Tyres General Information

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Tyre Tread

A proper tyre tread design improves traction, improves handling & increases Durability.  It also has a direct effect on ride comfort, noise level & fuel efficiency.  Each part of the tyre tread has a different name, a different function & effect on the overall tyre.

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Sipes are the small, slit-like grooves in the tread blocks that allow the blocks to flex. This added flexibility increases traction by creating an additional biting edge. Sipes are especially helpful on ice, light snow and loose dirt.
Grooves create voids for better water channeling on wet road surfaces. Grooves are the most efficient way of channeling water from in front of the tyres to behind it. By designing grooves circumferentially, water has less distance to be channeled.
Blocks are the segments that make up the majority of a tyre's tread. Their primary function is to provide traction.
Ribs are the straight-lined row of blocks that create a circumferential contact "band."
Dimples are the indentations in the tread, normally towards the outer edge of the tyre. They improve cooling.
Shoulders provide continuous contact with the road while maneuvering. The shoulders wrap slightly over the inner and outer sidewall of a tyre.
The Void Ratio is the amount of open space in the tread. A low void ratio means a tyre has more rubber is in contact with the road. A high void ratio increases the ability to drain water. Sports, dry-weather and high performance tyres have a low void ratio for grip and traction. Wet-weather and snow tyres have high void ratios.


Tread Patterns

Tyre tread pattern is a mix of functionality & aesthetics.  There are 3 basic types of tread pattern that manufacturers can choose to go with:

Tread depth & tread wear indicators

For the most part, motoring law in most countries determines that your tyres need a minimum tread depth to be legal. This varies from country to country but is normally around 1.6mm. To assist you in figuring out when you're getting close to that value, most tyres have tread wear indicators built into them. If you look around the tread carefully, at some point you'll see a bar of rubber which goes across the tread and isn't part of the regular pattern (see picture). This is the wear indicator. It's really basic, but it's also pretty foolproof. The tread wear indicator is moulded into the rubber at a depth of about 2mm normally. As the rubber in your tyres wears away due to everyday use, the tread wears down. At some point, the tyre tread will become flush with the wear indicator (which is normally recessed into the tread). At this point you have about 2mm of tread left - in other words it is time to change tyres.

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Diagnosing Tyre Wear

Your tyre wear pattern can tell you a lot about any problems you might be having with the wheel/tyre/suspension geometry setup. The first two signs to look for are over- and under-inflation. These are relatively easy to spot:



The following table is some of the more general factors in tyre wear:

Problem Cause
Shoulder Wear
Both Shoulders wearing faster than the centre of the tread
Repeated high-speed cornering
Improper matching of rims and tyres
Tyres haven't been rotated recently
Centre Wear
The centre of the tread is wearing faster than the shoulders
Improper matching of rims and tyres
Tyres haven't been rotated recently
One-sided wear
One side of the tyre wearing unusually fast
Improper wheel alignment (especially camber)
Tyres haven't been rotated recently
Spot wear
A part (or a few parts) of the circumference of the tread are wearing faster than other parts
Faulty suspension, rotating parts or brake parts
Dynamic imbalance of tyre/rim assembly
Excessive runout of tyre and rim assembly
Sudden braking and rapid starting
Under inflation
Diagonal wear
A part (or a few parts) of the tread are wearing diagonally faster than other parts
Faulty suspension, rotating parts or brake parts
Improper wheel alignment
Dynamic imbalance of tyre/rim assembly
Tyres haven't been rotated recently
Under inflation
Feather-edged wear
The blocks or ribs of the tread are wearing in a feather-edge pattern
Improper wheel alignment (faulty toe-in)
Bent axle beam

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