When purchasing off road tires you need to make your decision based on the tire design. Most individuals chose tires specifically for the look and price but they may not be getting the best tire for their needs. Ultimately you want a tire that will perform well off road but one that also won’t break the bank. Many factors will contribute to the performance of the tire and these include how the vehicle is driven, where it is used, the type of vehicle being used, and how much the vehicle weighs.
To help you make a good off road tire choice you should have some understanding of how tires work and the different components of the tire design. There are three types of casings that can be used for tires, radial ply, bias-belted and bias ply.
Radial casings are mainly good for highway driving, smooth driving, directional stability and float very well. Radials work so well because of the steel belts that are used to keep the tread flat. A bias ply tire is very strong and can quickly conform. The tread itself is much more flexible and best used on trails. These types of tires are not good for highway driving.
Bias ply have a fiberglass or steel belt and they are very difficult to cut. These tires work well on trails but only when used on very heavy vehicles Belt and Road.
Radial or bias belted tires should really be used for lightweight vehicles, as this will give you the best off road performance. While it is generally thought that they work best with heavier vehicles there are many brands of off road tires that suit the lighter vehicle just fine. A quick test for trail usage is if the tire gives in the tread area when pushed, using an unmounted tire, then this flexibility will respond well for trails.
When choosing a tire size you want to try to get the correct weight per square inch or contact pressure. This is generally measured as the tread void ration and refers to the open space between the tread blocks. A higher ration means that there is more weight going on a smaller amount of tire. This corresponds to an increase in contact pressure. Having a larger tire with the same tread will have the same void ration but will have less contact pressure.
Driving off road will mean that you are driving over obstacles and uneven surfaces. It is necessary for your tire tread to be flexible and conform to the terrain. In this case tires that smaller tread blocks will be more flexible when driving over rough terrain.
There are special tires that work best on sand and others that are better in mud. You can also purchase a general off road tire. When driving on sand the larger the tire the better. The tire will have better floatation to stay on top of the sand and having almost no treads works the best. For driving in mud you want a self-cleaning tread and wide tires. It is all about finding traction when driving in mud.