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HOW TO: Tire Tread Types

765 Views 3 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  miskywhisky
I know this is basic- just thought it might help some folks starting out and we could refer them to it.

I see that when explaining tire tread types (for example, someone might say- I want a tire great in mud but also good on the highway), TJTJ and others use shoes for examples, because they are very analogous. This shows the tradeoff between tread types. I rely on different types of tread on footwear at work and for play, so I thought I would make this quick guide comparing tire tread to shoe tread.

I won't touch on contact area, tire weight, flotation, diameter, tread compound, or anything like that. It's just a quick comparison of tread patterns.

Let's start with a highway tire- here's my basketball shoes- great on flat, smooth surfaces. Terrible on just about anything else, except maybe ice, because of the many contact surfaces.

And a highway tire I used to use that looks like the basketball shoe- great on the pavement, and decent in ice:

And here's what happens when they encounter just a little wet dirt:

All Terrain:
Okay, for a medium all terrain, I'll use my hiking boots. They do really well in dirt, light mud, snow, grass, etc. In ice they don't do great, and same for deep mud. They are a great all around tread to use in a variety of conditions.

I think a similar tire would be the BFG A/T KO:

Or the Hankook Dynapro AT:

Now for an aggressive all terrain, I'll use my work boots. These things grip like crazy in all but the deepest of mud and slickest of ice. Acceptable on pavement, but not amazing:

I think a good comparison tire is the Goodyear Duratrac, and they actually have a very similar tread pattern:

Mud Terrain
For deep mud, I wear a product called Mudders (which mainly work through flotation- different discussion), but they have aggressive, high-void tread lugs. This is to dig deep down into the mud for traction and so they will clean out. They are not amazing on the pavement. They also do well in deep, soft snow.

Here's the mud tire on our ATV:

And the BFG KM2:

Snow Tire
For ice and packed snow, you want many abrupt contact edges. This can be accomplished with 'sipes' in the tire which are just cuts (can be seen in the Goodyear Duratrac and Hankook Dynapro), with crushed walnut shells within the rubber, or with spikes. Soft rubber can also help but I won't go into that. These are great in ice and packed snow, but terrible on pavement- the studs can make them squirelly.
Here's the add-ons I use underneath shoes in the ice:

And studded snow tires- you can see the studs as well as the sipes:

Hope this helps someone at some point. It's in now way complete, just a discussion of tread patterns.
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Great simple explanation man!

Sent from App
Well done! I'm sure it will get thrown in many a tire question thread.

Also nice collection of shoes haha :D
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