Bias Ply vs Radial – The Differences

Tire plies explaination
Posted: February 27, 2012

Tires Explained, Bias Ply VS Radial Tires

Ahhhh, the age old question: What is the big deal with Radial tires and why do I need them? We have put together a great cheat sheet explaining the differences, positives and negatives for each so that you can make a good decision on your next set of tires.  If you do have questions after reading this post, feel free to contact us directly so that we can help: 800 734 4890.

Plies are layers of relatively inextensible cords embedded in the rubber to hold its shape by preventing the rubber from stretching in response to the internal pressure. The orientations of the plies plays a large role in the performance of the tire and is one of the main ways that tires are categorized. Bias tire (or cross ply) construction utilizes body ply cords that extend diagonally from bead to bead, usually at angles in the range of 30 to 40 degrees, with successive plies laid at opposing angles forming a crisscross pattern to which the tread is applied. The design allows the entire tire body to flex easily, providing the main advantage of this construction, a smooth ride on rough surfaces. This cushioning characteristic also causes the major disadvantages of a bias tire: increased rolling resistance and less control and traction at higher speeds.

Radial tire construction is recognized worldwide for its ability to deliver numerous benefits that bias-ply tires cannot. In the agricultural industry, radial technology delivers large benefits: Long tire life, Resistance to cuts, punctures and tears, Excellent traction, Improved handling and fuel economy & Smooth ride and operator comfort. Radial tire construction utilizes body ply cords extending from the beads and across the tread so that the cords are laid at approximately right angles to the centerline of the tread, and parallel to each other, as well as stabilizer belts directly beneath the tread. The belts may be cord or steel. The advantages of this construction include longer tread life, better steering control, and lower rolling resistance. Disadvantages of the radial tire include a harder ride at low speeds on rough roads and in the context of off-roading, decreased “self-cleaning” ability and lower grip ability at low speeds.


Side note: All radial tires have a designated “R” in the tire size. Example: 26x11x14R. If you don’t see the R, it is more than likely a bias type tire.  All EFX Performance tires have the R built right into the size so you know for sure with a quick and easy visual inspection rather than having the reference the manufacturer.


Biased Tire Example Explaination

A bias tire, as shown above, consists of multiple rubber plies over lapping each other. The crown and sidewalls are interdependent as the overlapped plies form a thick layer that is less flexible and more sensitive to overheating.  

The drawbacks/positives of Bias-Ply Technology:
• In bias-ply tires the tread & sidewalls share the same casing plies
• All sidewall flexing is transmitted to the tread
• Lower cost compared to Radial
High Friction with the ground compared to Radial
Rapid wear = reduced traction compared to Radial
Higher fuel consumption compared to Radial
• Cushioned, smooth ride (per design)


Radial Tire Example Explaination

A radial tire as shown in diagram above shows how the engineering behind radial tire manufacturing allows the sidewall and the tread to function as two independent features of the tire.  

The drawbacks/positives of Radial Technology:
• Outstanding traction due to flat stable crown & larger footprint
• Better distribution of pressure in footprint
Additional cost compared to Biased
• Reduced working time due to less tire slip, greater productivity
• Reduced fuel consumption
• Longer tread life
• Comfort & handling on the road


biased vs radial tires

Patent Diagrams showing various ply construction locations/directions:

Tire plies explaination

A cross-section of a tire. Number 12 indicates the radial-ply.
Numbers 14 and 16 are bias-plies.

Wheel Pros Powersports Division (CC) was founded in 2005 by a group of Colorado natives looking to take their passions from hobby to lifestyle. Each product starts with a sketched drawing and is engineered by actual riders and enthusiasts throughout the design and development process. This hands on approach to all of our products ensure that by the time any customer gets a final product, it is truly ready for action. Each ATV wheel / UTV wheel, ATV Tire, UTV Tire, Golf Car Wheel or Golf Car Tire is developed using the finest cutting edge manufacturing processes and virgin materials, utilizing only the best automotive grade finishes and paints for a lifetime of performance and beauty. MotoSport Alloys, Fairway Alloys and EFX Tires are all manufactured by Wheel Pros Powersports Division, a global manufacturing company specializing in the action sport markets. All wheels are covered by a full lifetime structural warranty and one-year finish warranty. You bend or break any MSA ATV wheel or Fairway Alloys Golf Cart Wheel under normal riding conditions, we replace it. Our promise to all of our loyal customers is to provide a top grade product that will last. We appreciate your loyalty, your support and continued recommendation to all of your friends that might no already know about the MSA, Fairway Alloys or EFX brands.
Bias Ply vs Radial - The Differences, 8.9 out of 10 based on 16 ratings
Monday 27 February, 2012 at 10:44 am

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