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Cross-ply/bias or radial tractor tyres: which should I choose?

Wed, 28 Dec 2022 | PRODUCTS


Cross-ply/bias tyre construction is as old as tyres themselves, but has almost totally been replaced by radial tyre construction technology in the automotive/car tyre sector, due to the performance and safety benefits offered at high speed by radial design. However, tractors work across a far broader set of conditions and surfaces than cars, and at slower speeds. While higher-cost radials are the more advanced design, there are circumstances where cross ply tractor tyres offer advantages. Before you start searching for ‘tractor tyres for sale’ and ‘tractor tyres near me’ on the internet, and perusing tractor tyres prices lists, consider the points below.

Does your tractor spend a lot of its time working on yard duties?

For a tractor that works largely on concrete at low speeds – one that is used to operate a feeder on a dairy unit, for example, or a straw chopper on a pig farm – and which undertakes little or no field work or road travel, cross-ply/bias tractor tyres will likely suffice, and the additional cost of upgrading to a radial tractor tyre design will be unlikely to be returned over the tyres’ lifetime. Cross-ply/bias tractor tyres may also suit operations where field work is relatively simple, such as harrowing and fertilising permanent grassland.

How much field work does your tractor perform?

If, however, your tractor is more commonly used in the field for draft work such as pulling a plough, cultivator or drill, then radial tractor tyres will be a far better proposition. They provide much greater traction and reduced compaction, thanks to their greater carcase flexibility.

How much road travel does your tractor undertake?

Lower-cost cross-ply tractor tyres are perfectly adequate for short journeys travelling between yards, farms and fields at speeds of no more than 30-40km/hr. However, if road travel between farms and fields is a regular feature of your tractor’s work, and your tractor is capable of 40, 50 or even 60km/hr, then radial tractor tyres will be much the better option. Their enhanced sidewall flexibility means they provide a more comfortable ride for the operator. They also provide a greater degree of road-holding at speed, particularly when steering/cornering.

What is your budget?

Cross-ply tractor tyres are simpler to manufacture than radial types, and that means they cost less to buy when comparing the two versions size for size. If your tractors workload is relatively light and it carries out only a few hundred hours’ work per year, cross-ply/bias tractor tyres are likely to be the better option for budgetary reasons. If, however, you are keen to invest in your machine and get the most out of it, consider the extra investment of purchasing radial tractor tyres, particularly if your tractor does perform high levels of field and road work as described above.

How much longer will you be keeping your tractor?

The remaining life your tractor has with you may also have a bearing on the type of tractor tyres you choose to purchase – although this can work for and against you. If you have a high-horsepower machine, the next buyer when you choose to trade in or sell on the tractor may not value the machine as highly if it has been equipped with replacement cross-ply/bias tractor tyres rather than radials. However, the greater cost of radial tractor tyres may not add up in terms of the value you believe you will achieve for the tractor overall given the remaining value/tread on the tyres when you finally sell on the machine. The general rule described above again works here, though – the higher the value and the higher the power of the tractor, particularly one likely to have a high in-field and on-road workload, the more it will be beneficial at sale time to have radial tractor tyres on the tractor, as they are likely to increase its overall value if there is 30% or more tread remaining.

The cross-ply/bias or radial tractor tyre decision is therefore not quite always as easy as it may initially seem. Before you start searching for ‘tractor tyres for sale’ and ‘tractor tyres near me’ on the internet, and looking through tractor tyres prices lists, take these points into account – they will help ensure you choose the ideal tractor tyres for your situation.