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Comparison of Bias Ply Tires Versus Radial Tires


Modern Radial Tires

Advantages of radial tires include:

Longer tread life
Better steering characteristics
Less rolling resistance, which increases gas mileage

Disadvantages of radial tires:

Higher cost -- technologically, radial tires are more complex than bias ply tires, so they cost more to produce
Not period correct, not true to the original equipment of most antique cars


Period Correct Bias Ply Tires

Advantages of bias ply tires include:

Load carrying capability in relation to tire size is greater than radial tires. That is, a bias ply tire can carry a greater load than a similar sized radial tire
Cost of production is lower than radial tires
Originality of bias ply tires is a foundational concept to the hot rod industry, whether you have a traditional rod or a custom street rod. The bias ply tire has esthetic appeal for those who desire a true period look

Disadvantages of bias ply tires:

Wear down faster, due to higher friction which equates to higher tire temperature
Cornering affects the tread contact area more than with radial tires, because the area where the tread meets the pavement is smaller and the sidewall and tread are constructed of one material, so it wears faster
"Standing Set" -- Bias ply tires that stand still without being driven for long periods of time (such as many antique cars or classic cars that are only driven on rare occasions) develop flat areas which pound the road until they work themselves out during driving

Ride Quality Of Bias Ply And Radial Tires

Ride quality is really a matter of personal choice. The quality of the ride is really based in the materials used to build the tire, rather than the design type itself. Good or poor ride characteristics can be found in either design.

In general, though, bias ply tires have kind of a squishy feel. Radials have a firmer riding quality, which most people prefer.


Will You Choose Bias Ply Or
Radial Tires For Your Hotrod?

So the question remains ... should you install radial tires instead of the original bias ply?

This choice ultimately has to be satisfied by the owner of each vehicle. It comes down to form over function. Is it worth what you gain by installing radial tires compared to what you give up by not installing original style tires?

There is no question that the radial tire is a better, “new and improved” design of tire. Yet we drove on bias ply tires for 70 years. Today they are even more safe and reliable, built with new, modern materials.

Traditional rod owners will usually choose the period correct bias ply tires, or at least the radials that replicate the bias ply style.

Street rod owners build their dream cars to be driven and enjoyed, so why not take advantage of the benefits of the modern radial tire?


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