Choosing Off-Road Tires For Your Truck
Tires are where all of your suspension components get to show what they can do by keeping your tires sticking to the terrain. Choosing the proper type of off-road tire for your types of terrain are essential to success off-road. Improper tires will result in poor performance off-road where the type of tread, compound composition and PSI all make a huge difference in how your tires adhere to the terrain.
There is a tire specifically designed for every type of off-road use you can think of. From blasting across sand dunes, mudding in boggy terrain, hill climb machines and much more. Every type of tire has features that make it work better in certain terrain but that shouldn’t be the main reason you choose one tire over another. Remember tires are just a part of the equation of a successful suspension setup. Your truck suspension needs to be dialed in to keep your tires in contact with the terrain or your tires cannot do their job. Bigger and wider tires don’t always mean better, and the bigger you go, the more that needs to be adjusted and touched on to make everything work.
There are other ways to get the results you want outside of getting bigger or more aggressive tires for your ride. Look into more specialized suspension components or depending on your goals some different and more long lasting changes can be made. Truck tires should be seen first as an additional source of lift and clearance for your truck, the fancy tread and compounds can be considered secondary.
Do These Even Fit Bro?
Most people have to lift their truck in some fashion in order to fit beefier tires on their truck. So if you’re looking at tires first, you should probably figure out if they’ll fit with stock hardware or how you’re going to lift your truck to make everything work.
It’s been stated before, but the bigger you go, the more things that will have to be considered. The bigger the tires, the bigger the lift you will need. The bigger the lift, there is more hardware that needs to be rerouted and replaced to make everything play nicely.
Even though this article covers mostly truck tires, your choices in tires will affect your suspension component choices, which in turn will end up forcing you to upgrade your drivetrain to accommodate all that extra weight without performing like a Miata.
Bias Truck Tires versus Radial Truck Tires
Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different answer every time you ask for a preference on bias vs radial tires for off-road use. Everyone will have some insane anecdote about that one time that made them swear off of bias tires forever and vice versa. Take the information you get with a grain of salt and do your research to choose the tire that works best with your setup and fits your needs.
Bias truck tires are the go-to choice for a lot of old school off-road purists. Bias tires usually come with a soft compound that is ideal for conforming the tire around and over tough terrain to provide traction and the reinforced sidewalls help prevent punctures when tackling jagged rocks. These tires are great for off-road use and once they hit the pavement you can expect lots of interior noise from the hum of the tires on the pavement as the tread patterns aren’t suited for high speeds. The soft compound also opens the door for uneven tread wear on the road and flat spots if they’re left sitting too long.
Radial Truck Tires
Radial truck tires attempt to give you some more pedestrian comfort when daily driving your truck on the road. The downside to a more comfortable road tire is decreased toughness and off-road performance. Radial tires give you a solid mix of the best of both worlds but if you’re going solely off-road and want your tires to take some more abuse then go for a set of bias ply tires.
When it comes to choosing any suspension component, a lot needs to be accounted for and tires are no different. The most important thing to consider is if the tires you want will even fit. If you’re still at stock ride height and those tires are a couple of inches larger than your current ones then you’re going to have a bad time. Do some research wherever you can to find out what size tires work best with your lift. Especially at stock height, which doesn’t give you too much variety to choose from. Check out forums and consult people with builds similar to what you’re aiming for to get an idea of what is capable at your ride height or look into one of the many ways to lift your truck to tuck some more aggressive tires underneath.
Choosing the Right Type of Truck Tires
Having the right tires on your truck is essential to not looking like a fool when going off-roading and will determine a part of your success in certain situations. The first thing you need to know is what type of terrain you will be tackling and find a tread design and tire compound that do well under those conditions. Also for most beginners in the scene, you probably won’t have a dedicated truck that just sits off-road so if you’re modifying your daily driver you might want to lean toward some more road friendly tires.
All Season Tires
All season roads are good for pretty much everything except going off-road. This is because their rubber compounds and very vanilla treads are not meant to be taken off road and are not suited for the conditions that they will face. That doesn’t mean people don’t go off-road in all seasons but they will not be able to handle some tougher situations a more aggressive tire would handle easily. On the other hand the off-road guys that run all seasons get a lot more road mileage out of their tires which is not a bad tradeoff when equipping your daily driver with some new rubber.
All terrain tires have been specially designed to handle a certain type of terrain, all of it. You can take these babies practically anywhere and get some solid reliable performance out of them, but while they may be good at a lot, they aren’t great at one specific thing. All terrain tires are designed with off-road performance considered first and then toned down to be a more streetable tire. These would be great for the avid off-roader who still has to drive a couple miles to get to the trails.
Highly specialized and extremely aggressive off-road tires that are designed for specific terrain will give you the best off-road performance while performing like crap on pedestrian roads, but that is not why you buy these anyways. Everything about these types of tires is crafted to handle abuse and provide traction, crevasse depth treads, kevlar sidewalls, and many other unnecessarily tough sounding features. Many of these specialized tires can handle terrain outside of what they are designed for thanks to their abundance of features also. The tire compounds used remain puncture resistant even at very low PSI but as a tradeoff do not perform or wear well at high speeds or on the road.
Remember to keep your goals and practicality in mind when making any decisions on tires or lifts. Buying the wrong parts for the job or without a good supporting cast of other upgraded components could prove costly down the road! Build your build and have fun.