resistant
Designed for large ATVs and UTVs
ITP Black Water Evolution Tires- http://itptires.com/utilityatv/blackwater_evo.html
ITP SS 216 Wheels- http://itptires.com/utilityatv/SS216.html
Black Water Evolution
Sizing: 25x9R-12, 25x11R-12, 26x9R-12, 26x11R-12, 27x9R-12, 27x11R-12, 27x9R-14 and 27x11R-14.
8-ply-rated radial design
Non-directional tread design provides awesome traction while maintaining a smooth ride and precise, balanced handling.
All-new “Tough Tread” rubber compound offers exceptional wear and abrasion resistance for extended tire life.
Exclusive “Sidewall Armor™” protects the vulnerable shoulder area from penetration, greatly increasing reliability.
Engineered and manufactured in the U.S.A.
Sizing: 12x7, 14x7.
The lightweight, one-piece aluminum SS216 is as aggressive as it looks.
All-new Rock Armor reinforced inner wheel lip design makes an already high-endurance wheel even more bulletproof.
ITP’s SS Alloy wheels have come standard with a lifetime structural warranty for years-an industry first, as a matter of fact-and that applies to the SS216 as well
1000-lb. load rating
Bright machined finish with black accents, topped with a durable clear coat
Matching SS™ center cap is included with every wheel.
Original ATVESCAPE.COM Black Water Evolution Press Release- ITP Black Water Evolution Tires