The Squealing Tire

Tire Talk from the Experts at Discount Tire Company.

The Squealing Tire - Tire Talk from the Experts at Discount Tire Company.

Bias Ply Tires and Radial Tires… What’s what? What’s right for me?

If you are shopping for a new ATV/UTV tire you’ve probably found that there are many, many options to choose from. Some are Bias ply, some are radial. We’ll do our best to explain what’s what here so you can decide what will be best for you.

First, let’s just look at how each type of tire is constructed.

ATV/UTV Bias Tire Construction
Bias ply tires have ply cords that run from bead to bead at a 45 degree angle (or bias) to the center line of the tire. These plies are applied in a multi layer criss-cross pattern and alternate in direction. Ply thickness is even from sidewall to shoulder to tread.

ATV/UTV Radial Tire Construction
Radial-ply tires have ply cords applied at a 90-degree angle to the center line of the tire. Multiple ply layers are applied over top of each other. Tread belts are then layered over the plies in the tread section.

Here are some general pros and cons for each.

Bias Ply Tire Pros

  • Strong sidewalls for better sidewall puncture resistance
  • Easy to repair
  • Lower cost
  • Good off camber stability because of stiffer sidewall
  • High impact resistance
  • Great for frequent high loads and towing

Bias Ply Tire cons

  •  Smaller tread footprint
  • Tire flex is spread out over a large area increasing heat buildup at high speeds.
  • Greater rolling resistance means less fuel mileage.
  • Shorter tire life.
  • Typically heavier in weight

Radial Pros

  • Radial tires tend to improve the handling and performance of your machine at high and low speeds because the tire conforms to the terrain better through increased sidewall flex.
  •  Radial tires typically last longer than Bias ply tires because of the low heat buildup and construction design.
  • Lower rolling resistance equates to better fuel mileage.
  • Smoother more comfortable ride.
  • Larger contact patch
  • Typically lighter in weight

Radial Cons

  • Higher cost
  • Low ply rated radials are more prone to sidewall puncturing
  • Less resistant to high speed impacts

Final Thoughts
The ATV/UTV tire industry reminds me of the good old days. All of the tires for ATV’s used to be Bias ply, where as now we are seeing an explosion of Radial tires for our machines. I believe the size of the machines along with the speed they now travel, has a direct relation to why we are seeing more Radial tires.I would say within a few years most of the tires on the market for ATV/UTV’s will be radial. As our industry keeps growing our products keep getting better. This is not to say that Bias tires are bad or worse than radial tires, they just give you a different ride and different pros and cons. If you look at some of the race teams they use Bias ply tires specifically because of their toughness for races like the Baja 1,000. It is just that the vast majority of people in the ATV/UTV market want the most comfortable ride they can get just as we do in our cars and trucks. Everyone will still have their favorites as it should be but let’s not lose sight of the fact that we are all trying to accomplish the same thing no matter what we ride. That is to have fun with our family and friends.Ride what you have and have fun. Make sure you keep safety in mind as well as we sometimes lose sight of that.

Don McNeilly
Discount Tire Co.