Different types of Specialized tires

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Different types of Specialized tires

Not all tires are created equal. Perhaps more than any other vehicle component, tires can be mix, matched, and specialized to an incredibly specific degree. There are tires for every weather situation, and every performance need. No matter what you drive, from school buses to monster trucks, all-terrain vehicles to station wagons, someone out there makes a tire for it.

Winter driving is a challenge for most drivers, but for winter rally racers and people residing in arctic or mountainous regions, road conditions can be too tough for even the most aggressively engineered rubber tire. Special tires called 'studded tires' are often the only solution when it comes to these low traction environments. Studded tires consist of a regular winter tire which has been perforated by hundreds of tiny steel spikes. These spikes grip into ice and packed snow like a tiger's claws, and allow a vehicle to gain traction in the most treacherous of conditions. Over time, the spikes break off and are thrown from the tire. Studded tires cannot have their studs replaced, and at the end of their service life a new set of tires must be installed.

Most rubber tires are vulnerable to perforation and air pressure loss due to contact with sharp road debris or potholes. A flat tire can easily leave a motorist stranded, and changing a tire on the side of a busy highway can be very dangerous. In order to remove the hazard of roadside tire changes, and to increase trunk space and save weight by eliminating a spare, the Dunlop corporation developed the first run-flat tires in the mid 1970's. These tires incorporate a stiffer sidewall and allow the vehicle to travel a reasonable distance after a blowout has occurred. Run-flat technology has grown more and more popular amongst modern car manufacturers, and some vehicles are now even equipped with a computer system that monitors the tire pressure at each wheel to indicate when a tire may need to be replaced.

Tire manufacturers have also realized that not all racing is done on pavement, or even on a road-like surface. At the extreme end of the specialized racing tire spectrum are mud bogging tires. Not the average off-road tires you might see on a 4x4 or sport utility vehicle, these tires actually have no tread at all. In its place are fin like extensions of rubber arranged horizontally along the wide aspect of the tire. These small fins act as paddles when they spin quickly, and are able to move a truck through mud by skimming along the surface.

While many of these applications may seem to be limited to specialized or high end automobiles, the average motorist does benefit from all of the research and development that goes into meeting these niche markets. The discoveries made along the way to solving these tire-related problems eventually trickle down into the consumer market in affordable applications.