Bias vs radials – What’s the right choice?

We all have heard of radial tires, but if you are a rookie, then let us tell you about the radial tires.

In 1915, the radial tires for the very first time were patented by Arthur W. Savageway. Later, in 1946, Michelin brother (Andre and Edouard) further researched and developed the first commercial market-wide tires. In radial tires, the cord plies are arranged at 90 degrees which can either be in the direction of travel or is radial, i.e. from the centre of the tire. Due to the several advantages of radial tires, they were and are still being used. However, many people may not know that even before the boom of radial tires, there were other tires which were known as “Bias ply tires”. Everyone has their own opinions regarding the pros and cons of both radial and bias-ply tires but, it all comes down to your preferences. Apart from the benefits of radial tires, the bias-ply tires are still used in the motorbikes and even in the heavy vehicles like trucks etc.

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A tire is made of series of piles of cord which reinforces a tire; otherwise, the tire would be flexible and weak which will damage the wheel. Due to the construction, almost most of the tires are now radial, but still, they are considered as exotic because mostly a performance oriented person would have them in their car. However, the bias-ply tires are the basic layout of the tires since the days of the bicycle.

Bias-ply tires were manufactured by simple construction; on a flat steel drum the fabric (mostly polyester, nylon and rayon) was built, and the cords were laid at an angle of 55 degree from the direction of travel, bead to bead. 55 degree again from left to right, and then 55 degrees from right to left. The layers of cords were crisscrossed over each other, and due to this the bias-ply tires were also known as “cross-ply tire”. The rubber tube filled with air was used at the underneath to keep the tire inflated.

Bias ply tires have their advantages and disadvantages.

  • One of the major advantages is that they are cost-effective. They are cheap to make as compare to other tires.
  • They work better in heavy load conditions, therefore; they are usually used in tractors and heavy-duty trucks.
  • They are puncture resistant. However, this can be controversial because of the number of plies in radial tires can vary. Even though generally, a radial tire has more vulnerable sidewalls due to the reduced number of plies as compared to an equivalent bias ply.
  • Torque splitting or zippering and big tire size also add as an advantage in the bias-ply tires.
  • In case of traction both radial and bias-ply tires are on a tie. 

And as far as the disadvantages are concerned:

  • The bias-ply tires get heated up quickly and are not able to dissipate heat easily which makes them unsuitable to be used at high speed.
  • Another disadvantage is that the bias-ply tires are very stiff because all the plies run from sidewall to sidewall.
  • The bias-ply seems like a single piece of rubber, and it cannot confine the impact of the road surface. Sidewalls are also as thick as the rest of the tire itself which decreases the ability of sidewalls to react quickly towards the bumps of the road. All sidewall flexing is transferred to the tread.
  • Bias-ply tires are heavy as compare to the radial tires. Therefore, they are heavy on fuel as well.

The tire of choice in many cases can be radial, however; still, it’s never a hard and fast rule. The choice of tire depends on your preference and requirement. If you need a fast, agile, easy heat dissipation, pavement manners and better performance than get a radial tire. And if you need strong, heavy load carrier, big size tires and zippering property than bias-ply tires should be your choice.

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