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TREAD TALK . Off-Road Tire Manufacturers Discuss The Latest Trends .By SCORE Journal Staff . Off-road tire manufacturers are on the cutting-edge of tire technology, especially when it comes to traction, wear, and specialty tires for desert racing applications. SCORE Journal spoke with three top off-road tire manufacturers who offered some insight into the latest in off-road tire and racing tire technology and improvements that have come from their company’s experience in Baja racing. Among those we talked to are Wayne Yount, BFGoodrich Motorsports Product Development Engineer, Brian Godfrey, Chief Marketing Officer at Tensor Tires, and Cameron Parsons, Toyo Tires Product Engineer & Field Analyst, Competition & Specialty Tires. . . SCORE Journal: How has racing in Baja improved your company’s tire development over the years?  . . BFGoodrich-Wayne Yount: The BFGoodrich brand created the all-terrain tire category and proved it out in Baja. That is why our products show Baja Champion on the sidewall.  The grueling terrain in Baja has had a major influence on the design evolution for endurance in the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A, HD-Terrain T/A KT, and Mud-Terrain T/A tires over the years we have been racing there.  From improved body construction to new tread and sidewall compounds, what we learn racing in Baja feeds directly into the knowledge base our designers use to create the next tire. . Tensor Tire-Brian Godfrey: Racing in Baja has had a significant impact on Tensor Tire’s tire development over the years. As a high-performance racing tire company, we are focused solely on building the best race tires available. Baja racing, with its challenging terrain and demanding conditions, has provided an ideal testing ground. . The unique demands of Baja racing have allowed Tensor Tire to develop tires that are optimized for maximum traction, grip, and durability on off-road tracks. The rugged terrain and extreme weather conditions in Baja have challenged us to create racing tires that can withstand the harsh environments, and as a result, Tensor Tire’s racing tires have improved over the years. . Through its involvement in Baja racing, Tensor Tire has gained valuable insights and knowledge that have helped the company develop innovative and advanced racing tire technologies. By continuously testing and refining its racing tires in Baja, we have been able to push the boundaries of tire performance and provide racers with the most competitive racing tires available. . . Toyo Tires-Cameron Parsons: We treat off-road races like our proving grounds for testing and development of our tires. Baja delivers some of the roughest and most punishing driving surfaces, stressing tires in ways that can be difficult to replicate. The racing surface, trucks, and drivers push much greater extremes than a majority of the customer, which makes Baja races a great environment to learn from. We even have the same engineers and staff designing both our racing tires and consumer Open Country tires, which means they know firsthand what tire technologies best translate over from racing to the customer. . . SJ: Off-road tires are increasing in diameter, especially for racing, so what is the advantage of larger-diameter tires, and is there a trade-off with heavier unsprung weight?  . . BFGoodrich-Wayne Yount: Off-road racing is all about going over the terrain as fast as you can while maintaining your vehicle.  To this end, a large overall diameter tire helps the racers go over larger obstacles in their path with less effort and less impact on the vehicle.  These larger tires do weigh more and add to the unsprung mass.  The effect of increased unsprung mass is offset with less force being transmitted to the vehicle when the tires hit an obstacle in a more glancing blow (due to increased diameter) compared to a head-on impact with a smaller tire.  The net effect is less wear and tear on the racer and the vehicle. . Tensor Tire- . . . Tensor Tire-Brian Godfrey: Tensor Tire’s race-only application for their off-road tires allows them to focus solely on building the best racing tires without the need to cater to on-road functionality. This race-only application has enabled us to build larger-diameter tires with less weight than some of the smaller offerings from the competition. . . Toyo Tires-Cameron Parsons: A larger diameter tire translates to easier rolling over obstacles. There are additional benefits such as increased ground clearance, a larger contact patch, and adjustments that can be made to inflation pressure with the added load-carrying capacity of a larger volume tire. There is definitely a trade-off with not just unsprung weight but also rolling inertia, as a heavier tire requires more power to turn it and increased braking force to slow it down. This is why so many racers and teams within a given race class tend to run similar tire sizes, as they have found a balance of tire size and its accompanied weight that works specifically for their vehicles. It may be tempting to always shoot for something bigger, but the payoff in performance may be minimal, if not detrimental. . . SJ: How is tread design developed for off-road tires, and is there some give and take here between traction, water evacuation, and wet/dry traction? . . BFGoodrich-Wayne Yount: Tread design is a story of compromises between on-road traction (wet and dry), off-road traction (mud, rock, soft soil, etc.) and all kinds of other attributes like rolling resistance, noise, mass and aesthetics.  There are times where you can improve mud traction that can lead to a compromise in on-road manners like steering, handling, and noise.  These compromises between performances lead us to create different tire lines in the market.  Each tire line has a different set of abilities that allow the consumer to choose what balance of performances works for their needs. . . Tensor Tire-Brian Godfrey: At Tensor, our engineers are constantly developing new tread designs with the support of onboard telemetry and premier race car driver feedback. Our race-only approach has allowed us to offer multiple tread options to consumers, including different levels of compound softness, to provide the perfect tire options for any conditions. . . Toyo Tires-Cameron Parsons: There are a lot of factors that go into the performance characteristics of the tire, from the tread design and compound on the outside down to the layout of the construction materials on the inside. When looking specifically at tread design in off-road racing, one of our main focuses is durability. Tires that race at Baja have to put up with a lot of heat, weight, forces, and surfaces, from sharp lava rocks to gritty sand and gravel. To this end, the tread design is less detailed and complicated than the likes of an all-terrain because a simpler design can translate to strength and rigidity. Our off-road racers don’t run in ice and snow, so softer compounds and heavy siping aren’t necessary. As we’ve made developments throughout our Open Country line of tires, including our racing tires, we’ve regularly made these needed durability improvements while hanging onto the necessary traction characteristics of these races. . . . SJ: What can racers and/or enthusiasts look forward to in future off-road tire technology?  . . BFGoodrich-Wayne Yount: We are always looking to improve performance in our tires in both the racing and enthusiast domains.  In the racing community, improvements in endurance and traction are always top of mind.  In the enthusiast community, improvements in wear life, traction, and compatibility with more powerful drivetrains are a big focus.  This can be seen in the new BFG HD-Terrain T/A KT tire.  This tire is made for HD vehicles (like the ones used to haul racing vehicles) that need off-road traction while towing big loads with big diesel trucks. . . Tensor Tire-Brian Godfrey: Thanks to Tensor Tire’s race-focused development, we have gained immense knowledge on building lightweight, high-performance tires for UTVs. We are excited to announce the upcoming release of the Regulator 2, a new weekend warrior tire for the general consumer market. .   . The Regulator 2 tire will feature ultra-high-performance characteristics at a price point that is better than most mid-level offerings, making it an excellent choice for consumers who want top-quality tires without breaking the bank. We believe that the Regulator 2 tire will be a huge win for consumers, offering a level of performance that was once only available to professional racers. . . Toyo Tires-Cameron Parsons: We are constantly experimenting with new designs and constructions to enhance our Open Country line, and races like those in Baja lend a lot to our products that make it to the customers’ hands. We are always looking at how exactly the customer uses our tire so that we can build products that are custom-catered to nearly every use case. We have a huge offering of Open Country tires spanning different uses, from the M/T for hardcore off-roaders to the H/T II for long commuters and trailer tows. Our latest A/T III and R/T Trail, for example, are the results of extensive studying, surveying, and testing to build the perfect tire for their respective customers. And we have more coming. .  

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