Picking the right tires for your race track surface is definitively the key for a winning setup. Your tires directly influence how your vehicle will accelerate, brake, corner and handle all around the track. There is a wide range of tires with different tread patterns to satisfy every racers or bashers.
Which treads, inserts or compound are best suited for you track surface? This can sound a tough question. Keep on reading you’ll know how to evaluate which tires are the best for your needs.
Manufacturers offer tires in different compounds. Generally, compounds are identified as soft, medium or hard. Softer tires are frequently used for more traction or if the track surface is hard packed. Softer tires will wear faster than a tire made of a harder compound. This is something important to remember if you race one hour long mains on a hard packed track. You can increase cornering by using a softer compound in front.
Inserts in our R/C world, act like air in a full scale car tire. Most of the inserts are molded to perfectly fit the inner shape of the tire carcass. A harder insert prevents tire to get out of shape on tight cornering or while accelerating and makes the vehicle more stable.
A good trick for monster trucks racers is to roll one turn of duck tape around the insert to prevent tire ballooning effect. Inserts influence how the tires react on small ruts and others track imperfections, the use of thinner shock oil may be necessary.
Tread patterns, Forward traction and Side traction
Small, medium or large pins… Square or round pins… Tractor style treads… Skull head tread… You have the choice!!!! A general rule of thumb is the harder the track surface is, the smaller the pins should be. The best way to know which tread pattern works best on your track is to have a look at what tires the fastest guys run. 95% of the time, this will be tires with small or medium pins.
Tires where the tread is made of horizontal bars “=” or where pins are aligned horizontally give more forward traction, makes vehicle brakes shorter but the vehicle will lose steering or side traction. The opposite is true; tires with vertical bars “I” or with vertically aligned pins will give more side traction but the vehicle will lose forward traction. This explains why 2wd off-road vehicles have ribbed front tires to get maximum side traction for cornering.
To prevent vehicle from flipping when tight cornering, some racers use a nail cutter or lexan body scissor to remove the external row of pins, this decreases side bit.
Tires with horizontal bars or tires with medium pins are very popular and work best when the track is loamy or when the track is covered with loose sand. The medium pins are small enough to give good traction on the hard packed sections of the track and large enough to dig in the loamy surface.
Most of the best and most popular race tires on the market use a combination of vertical and horizontal pins to give good side and forward tractions. Each manufacturer has its own version of “what is the best tire” and they basically all look the same.
Recently, companies have innovated and have created a “3D” (This is my own definition) tread. When the tire is half worn out, the tread design is slightly different from when the tire was new or half new. The last half tread is designed to maintain original traction even if the tire is 50% worn out. This extends tire’s longevity. This is extremely useful when racing long mains. Pro-Line Revolver tires are a good example.
When it is time to choose tires for a truggy, a monster truck or for a stadium truck, you can choose the profile, the height of the sidewall. On tight corners, a higher sidewall will flex more and makes cornering a little more difficult. Low profile tires are stiff and have less or no flex. Cornering speed is greatly increased.
Just few words concerning camber settings, a more angled wheel will decrease the surface contact patch and by consequence will lower traction when going straight. On another hand, a well adjusted camber will increase the surface contact patch and increase traction when cornering. Most of the vehicles have different camber settings in front or in rear that make tires wear differently.
Pay attention when you reinstall used tires to not mix front and rear tires.
Tires that come with RTRs vehicles are, most of the times, designed for all around action in a backyard. Manufacturers use a hard compound so the tires will last longer. They are good for an all around usage but if you plan to race frequently your RTR, new race tires should be on the top of your list!
Balance your tires
This might sound excessive but a balanced tire will increase bearings longevity and will make your vehicle easier to drive. Wheels spin really fast and wobbling creates a lot of stress on suspension parts and bearings. Racers use an airplane propeller balancer and modeling clay.