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Tensor Tires The New Kid Taking Names Story by Stuart Bourdon Photos: courtesy Tensor Tires Tensor Tires may not be a household name yet, but is a brand off-road racers and enthusiasts have come to recognize. An extension of Custom Wheel House and its Method Race Wheels line, Tensor Tires benefits from the parent company’s extensive off-road racing experience. The brand has flourished from the astonishing growth in popularity of UTVs and the improvements in engine and suspension performance from these vehicles. Increased UTV sales over the last 10 years made the company think it was time for an all-new tire specifically designed for these powerful new cars. Sean Kleinschuster, Director of Engineering At Tensor tires, gave some insight into the initial need for a UTV specific tire. “When we first looked around at what the OEMs were offering on their UTVs, we found they were essentially using tires out of their parts bins. They had been building quads, so those were the kind of tires they already had sitting on their shelves,” said Kleinschuster. “We saw the opportunity to design a tire that matched the new level of performance UTV we saw more people buying and modifying.” Early Successes According to Kleinschuster, Tensor’s first tire was the radial steel-belted Regulator line. “The Regulator is our weekend warrior tire. It is a redesigned light truck tire scaled down to the size appropriate for a UTV. First offered in a 28- and 30-inch size, it provided a better tire profile than the skinny rounded front and square rear that the OEMs we’re using.” Kleinschuster mentioned that the company benchmarked its Regulator against OEM tires and several others from competitive manufacturers. “We worked with off-road racers Larry Roeseler and Chad Ragland in the initial development and came up with a tire that offered improved handling and significantly better wear characteristics.” When the Regulator became a success for Tensor, the company’s next step was a “clean sheet of paper” design, which they felt would be the best race tire for the ever more powerful UTVs. The DS32 tire was Tensor’s first true competition-focused design, and the first available in a 32-inch diameter built just for UTVs. The DS line now includes a 30-inch size. “The DS line features a mud-terrain style open tread, mixed with some all-terrain characteristics for a variety of conditions with ribbed upper sidewalls that provide puncture protection in that vulnerable zone between sidewall and tread,” said Kleinschuster. “It’s offered in two different compounds, hard and soft. Hard is for general racing use with moderate wear characteristics. Soft is for qualifying events or short-course races with hard-packed surfaces.” Living Larger Tensor’s newest racing tire is the DSR, which Kleinschuster says covers a broad range of applications including UTVs, numerous car classes (Class 1, 5, 10, 2000, and 1600), and Class 7 trucks. “Lately, we’ve been working with Rhys Millen on tire development. He has experience in many types of racing and can offer multi-discipline knowledge. Rhys also builds a forward-looking and evolved off-road race car platform. His all-wheel-drive ‘Jackal’ race car is an original approach that has some scratching their heads. It has been a great platform for tire development purposes.” According to Kleinschuster, the DSR is a next-level design in UTV tires. “It’s an evolution of the DS tread, with more contact surfaces and an adjusted profile, all in a lightweight package. We’re also building out the DSR line with more sizes to continue evolving in stride with the increasingly greater size, power, and performance of newer UTVs and other competition vehicles. We started with the DSR35 for Class 10 and were the first to offer a true 33-inch diameter competition-legal tire with the DSR33.” Tensor Tires plans to debut a 37-inch Tensor DSR racing tire soon. “The new 37-inch DSR was a specific request from Rhys. There wasn’t an appropriate lightweight 37-inch tire on the market that was compatible with his new car platform. Our new 37-inch tire weighs about 50 pounds. Currently, a 37” tire from anybody else weighs about 70 to 90 pounds. The performance advantage gained from significantly lowering the unsprung weight is extraordinary when compared to the same size tire originally designed for a truck.” According to Tensor Tires, the new DSR will also be offered in 15- and 17-inch wheel sizes. The technology developed in the race-bred Tensor DSR competition-legal tire will likely move over to a weekend warrior tire in the future, as Tensor makes a second pass at what it wants in a new consumer tire. “We will be working to develop a tire for the recreational market that offers the same lightweight construction and performance characteristics found in our all-out race tires.” SJ

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