Let's face it-sorting through the various types of tractor tires can be puzzling for people who don't know about them already. Fortunately, you can boil down deciding between types of tractor tires to one simple question: what is your tractor going to do? For example, a tractor tire designed for keeping farm equipment from getting stuck in the mud would not be the best choice for a tractor being used for landscaping-unless you want holes in your grass. There are other more technical considerations, but once you have a handle on what the basic types of tractor tires are designed to do deciding between them will be a much easier task.
Agricultural tires, or Ag tires, are types of tractor tires designed for pulling heavy farm equipment through fields. They have an angled bar tread designed to provide maximum traction. Using lower inflation pressure also decreases the possibility of getting stuck but increases the stress and wear on the tire sidewalls, so Ag tires have thicker sidewalls to keep them from wearing out too fast.
Ag tires are great for traction, but not so great for lawns. Wide, balloon-style turf tires feature a shallow tread design and distribute the tractor's weight more evenly. They cause less damage to lawns, but also have less traction and greater slippage. In muddy and swampy areas, extra wide turf tires called flotation tires are a good fit: they help better support the tractor's weight to minimize soil compaction and prevent sinking.
These types of tractor tires are designed for construction. They're called combination tires for a reason: they combine the balloon style of turf tires with a deeper tread and are also more puncture resistant than turf tires.
Ribbed tires get their name from their tread design-simple grooves or "ribs" around the circumference of their tire. Ribbed tires only provide minimal traction, but are easy on grass.
Radial vs. Bias Tires
All tires, from car tires to tractor tires, are bias-ply or radial construction. "Bias" and "radial" refer to how the tires are reinforced. Radial tires tend to be more flexible and for this reason are most often used for cars. Bias ply, on the other hand, are stronger and less flexible. Tractor owners usually opt for strength rather than flexibility, so most tractor tires are bias-ply construction. Radial tractor tires are available, however, and some prefer them because they have better traction and a bigger "footprint," causing less slippage.
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