There is a clear difference in opinion when it comes down to bias vs radial tire. There are many expert opinions on this matter. Still, I am here to tell you all the differences about how it applies to your riding experience, pros, cons, and everything very easily so that it stays in your memory nice and snug.
The significant difference between the two types of tires is the type of build and the benefits they offer in each kind of situation. Also, at the bottom of it all, the term ‘bias’ and ‘radial’ are just references to the angle at which the nylon cords are stacked on top of each other to create an intricate and durable tire.
Now, I am going to tell you everything I know in detail about both of these tires. So, hopefully, by the end of this article, you will get to know about radial vs bias trailer tire and more.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is the difference between radial and bias-ply tires?
- 2 Tire Characteristics You Should Know
- 3 More on Trailer Tires
- 4 In Conclusion
What is the difference between radial and bias-ply tires?
Trailer tires are not the same as your regular automotive vehicle tires. They do not maneuver, transmit power from the engine to the wheels, or swing directions too often. Car tires are placed in a delicate position that balances the suspension, steering, and braking systems.
Trailer tire, on the other hand, sits under a trailer behind a tow truck. And since it has low usage compared to the tow truck tires, the radial vs bias argument comes into contention here.
If your trailer runs mostly on the country roads at a slow speed where the roads are rough, the bias-ply tires are the way to go. Contrarily, radial tires are best for longer and frequent traveling and give you a smoother riding experience on a smoother surface.
Difference in Construction
The difference between bias and radial tires is the difference is in the construction of the tire belt.
Radial tires, developed by Michelin in 1964, are built using cords that are directed at a 90-degree angle to the direction of motion. These tires use plies as well, but they are not scattered around all over the external surface thread.
In fact, the plies are stacked nicely across the center part. But the same plies do not extend down the sidewalls of the tire. This separation allows the two key areas of the tire to function independently. The cords are made of a combination of polyester and steel that runs throughout the belt of the tire from bead to bead. What that means is that the tire functions as one unit.
Bias Ply Tires
‘Bias-ply‘ refers to the tire’s type of build. Below the tire’s external surface thread, there are multiple layers of construction materials, including the plies. The plies serve as a foundation for these types of tires. These are essentially made of the same combination of cords, i.e., polyester and steel.
Sometimes, the build material for the cords does change, and for good reasons. The tire’s outer surface has a crisscross pattern owing to the successive plies made on the tires at a 30 to 45-degree angle to the tread line of the tire. The tread line is the line that runs along the direction of the car.
Difference in Usage
The difference in use cases is due to the build type and the build material used in the two types of tires.
A radial tire is a more reliable choice for long and frequent running on the road. Better traction, more control, and more heat dissipation is the reason why this tire has made its mark into the tire slot of most vehicles.
Public demand for this kind of tire has increased since the 1970s and is continuing ever since. People use it on all sorts of cars like – travel trailers, boat trailers, livestock carriers, toy haulers, etc.
Bias Ply Tires
Bias-ply tires are used in vehicles that have a short and infrequent usage. So, it is okay to say that these tires are good for local applications. Such as – uses in agriculture, construction, marine works, utility applications, and much more. These are good for carrying heavy loads owing to the tire’s construction.
Benefits of Each Kind of Tire – Radial vs Bias
Radial tires provide better flex than bias-ply tires. It offers better traction on the road, noticeably better stability, and tread wear. Besides, the build type dissipates heat from the tires quickly, which helps them to cool down quickly.
Heat is the most lethal killer of tires, and so, it is safe to say that radial tires have a longer life than its counterpart. Besides, radial tires support at most 10% more load than their overall load-bearing capacity.
On the other hand, bias tires are constructed such that they have stiffer sidewalls. It provides a significant benefit in agricultural works in harsh environments where you have to deal with the coarse land surface. The tire build also favors the handling of heavy loads.
Tire Characteristics You Should Know
- Smoother and more silent riding experience in comparison with bias tires.
- Tracks the towing vehicle easily, which provides better sway control on the curves.
- Mesh steel cords inside the tire dissipate the frictional heat quickly, making it less heated, reducing the chance of a tire blowout, and adding more life on the wheels.
- Has a wider footprint, which widens the tread wear.
- More immune to punctures.
- Has less friction on any ground, and so it saves more fuel.
- Standard Trailer (ST) radial tires are intricately designed for carrying heavy loads. In fact, it can carry over 10% more than its total load-bearing capacity.
- The average running life is 40,000 miles approximately.
- Good for every terrain – marshlands, savannah, desert, highways, etc.
Bias Ply Tires
- Tire build is less complicated, which makes it available at low prices.
- Ability to bear heavy loads due to stiffer sidewalls compared to radial tires.
- Puncture resistant against the sidewalls and finished with a rugged design.
- Stiffer sidewalls and slimmer footprint, which offers less sway control.
- More susceptible to heat and abrasion due to the change in shape.
- The average running life is 12,000 miles approximately.
More on Trailer Tires
When is the right time to change your trailer tires?
According to the Department of Transport (DOA), tires (all tires) on your vehicle should be changed after every six years no matter what vehicle you are using. This recommendation is more focused on time rather than the covered mileage.
But, if pressed for mileage, you can get the best out of any tires up to 25,000 miles. Even though this is an average value, some tires provide a better than average life.
What do tires have ST and LT marked on them?
Most modern radial tires have ST written on them. ST is the short form of ‘Special Trailer.’ It means these tires are fit for use when carrying heavy loads. ST radial tires are specially designed for handling the load of your trailer. The stiff sidewalls on the tires prevent you from the swaying factor and offer a heavy-duty.
Most ST tires have 10% more load-bearing capacity than their equivalent light truck (LT) tires and 40% more than passenger (P) car tires. These are specially designed for running on trailers, and so these have shallow treads and less friction on the ground surface. Overall, it runs cooler and improves fuel economy.
The bottom line is, each type of tire has a couple of specific applications in which they are unbeatable, so to speak. So, when it comes down to the question – Between bias vs. radial tire, which is better? The best answer is to know your purpose.
Overall, bias tires run as a utility trailer, and radial tires run on a large trailer running long distances and longer cruising the highways.